LinkedIn is Facebook’s straight-laced, career oriented cousin. It’s the social media channel of choice for professionals and B2B brands.
When Facebook plays Candy Crush, LinkedIn ponders the economics of gamification.
When Facebook lights up over Miley Cyrus’ latest shocker, LinkedIn analyzes celebrity influence on consumer spending.
When Facebook reminds you to say happy birthday to your college roommate, LinkedIn prompts you to say congrats on the new job to your former cube mate.
Do you need a LinkedIn presence for your company?
Every B2B company should be using LinkedIn as a key part of a brand awareness or content marketing strategy.
B2C brands also often have a need for a B2B content marketing strategy. For example, if you have a network of sales/distribution partners, a large workforce, or other professionals that you need to stay connected to, LinkedIn can be an effective channel for nurturing relationships with secondary audiences.
Here’s how to make it happen.
The 3 core elements in the LinkedIn universe are 1) Companies, aka Company Pages 2) Profiles and 3) Groups.
1. Company Pages
Both B2B and B2C brands should have a presence on LinkedIn in the form of a “Company Page.” This is where you can share posts about what’s going on behind the scenes: information a prospective employee would want to know about your team. It’s also an effective way to share a job opening or blog post.
Feel free to share product announcements, press releases, and other self-centered content that might not fly with your blog’s editorial team.
LinkedIn users can opt to “follow” Companies to make sure updates reach their homepage newsfeed. Employees who are linked to the Page from their Profile (see below) automatically follow the Page.
- If you have a particularly long company name and would like to have an abbreviation in the URL, you should know that you CANNOT edit your Page link after you create it, like you can on Facebook. LinkedIn converts the company name you enter during the set up process into a custom url. Use your preferred abbreviation as the company name when you create your Page, and edit it after the URL is locked in.
- You’ll need a number of graphics: a few logo versions and an eye catching cover image.
Don’t stress too much about your company description because as soon as you start posting content, the “About” blurb is irritatingly always pushed down by the infinity scroll just beyond view. (Hopefully LinkedIn will address this issue soon.)January 2014 Update: Your company description and details now appear at the top, behind a “see more” link.
Communispace’s Company Page is a good model. They post links to articles from around the web and their own blog that are interesting to people in their clique: market researchers and brand managers.
Your people are a critical component of your brand’s image. You expect them to be presentable and represent the company well during and after hours, in-person and online. Their LinkedIn profile should at the very least be correctly linked to your Company Page. The “current employer” will then display the correct brand name and logo, and the Company Page will list employees, depending on each user’s privacy settings.
The more employees who list your company on their Profile, the more likely a prospect will find you organically. Case in point: I recently searched Agency Spotter in search of a direct mail designer. Of the top 5 matches, I found out I had a 1st degree connection at of the agencies. Guess which one I called?
Note: Connecting with employees and coworkers on LinkedIn is a grey area. It’s not as personal or invasive as on Facebook, but everyone should be aware that if you decide to spruce up your profile without understanding your notification settings, your team might suddenly get notified and suspect you’re planning to make a move. (Awkward.)
LinkedIn users hold focused discussions and share relevant resources in Groups. Think of a Group as an informal breakout session at a conference.
As of now, you can only join a Group as a person (not as a company page), so you’ll need to have your own personal profile up to date and a headline that clearly identifies your company and role. Same goes for anyone else who will be on social networks on behalf of the brand – and the more the better. See point 2.
Search for Groups based on keywords that relate to your business. For example, if you are selling software that improves logistics in the food service industry, look for Groups on either logistics or food service management.
Evaluate based on number of members and frequency of posts. These basic metrics will say a lot about which Groups you should invest in. There may be hundreds of Groups to choose from, but they aren’t all created equal. Groups vary in size, frequency and focus based on the moderators and members. Prioritize Groups with more members and posts per month.
Seek out power players. Once you’ve picked a few Groups to start with, read the posts and “follow” users that you think are positive contributors to the conversation. Feel free to “like” their comments (it’s not creepy to do this on LinkedIn).
Refrain from posting too soon. Keep in mind the active members in Groups are real people, so you don’t want to barge into a conversation they’ve been having for a while and immediately start talking about yourself. Like, comment or otherwise engage 1-2 times per week for 3-4 weeks before you post something about yourself. Then start your own discussion, share a link to a relevant article or blog post (maybe yours!)
Invite your customers to join the Group, if you find one that you think they would find useful. Depending on how small your industry is, there may be reps from competitive companies in the Group. Try not to be threatened or get territorial about the information sharing that happens. Everyone can play nice at the annual trade show and should be able to coexist civilly online, too.
Create your own Group if you have a critical mass of customers or partners already on LinkedIn. Depending on the topics you’d like to cover, you can make it public or private (membership is approved by a moderator). Assign the role of community manager to someone who can keep the discussion going over the long term. It’s a poor reflection on the Group owner if it’s a ghost town.