Only 1% of LinkedIn users post content…


There’s a high probability your competition isn’t one of them.


That means it’s an incredible advantage to master organic and paid LinkedIn content.


Graham Riley is here to share what most users get wrong about LinkedIn and break down the differences between paid and organic LinkedIn strategies.


Graham is the CEO of Maverrik North America, a full-service LinkedIn Managed Services Agency with a mission to help 1 million businesses find sales success on LinkedIn.


He’ll cover:

  • Why you need to think of LinkedIn as a networking event
  • How to optimize your profile
  • Why you shouldn’t think of LinkedIn as a resume
  • How to build the right audience (not the biggest audience)
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the differences between paid and organic LinkedIn. 


Here to speak with me is Graham Riley who is the CEO at Maverrik North America, a full-service LinkedIn Managed Services Agency. Graham is a pioneer in blending Personal Branding, LinkedIn, Sales Navigator, Content Marketing and Lead Generation campaigns; empowering business owners and sales teams to have more meaningful conversations with potential clients and key influencers to drive top-line growth. Graham, welcome to the show.


Graham Riley: Hey, thank you very much for having me, Steffen. It’s a pleasure to be here. And as I was sat listening to my intro, I thought, that’s quite a mouthful.


Steffen: It is. Well, you know, you have to live up to something, you know in our conversation. No pressure there, though. Before we before we talk about, you know, the differences between paid or organic, but probably will skew more towards organic LinkedIn and how to take advantage of that part of the LinkedIn prime, tell our listeners a bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career and what led you to become the CEO at Maverrik North America?


Graham: Sure. Well, I’m based in Minneapolis, and from my voice, you can probably tell that I am not a Minneapolis or Minnesota native. So I’m an import from England. Initially came over here to the US as an IT consultant. And as an IT consultant, I was giving presentations, not only to the technologists, this is how you install, maintain and configure these systems, but I was also giving presentations to the business. 


This is how the technology can improve the financial performance of your organization, cutting costs, driving new revenue opportunities. And also this is how the technology can improve the customer client user experience. And because I was giving those presentations, I was asked to move into sales, and then into sales management, and then ultimately running sales teams at a local and at a national level. 


So that was my entree, I never imagined that I would be in sales or running organizations. I was a nerdy kid. How to go about configuring technology so that when you hit the on button, it worked. What I found very interesting is when I went through sales training, I took the same approach. Is I need to follow a process to get to the desired outcomes. And what I found interesting with the people who did consider themselves salespeople is they wanted to jump straight to XYZ, sign the deal. 


They didn’t want to do the steps that led to the signed deal. They just wanted to simply jump ahead, and we’re always looking for shortcuts. So, started my own business in 2012. And then joined forces with Maverrik, UK. And so now we operate both in North America, and also throughout Europe and the Middle East. And our mission, our global mission is to help a million businesses be successful on the LinkedIn platform.


Steffen: Interesting. Now, let’s start off with what’s the difference between organic and paid LinkedIn?


Graham: Okay, so organic means that you have simply posted something, regardless of the account that you have. Some people say, well, do I need premium to do this? Or do I need Sales Navigator. This works regardless of the license that you’ve paid, that you’ve either paid for or not. And LinkedIn allows you to share something with a post or an article. It allows you to share it with your first-level connections. 


And when you share it with your first-level connections, that’s organic. Any responses that you get are typically from your first-level connections. When you are paying for something, that means that you specify I want this specific content to land inside of the feed of people who hit a certain demographic. Whether it’s by job title, industry, company size, geography. Whatever those criteria are, you get to determine it. 


The main difference, though, is that when you pay LinkedIn, your content comes up as promoted, or ad, which immediately then means to the recipient who sees it in the field, in their feed, I’m sorry, as Graham or the company has paid for it to appear here. When it’s organic, it’s all it’s coming into my feed by the fact that we have a connection.


Steffen: That makes sense. Now, when I pay, so, for example, the same thing from a paid search perspective, right. I have paid ads there, and have the organic paid search side. Now, getting eyeballs from an organic perspective, what is much more delayed. Let’s put it that way. When I write an article, put it on my website, until Google picks it up, until it comes up in search results, and people start noticing it, it takes time, and the volume will probably never be as much as if it is a popular search term and I pay for it right? 


Graham: Correct.


Steffen: Paid search allows me to immediately have my ad seen by the target audience. And the same thing applies to obviously paid organic here, right or paid LinkedIn. People see your ads based on the targeting parameters that you select, right. Now, if we focus a little bit more on organic, right, from an organic perspective, what are the things that people have to think about in order to be successful with organic? Is it just, you know, picking an article, posting it on LinkedIn, adding some hashtags, and then sending it off, and people will see it will like it, will comment on it, will share it. Is it that easy?


Graham: Sure. I wish I could say yes, the answer is no. I think first of all, when it comes to being successful on the LinkedIn platform, we should all consider that LinkedIn is just a tool. That’s all the platform is, it’s just a tool. The fact that you own the tool, the fact that you have a LinkedIn presence there does not necessarily equate for you being successful in generating new business opportunities. And so how do you go about using the tool is very much as to how you view it. 


If you view it as a sales order processing system, you won’t have much success with it. If you view it as a way to form relationships, then you’ll be exponentially more successful. So I’d ask anybody who’s listening in or joining us on the podcast, to consider LinkedIn to be a cocktail party or a great networking event in the cloud. Where your profile is an indication of who you have chosen to be as you show up at this networking event. Your profile isn’t your resume, it’s an indication of who you are as a professional. 


It’s an indication of your communication style, and your attention to detail. And so now I have this LinkedIn presence, and I’ve got content to share. Let’s put the steps in place. I’ve set up my profile so that I look like a credible messenger for my content. You very kindly asked me about my background, and how did they end up doing what I’m doing today? My profile should indicate that I have walked in the shoes and understand the challenges of people who are responsible for driving top-line growth in their organization. 


So my career history leads me to this podcast today. I need, the second step is, is my first level connections, my audience to my stage, is it full of influencers and decision-makers who will appreciate the content that I have to share? You said, is it as simple as just posting something and people like and engage with it? Well, if you go to a concert and you’re expecting classical music to be the content that’s delivered, and it’s heavy metal or rap music, there’s a disconnect between the audience and the message. 


So you’re probably not going to get a lot of likes and engagement with your content. So driving organic content means that you’re a credible messenger, that the all audience is the right audience. It’s not just simply family, friends, people who you historically have worked with. But it’s the people who you wish to serve moving forward. What is the community that I’m looking to build? And then you sharing content with that audience. Here’s the aha. 


You’re not sharing about what you do. What you’re sharing is pain points that your audience is facing. Give you for an example. Your audience doesn’t care what you do, what they care about, is what’s giving them gray hair, and the wrinkles and keeping them up at night. That’s what they care about. And so speak to them about the, speak to them about them. 


Share content that’s about them. Because nobody needs to listen to somebody who is saying, hey, let me tell you about how great I am. Let me tell you about the things that we do and how we help companies. Well, I don’t know you, Graham, or I don’t know you, Steffen. You haven’t established trust yet, that you’re a subject matter expert in your field.


Steffen: That makes sense. Now, you said two things. You said, you talked about LinkedIn profile. And you talked about audiences. But let’s dive a little bit deeper into those two topics. Let’s start off with LinkedIn profile. And the reason I want to start there is when we had our first conversation, you know, when we talked about you coming on to the podcast, you said, I can tell that you’re not doing much with your LinkedIn profile. When you sat down, it’s like, well, I think you’re spot on, you know. We set it up, we optimize it a little bit. But that’s it. 


Even for our business profile, for Symphonic Digital, it’s the same thing. Talk about why it is important to not just copy your resume into LinkedIn, and not just a short bio that your company has created for you or that you created for yourself, you know, for a pitch or whatever it is. And then you put that in the about us section. And then talk about what instead should people do in order to create that, that impact with people that come to their site?


Graham: Absolutely, absolutely. So you nodded, and it resonated with you that LinkedIn is a great networking event in the cloud, right? And that your profile is your persona, that’s available seven by 24 at this networking event. How we conduct ourselves in real life should be reflected in how we conduct ourselves digitally. And so your point about the resume. Would we ever imagine turning up at a networking event or a cocktail party and simply sharing our resume? We tend to check in with people first. 


And so when we’re at an in-person event, we tend to start to recognize people’s face, then their name, then what we talked about, engagement. Then the company that that individual works for, and then what that company does. And so the LinkedIn presence should follow that natural arc of people’s curiosity. And so how your profile is set up? I’d encourage you to think back throughout your career journey, and focus on sharing, what is it that I enjoy doing? 


And how doing the things that I enjoy, how has it made a difference to every organization where I’ve worked. How have they benefited from improved financial performance, and improved customer-client experience? Because if you if somebody was paying you to perform a job, it’s guaranteed that you were delivering one or both of those outcomes.


Steffen: That makes sense. Does the same apply for a company profile?


Graham: So remember, we had to have a personal profile before we ever created a company profile, right? And so if we follow our trajectory of lead with your people first, because if I like Steffen, I’m familiar with your stuff. And you say hey, I’ve got this going on, on my company page, our relationship is such that, I will take that next step and engage with your company page. If we lead with the company page, I don’t have a relationship with it. 


Think of your company page as a party. And so as we’re at this networking event, we want to get people to our party, the more you feel engaged and people like you, when you ask, hey, we’re having an after party, would you like to go? You’re going to exponentially get more yeses if you’ve worked the crowd, and people are buying into you.


Steffen: Make sense. Now, audiences, that was the other part you talked about.


Graham: Audience. Absolutely.


Steffen: So let’s talk about that. You see a lot of people that just, I don’t want to say they collect, you know, connections. But I mean, if I look into my LinkedIn profile, there are so many people that I should probably just say no, but I’m a little bit too lazy, but they just accumulate there. Because it’s like, salespeople. I mean, like, like, lead generation companies reaching out. And it’s the same spiel again and again. 


And I understand that, you know, as an agency, I honestly say I do exactly the same thing. But, you know, we’re all trying to win our next client, right. But for me, necessarily, unless I really like one of the companies the way how they talk about or how they pitch themselves, etc, there is not much value there for me, to engage with them, because they are not going to be the one that will respond to the content that I personally or my company, is sharing on LinkedIn. 


So, talk about how building an audience and making sure that you know, you focus on the right thing is important. And then how important is it? Does LinkedIn, for example, the system look at how many connections you have compared to how many people respond to your house, for example.


Graham: Right. Right. So what I’ve just heard you share, Steffen is you’re going to gravitate to companies and individuals who you feel by adding them to my network, I’m improving the quality of my first-level connections, right? So that is a decision that’s made by everyone who receives a connection request. Am I adding to the quality of my network by the addition of this person, yes or no? And if I’m curious, I will go and take a look at their profile. That’s why I shared step one is updating your profile. 


So it’s the best version of you, because most people are understating and underrepresenting their value. So this is where they are in person. This is how they’re represented. And that gap is missed opportunity. So I’m not saying you overblow or you overstate, but you just, you’re appropriately stating your value. Now, as I grow my network, I want it to be people who are specifically the influencers and decision-makers in the community where my products or services are going to be the best fit. And you’re absolutely right. 


LinkedIn is almost 20 years old, right. We’re a couple years away from having its 20th birthday, which means we’ve accumulated people who were friends, colleagues, perhaps potential clients, or strategic partners in the past. So they serve you in the past, but they’re not necessarily the people who are going to influence and serve you as you move forward. So constantly updating and refreshing your network, because you can add, you can share 100 connections requests a week to grow your audience. 


And it’s not just anyone. These are specific people who you would like a back-to-back conversation with. So as your audience grows, then what you’re looking for is, I can’t just be connected with somebody, we’d be connected for six months or a year, I don’t even remember how we connected. So that’s why it’s important to engage, have your profile engage with them, as well as speaking to them because when you speak and share content, it’s one to many. When I endorse you, when I like and comment on your posts, you’re seeing that I’m taking an interest in you. 


Why? Because I’m building out reciprocity. If somebody feels that they’re taking an interest in me, you know, when somebody says to you tell me more Steffen, tell me more about what you do. Okay, I’ve got a clear stage. Let me share because you’re showing interest, and that’s what everyone who is on LinkedIn to drive business for themselves or for their organizations, they want others to take an interest in them. You start to get that ball rolling by you taking an interest in them first. 


Don’t wait to be that trusted advisor, that strategic partner until somebody becomes a client. Start as you mean to go on, start to look at to add value to them. Value might start with, you’ve been polite, professional, and courteous. You followed me, you followed my company, you’re liking and commenting on my posts. Thank you very much, Steffen. Oh, and now you’ve endorsed me for a few things. Now we’re connected. 


You’ve sent a polite, professional and courteous thank you to me. Oh, and now I’m starting to see your content appearing in my feed. I don’t see it every day, but because you’re posting on a consistent basis. Oh, okay. Yep, I say, I like that. Okay, I’m gonna like some of it. Now, I’m going to comment on it. And then you resend a note back to me. Hey, I appreciate you commenting on my post, appreciate it. How was the holiday break? Now what you’re doing is you’re establishing the report, you’ve got an interaction. 


The more people interact with your posts, the more you interact with them. LinkedIn’s algorithm is saying, oh, Graham and Steffen are connected. They’re exchanging messages. They’re endorsing each other. When Graham shares something, I should make sure that Steffen sees it. When Steffen shares something, I’ll make sure that Graham sees it. LinkedIn is looking to provide everyone who uses the platform, a great experience. 


And the interesting situation that LinkedIn finds itself in right now is that while it’s been around for about 17 years, LinkedIn has 185 million profiles in North America. But only 1% of that 185 is actually contributing content to the platform. And so without content LinkedIn, can’t improve its value as the main business provider of information and networking. So you immediately start to differentiate yourself by talking to your target audience, because there’s a high probability that your competition is not.


Steffen: So what you just said is probably the answer to my next question, which is, how can you be successful on LinkedIn, right? I mean, there’s, there’s one part in connecting with a new client, you know. So you know, if they move on, where they are, etcetera. There’s another part as we talked about, sharing content, but if the LinkedIn system doesn’t really see that, there is a lot of communication going on between you and your connections, they might not distribute your posts to too many people. 


And then obviously, there’s also the fact that once people start engaging with your posts, that’s kind of a signal that your post has relevance. LinkedIn will, you know, show it more if people share it, and then they go outside of your network, you get an exposure and that. So, it sounds like that, in order to be successful, and jump in here in a second please, you really need to do the first step, build your profile. Make sure it reflects as we talked about, who you are and who you want to be seen as. 


And kind of who you really are as a person, you know. And then engaging with the people that you connect with, not just connection, oh I got another one. Thumbs up. But having a conversation, communication with the people, and therefore building out signals for LinkedIn to see that Steffen and Graham, they seem to have a connection to actually communicating. Therefore, let’s make sure that the content that Steffen or Graham shares, either is going to see it.


Graham: So how do we be successful on LinkedIn? First thing we can do that’s really easy and everyone can do this is if you see things on LinkedIn that annoy you, meaning that you receive a connection request that’s got this string of videos or links, etc. If it annoys you, somebody else’s sales habits, it’s going to annoy other people as well. So you immediately start to differentiate yourself by not doing those things. 


So step one, if it annoys you, it annoys others. So stop doing it. Second thing is, always remember that it’s an algorithm, whether it’s Google, whether it’s Yahoo, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. It’s an algorithm that determines what we all see online today. What we see, hear and read online, forms a perception. And that perception is based upon how we are behaving on the platform, as well as, what we are saying. Because you can have a great message. 


But if you did it in a really goofy way, or in an annoying way, it’s not going to land with your audience. So think about your behavior as much as you think about the content in what you’re going to share. Because there is no website, LinkedIn presence that will ever do a better job of explaining what you do, Steffen, and what your agency provides better than a conversation with you. So how you engage on the LinkedIn platform, how you form that perception of who you are, and what you’re about, should be then a natural continuation as to when we move it into a Zoom call, or a phone call, or an in-person meeting. 


So right from the very start, that first impression when you first connect with somebody, if it’s mindful and done strategically, it’s all with that conversation in mind. You’re teeing it up right from the very start, right from that first impression. Before anyone will pick up the phone or set up a meeting with you. Three things have to happen. The first is awareness. How are you inserting yourself into somebody’s attention? If you’re doing it in that ugly, down and dirty way of hey, Steffen what’s it gonna take to, for us to book an appointment so I can show you my latest widget? It’s like, oh, that’s a used car salesman, type of approach. 


So awareness, how are you inserting yourself into my attention? Secondly, I have to trust that you are an expert in your field. We have the most informed population, most informed buyers in history, which means I’m going to do my research. And you are proving your subject matter expertise, as much in the content that you’re sharing. But also the questions that you are asking. I can’t ask insightful questions about your business if I didn’t understand your business. 


So, awareness, trust. I trust you know your business. And the third step is a belief. I believe that I will get more out of this half-hour call with Steffen than the value that I place on half an hour of my time. And if they get more value to that time invested, it will lead to subsequent conversations.


Steffen: Graham, that’s some great last points for today’s podcast. Unfortunately, we come to the end of today’s podcast episode. Thank you so much for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your knowledge on predominantly you know, organic LinkedIn. If people want to find out more about you, about Maverrik, how can they get in touch?


Graham: Please reach out. I’m on LinkedIn if you type in Graham Riley into LinkedIn. Well, there are a few Graham Riley’s. I’m likely to pop up. So you’re looking for Graham Riley at Maverrik North America. And as shared, our mission is to help people. Every Tuesday we run webinars on how to use the different components of LinkedIn. So just please register for an event. Comment. Follow me. Reach out to connect with me. However you want to do your research, all of our information and everything I’ve described to Steffen today, I’m doing for myself. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients.


Steffen: Perfect. As always, we’ll leave that information in the show notes. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.


Voiceover: Performance Delivered is sponsored by Symphonic Digital. Discover audience focused and data driven digital marketing solutions for small and medium businesses at