LinkedIn is the professional social network. It’s the best place for networking, business to business marketing, and connecting with other professionals within your industry. Social networking no longer for the younger crowd. It’s for everyone – including your target market. This will no doubt continue well into the future and become more pronounced as more businesses and professionals realize that they need to embrace social networks to grow their following.
For those that know that LinkedIn possesses a lot of opportunity without the knowledge of how to harness it – this guide is for you. Knowing how to appeal to those on LinkedIn and grow your presence on the platform can have profound effect on your standing within your industry and get your business in front of the eyes of hundreds of individuals.
If you are in the B2B space, you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. If you don’t you are just leaving money on the table. But – marketing on LinkedIn can be difficult to say the least. It’s a different animal than Facebook or Twitter, with higher expectations from your potential readers.
So if you want to learn more about effectively marketing on LinkedIn – this guide is for you.
Best LinkedIn Marketing Tools
Buffer – The simplest, most efficient tool for social media management. And it’s free!
Sprout Social – Another excellent social media management tool. It allows you to monitor engagement, schedule publishing across multiple platforms, and provides in-depth analytics.
Why Market on LinkedIn?
Relationships are more important than ever – this is true both online and off. Building the right relationships (or lack thereof) can make or break a business. LinkedIn is the ideal place to make these connections.
- LinkedIn is the largest professional social network in the world. There are more than 250,000,000 users in total.
- It generates more than 184 million unique visitors each year.
- 1 of 3 professionals currently has a LinkedIn account.
Additionally, content is more actively engaged with on LinkedIn. Even moreso than the job listings on the social network. Everyone is looking to further their careers or grow their own businesses.
The network is currently the most effective method for publishing B2B and career related content on the web – even more effective than the larger social networks that are out there.
LinkedIn provides you with the ability to perform branding and lead generation. It’s not discouraged. It is 100% allowed and encouraged. Because of this transparency, you can be more open with your advertising techniques, whereas you might choose to be more subtle on other platforms.
Setting up Your Profile
The first step to effectively marketing yourself on LinkedIn is to set up your professional profile. You might already have one, but this section still proves useful – as we will walk you through the process of setting up your profile for success. You are likely missing a few key elements of a successful profile.
Use your real name. LinkedIn may shut down your account if you attempt to use the space for anything other than what it was meant for.
Your headline is arguably the most important aspect of an effective profile. It will be shown in several different places throughout the network, including within the search results and employee listing pages. Keep in mind that your headline will actually be used when users search. It tells users where you work and also what company you work for. Maybe they want to find people that have a certain position within a company or are looking for people to hire. Make sure your headline is to the point.
Your headline will show up in;
- Invitations to Connect
- When Your Profile Pic is Hovered Over
This just goes to show how important your headline is. In essence, it is your LinkedIn business card. Make sure it says what you want it to say.
LinkedIn recently made some changes to the way that contact info is displayed. Your own personal website used to display below your heading but was enveloped within the contact info as a whole. Your contact info allows you to list the following things;
- IM Handle
You want to make yourself accessible, so fill out everything that is relevant to you. If you are worried about your email being visible, you can set your privacy settings to ensure that it is only visible to those you are connected to. However – you can always use a second email address if you are worried about it falling into the wrong hands on the netork.
The summary of your profile is essentially your resume. It allows you to list the experience that you have as well as the expertise. You can write a few paragraphs about your experience, but try to keep things short and sweet.
The summary section also allows you to upload media as well. Pretty much any of the basic types of media are allowed including YouTube videos, Slideshare presentation, and a host of other media. This can be an excellent way to increase your branding and come across as an expert within your field.
Be creative with your summary. If you offer services – make sure to promote them here and preferably with the help of the media available. Link to the creative work that you have created in the past. Include any writing samples. Make sure that you are able to really drive home what it is that you do – and how you could potentially be of benefit to a potential employer or as a freelancer.
Experience is one of the most visited sections of the website. Keep in mind that this section is used to determine what keywords your profile will be ranking for, and results from this section will be shown in several areas throughout the social network. Use keywords that you want to rank for, and include subsidiary job titles in your descriptions of those jobs.
When typing out the different summaries for your experience, remember that LinkedIn has implemented several different rules to determine if you are keyword stuffing or trying to game the system. While it is a little hard to trip these filters, don’t go overboard. Make sure that you are able to effectively list your experience and fit keywords in where they make sense.
You can also list the different skills that you have on your profile. this is an excellent place to add additional keywords to your profile. List all of the different skill sets that you genuinely have, and try not to stretch the truth too much. If you have done something before in a job or on your own, list it! It can’t hurt.
Once you list your skills, the people that you connect with can then endorse the skills that you have listed. Remember that a large majority of your connections won’t take the time to endorse you – so you may have to ask them to do so. Make sure that you ask them to only endorse you for the skills that you have performed for them, or they have experience in dealing with you for. A profile with a lot of endorsements can be a good sign that they are competent in what they do.
You’ll receive notifications whenever someone endorses you. Additionally, LinkedIn will ask you to endorse the skills that your connections have listed on their own profile. Do this. When you endorse someone else they will be much more likely to return the favor. Additonally, you can look at the skills that others have listed to generate your own ideas.
List the entirety of your education. Lots of people will look into this section before working with you and it never hurts to prove that you have credentials.
Publications can be a great addition to any profile. Here you can list publications that you yourself have published. These can include books, reports, case studies, or white papers. You are allowed to link directly to the different publications that you have created in the past.
Keep in mind that you can also list eBooks in this section as well. These free eBooks can actually drive leads straight to your mailing list. List anything that you have ever published.
Effective Status Updates
As you might have guessed, status updates are key for growing your profile and creating a following on the network. At its core, it isn’t much different than updating your Facebook or Google+ but does not have the character limit that Twitter does.
Creating an effective status update is relatively simple and straightforward. Many of hte same principles that apply to other platforms work well on LinkedIn as well.
Take the following into consideration when creating effective status updates on LinkedIn;
- Don’t just use it for self promotion – link to interesting news and other links as well. By sharing information that others will enjoy they naturally will be more interested in paying attention to you when you do inevitably promote yourself.
- This isn’t Facebook or Twitter – refrain from getting overly personal. You can be a little personal. Share big news about yourself. Let the world know that you are having a baby. Let them know when you are married. Share the fact that you recently lost a loved one and won’t be available. These are all large life events that are appropriate for LinkedIn – but don’t update your profile with information about your lunch that day like it is Instagram. that’s a good way to be removed from peoples timelines, quickly.
- Promote those that promote you. Were you recently interviewed? Were you quoted in a recent article? Share these with your professional connections on LinkedIn.
- Call to action. Ask that your readers do something. Sharing a new blog post? Ask them to check it out and let you know what you think…or subscribe to your mailing list, either or.
- Mix it up. Don’t always share the same kinds of things. Be a little unpredictable and interesting when sharing with the individuals that are following you on LinkedIn.
Building a Network
You can’t market to your network on LinkedIn if you don’t have one. One of your first goals should be to build. There are multiple tools that can be used to help you grow your network.
Find Previous Contacts
The first step is to connect with individuals that you have already worked with in the past. You can important contacts from several sources including GMail and other email sources.
Search LinkedIn For Previous Co-Workers or Schoolmates
LinkedIn will allow you to search for individuals that you have worked with in the past, or individuals that you went to school with. this is an excellent place to start and can help you to quickly grow your network.
Ask Contacts for LinkedIn Profiles
You won’t find everyone that you do business with through the usual methods. Instead, ask contacts for their LinkedIn profiles. Anyone with a profile would be glad to connect with you.
Use the ‘People You May Know’ Feature
The People You May Know feature is actually surprisingly efficient, looking at potential connections that connect with multiple people that you already connect with. Always look through these connections to see if there are any names that you recognize.
See Who Viewed your Profile
LinkedIn lets you know who has been viewing your profile. It doesn’t hurt to attempt to connect with those that have taken a look at your profile.
List Your LinkedIn on Your Blog/Website
If you are not listing your LinkedIn on your website you could be leaving quite a bit of traffic on the table. Make sure that you link to it and encourage others to visit it. They will be more likely to connect with you.
Using LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are an excellent place to find new connections. By taking part in the discussions that happen on LinkedIn you will not only be able to meet new people, but you can connect with them and get them to endorse your skills as well.
Interacting with Groups
Make sure that you are engaging in the groups. Too often individuals will join groups and then annoy those that they are trying to connect with. Don’t be overly self-promotional. Be genuinely helpful and only promote yourself occasionally. The goal here is to build connections, not generate leads – at least initially.
Answer questions, share interesting tidbits of information, and help to promote others that are also a part of the group to create some loyalty and increase your connections. In the end – these will be the people that check out your status updates so it is good to set a positive precedent from the very beginning.
Whenever you come across a free resource (whether it is your own or not), take the opportunity to share it with any of the LinkedIn groups that you belong to that might find it useful. This will help to keep your name in their mind and will also help to improve the value of the group as a whole. Many LinkedIn groups slowly devolve in a self-promotion board, or a newbies section – and that is okay. These are still potential leads that could be useful to you in the future and help you to establish yourself as a true leader in your industry.
Create Your Own Groups
A great way to help steer the conversation in a way that benefits your business is by creating your own groups and helping to fuel the discussion in those groups. Let’s say you run a web design company. You wouldn’t create a group that was specifically for your own web design company – no one would join or participate in a group about a specific company. Instead, you could create a group about “Online Marketing for Small Businesses.” This would be your target audience and give you a much greater chance at capitalizing.
Creating a Company Page
Creating a page for your company can be beneficial as well. When someone searches for a specific type of company (ie. Web Design) or searches for them by name, your company will show up in the search drop down. There are a few things that your company page lets users know;
- The industry that the company operates within. These might include industries like Broadcast media, Internet, Consumer Goods, or Web Design.
- The number of employees that are employed by the company. This lets them know how large the company is and gives them a baseline for dealing with the company in the future. This can instill trust in potential clients.
- Company location or location of headquarters. Pretty self explanatory.
These are all very important details that users can use to evaluate a company, and tell a lot about the size and type of company that you are. Additionally, it gives employees of the company the ability to link their personal professional profile directly to the company page.
In order to create a company page you will have to use an email address that is connected to your company’s website. Your.Name@company.com. Gmail, Hotmail and other free providers are not allowed by LinkedIn anymore, who obviously wants to cut down on the number of spammy company pages that have managed to populate the site in recent years.
Products and Services
Your company page also allows you to list a number of products and services that you offer. This is excellent for conveying what it is that your company does, and how you create value for the consumer. You can add a great deal of information about your product or service and if you want to – get creative and add youtube videos, contacts, or people in the description area of those product and service sections. This is a great way to let people know what you provide and actually attempt to sell them your service.
Call to Action
Company pages also allow you to add a call to action banner that links back to your website. You should absolutely take advantage of this, as it will allow you to ensure that you are capturing any lead that could potentially be generated from LinkedIn.
The careers section is great for letting those interested in working for you learn more about your company. It lists the employees that currently work at the company, and also allows you to link back to a careers page on your website.
The insights section delves a little deeper into the company as a whole providing information about your employees, the companies that other visitors have viewed before or after visiting your page (similar companies, usually), where the employees are located, and the skills and expertise that your employees possess.
Insights also lets you tap into analytics for your company profile, giving information about your employees and the people that visit your page. This allows you to see how well you are targeting your target market.
Advertising on LinkedIn
Although LinkedIn is fairly open about allowing people to promote their business on the network, they also allow you to purchase ads. These ads are not too dissimilar from ads that might be run on Facebook, but are usually more professionally focused and almost always more expensive. But, you will be receiving higher quality impressions. You can point advertising to your website or company and each individual ad that you purchase is allowed up to 15 different ad variations for testing.
One area in which LinkedIn ads shine is definitely in the targeting. There are many different ways in which you can target your ads and increase the ROI of each ad variation. Some of hte different ways in which you can target your LinkedIn advertisements include;
- User location
- Job Title
- Groups Belonged To
It’s easy to see how these targeting actions could be extremely useful. If you are looking to target businesses with B2B ads, you will have to drill down pretty far in order to reach your target audience but it is definitely possible.
You’ve reached the end of the guide! This guide covers the basics for LinkedIn marketing, but there is a lot more to delve into particularly within the LinkedIn ads space. To be successful in marketing yourself on LinkedIn, it takes persistence and the ability recognize what your target market will respond to. You can’t bombard LinkedIn groups with self promotion and expect to be greeted with open arms – you can, however, take a methodical approach and win them over by being transparent and useful. This can be applied to almost any platform.