LinkedIn: World’s Largest Professional Network - Social Media Stage
LinkedIn is the world's largest online professional network with more than 175 million members globally. It is growing at two members per second. Catering to business professionals, LinkedIn is an effective Social Networking site for both personal and company branding. Since its launch in 2003, many high-level executives have joined LinkedIn. In fact, executives from all the Fortune 500 companies are present on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Company Pages are centralized locations where people can go to stay informed on company news, products and services, business opportunities and job openings.
Let's analyze LinkedIn's features and benefits to discover what opportunities your business can gain from becoming a member and fully using its capabilities.
Though customer interaction is not LinkedIn's focal point, there are several ways for brands to communicate with customers, such as the "Answers" section of LinkedIn. LinkedIn Answers is a way to network with other users and showcase your expert insight by responding to business-related questions that others have posted. It is a great way to conduct free market research by posting questions for others to respond to. LinkedIn Answers offers RSS Feeds for individual categories. Take advantage of RSS Aggregators, such as Google Reader, for subscribing to various Feeds to allow for easy monitoring of new Questions. LinkedIn's Poll feature also presents an efficient means to get firsthand feedback from your customers. You can then share the results with your connections.
Begin a conversation by sharing company status updates. Status updates can range from Blog posts to company announcements to industry news. When sharing an interesting industry-related article, include a summary of why you feel the article is valuable. This will make the post more personal and add to your brand's credibility. Encourage employees to share status updates to spread the word to their professional connections.
LinkedIn is an effective platform for increasing your company's brand exposure. A valuable way to gain exposure is to join LinkedIn Groups. With over one million groups to choose from, it can connect you with like-minded professionals in your industry. Being an active member in a group can help to position your brand as an expert in your industry and thus build your network by making contacts within groups. You never know when a contact will turn into a client, or even a business partner!
To further increase your brand's exposure, ask employees to share the company status updates through their personal accounts. This will help to reach your employees' professional connections, which will increase exposure and ultimately lead to more connections. Additionally, encourage all employees to maintain complete profiles and connect with your Company Page to strengthen your company's reputation. Another way to build your LinkedIn reputation and attract new connections is to request recommendations from satisfied customers who are willing to provide a positive testimonial.
There are multiple applications on LinkedIn that can help to build the look of your profile and make it more influential. A few of the applications include SlideShare, WordPress or Blog link, Polls, and Events. Check out the Application Directory for a complete list. LinkedIn also gives you the option to link a Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile. This allows you to post LinkedIn updates to Twitter and publish Twitter updates to LinkedIn. This will help to increase your brand's exposure across multiple channels
While LinkedIn doesn't drive a high number of visits to a Website, the traffic it does provide is targeted and is often interested in your products or services. This type of traffic is valuable to a Website as it is most likely generates leads and converts sales. In fact, according to new data from HubSpot, "traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 3 times higher (277%) than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%)."
In March 2011, LinkedIn introduced a new product, LinkedIn Today, which features the top shared stories across multiple industries. LinkedIn Today gives users a way to gain insight into what stories are popular with their connections, industry, and other professionals. LinkedIn Today has been labeled as a "firehose" for Website traffic since members use it as a daily resource to get insights on the latest industry news.
LinkedIn can provide value to your Website's SEO efforts. With the right optimization, both personal pages and Company Pages can expect to rank highly in search results.
The headline and summary are two of the most important fields to optimize. The headline should inform people of who you are and what you do, while the summary should be an informative overview showcasing the brand and the services that make the company unique. Be sure to optimize them with keywords, as the Company Page will rank higher for those terms when someone conducts a search.
Take advantage of the three URL listings LinkedIn provides under the "Websites" section to increase traffic. Customizing the title of the link provides you with a greater chance to rank higher for those keywords in search engines.
Additionally, edit the public URL of the page to include the company name. Take for example E-Power Marketing's LinkedIn URL: http://www.linkedin.com/company/e-power-marketing-inc. By doing this, the Company Page is more likely to appear in search results when someone searches for the company's name.
Have you created a LinkedIn account for your brand? How are you using this Social Media platform, or what's holding you back? Let us know by using the #SocialMediaStage on Twitter, posting a comment to our Facebook Page or leaving a comment below!