Looking to boost your personal brand? Get all the answers you need from a leader in managing professional identities as LinkedIn’s Jessica Peterson guest stars in our latest Subject to Talent podcast episode. She shares the importance of authenticity and the significance of human connection – all achievable in a digital world. Listen in!
F: Welcome to Subject To Talent brought to you by Allegis global Solutions. Similar to you we're always trying to learn more. On this podcast we speak to talent experts around the world covering workforce management, market trends, technology, on a forever evolving dynamic industry.
Hello, hello. Welcome back to Subject To Talent, my name is Frank Edge. Today my good friend and fellow marketer, Kaltrina Riley sits down with Jessica Peterson, Content Consultant for LinkedIn. Jessica collaborates with companies to design better content strategies and connect with content in new ways. She spent over a decade working in advertising for multimillion dollar consumers and employer brands and established the Innovation Workshop at LinkedIn to foster empathy for users and make creativity a habit. Let's learn more.
K: Hi Jess, how are you? It's so good to talk to you today.
J: Hi Kal, thanks for having me.
K: Yeah, so excited to chat with you. I want to just kick us off and ask if you could share how you got into this industry.
J: Definitely. My journey began at Indiana University. I majored in marketing and entrepreneurship and it really took shape in my senior year when I had an advertising strategy class with my professor, Ann Bastianelli. She was an advertising executive at Leo Burnett which is very similar to what you would see on Mad Men. And after hearing her experiences and stories around building strategies and building these brands, I knew that this was a path that I had to pursue. I was very creatively inspired by this professor.
J: So, after graduation I went into advertising and I've spent the past decade working in advertising for consumer and employer brands at Shaker advertising, Microsoft and LinkedIn. And one of the biggest things that I've learned throughout this journey is what really drives ad engagement, or effective ad engagement, is how you connect with people by communicating their needs back to them. And after really diving in and figuring out this knowledge, I established Innovation Workshop at LinkedIn, and we use that workshop to foster empathy and creativity, and I'm also very heavily involved in the design thinking world and that methodology, and I'm now a coach at Stanford's Design School.
K: Wow, that's really impressive, Jess. You've had quite a journey so far.
J: Yes, it's been exciting.
K: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, LinkedIn has been really instrumental in helping individuals build a personal brand through their profile and the content that they're posting. Can you tell me, how do you define personal brand?
J: Definitely. It's your identity. It's made up of your voice, your DNA, your footprint and your personal brand answers these questions. Like what stories do you want to tell, in what stories do you want to tell that truly showcase your unique traits and how do you leverage your traits to contribute to your community and the audience that you're trying to reach?
K: So, I think we know that building a personal brand is crucial. Can you share for our listeners, any advice that you have for building one?
J: Definitely. To build, it's very similar to some of the methodology of design thinking. I like to break it down into four parts. One, being curious. So really focusing on what your community needs. Two, developing a point of view based on their needs and looking at how you can contribute. And then three, taking that point of view and then building your messaging. And then four, giving back to your community by continuously sharing your expertise and your messaging.
K: Yeah, great advice. I really liked that. And, you know, I think a personal brand is so important to one's career. What are some other things that LinkedIn are doing to help someone's personal brand?
J: Definitely. LinkedIn is really focused on creating these experiences around human to human connection. So, it's not just a job board anymore, it's a place where you can network, you can share your messages, you can contribute to your community and you can also learn and grow professionally. So if you leverage all of these opportunities together and connect with your audience, connect with your community, you are really more likely to be able to improve your brand and to iterate and to continue to grow that brand.
K: Yeah, absolutely. And I think we've seen that social media has impacted so much, I would say, in the last five years. Why do you think it plays such a huge role in society these days?
J: Technology. Technology, for sure. And it's really the way that technology is evolved and it's the amount of information we can consume, plus the way that we consume it, it's all accessible. It's all much more accessible and it's easier than ever to share your voice. There's really no boundaries in how you're sharing your voice socially. And given all of that, that's empowering to people.
K: Yeah, that's great. I agree with that. And, you know, I think social media can truly be a powerful marketing tool if used correctly. So, what is your advice around using it wisely and professionally?
J: Well, as far as the mechanics of your personal brand is concerned, I recommend a few things, and it's very similar to the clients that I speak with and talking about how to improve their company's brand. One, is being authentic. Authenticity is key. Two, being focused. So, going back to that point of view, being very focused on your point of view and what you're trying to share. And then three, being consistent. Once you start building this community, they want to continue to hear your point of view, especially if it is a point of view that is addressing their needs and their challenges.
So when it comes to being authentic, communities respond so strongly to stories because they evoke emotions and they establish connections. So when you think about stories, I like to bucket them into three groups. So one being your successes, two being your failures and three being your learnings. And you definitely need to share your failures because that really does help share your authentic voice. It makes you more authentic, it makes you more human.
K: Yeah, I love that part about the humanization piece of it. I think that's really the key, because some people can relate.
J: Yes, yes. And relating is key too for creating that authentic connection. And then when thinking about being focused and consistent, I like to think of advice that Jeff Wiener, our CEO, has given us. And it's around your point of view and how you're sharing it. So if your community can repeat back your point of view, your message, and they can repeat back your stories from a branding perspective, you're heading in the right direction.
K: That's spot on. I love that. So we also know that on the flip side of social media that it can be detrimental to a person's career, of course. So, what advice do you have for those who are starting off their careers and maybe shifting their social media habits from a personal to more professional?
J: I give the same advice to graduates as I do to companies looking to improve their brand, and it's really around focusing on being interested versus interesting. So, I know there are times where you need to be interesting with your message, but the majority of the time, I really do believe that you need to focus on being interested. And this goes back to being curious and connecting with your community, with your audience. And this is really the way that you can continue to improve your brand and can continue to grow and learn. It's all about providing the value to your community and being interested is how you provide that value.
K: Absolutely. So the human aspect is being marginalized by technology as everything moves towards more and more automation. Why do you think it's important to still have the authentic humanization aspect along with the technology?
J: Yes, so important these days, and it's really centered around connection. So, creating connection will never go out of style. I mean, we are social beings and I think this theme has come into play and been magnified even more given the current environment and the pandemic. And I've seen it on LinkedIn, there's this need for community. People are craving this community connection and I've seen our audience and companies come together these past few months and in remarkable ways, and how they're sharing that message on the platform. So, when it comes to navigating your brand in unchartered waters, I really like to think about the community aspect and the creative ways in which you can continue to cultivate that community.
K: That's great. And you know, I'm noticing companies are really creating their brand through social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram is a big one, and Facebook to reach different demographics. How have you seen organizations embrace LinkedIn to do the same?
J: To that point I would say going back to your audience, going back to your community, it's all about their mindset. So, looking at what are they trying to accomplish on each platform? And on LinkedIn, we found through research that our audience is much more intent driven than on other social channels. And that means that the audience that comes to LinkedIn is coming for a very specific purpose. They have tasks to complete, they're not coming to kill time.
So now that our clients and our companies using the platform have that understanding, I've really seen them lean more into being authentic in their voice, which is fantastic, and then also honing in on that educational intent. So again, how is the audience benefiting from your message? What can they learn to improve, based on the content that you're sharing?
K: Yeah, that's great. So, the approach to branding has really shifted in the age of social media. Can you tell me how is LinkedIn adapting to that shift?
J: By creating a really strong connection with the people and focusing on the people behind this social connection. So essentially we're really focused on how can we help people reach their professional goals. And with that frame in mind, we're placing more energy in the content that we're putting out on the platform and the learning experiences available. So, we continue to develop new content formats, and these are like the formats that are really going to help people connect emotionally. And we're looking at how we can enhance the learning experience to meet your branding goals. So looking at learning in a more holistic way.
K: Great. So I've learned over the years that networking is a really big part of a person's career. How has social media elevated and helped with that?
J: Yes, and. So we like to use that in the innovation community when we want to build off of someone's idea, a hundred percent agree. Going back to the technology piece, when looking at social media, it's just so much more accessible. And I would say that what gives me goosebumps and what's really exciting about it is you can reach out to someone all the way across the world and ask them for help and feedback. Like you're reaching out to a stranger, and what I found over the years is that on LinkedIn, people are becoming much more receptive to networking and responding and looking for these opportunities to connect. So they're much more willing. So given that, I would say, you know, get out there and don't be afraid to fail and stay curious and continue to network and reach out to these people on the platform.
K: Yeah, that's a really great point, actually. And what would you say your thoughts are on quantity versus quality for connections?
J: To me, quality is key. So I really focus in on how is my community engaging with me, and I look at, are my messages resulting in meaningful conversations or are they just resulting in likes? And to me, I want those meaningful conversations over the likes, because again, that leads to just getting to know your audience better, leads to a stronger point of view and leads to more engaging messages.
K: Yeah, I definitely agree with that. That's great, thanks for that insight. So my last and final question, Jess, I won't hold you to this, but if you had a crystal ball, where do you think social media will be in five years from now?
J: I love thinking about the future and I love-
K: Especially now.
J: Yes, and I love having theories. So, love questions like this. But I would say that really, this continued look at driving the immersive experiences. I mean, storytelling will continue to evolve and play a big role in social media. I also think that our attention spans may be even shorter than they were before. Kal, I don't know if you know this, but on average we consume 4,000 ads per day.
K: Wow, that's a lot.
J: Yeah. So that's a lot of content. So, a few years from now, as we continue to evolve and the social media continues to evolve, it's going to take that much more creativity and that much more focus to really cut through the noise. So I think that's going to be key. And then adoption of virtual reality, which I think is already coming into play given the current environment, video will continue to be big and then short content. So again, like these snackable, short pieces of content that you can consume quickly, you know, the content that disappears potentially will continue to rise in popularity. That's my prediction.
K: Well, I'll follow back up with you in five years and we'll kind of see where we are. I do appreciate you sharing all that. It's been a real pleasure speaking with you today. I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and have taken some really great learnings that I can apply to our everyday work here at AGS. So, thanks for all that you do, and I hope you stay safe and healthy.
J: Great. Thank you and ditto.
F: Thanks for listening in today and I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you would like to learn more about AGS, please head to our website at allegisglobalsolutions.com. If you have any questions for Jessica, please feel free to tweet us at Allegis Global with the #SubjectToTalent. Also, if you have any suggestions for topics that you would like us to cover, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you enjoyed our podcast today, please share us with all your colleagues, subscribe, rate us and leave a review. Until next time, cheers. rs.