Let’s face it: Too many of us spend a lot of time actively ignoring LinkedIn. We don’t intend to, it’s just not as flashy as some of the other social networks. But if you haven’t checked out the business social networking site lately, it’s time to stop ignoring LinkedIn and go back. Because the site has added a host of new features in recent months that have helped transform it from a static resume site to a full-blown business networking site that SMBs will want to take advantage of.
One feature small business owners want to specifically be aware of is the ability to create company profiles on the site. By claiming and building out your profile, SMBs will be able to increase your company’s prominence on the site, help prospective employees find you, and use it as your own personal recruiting network. If you’ve ever had to hire locally, you know important this is.
So how can small business owners take advantage of this new feature? Here are five easy tips to get you started.
1. Create/Claim the Page
Your first step to creating a rocking LinkedIn company profile page is to create and your claim your page. By creating your page you give your brand an outlet to highlight your products or services, keep followers updated on what you’re working on, show career opportunities within your organization, tell your personal story, and highlight various aspects of your company. To get started, perform a company search to see if you’re already listed on the site. If you are, it’s a simple process to claim your profile. If you’re not, once you’re in the search feature you’ll see an option on the right-hand side of the screen to add your company. Select that and claim your company page.
Once you’ve added your company (or have found an existing listing), it’s really important that you take the time to fill out the profile in its entirety, including:
- Your Company Overview
- Company Product & Services pages
- Information about Career Opportunities
2. Get Your Employees Using LinkedIn
The more involved you can make your company with LinkedIn, the bigger payoff you’re going to see. For more information on how to use your employees to create a rockin’ social media presence, check out a recent Blueglass post entitled 8 ways employees can improve your company’s LinkedIn presence where writer Kerry Jones discusses, in impressive detail, what steps SMBs should take to maximize their exposure. I won’t ruin the post for you, but she mentions things like:
- Taking advantage of the activity field
- Properly highlighting the teams skills & expertise (and why this is so important)
- Including customized links
- And lots more
3. Follow Relevant Companies
Another thing SMBs may not know is that with the creation of LinkedIn brand pages, you can now follow companies of interest. For example, maybe you want to follow what your vendors are doing. Or companies that you’re considering partnering with in the future. Or people whose radar you want to get on for media opportunities. Or to hire down the road. This feature allows businesses to do stay up to date on what other businesses are doing, who they’re hiring, what they’re working on, etc. If you like your social media with a high amount of signal and very little noise, you may prefer to follow a brand on LinkedIn instead of on a more socially-inclined site like Twitter or Facebook.
4. Build Followers To Your Page
Obviously if you’re taking the time to build a brand page, you want to get people follow that page. Doing so will help you increase your visibility and authoritativeness with relevant users. Without that following, all the work that you’re doing on LinkedIn may go relatively unseen.
Encourage people to follow your company page by:
- Using your profile to share exclusive information about your company and/or articles and news pieces relevant to your audiences’ interests.
- Highlighting your brand’s LinkedIn page on your Web site and in all company information (in email newsletters, direct mailings, etc)
- Following the LinkedIn pages of other companies in your neighborhood/industry with the hopes that they’ll follow you back and you can create a local referrer network.
- Participating in industry-relevant LinkedIn discussion groups and let them know about your business (without spamming them).
Unfortunately, you can’t simply create your LinkedIn page and then step away. Even though LinkedIn is a business social networking site, it’s still a social networking site. That means you’ll still need to be active there to develop a real presence and following, and keep the relevance of your company profile Being an active site contributor means making sure you’re using your page to share information via your status updates, participating in relevant discussions, joining and being active in groups, acting like resource in Linked Answers, and otherwise be a good site member. If you don’t keep up your site investment, you’ll lose all the goodwill you’ve created.
Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer at Outspoken Media, Inc., an SEO consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with online reputation management, social media services, and other Internet services.