Why LinkedIn is more than just a glorified address book
LinkedIn is the Marmite of social media; not as glamorous as Facebook or Instagram, not as quotable as Twitter. Many love the platform, while others feel it’s a glorified address book.
Whatever you think of it, you shouldn’t dismiss it, because LinkedIn is huge – boasting a network of around 500 million users compared to just 330 million for Twitter. It also has a truly global reach, available in over 24 languages across more than 200 countries.
Part of the problem with LinkedIn is that the average member doesn’t really know how to use it to their advantage. Even LinkedIn’s co-founder, Reid Hoffman, while praising its benefits, admits there is something of a missing link between the potential of the platform and how people generally use it. In a profile with WIRED he said: “[LinkedIn is] a place to get business intelligence, to research problems, to establish an online presence where other people in the network can find them. It’s as if we’re a screwdriver in a world where people don’t quite understand screws.”
LinkedIn is very similar to other social networks like Twitter and Instagram where your “reach” – the people who see your post – will increase the more engaged your original connections are, so good, quality content is key! Where LinkedIn diverges from other platforms is that if you want to raise your profile among people like your peers, your customers, or even potential employers, then the content should be appropriate and relevant to your profession. Whether a view on financial services, a comment on the markets, or sparking a debate about gender inequality in your industry, it needs to be something that makes other people stop scrolling down the page and actually read. Your musings on the match last night or celebrity gossip really isn’t right for LinkedIn.
Good content is also paramount to promoting your business’s brand on LinkedIn. Many businesses don’t understand how to use LinkedIn to their advantage. The start point for growing your brand’s presence is via a company page, a page on the site dedicated to your business, which can be used for promoting news, views and even jobs. Again, this should be compelling and relevant, providing your followers with information they can’t find anywhere else. LinkedIn also allows you to post videos and images to capture your viewer’s imagination, as well as the embedding of links that will direct them back to your website for more information.
But perhaps the best thing about LinkedIn for a business is how easily it can access a potentially huge network of people, helping your content spread far and wide. First of all, ask your employees to connect to your company page, which they can do easily via their own profile, and encourage them to like and share posts on the company page, reaching their own connected network. Next, mobilise the super-users in your organisation, the MD, CEO, chair and senior managers who may already have a good profile in your industry and a slew of influential connections. The trick here is for them to add a bit of personal insight when they share a post from your company page, tailoring it so it appeals to the people they are linked with.
As with any social media platform these days, there’s no such thing as a free lunch – there will come a point when the organic reach of your content will hit a peak, so you might want to think about using paid for promotion if you want to reach a new or specific audience on LinkedIn. This is really where the professional platform comes into its own, because when you sign up to LinkedIn you have to provide a detailed breakdown of information about yourself, such as your industry, company size, job title and function, gender and age. This allows for very detailed targeting during paid for promotion, for example, enabling you to direct your content to a specific group of job titles in a single town.
LinkedIn offers traditional advertising and sponsored InMail, allowing you to send messages to a number of targeted LinkedIn users. But probably the most impactful way of promoting your posts on LinkedIn is via Sponsored Content, which is where your post will appear in the homepage feed of the people you have targeted. You can pay for Sponsored Content using pay per click, where you’re charged every time someone clicks on your post, or per thousand impressions, meaning your Sponsored Content will appear in newsfeeds in multiples of one thousand times up to the budget you set. All options give you complete control over the maximum amount of money you spend.
It’s easy to forget about LinkedIn or be dismissive of its appeal when comparing it with the trendier social media platforms out there, but it has quite a few things going for it: it’s stood the test of time, the data about its connections is usually excellent and detailed, and it has a very specific purpose – to link professionals together. On that basis, it probably deserves a much bigger role in your digital comms mix than, say, Snapchat!
For more information on LinkedIn advertising, click here.