stand out on linkedinThe new age of LinkedIn has well and truly dawned. No longer seen merely as the domain of jobseekers and recruiters, LinkedIn has become a key marketing hub for savvy business professionals to discuss and debate hot industry topics, network with like-minded connections, generate new leads and build brand credibility by sharing their expertise via posts on Pulse.

Some may assume that this is a strategy mostly beneficial for the larger brands; those with a huge network, wide reach and the ability to easily click up those views and likes. But we are here to tell you that this is a bandwagon SMEs should most definitely be jumping on.

The Wall Street Journal published a study last year indicating that 41% of small businesses feel LinkedIn is the social tool with the most potential to generate business, putting LinkedIn head and shoulders above the nearest competitors – Youtube (16%) and Facebook (14%). In fact, the LinkedIn company profile is fast becoming the business card of the 21st century. And if this is the case, then content is the marketing tool which hands it out.

This summer, LinkedIn reported hitting the one million publishers mark. That’s a whopping one million professionals now penning posts on the platform with, according to Hootsuite, as many as 130,000 posts getting published every day. Which begs the question on the lips of those SMEs keen to harness the power of LinkedIn – how do you stand out from the crowd?

Here are a few best practice top tips to help those with a modest network and reach capture the attention of readers:

1. Choose an eye-catching image

Your content might be spot-on but if nobody clicks on your post, you’ve fallen at the first hurdle. A properly optimised, eye-catching image will ensure a few heads are turned. Choose with care – this image will be displayed in the blogroll and the posts page as well as in the feed of your networks.

2. Keep it short and sweet

According to bloggingwizard.com, over 70% of posts featured on Pulse clock in at under 1000 words. If your article explores topics in more depth, consider using an excerpt with a link to the rest of the content on your company blog. Don’t forget to use tags to help readers discover your post, but be sure to keep the list short too (we recommend no more than five to avoid the spammy, cluttered look).

3. Engage, engage, engage

Set aside some time as a priority to engage with other posts. Always respond to those who take the time to comment on your content to develop relationships and spark conversation. Reading posts and the comments below can provide valuable insight into the industry issues that are grabbing the attention of your community – this can be used as inspiration for your future content. Don’t forget the rule of reciprocity – comment on other posts or give shout outs to certain members of your community, they may well do the same for you.

Another engagement tip is to get active in small local group discussions where you are more likely to get noticed. This tactic can lead to a more prominent position in the discussions tab and a greater chance of making the top-listed discussions – any visitor to the group page may well notice and remember your company name.

4. Learn from popular posts

LinkedIn reported this summer that the top content-demanding industries are technology, financial services and higher education. However, not all SMEs will be operating within these spheres. To help guide your content, take a look on Pulse at the top posts to gain an idea of the most successful articles and the content that is attracting the most attention.

5. Share your experiences

Check out the LinkedIn influencer series where you can read about the trials and tribulations of some of the top professionals in your industry. However, as an SME you don’t need to take a backseat and wait until you reach this status to share your personal journey. Discuss the mistakes you have learned from or the risks you have taken – a personal story taps into emotions, allowing your network to see the human side behind the business, to relate to you and consequently, to trust you.

Ben Hollom

September 17, 2015