We all know that Facebook and Twitter can be great platforms for growing a business, but you might not yet have thought about how adding LinkedIn to your social media strategy could help you reach out to new audiences.
With over 690 million users and counting, and a third of professionals using the platform, LinkedIn has powerful marketing potential if you know how to get the most from it.
Today I’m showing you how to get started, giving you some tips on the many different ways your small business can benefit from being part of the LinkedIn community.
Who is LinkedIn for?
Because LinkedIn is a social network for motivated professionals, it’s a platform your business can benefit from whatever your industry. It works particularly well for B2B businesses, but with such a huge user base there’s plenty for B2C businesses to get out of it as well. Its key benefits include:
- Networking: Build your professional network by connecting with industry contacts
- Increase exposure: Use LinkedIn to announce new products and services, share blog posts and more
- Lead generation: Prospect for new business with highly targeted searches
- Relationship building: Build and strengthen client and customer relationships by connecting and staying in touch on LinkedIn
- Credibility: Showcase your brand in a professional environment and gain recommendations from customers or clients
- Thought leadership: Comment on industry news and share your own thoughts in posts and articles
- Recruitment: Headhunt or advertise for new talent to help your business grow
- Competition: Keep an eye on what your competitors are up to
If that sounds good, you’re ready to get started with using LinkedIn for business. To begin, you’ll be needing a LinkedIn company page.
How to create a company page on LinkedIn
You may already have your own personal LinkedIn profile, but the one you’ll have for your business is different. Your business profile on LinkedIn is called your ‘Company Page’, and it’s where LinkedIn users can find out all about your business.
Your company page is the one that will be linked to if any of your staff list themselves as working for you on their personal profiles, and it’s also where you can share company news and job opportunities. Customers, clients, staff and anyone with an interest in your business can follow you to get your updates, which we’ll talk more about shortly.
Here’s an example from Ella’s Kitchen and another from Riverford Organic Farmers so you know what you’re aiming for; the Cath Kidston page has a nice example of extra profile information in the “life” section.
2. Choose the page type that fits your business from these options (I’ll come onto showcase pages later):
3. You’ll then have a series of boxes to fill in, some of which you type your business details into and others which allow you to choose from a drop-down menu. On the right, a preview of your new page will automatically generate. The name of the page and the public URL should be the name of your business.
4. Having completed this information and uploaded a profile picture, you’ll then be taken to your new page in ‘Admin view’, where you’ll be guided through any remaining actions you still need to complete, such as uploading a cover photo and writing a description of your company.
5. If you want other members of staff to manage the page for you, click on “Manage admins” under the “Admin tools” drop-down menu on the top right and start typing their name in the box. You’ll need to be connected with someone on your personal profile before you can add them as an admin for your page.
As a minimum, LinkedIn advises:
“To ensure your Page is discoverable both on and off LinkedIn, check that it includes the fields below. Pages with this information get 30% more weekly views.”
- Website URL
- Company size
- City and country
Here are some more tips to help you get the most from your new LinkedIn company page:
- Fill in as much detail about your company as possible, including a description (up to 2,000 characters) of who you are and what you do. Select from drop-down menus on your business size, which industry you’re in, and so on. Don’t forget to include some information about your products or services so that newcomers to your page can see exactly what you do
- Include specialities and keywords to help people find you by searching LinkedIn or Google for ideas
- Use your company logo as your profile picture, and find a suitable photo for the banner image (the header photo from your website might work well). The look of your LinkedIn company page should ideally match that of your website to keep your branding consistent
- Set your location(s) so that people searching for local businesses can find you
- Add your ‘custom button’ to drive the action you want people to take – just select from a drop-down menu of options that includes ‘contact us’, ‘register’, ‘visit website’ and more
When your page is all set up, you’ll be able to monitor its success in the analytics section, which gives you useful analytics on the performance of your page and the demographics of your followers. I’ll come onto this in more detail later. Your employees will now also be able to update their own personal profiles to say they work at your business, which will associate them with your company page.
Now you’ve got your company page all set up, it’s time to get to grips with the many features LinkedIn has to offer businesses.
Earlier on, we came across ‘showcase pages’. These are extensions of your existing company page, and they come up as ‘affiliated pages’ on your main company page.
You can use them to highlight initiatives you’re working on, or sub-brands, that perhaps don’t fit on your main page or that you have a more specific target audience for.
You can use showcase pages in the same way as your main company page, though employees can’t list themselves as working for the showcase page. To create one, go to the ‘admin tools’ drop-down on the Admin view of your company page and click ‘Create a Showcase Page’. The process is the same as setting up your main company page.
Posting regular company updates
LinkedIn is a social network, meaning you can use it a bit like Facebook or Twitter, posting regular updates that will appear on your followers’ news feeds as well as on your company page.
As with Facebook, people can like, comment and share your posts with their followers, and all these interactions will help your posts – and therefore your business – get seen by more people. Graze is a good example of a company that posts engaging LinkedIn updates.
So what should you be posting about? This is where you must use LinkedIn differently to your Facebook or Twitter profile and therefore company updates are a good starting point; if you’ve won an award or launched a new product, tell the LinkedIn world about it!
You could also share blog posts from your website and other company culture updates such as interviews with current employees.
To grow your audience, you could try sharing links to news stories relevant to your industry. You can encourage interaction and debate by asking your connections and followers what they think of a story, or perhaps how they’re most likely to use your product.
Here are some things to bear in mind when you’re posting on LinkedIn:
● Include images or videos for better engagement – according to LinkedIn, custom images typically result in a 2x higher comment rate, while video gets 5x more engagement
● Use the @ symbol to mention another person or company and get your post seen by their followers, as you would on Facebook
● Use hashtags to tap into wider, searchable discussions, as you would on Twitter
● When someone comments on your update, take the time to reply to them – social media is a two-way conversation
● Don’t connect your LinkedIn account with your Facebook or Twitter profiles so that your Facebook posts and Tweets automatically get published on LinkedIn. What’s right for one social network isn’t necessarily right for another
Naturally, as a business networking site, updates on LinkedIn are generally of a more serious nature than the fun things you might consider sharing on other social networks, so try to keep it professional.
That doesn’t mean you can’t inject a bit of humour if that’s part of your brand personality, but bear in mind that people use LinkedIn to network, rather than to share the latest memes.
Joining conversations around your industry
The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can get lots from it and reach potential new customers without even paying for advertising. LinkedIn is primarily a networking site, so make the most of it for making new contacts within your industry.
Find LinkedIn Groups where people are discussing issues relevant to your business and get involved in the debate. If you work in online marketing, for example, the Digital Marketing group could be worth getting involved in.
As a small business owner, you can use your own LinkedIn profile for engaging in debate and thought leadership; showing your own expertise will help build the credibility and authority of your business as a whole. Start your own discussions and contribute to those of other people. You can also follow other influencers in your niche, helping you keep up with industry news and giving you ideas for content of your own.
Publish your ideas and become a thought leader
Publishing articles using LinkedIn Publishing can help raise your profile and potentially get your thoughts seen by a much bigger audience. It’s a great way of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and each time someone likes or comments on your post, it will appear in the news feeds of their network.
If you already blog on your own website, you could republish your content as articles on LinkedIn as well, with a line at the bottom saying that the post was originally published on your own site. Link to your own site here and you’ll help drive traffic too.
List your company on your own profile and get recommendations
Over on your personal LinkedIn profile, fill in your current work information with your position at your business, thereby linking your personal profile with your company page. As I mentioned earlier, you can also encourage your staff to do the same, so that your business gets seen by their connections as well.
You and your staff can then ask for recommendations from your clients or customers to help build your personal and business credibility. You may find you get some nice quotes that you could use on your own website, with the reviewer’s permission.
When you and your business get recommended on LinkedIn, it doesn’t just look good on your own profile; it also gets shown to the network of the person who recommended you, so others will get to hear about you and you’ll get the benefit of a word of mouth recommendation.
As well as recommendations, you can also make use of the ‘endorsements’ feature. This allows your connections to endorse you for skills you’ve listed on your profile, simply by clicking a button.
As a small business owner, this is a great way to show your areas of expertise, backed up by others, and it will help your profile get found in searches for relevant skills. You don’t need to request endorsements – simply add skills to your profile and your connections will do the rest.
Using LinkedIn for market research
When you’ve built up a following for your company profile, you’ll find you can use LinkedIn for free market research. If you’ve launched a new product, for example, you could ask your followers whether there’s anything they’d change about it, so that you can refine it further. If you’re thinking of expanding into a new service area, you could find out whether there’s a demand for it.
You can use LinkedIn Groups in a similar way. Find groups relevant to your business and start a conversation to ask for opinions, or just browse to find out what challenges others are facing that your products or services could potentially help with.
Depending on your industry, it can be a great way to help understand your target audience. If you’re a software provider, for example, you’re likely to find people discussing the shortcomings of software they use for business. You could well find valuable insights to help you develop your own offering.
Recruit new staff
Anyone who’s serious about furthering their career will have a LinkedIn profile, making it a great place to find talented people who might want to work for you. You can post a job advert on LinkedIn, or use it to headhunt potential candidates by approaching them directly.
You can attract top talent to your business by making use of Career pages for your company page. These are paid for, but can be finely targeted to reach the right kind of candidates.
Use them to tell potential applicants all about your company and the role you’re advertising, so that they can get a sense of whether they’d like to work for you. Find out more and get started with career pages.
Finally, it’s worth monitoring the performance of your new LinkedIn company page so that you can assess how well it’s meeting your needs and get insights into where you may need to change tack.
You can access your page analytics in Admin view – just click the ‘Analytics’ tab along the top. This will give you a drop-down menu with three options: visitors, updates and followers.
Visitor metrics are things like page views and demographics – it’ll even tell you the top job functions of people who’ve viewed your page, which will show you whether you’re reaching the kind of people you want to reach.
‘Updates’ tells you information about how much people are engaging with what you’re posting, so you can see which content your audience is most interested in.
‘Followers’ tells you how many people have followed your page, along with demographics, which again will give you an indication of whether you’re reaching the people you have in mind.
LinkedIn has a great resources platform for small businesses and you can find out more about maximising your reach by reading this guide to LinkedIn advertising. Don’t forget to check out these other social media blog posts to get loads more great tips on how to make the most of social network platforms to grow your business.
Rachel Ramsay is a freelance copywriter with a background in digital marketing. She's written copy for clients ranging from the United Nations World Food Programme to The North Face, and particularly enjoys working with lifestyle and travel brands. In her spare time, she volunteers for Guide Dogs and flies light aircraft and helicopters.Read full profile