The visionary founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, once said, “Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that's really powerful.”
And so, despite its foibles, there is one thing LinkedIn does very well: creating features within its platform that help us all to better understand our networks – what they are, who they are, and how we should use them to enhance the visibility and value of our personal brands.
Today, the concept of personal branding is at the epicenter of social media, so it makes sense to spend time grasping LinkedIn’s many features and tools. One interesting tool is the Social Selling Index, or SSI. The tool itself is not new, but its functionality is.
What is SSI, the Social Selling Index?
The SSI was designed to measure the social selling activities of sales professionals. Rolled out in 2014, it was available only to companies with 100+ employees, 10 sales reps and the rather pricey Sales Navigator subscription.
Recently, it became available to all English-speaking members, even those with basic (free) subscriptions. Along with the How You Rank tool, (available to all members), the SSI sheds new light on four vital dimensions of social influence and engagement, known as the four pillars of social selling:
- Creating a professional brand
- Finding the right people
- Insightful engagement
- Building trusted relationships
Hubspot defines social selling as “a crucial way for successful sales teams to communicate with their prospects…[using] social media to interact directly with their prospects, provide value by answering prospect questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy.”
The SSI measures organization-wide sales activity around these four pillars, quantifying relevance on a scale of 1-100. Simply put, higher scores = more relevant activity which, logically, should translate to deeper engagement, stronger relationships and higher conversions. In fact, LinkedIn claims that sales staff with high SSI rank enjoy 45% more sales opportunities and are 51% more likely to hit sales quotes.
Now that the tool is available to everyone, how can those of us not actively engaged in social selling across teams use it best?
How You Stack Up
I’ll bet you’re itching to find out your SSI score. Go here: https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/social-selling/the-social-selling-index
You’ll note the four pillars representing the four elements of social selling, each worth 25 points, for a total perfect score of 100. The point here is not to sweat reaching 100, tempting though that may be, but to merely strive to improve. As the cliché goes, “it’s the journey, not the destination.”
How to Apply Your SSI Score
As with most influence ranking tools (think Klout, Kred, PeerIndex) your performance on LinkedIn over time waxes and wanes. A week’s vacation unplugged can send your “numbers” plummeting, but without much meaning behind it. The value of tools like the SSI lies in the benchmarking and tracking – where you are now, the traction of your social efforts, goal setting and motivation. Certainly, one can compare his or her rank to peers; however, given that each of us uses LinkedIn differently, I prefer to focus on the slow and steady march towards “personal best.”
Activities to Improve Your SSI Score
Opportunities to improve your SSI abound on LinkedIn, but certain activities are proven to ensure better results when consistently performed. Logging on daily to the site and engaging with others in a sincere effort, if only for a few minutes, is the #1 method for deeper engagement. Beyond this, you’ll want to do things like:
- Achieve All-Star profile status
- Strive for a more interesting profile using rich media
- Share relevant content via Home page status updates
- Join and participate in deserving groups (or start your own)
- Actively work to build a strong network of professionals meaningful to your industry
- Give and receive endorsements (yes, they count!)
- Publish to Pulse, sharing your special brand of knowledge with others
No doubt, LinkedIn will continue to introduce fun and valuable ways to find prospects, support customers and grow our businesses. Use the SSI as it is meant to be used – to measure your LinkedIn activity against your sales results, and to continuously strive to improve.