For most people, social media equals Facebook, Twitter, Google+ (no, really!), Instagram, or Pinterest. Social media is like your favorite bar where you go to unwind, meet interesting people and have a generally good time.
But what if you had a chance to share a drink with the CEO of a Google or the CMO of Nike or even the Lead Designer at Ikea?
That is exactly what LinkedIn offers you and your business. The chance to hang out and talk shop with people that you would never have a chance of meeting otherwise. 277 million professionals across more than 200 countries the world over, use LinkedIn as of March 2014, according to LinkedIn’s own data.
It has 2 new members joining every minute and 200 conversations between individuals, brands, and other organizations every single minute, too.
LinkedIn also has a huge concentration of graduates and post graduates, more Asians and Caucasians and a very high concentration of the really well-heeled classes as compared to national averages.
Don’t you want in on this amazing piece of the professional web?
I’m sure you do. And here’s what you can do to engage customers through this fast-growing yet surprisingly ignored social platform.
1. Create an Attractive Company Page.
This is a no-brainer. Your LinkedIn Company Page is the face of your business on LinkedIn. Make it pretty. Your Company Page should ideally have your logo, list your USP under ‘Specialties’, offer a link to your website and really squeeze the best out of the Summary section.
Use keywords related to your business in your descriptions to SEO your page better – that will make your LinkedIn page surface in regular Google searches targeting those keywords. Use LinkedIn Analytics and LinkedIn plugins to make your page more useful and share-worthy.
Encourage all your employees to have their own LinkedIn pages and request them to link their profile to your Company Page. This will increase the visibility of your Company Page by a factor of the number of employees linked to your page and the size of their own networks.
2. Use LinkedIn to get new talent, but don’t turn it into a job board.
LinkedIn is a recruitment specialist’s dream come true—all those talented people out there that can be reached with just a click of a button! LinkedIn is admittedly a great tool to find great talent – check out people who work for your competitors and poach them if they seem a great fit in your business.
However, don’t fall into the trap of using LinkedIn only as a jobs portal. This is a platform with so much potential, you wouldn’t want to waste it by handing over the keys exclusively to Human Resources.
3. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups, make your own Groups if needed.
People join Groups on LinkedIn as they have an interest in what those groups are all about. They network with members, discuss ideas and opportunities, and grow their professional worth together.
Join groups that are relevant to your line of work. Don’t just be a passive member, contribute regularly to the group with valuable content that other members will want to read, and network with the right people as these are individuals or companies who are the exact target audience for your business.
You can even build your own group and promote it to your target audience via LinkedIn. This allows you greater control on the conversations in the Group. It sets you up as an expert in the field and also allows you to send out emails to your Group members once a week for totally free.
4. Advertise on LinkedIn.
Admittedly, LinkedIn was a tad behind the curve on the advertising front, but hey, that works well for us, right?
Reach out to carefully filtered target audiences that are NOT your followers yet by using LinkedIn’s advertising platform. You could pick from PPC ads that lead to your website directly, sponsored updates, sponsored InMails and more to widen your reach and drive traffic to your webpage.
5. Endorse someone today, you could get the favor back!
Over 1 billion endorsements have been given out since the launch of the feature in late 2012. Endorsement of your skills and expertise makes your profile richer and more useful to new visitors unaware of what you offer. They are also more credible than anything that you can say about yourself or your company.
Reach out to your connections and endorse them for their skills (real skills, don’t try and flatter dishonestly), too. Studies show that most of them will return you the favor.
6. Seek out recommendations.
By now, all of us are wise to the power of customer testimonials and product recommendations. If we can pursue these seriously on our web pages, why not include Recommendations from satisfied customers on LinkedIn?
Nothing comes without some effort. Reach out to customers that have had positive experiences with you and request a kind word from them on your LinkedIn page. Most will oblige and these testimonials will help you positively influence new connections and visitors to your page. Also, spread the love. If you can ask for recommendations, don’t be stingy in giving out honest ones either. It will only go towards growing your visibility among the networks of the people you recommend.
LinkedIn allows you to build a pipeline of leads from within the social network itself and contact and convert them at your own pace.
Using a tool like Lead Builder, which allows access to full profiles of top management to LinkedIn members with premium accounts, you can now reach out to the perfect audience by using more filters than available in a free account:
Unlike most other social networks, LinkedIn attracts people who are career-oriented and focused about improving their opportunities. You can leverage this fundamental fact and grow your business by simply focusing a little less on Facebook or Twitter and giving a little more attention to this powerful, though surprisingly underutilized platform.
Hope this helps. Happy networking!