With over 550 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a social network that small businesses can’t afford to ignore. Here, Jason Miller, group manager of global content and social media marketing at LinkedIn, answers your questions on maximising the platform for business success
How can I use LinkedIn to boost my business profile?
So much business success relies on the networks you build and the connections you make. This is as true online as it is in the real world, and in terms of LinkedIn, can be easily achieved by building and optimising your company page. This is the main hub for your firm, where you can tell its story and post news and updates. As your business grows, it’s also ideal for sharing information about job opportunities – you can even build a careers page to show potential employees what life at your company is like. Equally important is that your personal profile (and that of any other employees you have) references your company page. Make sure that your profile reflects the values of your business and that your profile picture and background picture do so too.
What’s the best way to expand my network?
Think about the connections you already have and start from there, just like in the real world. With LinkedIn, once you establish your own personal profile, you’ll be prompted to import your email contacts to find people you already know on the platform. Once connected, you can work on re-engaging with those people.
How can I leverage my contacts for business benefits?
We find that many of our members find it useful to use the contact-targeting feature in LinkedIn Matched Audiences to upload a list of all the email addresses that they have. You can then use these for targeting sponsored content at people who already have a relationship with your business. You just need to make sure the content is relevant to your audience.
How can I generate more leads?
You want to keep your business in the forefront of people’s minds as much as you can. On LinkedIn, your aim is to be an active presence in the feed of your connections. You can do this easily by publishing and sharing useful content – ideally stories that are relevant to your business and expertise – regularly in your LinkedIn feed. You can also publish long-form content and share it via company updates or sponsored content to reach the most relevant audiences for your business.
What’s the golden rule for posting updates?
Think of it like having a conversation – nobody wants to talk to a shameless self-promoter. For every post you share that promotes your business, share three that aren’t promotional but are focused purely on adding value for your audience. Sharing something that’s been published by someone else, that you think has something valuable to say, reflects well on your organisation.
“On LinkedIn, your aim is to be an active presence in the feed of your connections,” says Jason Miller
How can I source great talent via LinkedIn?
As a start, make sure that you complete the careers-related sections of your company page, which will help to bring to life the experience of working for your business. Post the jobs that you have available and share these across your network and those of other employees. Aim to do this alongside sharing content that highlights the benefits of working for your business. To reach more relevant talent, you could consider using LinkedIn’s skills-based targeting for job ads and sponsored in-mail. If you’re a fast-growing business, you could also consider investing in LinkedIn’s recruiter package to help you build a talent pipeline.
What are the smartest tools for small businesses?
Native video is a huge opportunity, in my opinion. You can now record video on your smartphone and share that video in the LinkedIn feed direct from your mobile. It’s a great way of producing engaging thought leadership that’s responsive, relevant and engaging. If you’re at a conference, for example, you can record a quick video sharing your views on the key issues – and then post it directly in the feed. If your business manufactures products, then record a quick product demonstration. If you offer services and solutions, then why not share a quick hack that could make your potential customers’ lives easier?
Any other clever LinkedIn secrets I can use?
You can leverage any marketing activity that you’re already doing to build your profile on LinkedIn. It’s all about connecting the dots. If you’re running paid search campaigns, for example, translate them into text ad campaigns by typing your search terms into the skills box on LinkedIn’s self-serve Campaign Manager interface. LinkedIn’s algorithms will suggest relevant audiences for you, and the copy for your search ads is a great starting point for text ad copy. Any Twitter updates that you’ve written are a great way into the company updates that you publish on your company page. You can promote these as sponsored content to reach more relevant people on LinkedIn.
Is it worth upgrading to paid-for services?
There’s a lot that you can do organically on LinkedIn, so start there and take the time to make the most of those opportunities first. Then over time, if you want to grow your business quickly, you can consider putting extra marketing budget behind it. You can start experimenting with LinkedIn text ads and sponsored content through the self-serve Campaign Manager portal, for example, while setting daily and total budgets to keep control of your spend. Whatever you do, remember that engaging with people online has many similarities with engaging with them in real life. Make it relevant, listen to them and strive to create a real dialogue with them.