As we made patently obvious in our last post, you cannot afford LinkedIn to be the social network which you just don´t “get”. Sure, it may be slightly more unassuming than its counterparts, Twitter and Facebook, with it rarely making any headlines, but that is not cause for it to be forgotten about.
At last count, LinkedIn boasted more than 332 million members – a figure that is forever on the rise, as more and more people become au fait with what it can offer both professionals and brands alike.
In this guide we´re obviously less concerned about what it can offer jobseekers, but that´s not to say making sure your employees´ individual profiles are optimised as best they can be is not of pivotal importance. That´s because brands will often use a highly-regarded member of their team to reach out to prospective clients, giving the whole thing a more personable approach.
For small firms, the owner of the business might be the person whose profile is used to make contact with people potentially interested in what you do. For larger companies, the managing director´s account may assume the role. We´ll come back to that, though…
Getting profiles up to scratch
First things first, then, you´ve got to make sure the profile is as polished as it can be. Whereas on Twitter, for example, there is sometimes a value in being enigmatic and unpredictable, success on LinkedIn relies upon transparency – not at the cost of being interesting, of course.
So, forget that less is more mantra and seek to attain 100% profile completeness, as that is how LinkedIn measures your “profile strength”. The more information you fill in about yourself, the more likely you are to appear nice and high in the search results.
If a profile is left incomplete, it is “essentially useless”, according to HubSpot´s guide on how to use the platform. It has produced five pages worth of tips on completing your LinkedIn profile, which we have condensed to a more consumable portion:
Our six tips for success
1. Full Name and Image
Include your full name and an appropriate, professional image – no “mad” pictures from your university days, for example.
Personalise your headline so that it appeals to prospective clients – but don´t try and window-dress your position, as they will see straight through it.
3. Relevant Work History
Add your work history, but filter out the smaller, less relevant positions you may have found yourself in over the years.
4. Simple URL
Under the “Edit Profile” page, head to the bottom of the page and you´ll find a line that reads “Public Profile”. Click edit and make your URL as share-ready as possible, i.e. keep it simple.
Under each position you´ll notice a hyperlink with the line “Ask for recommendations” – go for it, making sure the message is not the generic one LinkedIn suggests.
6. Add Connections
Set about building your connections – you´ll need about 50 to make it at all worthwhile, but 500+ is what you really should be aiming for.
Mastering your company page
Naturally, when reaching out to potential clients through individual accounts, they are likely to navigate towards your company page to find out a bit more about what your company does.
Your LinkedIn company page, therefore, should act as an extension of your website, whereby professionalism is maintained to ensure your business projects a high level of expertise and competence.
Here´s what to include, which should, in turn, give you an idea as to what would do you no favours:
- Word the description of your company so that it is easily understood. Don´t go big on the jargon, or else people might glance at it and not be able to discern if what you are able to offer is what they require.
- Post jobs via your company page. Not only will it open the job to a whole host of new professionals, it will also suggest to clients that you´re a business on the up.
- Showcase your products or services via “Admin tools”, thus making it clear what your business has to offer.
- LinkedIn gives you the option to promote your company, so use it. This can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your website.
- See how well your efforts are faring by utilising the “analytics” tab on your company page. This will allow you to see how many page views and unique visitors have made their way to your page.
It´s ALL about how many friends you have
All this might sound a little like common sense to you – if it does, good news, it was meant to be nice and straightforward (we´ll leave the more advanced stuff for later in the guide). However, without well-polished profiles you really are chancing your arm. In fact, your efforts might even be all in vain if you´ve got a blemish or two on one of your profiles, as potential clients have so much in the way of choice these days.
It´s not an exaggeration to say that LinkedIn is such a powerful tool for marketing now; failure to get it right can be the difference between growth and, well, death. Whilst that might strike you as bordering on hyperbole, social media marketing is now crucial for almost every business – and for some, LinkedIn is their most viable platform for acquiring new business.
Let´s cut to the chase, then, and look at how you can use LinkedIn to market your business. As previously stated, your clout, or expertise, is often gauged by the number of connections you can boast. In that sense, LinkedIn tallies with other social networks, with people more prepared to listen to those with hundreds of associates than, say, those with just a handful.
Your first port of call is to reach out to the people you know, simply by searching for them, or importing contacts from your various email accounts. You´ll be surprised by how quickly the connections rack up – even before you head to the “People You May Know” page.
So, you´ve got your individual pages and your company page in order, with a healthy number of connections to give you that much needed leverage – let´s see what how you can become a lead generating champion on LinkedIn:
Use Sponsored Updates
Sponsored Updates works in a similar fashion to Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories on other social sites, allowing you to promote your message to users who, perhaps, aren´t aware of your existence.
It also allows you to target your update in a very specific way – by location, job title, school, skills etc. – meaning your marketing efforts are just about as focused and optimised as they can be.
You can sponsor any of the updates on your company page. So, if one particular updates seems to be resonating with your followers, we´d suggest that could be ideal for elevating it into a Sponsored Update.
As you´d expect, there are a number of different payment options, where you´ll have to decide whether to use cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).
Finally, it´s worth noting that LinkedIn doesn´t require you to put the update via its administrators for approval, so you can hit post in the knowledge that it´ll be going out exactly when you intended it to.
Post high-quality content
Content is the pillar of any social media strategy – and that extends to LinkedIn, too. Not just any content, though, of course; it has to be high-quality stuff.
LinkedIn recently opened up its publishing platform, Pulse, to all – rather than just influencers – essentially giving everyone their own on-site blog. Where with a blog you have to think how best to expose your musings with those interested in your firm, on LinkedIn you scarcely have to think about that aspect – providing you´ve got a decent following, of course.
Once you´ve hit publish, your content will sit at the top of your LinkedIn profile, meaning anybody who takes the time to view it can instantly see you´re more than just a mere spectator in the industry.
Whatever you do, though, don´t just concentrate on text. Some of the most popular posts on the platform involve a mixture of visuals and text. Video has its place too on LinkedIn, but with most users viewing whilst they are at their desk, they might not be so inclined to hit play if it requires them to scramble for their headphones.
Another way to foster relationships on the platform through content is simply by sharing other people´s posts. Doing so comes with threefold benefits: it ensures your network have a regular stream of content with your name attached to it; it strengthens your relationship with the person or company who composed the post; it could also lead to the flattered connection returning the favour and reposting your content with their network. All for the price of a click of the mouse.
Groups are useful on a number of different levels. It gives you a chance to get involved in some interesting discussion, which could potentially open your eyes to a different, more rewarding way of doing things. Conversely, the opinions you offer might get heads turning in your direction, which might prove good for gallivanting new business.
There are both open groups – easy, broad exposure, but not necessarily highly regarded – and members-only groups – often include more insightful content, but limited in exposure.
It´s obviously quite a time-consuming endeavour to read articles posted in groups, not to mention thinking of something interesting to add to the discussion, but it really can help you establish your reputation. With that, groups are a great way of growing your network, with LinkedIn allowing you to invite fellow group members to become personal connections.
Create Your Own Group
Going one step further and setting up your own group also has its benefits. The key is to carve out an identity for your group that is both unique yet has scope for plenty of debate. It´s not too hard to surmise why creating your own personal group might be a good thing – you´re no longer one of the pack, you´re the orchestrator.
However, be wary that you´re not covering well-trodden ground, as people simply haven´t got time for discussion which has been done to death.
Once your group has been set up, make use of LinkedIn´s ´Send an announcement´ feature, which permits you to send one announcement of up to 500 words per week to all group members. Some people may flit in and out of LinkedIn, meaning they are not always tuned in to what discussions are taking place on the platform – the announcement feature acts as a timely reminder to get involved.
Introduce your services
LinkedIn is a prime place to introduce your business to prospective clients. Often brands, or agencies working on behalf of firms, will use the profile of an individual high up in the business in order to reach out to potentially interested parties.
That´s not an excuse to throw your services at anyone and everyone, however, as you´ll soon get an undesirable rep. Much like content marketing, getting in touch with people on LinkedIn requires a deft touch. The quick and easy thing to do is to lead with your services, but that just doesn´t do it these days.
Instead, adopt a more personalised approach, whereby you try and assess the needs of those with whom you are in dialogue with before you toss over your virtual business card. With the right amount of subtly, LinkedIn can prove a hotbed for new business.
So there you have it – and we´ve only really just touched upon what LinkedIn can offer your business, truth be told. In the interest of keeping this a “Beginner´s guide”, however, we´ll leave it there for now. We´ll cover any “glaring omissions” in due course, giving them the coverage they deserve. In the meantime, though, make LinkedIn a part of your daily social media strategy – rather than just a once-a-week thing.
If you find yourself not getting very far, however, don´t forget that we´re here for you…
April 30, 2015