By Missy Sheehan
In the world of social media, LinkedIn is one of the power players. While Facebook is on top in terms of number of users, according to the 2014 Pew Research Center report I examined in last month’s post, LinkedIn is right there alongside other networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter that saw significant increases in users last year.
Unlike its more casual counterparts though, LinkedIn stands apart from the crowd thanks to its reputation as the world’s largest professional network and its mission to help professionals connect. It’s the network where users go to when it’s time to straighten up, put on that suit and tie, and get down to business. Naturally then, LinkedIn is the perfect platform for businesses of all sizes to expand their professional networks and get more leads, referrals, and sales.
Read on for six tips for using LinkedIn to boost your business’s success.
1. Create a Company Page—But Don’t Expect Miracles
When it comes to using LinkedIn, creating a company page helps establish your business’s presence on the network, “but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to be some sort of untapped goldmine of exposure for your brand,” warns Melonie Dodaro, author of “The LinkedIn Code,” in a post on LinkedIn last year.
“Company pages aren’t where I’ve found success that produces sales,” Dodaro adds. Instead she claims that “the real results always come from building relationships on your personal LinkedIn profile” because people like dealing with real people rather than faceless entities or logos.
People like dealing with real people rather than faceless entities or logos.
Company pages, on the other hand, serve as a foundation for your brand’s presence on LinkedIn, acting as an information hub for visitors who want to learn more about your business. “If you manage your expectations, I think you’ll find that LinkedIn Company Pages will have their place in the overall spectrum of your online marketing efforts,” Dodaro writes.
2. Optimize Your Profiles
You wouldn’t go to an in-person networking event half dressed, would you? So don’t leave your personal profile or your company page incomplete. Be sure to list all the pertinent details, such as your job title, areas of experience and expertise, and contact information, but avoid being too “salesy,” and try to incorporate various media into your profile. “My most successful and consistent results have come from building a personal profile that has been optimized with related keywords, action-oriented engaging copy (not a sales pitch) and rich media content from videos, presentations, documents and more,” advises Jon Rognerud, SEO expert and founder of ChaosMap, in an article for Social Media Examiner.
On your company page, add your business’s specialties, services, website links, and relevant keywords to make it easier for people to find and learn more about your business.
3. Make Personal Connections
Once you’ve optimized your profiles, work on building your network of personal connections. As with traditional face-to-face networking, it takes time and effort to build lasting relationships with other like-minded professionals.
In the same article for Social Media Examiner, Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor, suggests implementing “influence networking” to nurture your connections. “Influence networking is when you bring that ‘human’ touch to your LinkedIn marketing efforts by finding ways to personalize the experience of engaging with your network on a deeper level,” she writes.
Sammons recommends reviewing the profiles of your “most valuable people” to gather information about them and then using that information “to find ways to help, acknowledge, congratulate, promote and even connect your connections on an individual level.”
4. Attract Followers
To encourage users to follow your company page, engage your employees, suggests small-business audience expert Lana Khavinson in a post published on LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions blog. “Encourage them to create and complete LinkedIn profiles—once they include your company name, they automatically become followers of your company page,” she writes.
Khavinson also advises including links to your business’s LinkedIn page in email signatures and newsletters and Follow buttons on websites and blogs. Participating in LinkedIn Groups can help highlight your company page and attract followers as well.
5. Publish Interesting and Relevant Content
After you’ve made those valuable connections and earned those followers, keep them engaged by regularly posting interesting and relevant content on both your personal profile and your company page. “Thought leaders and CEOs from a wide range of industries publish announcements, blog posts, and other types of messages for users to read and share,” writes Travis Huff in a recent article for Social Media Today. “As a result, LinkedIn is quickly becoming a source of news and information for anyone who wants to track what’s happening in even the most niche industry in the marketplace.”
Be sure to showcase your business’s expertise and demonstrate value to your company page’s followers rather than just advertising to them. According to LinkedIn’s Small Business Marketing Playbook, for every post that promotes your company, you should publish four posts focus on thought leadership or industry trends.
6. Try Sponsored Updates
One of the key benefits of a company page is “the ability to run Sponsored Updates to promote your best content with laser-focused targeting,” according to Dodaro. “Sponsored updates provide a better way to put your content in front of key influencers and decision makers on LinkedIn, which will ultimately help you build your credibility as an expert in your niche and increase your exposure to people who are not in your network,” she writes in the previously mentioned article for Social Media Examiner.
After you’ve sponsored an update, determine its effectiveness using the detailed analytics provided by LinkedIn. After all, you only want to sponsor posts that will be worth your investment.
By spending a little time and effort devising and implementing a strategy that incorporates these six tips, LinkedIn can help you boost your business’s success rate in finding leads, getting referrals, and ultimately, making sales. Now get out there and start making connections!