I get asked this question in almost every workshop I run.
It goes like this:
“I have two different services for completely different target markets, should I have two LinkedIn profiles?”
It’s not uncommon for someone to have two different roles these days. You could be full-time and have a side hustle, have two different businesses or two different jobs.
So, how do you handle this without confusing a crowd?
Many people think the solution is to create multiple profiles, however, I’m going to unpack why that is a bad idea and how if you’re faced with promoting two very different things how best to achieve it on LinkedIn (or anywhere for that matter).
The two profiles problem
Creating a second profile is a common thing people do, however, I think it’s a bad idea. Whilst the clarity of having your two business identities divided is good for you, it can be confusing for your audience, undermine your credibility and cause you problems in the long run.
Creating a siloed profile sounds great, however, first off, it’s against the terms of service of LinkedIn. This means, eventually when LinkedIn realise there is two of you, they will force one to close down. Historically LinkedIn would permit you to merge two accounts, however, LinkedIn is making this harder to do and in all likelihood by the end of the year will no longer be possible.
So, you risk building a profile for one of your businesses or roles which at some point LinkedIn will permanently disable. This puts you back to square one.
There are also some reputational reasons why you should create multiple profiles too. Having multiple profiles can harm your perceived reputation, some may view it as spammy or scammy and may mistrust one of your profiles simply because they stumbled across it in the feed.
Imagine if prospects from profile A discover profile B — that could cause them to question the legitimacy of the profiles they have engaged with. It doesn’t help you build trust.
On top of this we have the confusion in the search, someone trying to find you may find two of you and find the wrong profile. You are adding complexity and confusion for your prospects.
How to promote if you have two hats
First off, if you have two hats on LinkedIn this is always going to be tricky, there is no way around it. Your content will be somewhat diluted because you’ll be sharing a mix of topics and your network will be a mix of different people and decision makers.
So here is how to handle it
First off, make it clear to your network you talk about two different things and have two different audiences. Making this clear on your profile will help clear up the confusion for your profile viewers and connections.
Optimise your profile and make it obvious exactly who you serve and which identity is which — the banner is a great place to do this, as is your headline.
Choose your primary
There will be one of your roles which is more of a priority than another, so choose which will play second fiddle to the other. Be clear on which is your secondary and primary focus for LinkedIn.
Over the course of a year you may choose to flip these over, this is fine, but do that deliberately and plan out your focus for 3–6 months with one primary and the other secondary.
Manage your opinions
If you are employed and also running a side hustle, be careful with your opinions. LinkedIn is the one place where the personal and professional collide. This means being clear about when you are speaking or representing your employer and when you are speaking as an individual. In reality, if you say something provocative or controversial, there will be blow back even if you do say “these opinions don’t represent the views of my employer” — so manage your opinions carefully.
Merge your topics
There are a couple of different ways to manage the content for your audiences. Be aware that if you talk about two very diverse topics, there is a risk that your visibility will be lower. Imagine if HR people see your content about Cybersecurity, will they want to engage?
Two diverse topics can be an issue as you’re engagement will be flip flopping from two different crowds.
So, why not think about how you can merge your topics, you can document your journey and share stories which can bridge the gap between the two topics.
Instead of making the content about the topic, make the content about your journey with the topic. People can still appreciate your journey and thoughts even if they don’t have any interest in the topic.
Of course you can allocate specific days for your different topics and there is nothing wrong with this, but it may prove hard to reach a bigger audience when you are shifting between topics.
One of the great bits of LinkedIn is that there are different ways to share content, not just with posts. You could choose to use your feed content exclusively for one topic and use other content streams for your other topics.
Post in LinkedIn groups
If you’ve never posted in groups, for a long time it was a waste of time, but groups are proving to a be useful way to circulate content to a highly focused group of people.
You could build out your content for a specific audience by adding value in industry and topic specific groups.
I serve a wide range of people, so often I’ll share my content into those groups where it appeals most. For example, when I’m talking to salespeople, I share my posts into those groups.
In some groups, I’ve had more engagement and reach than from my feed.
Launch a content specific Newsletter
Newsletters are a brilliant way to build an audience on LinkedIn. As you publish you grow your subscribers. If you have a focused topic, it can be a brilliant way to grow.
The great part is, as you publish new editions, you’re subscribers get notified of your new editions on LinkedIn and by email
Why not use a newsletter for promoting your secondary topic?
Use different formats and schedules
One of the ways to really engage two different audiences on one profile is to have a defined media for each topic. Typically people become accustomed to seeing your style and format in their feed and they look out for it.
Why not use video for topic A and carousels for topic B.
You can also run a different timing for the different content. For example, posting in the mornings 2 days per week for topic A and then posting in the afternoons 2 days per week for topic B.
I would avoid posting multiple times per day. It’s exhausting, for most people it’s totally unsustainable. Using timings to differentiate your content and different days can help make the difference.
One final thing which can help too is colour schemes. Adjusting your colour schemes for the different topics can help your audience to spot you in the feed for the topic that matters for them.
You’re one person, so be one person
There is no doubt representing two different roles or businesses on LinkedIn makes things more difficult, but it’s no more difficult than in real life. It divides your time and energy.
If you need to pursue two goals on LinkedIn, it’s not the end of the world, but just expect things to work a little slower than if you can put all your effort into one topic and target market.
The shortcut might be to get second profile, but eventually, you’ll lose all that hard work when it’s closed down.