Traditional, face-to-face networking may seem to be a simpler and perhaps a bit more labor intensive way to prospect than social media. In the old days, you rolled into a conference or networking event and collected hundreds of business cards while shaking as many hands as possible along the way. But imagine investing your time to attend these events and once you arrive never speaking to anyone. Unfortunately, that’s what often happens when businesses launch social media initiatives.
With its 175 million users, LinkedIn is a valuable social media resource where companies can recruit talent, generate qualified leads, and create new branding opportunities. Yet all too often, after creating a profile, the marketing team neglects creating anything else of value in this space. If you’re looking to leverage LinkedIn’s impressive reach (someone joins the site every two seconds) these six steps will get you on track.
1. Make Sure Your Company Page is Complete
According to LinkedIn, there are more than 2 million businesses with a company page. The network provides users an opportunity to integrate rich media content into a profile, including hyperlinked banners, Twitter feeds, links to websites and blogs, as well as videos from YouTube. Maximizing these tools will not only increase your search rankings on Google, but also facilitate conversations across your other connected social media platforms.
To maximize these important bells and whistles:
- Create an all-encompassing products and services page on your company profile with an image, business descriptions, a list of key features, and a URL link back to your website.
- Post career opportunities on the profile page.
- Feature products and services and actively solicit recommendations from satisfied customers.
- Add your blog feed URL.
2. Set Goals for Company Pages
If you’ve determined lead-gen is your primary goal, focus on engaging an audience with high-quality content so that even people who aren’t likely to become leads can share with others who may become leads.
If you’ve decided to use company pages primarily as an informational outlet, create content around your business that will also interest people on the periphery. In addition to developing information about your latest products, try writing news style articles about what is happening in your industry. After all, you and your team are experts in your field. You definitely have opinions and ideas that others will value.
3. Build a Following
The more followers you have, the greater your visibility. It’s a simple concept, but many marketers seem to struggle with how to grow a network. Your followers are your network and best promoters.
Try these steps to ramp up a quality following for your company page:
- Ask employees to be active in promoting the page across their personal LinkedIn networks by reposting and commenting on work that appears on your company pages. The more they share, the greater your reach.
- Interact with other players in your industry. Join industry-related groups on LinkedIn and comment on the work of others or interesting articles that may be relevant to people who work in your space. The more you interact, the more attention you will receive.
- Send a message to your list of customers and ask them to leave testimonials.
4. It’s Not Always About You
The best way to engage followers is to provide interesting, valuable, educational content. This is your opportunity to establish your company as an industry expert; but a steady diet of “me and mine” is sure to turn people away.
To diversify your LinkedIn content:
- Use LinkedIn Groups and Answers to showcase your expertise. Present valuable business solutions to your network, and customers will certainly start paying attention.
- Use images in your company updates.
- Try sharing recent stats, trends, and other valuable resources that help businesses and clients become more successful. Information that isn’t directly about your business, but is related to the space in which you work, generates more feedback.
- End status updates with a question. This is a great strategy to engage followers.
5. Engage and Network
Engage both the people and businesses you’d like to work with to help expand your influence. Just building it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come.
- LinkedIn’s advanced search features can help you find and follow industry partners and companies that you are interested in doing business with.
- Promote companies important to your business by liking, sharing, and commenting on their updates. If you work with a supplier that is vital to your success, let your network know about them.
- These companies will likely return the favor and help to promote your business to another segment you didn’t even know existed.
6. Track, Monitor, and Adjust
If you’re not tracking and measuring where success occurs and where it doesn’t, your efforts will be akin to throwing darts in the dark. You can easily monitor your progress with the analytics tab for company pages. This helpful tool provides detailed data on the page’s visitors visible only to administrators.
Tim Gray is content strategist with Blue Fountain Media. He has wide-ranging background in the online marketing space and writes about his experiences with SEO, social media, and all aspects of web design for the company’s blog, The ROI Factor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @bfmweb.