Getting Started With LinkedIn for Your Business
The Internet’s impact on business over the years has been, and continues to be, profound and ubiquitous. It has enabled what were once, local and small industries and businesses owners to reach people around the world. Businesses can no longer define their competition by geographical boundaries or a level playing field where all players are bound by the same rules.
Major market disrupters like Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, and Alibaba are turning what were at a time considered A-grade business models into relics of the past. The impact is set to continue, even more rapidly, over the next several years. For many companies, it will mean an even tougher business environment. There will continue to be more disrupters emerging, which will become agile and nimble businesses that will dominate the markets. There will be more start-ups with savvy entrepreneurial backing that will become overnight successes.
LinkedIn has emerged as one of the main powerhouses on the Internet for business leads and sales and now has more than 500 million users around the world. The business networking platform was started in 2002, by the founder of PayPal, Reid Hoffman. The company has seen steady growth since its official launch in 2003. LinkedIn has earned a reputation as the social media platform that entrepreneurs can use to find the right buyers and quality leads online.
LinkedIn stands out from the other social media platforms, because the majority of LinkedIn members log into LinkedIn with the intention of networking with other like-minded individuals. One of LinkedIn’s greatest benefits is its ability to enable entrepreneurs to connect with small business owners, CEOs, VPs, key decision makers, other entrepreneurs, and potential customers. The professional networking platform gives entrepreneurs an effective digital platform for finding and engaging with their ideal customers and to build a sustainable business relationship with them.
Unlike decades past, LinkedIn allows you to research companies and locate the decision makers without having to resort to spending your days cold calling. LinkedIn allows you to engage with your ideal prospect through groups and recommendations from your first-degree contacts. This new strategy, also known as social selling, hasn’t been fully embraced by the business world yet. However, those businesses that have embraced social selling and integrated those strategies into their sales process have yielded greater benefits.
Understanding how to utilize LinkedIn as a business can create a substantial difference in the number of highly targeted leads that you can generate. If you aren’t already using LinkedIn marketing in your online marketing strategy, the following chapters will show you how you can optimize your LinkedIn profile and use its unique features to generate more targeted leads and dramatically increase sales for your business. The networking opportunities afforded by being a member of LinkedIn are invaluable, and the marketing opportunities are vast.
Using LinkedIn to Market Your Business
It’s hard to imagine not using LinkedIn in your business marketing strategy. When Microsoft acquired the platform in 2016, it enabled the company to look further into what LinkedIn can do for all of its members.
When it comes to marketing your business, you have to have a complete and update profile. Having a complete profile is the best way to increase views and connection requests, as well as showing up in searches run by potential clients and connections. LinkedIn provides a completion tool so you can keep track of what parts of your profile are complete and what still needs your attention. It also provides you with tips to help you complete your profile, and even writes a complimentary summary for you based on the information you put in when you are creating your profile.
If you want to start increasing the targeted leads you receive from LinkedIn then you need make sure that you have an interesting, eye-catching, and easy to follow profile. It is important that you have a clearly stated mission statement for your company. Your company’s profile is where you can show your target audience why you are the best choice for their solutions. There are many ways that you can use your profile to your advantage.
Keeping Your Profile Up to Date
An important aspect of your profile is always ensuring that it is up- to-date and accurate. You need to continually review and refresh your profile, profile photos, connections and skills because all of these elements will change over time. Make sure that your contact information is always up-to-date so that potential customers can reach you if they have a question or want to move forward with working with you. Along with including your email and phone number, you also want to include your web address, Facebook and Twitter handles, and any other communication avenues that you use.
You want to make sure that your personal and company profiles are kept separate. Company and Showcase pages are free on LinkedIn and have more customization options for your company and has distinctive features for your business to use.
Adding a Profile and Cover Photo
You want to include a profile picture that clearly represents your company. It is important that you use a clear, concise photo of your logo that is approximately 1400 x 425 pixels. Your cover photo should also be representative of your company and its products or services. Recent studies have shown that an active photo helps to draw attention to your profile. Choosing an active photo that represents your company provides a level of personability to your company. Since buyers are more likely to purchase from companies with some level of humanity, you want to show that you company is approachable, warm, and friendly. Your profile photo should be your company’s logo, while the cover photo should be representative of what your mission statement is.
If you are an individual marketing yourself, your profile photo is your first impression on people who are viewing your profile. You want to make sure that you keep it professional, as well as infusing your personality. Adding your profile photo will increase your visibility by seven times, while not having a photo will make your profile either seem shady or as though you aren’t serious about building your network and elevating your company. It is also crucial that you set your profile photo to public to increase searchability. Your cover photo can be used for many additional impressions of you. Again, pictures showing you in action tend to get a better reaction from your target audience. If you can show yourself doing your job, buyers can make a better connection to you in a position or the products or services that they are seeking from you. Your cover photo can show things like promotions, parts of your portfolio, or things that build your credibility or authority on your subject. Do not limit your cover photo to just generic pictures of mountains or skylines.
Your company cover photo should represent your mission statement. If you can show employees of your company, you will further humanize your company. This is especially important in a world where business connections are increasingly done online, being able to connect your potential customers with a real-life image of who they will be working with can encourage relatability and build trust with your target audience. If you are a small company with only a few employees, you can use your cover photo as a mini-collage of your business in action, or even place your most effective ads in the spot.
Creating the Profile Section
If you want to increase your leads then you have to have a complete profile. You want to make sure your “About Us” section includes your mission statement and clearly states what your company offers. Check that your employees have linked their personal profiles to your company page as well so that their connections can see your company updates.
When you are working on your “About Us” portion of your profile, you want to write it with your target customer in mind. Create an emotional response by telling a story that identifies a problem faced by a client, point out the obstacles that cause the problem, and then offer your solution, being sure to state why your solution is the best. Make sure to complete two to four related content pieces that are relevant to your purpose. You might also want to consider including how your other clients have been successful with you.
Make sure that you complete all of your company details, including where you are located, what you do, when your company was founded, and your website. Include different media, photos, and videos to break up the text and increase engagement. Having a text heavy profile will make it look as though you don’t know how to use other formats and it will show your lack of creativity.
Be sure to include customer testimonials on your company page, especially ones by influencers and those with large networks. The more trusted and well-known your clients are, the easier it will be to grab new leads, and you are nine times more likely to pull business from word of mouth over cold solicitations. While having customer testimonials is necessary for promoting your company, you don’t want to keep all of them on your page. Be sure to remove old and out of date testimonials and those that highlight accomplishments or skills that you have retired from your profile. Recent reviews are valuable in keeping your profile current and fresh.
Additionally, if you receive a current recommendation that is either not well-written or focuses on a subject other than how you helped a client, you probably won’t want to include those on your page because even endorsements and recommendations written by others will reflect on you and your professionalism. Creating a profile with the intent to market your product or service is essential to your marketing objective.
Including Keywords In Your Profile
Including keywords in your profile is important. The keywords that you use in your profile are what makes your company searchable. You want to be sure to frequently use keywords that are related to your products and services. Marketers, salespeople, and recruiters all have a specific set of keywords that they are searching. The keywords that you use to describe your business are essential.
If you aren’t sure about how many keywords you have in your profile, you can copy and paste your profile into a wording program like Wordle (https://wordle.net) to see which terms you’ve used and how many times they are used in your profile. If you find that you haven’t included enough of the right keywords, you can take the time to adjust your wording to increase the frequency of the preferred keywords. If you don’t know what the popular keywords are, you can analyze the profile of others in your industry the same way. Just make sure that you rewrite the text in your own words to avoid any issues with plagiarism.
Content Marketing on LinkedIn
A substantial part of your profile will be the publishing section. It is important that you use this section to publish content that you care about and that relates to what your company represents. You want to keep your articles and whatever else you publish on the site free of typos and other errors. The content that you publish will show your audience that you are knowledgeable about the subject and that you can clearly communicate your ideas.
You need to clearly understand what content marketing is if you want to effectively use it on LinkedIn. Content marketing is marketing that doesn’t focus on a “pitch,” but rather focuses on informing your target audience about solutions to their problems. With content marketing, you want to focus more on making the buyer intelligent rather than just saying that they need to purchase your products and services. Content marketing allows the buyer to better understand what they are getting, why they need it, and how it will help them. To accomplish this, it requires a regular placement of necessary information, either via private email, articles, or blog posts.
Publishing content on LinkedIn is becoming more and more popular for companies to market their items because it helps them to build the trust with their customers, creating brand and company loyalty. This, in turn, leads to a longer relationship between the company and customer, which leads to repeat customers and customers who are referred by others, which helps to offer a more sustained relationship.
Rather than creating a demand for your product or service, content marketing anticipates the needs of your customers and delivers to them information on products and services that already exist. Since content marketing is primarily done online, it’s easier for companies to target their audience and deliver the information that their customers need to feel informed enough to make a decision on which product they should buy. The goal of content marketing is that the company that consistently delivers the most valuable information in the best way possible is rewarded with the business.
Using LinkedIn for Content Marketing
Since LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world, it makes sense for businesses to use LinkedIn as a part of their online marketing efforts. LinkedIn recognized this idea and created tools to help businesses run effective marketing campaigns from start to finish. It even allows users to track and gather data on their ideal target so they can deliver content in a variety of formats. It also provides tips to help with marketing campaigns, including how to measure the effectiveness of the campaign. Content marketing on LinkedIn is an vast ocean of potential customers.
When you first start to use LinkedIn for your content marketing, it is important that you know what your goals for the campaign are, and your company mission statement. When you know these, then you will be able to start an ad campaign on LinkedIn. When you know your goals, you can start to create content to meet those goals. Your mission statement will outline the reason why your company exists. Your company’s mission statement needs to feed into three marketing components.
- Core target audience
- Type of content
- The desired outcome of the advertisement
When you go about creating the ad campaign for your company, you want to clearly document the strategy that you will take to reach your goals. You can document your strategy in any way that works best for you, just as long as you do it. When you write down your documented strategy, you are more likely to succeed and be effective, feel more capable with your content marketing, and you’ll be able to visualize each step in the process, which will help to draw connections for you for a more comprehensive plan.
When you document your strategy, you will be able to further elaborate on the objective you are seeking more easily. You’ll be able to see where you need to place your content mapping and personal development when you are planning your campaign. These two steps will help you to recognize buyers, as more than just numbers but as individuals with problems, as well as helping create content that addresses the questions at each stage of your campaign development. Take the time to organize your plan, decide what you are doing and who is assigned to do what part.
Finding Your Target Audience
Next, you will need to identify who your target audience is before you can create your ad campaign. LinkedIn has over 500 million members and counting, with 61 million of these members senior influencers and 40 million are decision makers. These are the people that you hope will be purchasing from you. When you are creating your content you need to consider the questions and problems that they have, as well as your solution to those problems. Content marketing is supposed to anticipate the needs of your audience and supply information for meeting those needs while impression that you are the ideal company to help solve their problems. For you to do that, you need to research your target audience. Take some time to look at what your target audience is posting on their news feeds, consider the industries they work in, and look at what other products and services are available to them. Your target needs to be narrower than simply, everyone.
Your ideal target audience should be the people you want to sell your items to, otherwise you will be wasting your time and marketing resources on people that you won’t be able to convert to paying customers. Not everyone is someone who will need or want your product or service.
Use your current connections to see what your target audience will want because these are usually your direct buyers or associates of your target audience. Generally, your target market is already aware of the type of product or service you are offering.
LinkedIn has a marketing tool called Web Demographics, that will allow you to track the kinds of people who are visiting your site by cataloging their profile information. This will allow you to see company names, seniority level, job title and other necessary information that will help you to tailor your content.
Creating Your Best Content
Once you’ve determined your target audience, you can start to create your content. You will need to decide what you want to say, how you want to say it, and when you want to say it. Carefully consider what you want your readers to do with the information that you are releasing. Start by defining your topic and deciding:
- What is the outcome that you want?
- Who you are writing for?
- What are the obstacles of your intended audience?
Once you have answered these questions you can set aside some time to brainstorm and take the time to shape your thoughts into meaningful ideas. You are trying, ultimately, to decide what stories you want to tell of your company, and what information is going to get you to your objective and then creating the outline to tell the stories or determining what is missing from your company story.
Next, you will need to narrow down your topic to fit the timing of your article. The content that you are creating needs to be relevant to the market landscape at the time of your marketing campaign. If you skip this step, you may end up with out-of-date content or content that is based off information that hasn’t been released yet. Your content should be original and should initiate engagement and discussion. Make sure to add graphics to your articles and blogs, and choose an eye-catching and effective cover image for articles, and remember to always cite your source. Publishing the right information for the right customers will help to boost your thought leadership in your industry.
Sharing The Content Your Target Audience Wants
When you’ve created your content, you will need to plan when you want to release what pieces on different areas within LinkedIn. You need to have a variety of content that includes everything from long-form blogs, articles, videos, sponsored content, InMail, status updates, and infographics. It is also important that you find a way to measure the performance.
You will also need to decide on how frequently you will publish content. Do you want to publish daily, weekly, or monthly. You have to strike a delicate balance because while you want to stay at the forefront of your potential leads’ minds, you don’t want to become overwhelming. You should post status updates no more than one or two times per day, and news articles and blog posts should be posted one to two times a week.
Once you’ve published content, keep an eye on the comments so you can interact with those who are commenting on the article or sharing it with their network. The measurement tools in LinkedIn can help to increase your followers, click-throughs on your information, and inquiries form viewers.
Utilizing Video Ads on LinkedIn
Video ads can be utilized for all aspects of your marketing funnel. Video ads make it easy to share your brand and customer success stories with your audience. When you create your video ad, you want to make sure you put the most important information within the first two to three seconds so that you can grab the viewer’s attention before they lose interest. With video ads, youcan give previews to webinars, offer demos of your products, and explain upcoming events.
Premium LinkedIn Accounts
Like all networking platforms, LinkedIn is free for the basic accounts. The basic account has features that offer a good start to marketing your company. With the free account, you get things like building your professional footprint online, network with people you know and people that you should know, and search for companies or people and receive alerts about them.
When first starting out with LinkedIn, you will probably do well with the free account, but as a business and interest in what you do grows, you may find that you can get your business to the next level by upgrading your account. Deciding to pay for an account on LinkedIn is recommended when you have maxed out the features you get on the free account.