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Get LinkedIn - it could be good for business

Published: 30/06/14

We are grateful to some of our insurance industry contacts who have highlighted current changes to LinkedIn’s product pages, however as Flint’s own company page was only recently created we thought it might be useful to review how we think LinkedIn can help other SMEs.

There are reportedly over 200 million people on LinkedIn; social media for business site launched over 10 years ago in May 2003. And for anyone who doesn’t know about LinkedIn, it could be loosely described as the professional equivalent of Facebook.

SMEs are utilising social media for marketing to customers, growing their audience and generating business leads, which is by far the biggest challenge.

Anyone starting out on LinkedIn should be looking to build up their own profile as well as that of their company page and in a similar way to Facebook - post status updates.

Your personal profile should be complete and optimised for your clients illustrating clearly what you do; who your audience is; how you help. LinkedIn is now used by many people to find out more about you in a professional capacity and usually rates high in the Google rankings.

As with other forms of expression via social media, status updates need to be varied and relevant to your audience. Rich content that informs and assists, without blatant self promotion is the way forward.

Status updates are shared to your network and gain exposure to your connections. Your connections can in turn like your content or comment and hopefully share it on.

With LinkedIn’s targeted updates you can easily tailor your message to your audience. For example, when you create an update, you can choose to share it with “all followers” or to a “targeted audience.”

Pay attention to what a few key influencers in your industry are sharing on the network to see how you can apply it to your business.

As with all social media - you need to adopt a relationship mentality; create discussion and perhaps become a thought leader within your sphere. You should also be looking out for interesting content from your network to share on.

You can share links from your blog or website, which will naturally help drive traffic back to your site. (Make sure you add the LinkedIn widget on your own website making it easy for your contacts to find/follow you on LinkedIn; add the share via LinkedIn button to any blog postings).

The most successful updates include a picture, chart, video or link to an article. When you do not have a link or image to include, engage your audience by asking a question.

Be consistent – it reportedly takes a person seven times to be exposed to you before they consider a relationship.

Follow other companies in your industry to keep tabs on what competitors are doing.

Join a Group

Groups allow you to widen the conversation and build rapport with potential clients, obviously it is important to find the right groups for your target audience (also check the quality and make sure they do not spam).

LinkedIn allows you to start your own group, so you can build this around your own industry/community or create a private group for events etc. LinkedIn allows you to join 50 groups, but it is recommended that you stick to between 3 and 5 so that you can create a meaningful presence. Remember quality not quantity.

Your network is your connections; obviously the more you have the more visible that you are, however you should be looking to connect with peers; your clients; your local business community. It is better to connect with those you know or have a good reason to get to know. Those who you meet via networking events, conferences etc. can be added and LinkedIn can help you to cultivate that relationship.

A matter of time

Social media is not free because it takes your time, but one commentator recommends that once your page is set up spend between 10 to 15 minutes per day with updates to see results.

Changes April 14

On Company page entries - showcase pages now replace product pages.

Showcase pages allow you to strengthen your presence by creating pages that show off each of your specialisms to potential customers already engaging with LinkedIn. They are ideal for promoting a specific aspect of your business

Currently, you can create up to 10 Showcase pages for your company; each will have its own unique metrics to track engagement, trends and audience demographics giving you the advantage of knowing exactly what service they’re interested in and that you’re the experts. Each of your business areas or specialisms will have its own messages and specific audience, so don’t just blast out every company update or you’ll turn followers off.

Just to reiterate - with good content, followers will start engage with you and your updates will start to appear in your followers’ newsfeeds. This will spread your messages to their networks of like-minded individuals and provides you with an even greater reach into your target markets and help you attract new customers.

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