Getting Started in Social Media Series, Part Two: LinkedIn
Many of the clients we work with are just getting started on Social Media. If they have used Facebook or other Social Media platforms at all, it has been only for limited personal use. In order to help small business owners get started, we are launching a series of posts, each of which will outline how to quickly get up and running on a specific social network. Businesses can go through these posts one at a time or pick and choose which networks they want to start with. With each post we will review how to set up your account and cover some of the basics for posting and participating on that network.
Our first part in this series talked about how to set up a Twitter account and how to get started on that social network. This week, we're going to review LinkedIn. We will cover what LinkedIn is, how to get your account created, and how to start utilizing the network to help grow and promote your business.
What Is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. It is a top-tier social network along with Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Earlier this year, we saw that 75% of LinkedIn users use it for business purposes. There are 2 million companies on LinkedIn and 50% of LinkedIn users have a bachelors or graduate degree. Perhaps the most telling statistic for small business owners is that LinkedIn users spend, on average, over 8 minutes on LinkedIn per day. That presents a very rich marketing target. So, let's get started!
Create Your Account
If you have not already created a personal account on LinkedIn, that's where you need to start. While the focus of this article is on getting your business started, there are a few basics I want to cover regarding your personal account.
Go to http://www.linkedin.com and Join. Initial registration will only take a couple of minutes, but you should really plan to spend a couple of hours working on your profile. You will want to have an updated copy of your résumé handy as a large part of your profile is your work and education history.
Pay close attention to LinkedIn's "profile completion" meter. That needs to be 100%. Take your time to do it right from the start. The good news is that not only is this time well spent, it's also something you're only going to have to go through once.
There's a Summary section where you are able to simply talk about yourself. If you are going to use your profile to be hired then you would talk at length about your skills and experience, but if you're using your profile and your own Company page to promote your business or freelance work, then your Summary needs to be written with your potential CUSTOMERS in mind. What problems do you solve? How do you work with clients? This section can be as lengthy as you need it to be so don't just type in something to have something there - spend some time and thought on it and you'll be rewarded.
Create Your Company Page
Once you're ready to add your company, go to http://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show where you will be asked to type in the name of your company and your email address. You will need to confirm via email, at which point you will be able to begin populating information about your company.
Just as with your personal profile, it is critical that your Company Page is as complete as possible.
Use the Products and Services tab to really showcase what it is that your company does. If you have a LOT of products you aren't going to want to list them all of course, just your main ones.
Use the Status Updates to begin sharing content from your website like blogs, articles and press releases.
Use the new Header Image to help create a brand image for your company.
Within LinkedIn there are discussion groups on many, many topics. Some groups are open to anyone, while others are by invitation only. You can join (as an individual) up to 50 groups and you should always work to keep at your maximum.
We will talk at more length about LinkedIn Group strategy another time, but the basic idea is that you should spend a small amount of time every week reviewing some of your group discussions. If someone posts a question that you can answer, take a moment to provide that help. If someone posts a great article, you can "like" it by clicking the Thumbs Up button, or leave a comment.
Every time you create new content on your own site like a blog or article post, you should share it with appropriate LinkedIn Groups. The Groups that you join should therefore be groups that you think would benefit and be interested in the kind of content that you're creating. A successful LinkedIn Content Marketing Campaign will drive immense amounts of traffic to your website.
Do not spam to groups and do not post advertisements. You also need to be careful not to be too "salesy" when answering questions. These activities will likely get you removed and banned from the group.
We've covered how Groups are a great way to promote yourself and your content, but what else can you do?
First, your website needs to have a button or icon that visitors can use to get to your Company Page. LinkedIn users can choose to follow a company page, the same as how you can Like a business Facebook Page. When they do so, those users will see your Company Page updates in their news feed.
Post your own content to your status updates of course, but don't be afraid to post links from other sources as well. Sharing valuable information that your customers will find helpful and interesting should be an integral part of any social media marketing plan. This is true for both your personal updates as well as your Company updates. Here are some other status update ideas.
Also make sure that your providing a link to your LinkedIn Company Page everywhere else possible, like other social networks, your email signature, and online directory profiles.
LinkedIn offers advertising opportunities as well as a Service Provider directory that, if applicable, every company should strive to be listed in.
One you've set up your page, take a look at some of our other LinkedIn articles and stories for more recommendations on how to leverage the LinkedIn social network for your business, and feel free to post your questions in the comments section below.
Most importantly, give some thought to how LinkedIn fits into your overall marketing plan, and then optimize that profile to support your goals. Our Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile will help you do just that.
Hopefully this has helped you get started with your shiny new LinkedIn account. As always, if you have questions or need additional assistance, please feel free to contact us. If you have any interesting stories or comments about your own LinkedIn experiences, please share them with us!
Getting Started in Social Media Series
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."