LinkedIn is a very niche social network. In fact, even calling it a social network doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a professional network, and it always has been. Whilst it’s not at all hard to see why the likes of Facebook and Twitter have become so immensely popular right across the board – from schoolchildren to their teachers, headmasters, and grandparents – LinkedIn, on the other hand, is something else entirely.
LinkedIn is not where you post photos of your best friend’s stag do. Nor is it where you share amusing videos of nunchuk ninjas falling over. And still not is it the platform for organising parties, creating profiles for your favourite pets, or even wishing your sister a happy birthday.
No LinkedIn is the social professional network for professional people. But what does that mean exactly – to be professional?
Well, in LinkedIn terms, it means that you occupy a specific profession. That is to say, that since I’m a social media marketer and blogger, then those are the professions around which I am supposed to be building my profile and making connections on LinkedIn. If I were a web designer, then it would be my designs, my qualifications and accolades that would make up my profile, and my network would most likely be made up of connections to other web designers, as well as photographers, bloggers, developers, and graphic designers as well.
Whereas Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Vine and all the rest can arguably be described as networks that you interact with when you’ve taken off your work suit for the day, LinkedIn is the social network that you turn to for everything concerning your day job/occupation/profession/career/whatever you want to call it.
To put it another way, if you get caught on Facebook whilst you’re supposed to be doing work at the office, then you can reasonably expect some sort of disciplinary action to be taken, whereas if you get caught on LinkedIn in the same scenario, then you might even find yourself up for promotion in the not too distant future.
Unless of course you’re a social media marketer, that is. Us lucky folks get to mess around on all of the social networks all day long and no one bats an eyelid – aren’t we just the lucky ones, ay?
Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy
Since LinkedIn is such a niche environment, then the social media strategy that you use for the likes of Facebook and Twitter – where there is most definitely an almost ‘anything goes’, informal approach to online organic marketing – will simply not translate across to the more formal realms of LinkedIn.
Those amusing posts that appeal to so many on Facebook will most likely go down like a lead balloon on LinkedIn. The platforms are just so distinctly disparate – which means that you content and your strategy needs to be too.
There are plenty of blog posts on the internet already that give you a good starting point to making your presence known on LinkedIn, so I won’t go into too much detail about that here. What I will say though is that in order for your LinkedIn page to be taken seriously amongst your fellow professionals, then you will need to do the following:
- Firstly, build a very strong company page on LinkedIn. This page you should be treated almost as if it were your prime website itself, and it should include a very detailed About section (and, since this is a professional network, then you can arguably pay even more attention to this than you can on your website – make it as detailed as you can), a comprehensive list of all of your products and services, and list of job opportunities. Now invite all of your employees to follow your page, as well as your customers, clients, partners and related industry professionals.
- Secondly, create a LinkedIn Group that is set up to share and discuss topics specifically related to your industry. Make sure you choose an appropriate name for the group, and that you use keywords in the title and the group’s description in order to attract as many relevant people as possible. You will also want to draw up a Group Policy that outlines the rules for discussion, who may join the group, if you want to permit members to post job opportunities etc. Now all you have to do is make sure that you lead your group, and not let it lose momentum.
Content – Thought Leadership Only
Being a professional network for professional people, LinkedIn is the perfect platform on which you can aim to try and position yourself as a thought leader. Serious, meaningful, intelligent, well-researched, and inspiring/provocative articles is the name of the game for promoting your LinkedIn company profile and igniting some heated debate in your LinkedIn group.
Great thought leadership articles on LinkedIn are ideal for nurturing some key professional relationships, which will do no end of good to your future business deals, not to mention your reputation. It will also help to generate some real interest in your company, and you will no doubt be able to convert group members into subscribers on your actual site.
Spying On Your Competition
Let’s not be shy here – stalking isn’t only the reserve of the lonely-hearted exes on Facebook. Real marketing sharks like to secretly sniff around those out-of-bounds profiles on LinkedIn too.
There is all sorts of information you can glean for your competitors’ profiles. For example, you might be interested in knowing just how big your main rival’s marketing squad is in comparison to yours (size doesn’t matter, of course, but it might be quite revealing to see how the rest are allocating their funds and resources). To do this, just head into LinkedIn, search for the competing company’s name and include job titles with marketing and communications as keywords. You should be returned with a list of people, which you can manually scrutinise (perhaps with a calculator and a notepad).
With this information you can really get to know what you’re up against. Will you need to dedicate more resources to marketing going forward, hire more people or reshuffle your existing team? LinkedIn personal profiles also usually list where people have worked in the past, so you will also be able to go back and see who has left your rival’s company, and thusly determine the churn rate. Have your team been in the job too long? Perhaps it’s time for some fresh blood.
How does your company use LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments below.