BusinessLink: Five LinkedIn Features that Will Help You Market Your Business
In this column, I will be sharing my experience in using LinkedIn for Business and answering your questions on how to effectively use LinkedIn in B2B and B2C marketing.
First up: Five LinkedIn features you can use to market your business.
1. Company Page
LinkedIn is nothing if not savvy. It watches other social networks and then incorporates features that will be beneficial to its members. Company Pages is a great example. In this section, LinkedIn members can follow a company, recommend and share their products and services and connect directly with company employees in their network.
On a Company Page you can highlight products and services with hot links back to marketing landing pages and add pictures and videos to the product and services section. You can even give special discounts to your followers. Think of this as an online brochure.
By promoting your Company Page through the addition of a button (available on LinkedIn) on your website, email and other communications, you further expand your marketing reach.
The beauty of all this is that it’s free and easy to do – no web page development and little administration.
2. Subject Matter Expert Groups
There are now more than 1 million groups on LinkedIn. It is rapidly becoming the most visited feature on the network. But, if you’re a smaller company that doesn’t have the clout of say a Microsoft or HP, then starting a group called the “Chuck Hester Enterprises Group” probably won’t get you many members signing up – or help you promote your company.
The best way to use Groups to market is to start a Subject Matter Expert or SME group. Is your company in the software security industry? Start a Best Practices in Software Security group. Post discussions on the latest trends in software security; invite other experts to join the group to post their insights. Do not, however, post news releases from your company or other marketing information. Be subtle and grow your community.
By positioning a company – and its executives – as subject matter experts, the firm’s brand equity grows as well as its standing in the industry it serves.
Be sure to highlight the group in your marketing materials. Again, you can add a button to promote the group on your website and email signatures.
3. Group Discussions
A common mistake made by marketers on LinkedIn is to join a group of your peers and spend your time posting only there. Granted, it’s important to interact with your colleagues, but when it comes to marketing, you need to interact with your customers – and potential customers.
By joining groups where your customers live, you will become part of their community. You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn, so take your time and research the ones that will have the most impact on your business.
It’s ideal if you can assign groups to several of your staff members, and divide and conquer. Since they will all be identified as part of your company, it helps you market more effectively.
One caveat: listen first, then post. Some groups don’t allow any mention of company products or initiatives, and you can be kicked out if you try. But you can introduce yourself to the group and mention what you do. Offer advice and insight and position yourself (and your company) as someone the group can turn to should they need the services you offer.
4. Status Bar
Another LinkedIn feature that can be used for marketing is the Status Bar. It’s a great way to inform the LinkedIn network about company initiatives, blog posts, and other company news and events. At 140 characters, the Status Bar update can be posted to Twitter simultaneously.
Anyone in your network can see your posts on the Status Bar, share them, like them and comment on them.
One way to increase the reach of the Status Bar message is to share the “script” with others in your firm and request that they post it to their Status Bar, as well.
The Status Bar is also a good place to position your organization as a subject matter expert. I post a LinkedIn Tip every day on my Status Bar (and Twitter simultaneously) and receive great feedback on my posts.
One of the most underutilized features on LinkedIn is Answers. When you pose a question on LinkedIn Answers, you can promote that question through your network, and even send a link via email to that question.
While blatantly marketing your company is against the rules, you can pose questions that will allow you to market subtly and also increase your network reach.
The Answers section allows you to comment or respond to the question you pose, as well as reach out to those who answer privately.
An example: a client of mine who is a team-building expert posed the question: “What issues do you face when building a team in your company?” She received more than 25 responses and directly answered any that were legitimate, thanking them for their answer and including a link to her business website as a point of information.
LinkedIn is one of the best social media marketing tools available today. There are many features of LinkedIn that can help you promote your business. In future columns I will expand on this theme, and answer some of your questions directly.
If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, send me a LinkedIn invite and I’ll gladly accept your invitation!
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