LinkedIn isn’t exactly an underdog in the social media world. It has more than 364 million users in dozens of different countries, making it one of the most successful platforms around today. Yet it still pales in comparison to Facebook and Twitter, at least in the eyes of business owners and marketers everywhere. They see Facebook as the universal standard for social media marketing, and sometimes dabble in Twitter, but rarely go beyond those two platforms to market their products and services socially.
Part of the problem is that LinkedIn is seen only as a platform for networking and job hunting, rather than as a viable tool for an ongoing marketing strategy. In fact, LinkedIn has several distinct functions, each of which can be used to improve your business:
Personal branding may seem counterintuitive at first, as your intention is to market a business. However, personal branding as a complementary strategy is a highly viable means of generating more traffic and a stronger reputation for your company’s brand. Most modern users trust individuals more than they trust corporations, so making an initial point of contact as a person—rather than as a business—is a surefire way to build trust. Develop your personal brand by getting involved in discussions, circulating content, and building yourself as an authority in the industry. You’ll have an easier time making new contacts, plus when people do background research on your company, they’ll see you and think more highly of the organization.
On LinkedIn, you’ll also have the ability to create a company page and build a corporate brand. It’s true that personal brands tend to be more successful in attracting an audience and building trust, but you’ll also need to have an anchor page for anyone doing research on your company on LinkedIn. Develop your company page fully, filling in every piece of information you can, and make regular updates to your page with new content, news about your business, or other engaging tidbits. It’s also a good idea to encourage all your employees to associate with the page in some way, to make your organization appear stronger.
As a platform for content syndication, LinkedIn is underrated. Facebook gets a lot of attention, but the organic reach of each company page’s individual content post is dropping steadily. On LinkedIn, you have many ways of circulating your content. You can post them as individual updates, as company updates, or perhaps most effectively, in a LinkedIn Group relevant to your specific piece. Plus, if you have a direct pitch or sales deck to present to a target audience, you can use the Promotions tab. Because LinkedIn Groups have a niche focus, they tend to attract more views and visits—as long as you content is strong.
Influencers are gateways to popularity. You can identify influencers based on their large number of contacts, frequency of posting, and the general sense of authority they carry in a specific environment. Reach out to these types of people, and start building a relationship with them. Eventually, your influencers will share some of your content or give you valuable connections, greatly expanding your own circle and increasing the impact of your work. Think of influencers as a social media shortcut that leads you to a greater reputation than you’d be able to build yourself in an equal amount of time.
Of course, networking with influencers isn’t the only way to take advantage of LinkedIn’s vast professional network. If you’re in a B2B company or you rely on making specific contacts for improving your business’s sales, LinkedIn is the perfect place to do it. Not all LinkedIn users appreciate being approached by strangers, so be careful when you introduce yourself to new people, but in the context of LinkedIn Groups, you can quickly and easily meet dozens, if not hundreds, of potential new leads.
LinkedIn Groups have yet another important function—one that extends to every area of your marketing strategy. Here, you’ll be able to track down your key demographics, based on key interests, working industry, or other factors, and see what their core needs are. By reviewing old posts and current conversations, you can get a better understanding for who your audience really is and how your business can help them.
As an organic social media platform, there are plenty of strategies you can use on LinkedIn to build your audience, increase traffic to your site, and increase your sales. But don’t forget there’s another side of LinkedIn marketing that’s very useful if you have the budget for it—paid ads and sponsored posts. These can greatly and instantly improve your visibility on the platform, and comparatively, it’s inexpensive. You’ll find much better deals for paid ads on LinkedIn than you will Facebook, Twitter, or even Google.
If you aren’t already involved in LinkedIn, either using a personal brand or a company page, it’s in your best interest to get started. You may find that some of these strategies work better for your business than others—for example, B2C companies may find it more difficult to make meaningful sales connections than B2B companies. But every company has something to gain using the platform, and if you aren’t taking advantage of it, you’re losing valuable time.