The social network for professionals, as LinkedIn is commonly thought of, is sometimes overlooked by businesses wanting to up their online presence and effectively market their company through social media. However, whilst it’s definitely different from the other social sites, it still offers plenty of opportunities for businesses to network with others and gain leads.
Like anything else, it’s just a case of knowing how to use the site and coming up with a strategy to effectively market yourself and your company. With this in mind, let’s have a look today at how you can make the most of the network and get it working for your business.
#1: Get Your Profile Right
If you’re to market your business on LinkedIn, firstly it’s important that you and all of your employees fill in your personal profiles.
These should include:
- A good head and shoulders shot that looks professional – leave the photo of the family dog as a profile pic for Facebook.
- All of the person’s relevant work history.
- A summary section which sets out what you do and your experience in the field.
- Any published work should be showcased on your profile if you want to position yourself or any employees as thought leaders.
- Recommendations from people that you’ve worked with in the past.
- Endorsements from others in your network.
- Education and certifications.
- Details of any projects that you’ve worked on or are currently working on with other team members.
When it comes to endorsements and recommendations, it goes without saying that you should only ask those who have worked with you for the latter and those that have at least seen your work for the former, depending on what you do. In my experience, it’s common for people to ask others that they haven’t worked with for a recommendation or endorsement, but this should be avoided. Not only does it give an unclear representation of your skills and experience, but if you ask people you don’t know on the site then you’re risking your reputation before you’ve even got started.
You’ll find that once your network grows, if you have a job that’s ‘visual’ (such as writing) then you’ll attract endorsements without having to ask anyway.
Make sure that all of the employees in your company (or at least key workers) set their profiles up properly and get them to check spelling and grammar too, or have someone that can write check it for them.
#2: Get Social
Even before you set up your company page on LinkedIn you and your employees should be joining groups that are relevant to your industry. Join as many different ones as you can and spend a little time each week getting involved in discussion with others. This is ideal for ensuring that your company gets on the radar of others on the site and is an excellent way of preparing to set up your own group.
To be successful in groups:
- Share relevant content, even if it’s not your own.
- Ask questions to prompt discussions.
- Don’t be afraid to share your opinion, even if it’s a little controversial.
- Look for groups which have active administrators (many are left so that anyone can post as much as they want and these tend to attract spam and little in the way of actual discussion.
- Look for questions that others have asked and to solve the problems that they have with your reply.
- Don’t be overly promotional and post lots of your own content.
Remember, it’s all about discussion and so those that tend to just put up links to their own work and not get involved with the community won’t fare very well.
#3: Set Up Your Company Page
Once you and your employees are active on the site and have fully-fledged profiles, it’s time to set up your company page. The idea of your page is to attract followers who you then engage by providing relevant company news, events and content. Further to this, LinkedIn pages often perform well in company searches on the site, so long as they’re well set up.
Products and services should be set up in such a way as to showcase what your company does and has to offer (see also Showcase pages). With this in mind, make sure that you build out these pages with as much information as possible and link out to products and content on the company website. It’s really worth taking your time here and getting the language right for your brand. The page should of course use your company branding and this should also be reflected in the language that you use. Ensure that it’s concise and that whilst it remains professional, it shows off the ‘voice’ and personality of the brand.
Think about SEO too and put in some keyword research before you publish the page, using the keywords that you’ve identified throughout. Google bots look at the first 156 characters of the page for search, so ensure that these are optimised. You can then also scatter keywords and related phrases throughout the text too.
Your company page should also include:
- Company contact details, including address
- Products and/or services offered
- Mission statement
- Industry experience and expertise
Just as with your personal profile, you should also ask for recommendations once the page is fully setup and has gone live. You should also carry out research before sending out page invites to see which prospects are most likely to engage and buy.
Once the page is set up you should ask employees to get involved. You can give administrative rights to those that you feel will be active on the page and encourage others to get involved.
#4: Send Targeted Company Updates
On LinkedIn, company updates can be targeted so that you can send specific content to individual audiences that you’ve created. According to the site’s help section, “updates are targeted based on followers’ profiles” so it’s worth putting in some research before you send these out to ensure that the companies you want to reach have a well fleshed out page (or profile, for individuals).
Targeted update options include:
- Company size
Note that before you can send targeted updates, you must have more than 100 followers on your company page first. Once you have, simply select the share an update box on the home tab and check share with then targeted audience. Then select the audience you want to share with and in this box choose employees and non-employees or non-employees only then hit the share button. Note that you do have to have administrative rights to carry out this action.
#5: Set Up a Discussion Group
LinkedIn discussion groups are ideal for positioning staff members as thought leaders and for gaining more engagement with your company page and your staff in general. Once you’ve set up the group, visit the other groups that you and your staff are members of and go through the member’s list on each to identify prospects.
- Job titles
- Seniority (you ideally want to attract those that have the authority to make a purchase)
Also make sure that you cherry pick the best people from your company page that you’ve already identified as prospects, even if they don’t engage much. You should also of course invite those that do engage with your company updates as these are more likely to do so on the group too and may be all the difference between your updates gaining engagement and not. By identifying prospects and populating your group with them, it’s much more likely that at some point in the future these will be converted into customers.
It’s vital that you put the work into the group by getting as much discussion going as possible. Make sure that group members know the rules too, so if you don’t allow any promotional links, then make this clear from the start. If you do allow these, then it’s really best to limit them or you could soon find yourself becoming swamped with self-promotional links and spam. Make sure too that you don’t just post links to just your content in the group. It’s vital that the group is used as a forum for interesting and engaging discussion, not just as a content distribution tool. Ask questions about industry events or anything that you feel relevant, share news on anything industry related and share the content of others and use it as a springboard for discussion. A well-run group can really boost both your presence and appear in Google search results, so it’s worth putting the time and effort into it.
#6: Publish on LinkedIn
You can publish both original content on LinkedIn and content that has appeared on your site (or that you hold the rights to). However, personally, I would always go for getting as much original content as possible out there, so would only post content to LinkedIn that had been specifically written for the medium. Publishing will not only help to position you as an authority within your industry, but is also much more likely to reach leaders and decision makers than if you publish on your blog alone.
Make sure that whoever you choose to publish on behalf of the company on LinkedIn is a strong writer with great industry knowledge. You can of course hire a copywriter to do this for you, working closely with them to craft the right message with valuable information, but ideally it should be done in house.
Tips for LinkedIn Publishing:
- Create a strong, clickable headline
- Ensure that the content is valuable to the reader – it should solve a problem, entertain and/or educate
- Include an image – posts with images tend to get more engagement
- Include a CTA at the bottom of the post explaining who you are, the company you work for and what you do (you can also list your other social profiles and your website here)
If people comment on the piece then you should of course respond and attempt to keep the conversation going. This will ensure that the post gets enough attention so that it shows up in others’ feeds. Ideally, you want it to get picked up for LinkedIn Pulse; according to Brian Lang, you don’t already have to be an influencer to qualify, as in a study carried out by himself, 70.3% of all of the Pulse posts that he monitored were not.
He also advises that the most popular topics on Pulse were on the subjects of:
- Careers – the most popular with 42% of posts career-related
- Business – this was the second most popular with 15% of posts
- Self-improvement – third most popular with 9.33% of posts
All of the above can be applied to any industry with a little imagination, so in the first instance, try writing about these. For example, with regards to careers you could do a piece about how best to present at an interview, questions you’re likely to be asked, experience that’s generally necessary within your industry and so on. Business is probably the easiest as it’s a pretty far-reaching subject across industries.
LinkedIn is a powerful medium for marketing and great for both gaining and converting prospects into customers. Tap into its power and you have a ready-made audience of serious professionals who might just be looking for the kind of product or service that you’re offering. Many people believe that LinkedIn is only good for B2B leads and contacts and to some extent this is true, but any kind of business can be successful on the professional’s social media site with some hard work, determination and imagination.
Have you been successful on LinkedIn? Has it helped you to effectively grow your business or become a thought leader for your industry? Let us know in the comments section, we’d love to hear how LinkedIn has worked for your business.