By Lindsey Greenberger, Marketing Specialist
LinkedIn offers a great way for companies to connect with potential customers and influencers. Not only can you join groups and reach out directly to your ideal customer, you can also create a business page and connect by posting engaging content. Remember, content isn’t just about selling your product, but about becoming a trusted resource for information. So make sure your posts relate to your industry, not just the goods and services you may be selling.
Here's a compilation of tips and resources for how to use LinkedIn to best effect.
1. Make your own personal profile stand out
The first step to mastering LinkedIn is ensuring your own personal profile is complete, and stands out from the crowd. Your LinkedIn profile is often one of the first things that pops up when people search your name online, so you want your profile to make a good first impression.
Building a great LinkedIn profile begins with picking the right profile picture, then writing a clear mission statement in your headline, and an engaging summary and a work history – with examples – that prove your expertise. Once you have finished your profile, ask colleagues for recommendations. These recommendations are a form of social proof that provide your potential new clients the feedback and actions of others to determine if they want to work with you or not.
For a full rundown on how to build a great LinkedIn profile, you can download this free ebook.
Big picture – you want a profile that accurately reflects who you are and what you are about. Don’t be generic, and avoid overused, vague buzzwords (i.e., expert, solution, unique, value, innovation, creative, strategic). Instead, do your best to write it in a way that gives people a true sense of who you are.
2. Set up a Company Page that accurately reflects your brand
Once your own profile is set, it’s time to create a standout Company Page for your business. And you want a strong one for the same reasons you want a strong personal page – LinkedIn is a highly visited, SEO-friendly site, so you want a page that’s going to leave a good impression.
This site will guide you through exactly how to build a great Company Page on LinkedIn. But the fundamentals of building one are very similar to the fundamentals of building a great personal profile – you want a strong banner photo and an engaging company description that describes what your company does and your mission. Imagery, colors and content on this page should be consistent with your website and any other social media profiles the business has. The page should be updated regularly, so the brand is active and appears to be a current business.
Optimize the page for SEO by using a keyword rich description on your company page, keeping in mind that Google will preview the first 156 characters of that description. Make sure the keywords that matter most to you are at the beginning of your LinkedIn company page description. It’s also important to build links to this page much like you would your website or blog (starting with employee profiles and the main website).
3. Build your network
Once you are done optimizing your profile, it’s time to build your network. Start connecting with your friends, colleagues, former colleagues, and professors/instructors. These are known as your immediate network.
Once you have done this, start connecting with your second-degree connections—colleagues or acquaintances of your immediate network—and make sure to send a personalized connection requests or a message via an InMail.
4. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups for both connections and expertise
One of the best ways to use LinkedIn to build relationships and gain expertise in your industry is to join LinkedIn Groups relevant to your target demographic.
Mostly, people in your industry use them to ask advice from others in the same industry. You can learn a lot reading through them, as often the problems relate to you as well. And, you have the opportunity to share your own expertise.
Additionally, these groups are a great way to network with people in your industry, or people in related industries. You can message the members of groups you are in, even if you aren't connected.
5. Share content to start building a following
Once you have both your personal profile and Company Page ready to go, it’s time to start drawing people to both and building a following. The reason is followers are 2X more likely to respond to your InMail than non-followers, so essentially your followers are a stockpile of warm leads. And the best way to build a following is to post status updates or to blog on LinkedIn.
Posting daily company updates is the most effective way to start a conversation, drive word of mouth, and directly engage with your target audience. Share company news, industry articles, thought leadership pieces, or ask followers to weigh in on hot topics. Posts will appear on your Company Page and in the news feed on the homepage of each of your followers across all devices and platforms. Include rich content such as images, infographics, and videos to keep things fresh and exciting for your community. Don’t be afraid to produce and share content on your page that shows you have an opinion, which will help cut through the clutter.
Here are some good tips to follow and some good examples to keep in mind when writing your status updates for your Company Page. Also, a reminder that aggregating content is okay. In other words, you don’t have to write an article yourself to share it. Instead, share links of article from other sites that your target audience would be interested in, perhaps adding a line or two of commentary.
6. Invest in followers through Advertising
Use highly targeted Follow Ads to quickly attract the precise audience that you are trying to reach. Follow Ads appear throughout LinkedIn and can be targeted to members in specific industries, companies, and regions. When members follow your company, that action spreads through their network as an update, which motivates others to follow as well.
With Sponsored Updates, businesses pay to push their post onto an individual's LinkedIn feed. This "pay-per-click" or "pay-per-1,000" impression feature offers demographics similar to other social platforms (location, gender and age), but one key differentiation is the ability to customize based on company name, job title, job function, skills, schools and groups. Users can target interested industries, without competing against the noise of other irrelevant companies and messages. A sponsored update can be an excellent way to promote thought-leadership content relevant to the targeted audience, with a strong call to action. People don't want to see pure advertising anymore and want something useful for free. By promoting a brand’s content (white paper, guide, etc.) through a LinkedIn Sponsored Update, a company can target a niche audience, increase website visitors and, if the content is compelling enough, generate sales leads.
Lindsey Greenberger is an expert in developing and managing marketing strategy, partnerships, and campaigns in the areas of health and wellness, cause, and entertainment. Previously the Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility at NBCUniversal, today Lindsey helps Hungry's clients define their messages and connect with their target audiences.