22 Oct How to Use LinkedIn for Your Business
Despite its button-down image as the Chamber of Commerce of social media platforms, LinkedIn is often underutilized as an asset that can help establish your brand, build connections and drive business. If your business has a LinkedIn Page and you’ve only filled out the basic fields and post an occasional update, you’re missing valuable opportunities.
Just as each social media platform has ways to optimize its use for inbound marketing purposes, LinkedIn offers distinct advantages. Here’s how to unlock its powerful potential as a marketing tool.
Start at the Beginning – Complete Your Page
Approach LinkedIn as a permanent trade show booth for your business. When there were actual trade shows not so long ago, you’d make sure your booth was outfitted with all the information visitors needed about your business. You’d get their contact information so you could establish connections that might lead to a sale – or at least an ongoing professional relationship that might eventually lead to a sale. Plus, your existing network of contacts were likely to be at the same show – which often resulted in introductions to new contacts, expanding your circle.
LinkedIn is essentially no different. Consider your Page your booth, and supply it accordingly. Hootsuite writer Katie Sehl notes that completing your Page not only provides visitors with information about your business, it also improves your ranking in Google and LinkedIn search results – garnering 30% more views than incomplete Pages.
Sehl offers the following tips for fleshing out your LinkedIn Page:
Provide an engaging company description – Go beyond the dry facts (industry, year founded, etc.). “Tell people about your vision, mission, values, and offer a description of your products and services in three to four short paragraphs. Copy should be natural and written in your brand voice. Google results preview up to 156 characters of your page’s text – so make your description SEO friendly by including keywords.”
List your location(s) – Even if you don’t expect in-person traffic at your physical location, it serves to establish your business as reputable, and provides a mailing address.
Add a cover photo – This enhances your company’s professional polish. Sehl recommends choosing an image that showcases your business (or is relevant to it). Avoid shots that are too busy, cluttered or blurry. Recommended size is 1584 (w) x 396 (h) pixels.
Add a custom button – A call-to-action (CTA) button can encourage visitors to take a desired action. Options include Visit Website, Contact Us, Learn More, Register, and Sign Up. Add the corresponding URL. Adding a UTM parameter allows you to track the source and medium of those who clicked.
Add hashtags – LinkedIn allows up to three hashtags to make your profile more visible in searches. Choose those typically used in your industry and that best apply to your business.
Tell your audience you speak their language – If your company does business on a global basis, or if your target audience is multilingual, LinkedIn allows you to add your name, tagline and description in over 20 languages.
Customize the URL of your public profile – As HubSpot’s Amanda Zantal-Wiener recommends, customizing your LinkedIn public profile URL will personalize it with your name, rather than ending with random numbers.
Post Quality Content That’s Relevant to Your Audience
Returning to our trade show analogy, you made sure your company’s booth was supplied with high-quality collateral – brochures, sell sheets, looping videos, etc. – that would attract traffic and give visitors valuable information about your business. Product demos and other special presentations also went a long way to ensure a successful show. You’re a professional selling a quality product line or service, so your LinkedIn Page deserves no less!
Even if you’re posting to other social media platforms, tweaking your posts to address the reasons why LinkedIn’s participants are there will fine-tune your messaging to better reach your audience.
Sehl’s article covers LinkedIn’s best practices for business posts, noting that its algorithm ranks posts based on personal connections, interest relevance and engagement probability. LinkedIn’s objective is to show people interesting, engaging content, according to its mantra, “People you know, talking about the things you care about.”
Herewith is her list of best practices for LinkedIn posts:
- Share timely and relevant content.
- Grab attention with an image or video.
- Keep copy short. If you write a longer post, use paragraph breaks or bullet points to make it more readable.
- Call out key stats, points and quotes.
- Include a clear and simple call-to-action.
- Name the audience you’re trying to reach (i.e., “calling all creatives” or “are you a working parent?”).
- Tag people and pages mentioned.
- Lead with a question to prompt responses.
- Create LinkedIn polls for feedback and engagement.
- Include two to three relevant hashtags in a natural way.
- Write strong headlines for articles.
- Respond to comments within a short timeframe to encourage more engagement.
In addition to well-written posts, LinkedIn Stories is a new feature that can help increase engagement. Based on the same premise as Instagram Stories, LinkedIn Stories allows you to share images and short videos that have a 24-hour life. Also like Instagram Stories, LinkedIn’s version can only be posted on its mobile app. Share short videos of office life (or home office life), a tip on how to perform a task more efficiently, a sneak peek at what you’re working on or whatever may be of interest to your audience. Just be sure your Stories are on-brand and relevant to your business.
Knowing when to post is as important as knowing what to post. Posting on a regular basis is essential, as LinkedIn estimates that brands that even post a minimum of once a month gain followers six times faster than those that don’t. Those posting weekly experience two times the engagement. Brands that post once a day gain even more traction – but depending upon your business, this may be overkill.
According to Hootsuite, the best times to post on LinkedIn for B2C businesses are 7:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. EST. The best day for B2B businesses is Wednesday. For B2C brands, Monday and Wednesday are best.
Growing Your Professional Network on LinkedIn
The purpose of being on LinkedIn isn’t to accumulate “likes” for your posts – it’s to make connections with other professionals and grow your network. With that in mind, Zantal-Wiener offers some ways to achieve these objectives:
- Add, view, and remove connections depending on their level of value to your business.
- Control who can see your connections – maybe you do or don’t want your competitors to see that list of people.
- Leverage your second and third-degree connections to grow your network and build new relationships.
- Import and sync your contacts from your email and other sources to stay in touch with colleagues, partners, leads, and customers across the board. These connections will see your content in multiple places so they learn more about who you are as a business, deepening their relationship with your brand.
Joining a LinkedIn Group is also a good way to connect with others in your industry as you share ideas and opinions on topics being discussed. However, avoid the typical tendency to join several Groups, but never checking in and joining discussions. Many business owners do this with good intentions, yet finding the time to follow through on a regular basis is challenging. It’s better to join one or two of the Groups that are most relevant to your business and become a recognized participant than to join several and ignore them.
Another advantage to joining Groups is that you can view complete profiles of other members of the same group, even if you aren’t connected. In addition, if you’re a member of the same group as another user, you’re allowed to send up to 15 free one-on-one messages to other group members per month. Choose the purpose of your messages carefully, so they don’t come across as being overtly self-promotional or salesy. Instead, look for an opportunity where you can offer a solution to a problem the Group member posted about, or direct the member to a useful resource.
Some marketing experts recommend starting your own Group. However, unless your business is in a highly specialized industry or influential already, it may not attract much of a following. Growing the Group would require more time and attention than you probably have as a small-to-medium-size business owner. We recommend focusing on existing Groups to establish your reputation as an expert and thought leader.
LinkedIn’s Feature for the New Normal
As more companies have moved to conducting business remotely, LinkedIn is providing tools for adapting. In LinkedIn’s own words, LinkedIn Events provides members with an easy way to create and join professional Events that interest them, such as meetups, online workshops, seminars and more. LinkedIn members can use the feature to find and join communities, grow their business, network with others and learn new skills.
The Take-Home Message and Our Blatant Self-Promotion
Your business deserves better than to have LinkedIn be a neglected afterthought. Spending the time to cultivate your content and connections can pay off with new opportunities, customers and clients. Even if trade shows were still on, they only last a few days, but your LinkedIn Page is forever (so to speak). Make it the place to be!
If time is an issue, Virtual Stacks Systems offers social media management services that include managing social media pages. Our experienced content writers can write and schedule posts, update and revise LinkedIn Pages and follow best practices to increase engagement. We also write great blog posts for businesses in all industries. Contact us to learn more!