When LinkedIn was launched on May 5, 2003, it was described as a place where business professionals could maintain a list of contact details of the people with whom they did business. It was part social network, part job and career center, and 100% tailored to the individual user.
In November 2010, LinkedIn began allowing businesses to list products and services on company profile pages – and members were encouraged to “recommend” products and services and write reviews.
Barely two years later, LinkedIn has emerged as the leading business to business (B2B) social media platform – a place where your company and your brand must have recognition in order to take full advantage of social media’s power to drive business. Does your company page give you the brand recognition you want?
If you have to ask the question, then the answer is “probably not”. Here are three strategies for improving your brand recognition on LinkedIn.
1. Complete Your LinkedIn Company Page
A LinkedIn Company Page can function like a second website where you can display products and services, post videos or photos, and it’s easy to make changes or add updates.
There are six possible sections to a LinkedIn Company Page:
- Overview – This is where you make your first impression. Think of it as your chance to make the pitch on why someone should hire your firm (if you’re a service business) or buy products from you (if you manufacture and sell products). Accomplishments, differentiation factors, company positioning: it can all go here. There’s also an Overview tab for company updates, job postings and new hires. (Note: You don’t control whether or not a “new hire” is added to your page – individual LinkedIn members control this through their privacy settings)
- Careers – If recruiting top talent is a priority, then paying for the subscription required to add this page is important – and often well worth the investment. You can reach more than 175 million LinkedIn users, and can see who has viewed your job, as well as how closely they match your job requirements.
- Products – The productions section answers the question, “What exactly does your company do?” It also lets you post recommendations from customers and links to drive traffic back to landing pages on your website.
Companies control the first three sections in their LinkedIn Company Page – but there are three sections that you can’t control. They are:
- Follower Insights – When someone signs up to follow your Company page, the analytics and information about your followers such as demographics, industry, region, company size, and so on are displayed here.
- Page Insights – LinkedIn also displays details on who visits which sections of your company page, and how one page’s visitors differ from another.
- Employee Insights – When your employees create or update their LinkedIn profiles, your company page displays the information about those updates: new titles, who has left or been hired, where your employees worked previously, what skills they have, and which employee has been recommended the most by other LinkedIn members.
2. Answer Questions to Build Credibility
If you’ve never participated in a Q&A on LinkedIn Answers, you’re missing one of the most valuable sections on the social network.
Answering questions on LinkedIn is a proven strategy for positioning yourself or your company as a leader in your market. The better your answers are, the better your results. The best answers are personal, strategic, and on point to the person’s specific need. Don’t waste your time responding with a canned answer, or by referring someone to a book or website for answers.
The person who asks the question selects one best and several good answers. If your answer shows up in a LinkedIn best answer ranking, it adds to your credibility. Always thank the person who asked the question.
When you see a question that allows you to give an answer that really positions you or your business, repurpose your comment as a blog post, article, or include a link to it in your social media campaign.
3. Join and Actively Participate in Groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great place to reach professionals in almost any business niche – and if you are a B2B company and you aren’t actively participating in LinkedIn Groups, you’re missing out on a source of excellent contacts and potential leads.
There are nearly 900,000 groups out there, but what if you can’t find one that targets your niche market? Start one. It’s easy enough – just click the little green plus sign, think of a name, type in a description, and hit “create”. You can create a group for your customers or clients, one for your industry, one for businesses in your area, or any other type of group that is likely to draw the audience you want.
Of course, managing a successful group is a little harder. It requires that your group offer something that members can’t get elsewhere – a reason for them to spend their valuable time posting and reading the information in your group. Most of all, it requires time, effort, and patience.
So does becoming a thought leader within an existing group. One of the worst mistakes people make on LinkedIn is to become a “drive by poster”: Someone who drops into a Group, posts a link to their latest white paper…and then never bothers to respond to comments or participate in the group’s discussion in any way until they have another piece of content to promote.
Actively participating in a group means becoming part of the conversation and sharing insights and information with other group members. As with every other form of social media, LinkedIn is about sharing information and communicating with other people. It’s not just a one-way promotional vehicle to advertise products.
For more information on the strategies and techniques that work on LinkedIn, pre-order the 3rd edition of Shama Kabani’s bestselling book The Zen of Social Media Marketing. Chapter 8 of the expanded and updated book is all about LinkedIn, and it’s filled with the strategy, techniques, and tips that can help you get the best results out of your company’s LinkedIn presence.