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Are you using LinkedIn effectively?

Use LinkedIn to Establish Your Presence as a Leader in Your Field

Having discussed the benefits of using Twitter and Facebook to enhance your business, it seems fair that some time should be spent exploring another medium that can be invaluable to your organization: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is significantly different than traditional social media sites, although it shares a few common traits. Therefore, it is important to understand and approach LinkedIn from a different perspective. Since its primary purpose is dissimilar from other platforms, treating it like Twitter or Facebook is a grave mistake.

These few basic facts about LinkedIn help illustrate why it is important to use this social media network wisely:

  • Worldwide, over 65 million business professionals have LinkedIn accounts.
  • Almost half of the people with LinkedIn profiles have some degree of decision-making and spending authority within their organizations.
  • The average annual household income for people on LinkedIn is over $100,000.

What is LinkedIn?

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are dedicated primarily to the sharing of information in one way or another. LinkedIn also facilitates information sharing, but its primary purpose is networking – connecting people with common interests, for personal and professional enhancement. There is an element of marketing involved, but it is much subtler and more focused than on other sites. There are two main approaches to engaging on LinkedIn, but it is generally better to focus on establishing a business presence and a solid reputation prior to beginning any sort of active marketing.

Establish a Profile

Profiles on LinkedIn can be personal or organizational. Generally, it is a good idea for small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs to have personal profiles; key employees should have personal profiles, as well. A business profile also is advantageous for organizations that eventually want to actively market on LinkedIn.

When building your LinkedIn profile, you may want to consider dating site profiles as an example. You will likely not find a boring laundry list of facts on a Match.com profile; rather, you will discover inspiring, appealing, and attractive descriptions of what one individual person may offer another. Capture that individuality. You want people to see your profile as professional yet also unique – something they will remember when they think about you and your industry.

Build a Large Pool of Connections

When your profile is completed, take advantage of what LinkedIn has to offer, and become connected to as many people as possible, without engaging in anything remotely similar to spamming. Send connect requests to everyone with whom you are personally or professionally acquainted: friends,  business associates, former classmates, people who know you through work, school, church, or family. Remember: The primary purpose of LinkedIn is networking, so you want to be visible to as many people as possible. You also want to find people whom you can help (not just those who can help you), since the people you help are more likely to recommend you to others, thus expanding your network as broadly as possible.

Find and Participate in Groups with Similar Interests

Groups are a vital element of LinkedIn. They vary widely, and there are normally multiple groups that share similar interests or target your specific industry. They can be excellent sources of professional development, and they can provide insights that you would not ordinarily have on your own. Be careful not to dive in too quickly, however; avoid coming  across as arrogant and domineering. Some may get the impression that you are simply there to market. Take a little time to gauge the participants, and get used to how they converse with one another; then add your own input to existing conversations. Try to help and serve others prior to asking them to help and serve you.

Once you feel comfortable in your groups, introduce topics about which you would like feedback, and ask for the input and advice of others. Only at that point is it advisable to engage in anything resembling traditional marketing, and, even then, the best approach is to mention something you are planning on providing to the public, asking for suggestions and advice on how best to do so.

When you take the time to build quality  relationships with group participants, they will be much more likely to end up purchasing goods or services from your company – and the likelihood that they will recommend you to others in their own network will increase exponentially.

Create a Company Page on LinkedIn

A company page on LinkedIn is another important tool for many business owners. Small and large companies alike can benefit from a company page. It’s easy to create, provides a platform where you can deliver consistent branding and share content, and allows you to not only engage with your followers but provides deeper insights about who is paying attention to what you’re saying.

Actively Market on LinkedIn

Once you are ready to promote your work or business more actively, the following actions can help you do so effectively:

  • Post regular status updates on your personal and company pages. Focus your status updates on the professional and unique things you are doing. Educate others about what you are doing, without actively engaging in direct marketing approaches. Frame everything around how you are helping other people fulfill their needs. Avoid Facebook-style rants, personal photos, politically charged posts, and other potentially offensive commentary on LinkedIn.
  • Use messages and invitations sparingly. The worst thing you can do on LinkedIn is become seen as a spammer – or merely a marketer. Remember, the goal is to achieve mutual benefit, not just increase sales.
  • Try LinkedIn advertising. If you have a direct-marketing budget, LinkedIn’s paid advertising is relatively inexpensive, and it can be targeted at the most likely consumers and clients you have already identified.
  • Pay for an enhanced membership. LinkedIn offers various upgrade options with specific areas of focus. These include one for sales, as well as for HR  and employee acquisition.

LinkedIn is different than the typical social media sites, but, if used properly, it can be just as effective and impactful for you and your organization as the other sites. Simply  remember the difference in primary purpose, and tailor your approach accordingly.

LinkedIn and Twitter Make Big Improvements

Hashtags on LinkedIn, Twitter Character Counts, and More!

Great new changes are rolling out on social media that will have a positive impact for many business users. We’re excited because of the way it allows us to achieve even better visibility for our clients.

What Do These Changes Mean?

All of these changes are designed to make it easier for you to engage with, share to, and reach more people. These are positive changes that will allow us to better amplify and magnify your visibility and enhance your digital footprint.

Read more below for details on the individual changes being rolled out to LinkedIn and Twitter:

LinkedIn Pulse: The New Format

The new LinkedIn publishing format is rolling out, and it gives publishers a lot more control over their content. What we love:

Header images can now be the full page width.

LI Header Image

You can toggle to the standard image if your image doesn’t work:

LI Header Image 2

However, the wider image provides much more flexibility for branding and visual magnificence!

LI header image 3

Other changes to the publishing experience on LinkedIn are just as great and possibly even more powerful in terms of increasing visibility. LinkedIn has made it easier to add images, video (supporting YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms), and slideshows (supporting SlideShare, Prezi, and other platforms) right into the body of your articles. You can even embed a tweet easily, simply by adding the link:

linkedin twitter

Most importantly, LinkedIn is ending the requirement of using the three tags to categorize your article. The tag choices were often limited and narrowing, preventing the article from reaching its full audience. The tagging system is being replaced with a content- and hashtag-driven introduction:

publishing on linkedin

This brings us to the next fabulous change on LinkedIn:

LinkedIn Now Supports Hashtags

Hint: We’ve anticipated this change for some time and have used hashtags in our client posts regularly.

LinkedIn has finally given in: After removing support for hashtags in 2013 because of “poor response,” they’ve finally realized that hashtags are the most practical tool for making content searchable. It’s already been rolled out on the mobile app, with desktop support coming soon.

Twitter Updates Character Count Rules

In a move that completely delights us, Twitter will no longer count links or images as part of the 140-character restriction for tweets. They will also stop counting the characters of the user in a reply. This means we can craft even more exceptional messages without losing a good chunk of the space to an image or link. Twitter is also removing the requirement to add a . before a mention to make sure it is seen by all. (In the past, if you wanted to complain, say, about poor service at the Courtyard Marriott, and you wanted to make sure the whole world saw it, you would have to write .@CourtyardHotels, or it would be treated like a direct message and go only to the user.

courtyard tweet

Further enhancing the platform, Twitter is now allowing users to retweet and quote themselves, providing an opportunity to be more engaging. Read more on the Twitter blog.