LinkedIn has increasingly become one of the most powerful social networks for marketers. An Oktopost survey of B2B leads generated through social media found that over 80 percent were generated through LinkedIn, leaving Twitter a distant second. 94 percent of B2B marketers now use LinkedIn for content creation and distribution, and 66 percent say it is their most effective social media platform, according to Content Marketing Institute research. But using LinkedIn effectively requires following some sound strategies. Here are seven essential LinkedIn do’s and don’ts to bear in mind when using LinkedIn to promote your small business.
Customizing your LinkedIn profile is one of the first steps towards optimizing your LinkedIn marketing strategy, says COGO Interactive Training expert Peg McDermott. For starters, your default profile URL includes a string of unnecessary numbers you can remove to make your URL more suitable for branding. You can edit your URL by hovering over the Profile link at the top of your homepage, selecting Edit Profile, hovering over the link beneath your profile photo and clicking the settings icon to access the URL editing field.
You should also customize your photo and the text of your page’s headline, summary and content. For instance, Amway’s LinkedIn page includes the company’s logo as a profile photo along with a description of the company and a tab to learn about Amway careers. Be sure to include relevant keywords in your profile text in order to attract prospects who might be searching for specific terms using LinkedIn’s search engine or Google.
Once you create your LinkedIn profile, it’s easy to forget to update it. If your employment situation changes or there’s an important development in your professional career, make sure to update your profile to reflect your current situation. A good way to make sure you do this is to schedule periodic reviews of all your social media profiles, including your LinkedIn profile. This will also help ensure that your various online profiles stay consistent.
Unlike email, LinkedIn doesn’t use a spam filter. This gives you more flexibility when communicating on LinkedIn, but unfortunately, it is also prone to abuse by spammers. LinkedIn is the social media equivalent of a professional business environment, so spamming prospects is likely to turn them off and hurt your reputation. In fact, LinkedIn recently had to pay a $13 million lawsuit when the company’s Add Connections feature sent annoying automated invitations to contacts of members, which litigants claimed hurt their reputation. Make sure that any messages you send through LinkedIn are personal, customized and relevant to your recipient and the relationship you’re trying to build with them.
By the same token, LinkedIn is not a network for posting selfies, personal content or humor videos, says inbound marketing consultant Ryan Shelley. Instead, use LinkedIn to share your professional knowledge, insights, tips and experiences.
One of the most effective ways to use LinkedIn to position your brand is by publishing content that showcases your expertise and the benefits your knowledge and experience represent to prospects. You can distribute content through LinkedIn’s internal publishing platform and use status updates to alert your followers to new content, suggests Linkfluencer founder Alex Pirouz. You can also build a discussion network within LinkedIn and use it to connect with prospects and promote discussion of your brand. For instance, Citigroup wanted to improve its presence among female professionals, so it built a LinkedIn networking group for professional women. For best results, plan your content in advance and follow a regular, consistent publishing schedule.
LinkedIn should serve as one tool in your online marketing toolkit and should support your other online activity. Use your LinkedIn posts and messages as opportunities to promote your total web presence, including your website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram page and YouTube channel. You can do this by including links on your LinkedIn profile, in your messages and in content you post.
To get the most out of your LinkedIn content marketing and prospecting, be sure to take follow-up steps when you post or connect so that your hard work doesn’t go to waste. After you post, be on the alert for comments, connection requests and direct messages. When you connect with someone or talk to them directly, use a customer relationship management tool to take notes on the date and content of your conversation. Look at the profiles of people who connect with you and take time to learn about their background and interests and what they’re doing on LinkedIn and other social media. Create a follow-up schedule to periodically keep in touch with connections you’ve identified as good prospects.
If you have multiple social media accounts and get lots of email, it’s easy to forget to check your LinkedIn messages or assign them lower priority than other communications. This can undo all the hard work you’ve put into LinkedIn marketing if an important message comes in and you didn’t notice it until its timeliness had passed. To make sure you check your LinkedIn messages regularly, schedule a daily time slot or two to check your messages, just as you would do for email. This will be easier to do if you turn on email notifications so that you don’t have to take the extra step of logging into LinkedIn to see your messages.
Posting on LinkedIn is not an end in itself, but a means to promote your business. To make sure your efforts are achieving this end, you should set goals and track the results of your LinkedIn activity. For instance, how much do you post on LinkedIn per week? How many leads per month is your LinkedIn activity generating? How many business partnerships have resulted from your activity? How many prospective employees have you connected with, interviewed or hired? Tracking these kinds of results can help you make the adjustments you need to make sure your LinkedIn marketing is achieving the goals you intend for your business.
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