LinkedIn Company Pages are actually a combination of a number of different modules that are rarely maximized by businesses.  In order to better understand how your sales and marketing team can best maximize this multi-functional part of LinkedIn, it’s important to understand exactly what the Companies functionality offers.

A good way to start is to compare the Company Page with the most famous corporate presence in social media:  The Facebook Fan Page.  You could say that a fan page provides details about a company in the “info” section, but this is not the primary way that people are introduced to a company or its page.  Rather, the ability for ‘fans’ to ‘like’ a page and then engage with it is what has allowed for the viral spread of information to flow through networks of Facebook friends.  The Facebook page also provides a platform for companies to launch campaigns through the use of custom applications as well as market their products and services through landing pages and other tabs.

Another thing to remember about the Facebook Fan Page is that they were originally called fan pages for a reason: They were organically created by and for fans of popular music, entertainment, and even sports figures.  Fan pages were never made for business purposes, and they were never meant to be controlled by a single entity.  Over time, as Facebook has concentrated on offering more functionality for businesses that manage pages, it has given administrators more control over those particular pages.

Company Pages, on the other hand, was created to help both job seekers and professionals conduct research on companies that are represented on LinkedIn.  The data was originally pre-populated through a combination of efforts by LinkedIn, user-generated content from profiles, and some statistical information from BusinessWeek.  In fact, the ability to search companies was not added until a few months later, and even then, it was designed as a tool people could use to map out their connections to a particular company.  In other words, if you were looking for a business provider with certain expertise, you could see if any of your first-degree connections were employed by such a company.  This component of the Company Page, which is really the purpose of the application, has not changed.

What some might not know is that LinkedIn recently added the ability for Companies to update their followers directly through publishing Status Updates.  This means that, similar to Facebook Fan Pages publishing posts into the news feeds of their fans, the same can be done on LinkedIn.  However, LinkedIn does not have  any EdgeRank-like algorithm like Facebook has. This means that, while only 17% of your updates reach your fans on Facebook,  your Companies updates reach all of your followers.

Now that you understand the basic structural and usage differences as well as the histories behind the LinkedIn Company Page and the Facebook Fan Page, let’s  examine the modules available with the current company pages:

  • Users can search companies by keyword, location, industry, relationship, company size, number of followers, and Fortune status.
  • The overview page for a particular company has information about who connects you to that company, as well as about its employees, Twitter updates, recent blog posts, mentions in the news and general statistics.
  • A statistics page, accessed through the overview page, is completely comprised of user-generated content from profiles and provides employee information for job seekers (such as job function composition, years of work experience, and educational degrees attained by current employees) as well as business intelligence that could be used for sales and business development purposes (such as new employees, former employees, and most recommended employees).
  • The careers page within a company’s page notes job openings.
  • The products and services page is created by the company to showcase its products and services.  LinkedIn users can recommend a company’s products and services and their recommendations appear here.
  • A “follow company” button allows any LinkedIn user to stay updated on new jobs, hires, and departures from any company’s page.
  • Companies can post status updates to appear on the news feeds of their followers.
  • Administrators of company pages have access to an analytics page as well.

Overall, Company Pages module offers a unique hybrid of components, both user generated and manually populated, that allow your business to have a singular corporate presence on LinkedIn.  Optimizing one’s profile gives your employees the opportunity to be found in searches; optimizing your Company Page increases the chances that your company will be found on LinkedIn.

Has your company found business through your Company Page?

The above is a summary of selected content from my critically acclaimed new LinkedIn for business book “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing,” available at Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or iTunes)