How to use LinkedIn as a small business

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We all know that Facebook and Twitter can be great platforms for growing a business, but you might not yet have thought about how being on LinkedIn could help you reach out to new audiences.

With over 500 million users and counting, and a third of professionals using the platform, LinkedIn has powerful marketing potential if you know how you get the most from it.

Today we’re showing you how to get started, giving you some tips on the many different ways your small business can benefit from being part of the LinkedIn community.

Build your company page

You may already have your own personal LinkedIn profile, but the one you’ll have for your business is different. Your business profile on LinkedIn is called your ‘Company Page’, and it’s where LinkedIn users can find out all about your business.

Your company page is the one that will be linked to if any of your staff list themselves as working for you on their personal profiles, and it’s also where you can share company news and job opportunities. Customers, clients, staff and anyone with an interest in your business can follow you to get your updates, which we’ll talk more about shortly.

Here’s an example from Ella’s Kitchen and another from Riverford Organic Farmers so you know what you’re aiming for; the Cath Kidston page has a nice example of extra profile information in the “life” section.

Click here to get started with setting up your company page. Here are some tips:

● The name of the page should be the name of your business.
● Fill in as much detail about your company as possible, including a description (up to 2,000 characters) of who you are and what you do. Select from drop-down menus on your business size, which industry you’re in, and so on. Don’t forget to include some information about your products or services so that newcomers to your page can see exactly what you do.
● Include specialities and keywords to help people find you by searching LinkedIn or Google.
● Choose a unique URL, rather than the random letters and numbers your profile will be assigned automatically. This should ideally be your business name.
● Include a link to your business website.
● Use your company logo as your profile picture, and find a suitable photo for the banner image (the header photo from your website might work well). The look of your LinkedIn company page should ideally match that of your website to keep your branding consistent.

When your page is ready to go and you’ve proofread it, hit “publish” and your page will go live. You’ll be able to monitor its success in the “Follower Insights” section to find out useful analytics on the performance of your page and the demographics of your followers.

Post regular company updates

LinkedIn is a social network, meaning you can use it a bit like Facebook or Twitter, posting regular updates that will appear on your followers’ news feeds as well as on your company page.

As with Facebook, people can like, comment and share your posts with their followers, and all these interactions will help your posts – and therefore your business – get seen by more people. Graze is a good example of a company that posts engaging LinkedIn updates.

So what should you be posting about? This is where you must use LinkedIn differently to your Facebook or Twitter profile and therefore company updates are a good starting point; if you’ve won an award or launched a new product, tell the LinkedIn world about it!

You could also share blog posts from your website so that more people go to your site to read it and other company culture updates such as interviews with current employees.

To grow your audience, you could try sharing links to news stories relevant to your industry. You can encourage interaction and debate by asking your connections and followers what they think of a story, or perhaps how they’re most likely to use your product.

Here are some things to bear in mind when you’re posting on LinkedIn:

● Include images or videos for better engagement – according to LinkedIn, images or other rich media typically result in a 98% higher comment rate, while videos produce a 75% higher share rate.
● Use the @ symbol to mention another person or company and get your post seen by their followers, as you would on Facebook.
● Use hashtags to tap into wider, searchable discussions, as you would on Twitter.
● When someone comments on your update, take the time to reply to them – social media is a two-way conversation.
● Don’t connect your LinkedIn account with your Facebook or Twitter profiles so that your Facebook posts and Tweets automatically get published on LinkedIn. What’s right for one social network isn’t necessarily right for another.

Naturally, as a business networking site, updates on LinkedIn are generally of a more serious nature than the fun things you might consider sharing on other social networks, so try to keep it professional.

That doesn’t mean you can’t inject a bit of humour if that’s part of your brand personality, but bear in mind that people use LinkedIn to network, rather than to share the latest memes. Here are lots more useful tips from LinkedIn on how to craft compelling company updates.

Join conversations around your industry

The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can get lots from it and reach potential new customers without even paying for advertising. LinkedIn is primarily a networking site, so make the most of it for making new contacts within your industry.

Find LinkedIn Groups where people are discussing issues relevant to your business and get involved in the debate. If you work in online marketing, for example, the Digital Marketing group would be worth getting involved in.

As a small business owner, you can use your own LinkedIn profile for engaging in debate and thought leadership; showing your own expertise will help build the credibility and authority of your business as a whole. Start your own discussions and contribute to those of other people. You can also follow other influencers in your niche, helping you keep up with industry news and giving you ideas for content of your own.

Publish your ideas and become a thought leader

Publishing articles using LinkedIn Publishing can help raise your profile and potentially get your thoughts seen by a much bigger audience. It’s a great way of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry, and each time someone likes or comments on your post, it will appear in the news feeds of their network. You can even use hashtags to widen your reach still further.

If you already blog on your own website, you could republish your content as articles on LinkedIn as well, with a line at the bottom saying that the post was originally published on your own site. Link to your own site here and you’ll help drive traffic to your own website, too.

List your company on your own profile and get recommendations

Over on your personal LinkedIn profile, fill in your current work information with your position at your business, thereby linking your personal profile up with your company page. Encourage your staff to do the same, so that your business gets seen by their connections as well.

You and your staff can then ask for recommendations from your clients or customers to help build your personal and business credibility. You may find you get some nice quotes that you could use on your own website, with the reviewer’s permission. When you and your business get recommended on LinkedIn, it doesn’t just look good on your own profile; it also gets shown to the network of the person who recommended you, so others will get to hear about you and you’ll get the benefit of a word of mouth recommendation.

Use it for market research

When you’ve built up a following for your company profile, you’ll find you can use LinkedIn for free market research. If you’ve launched a new product, for example, you could ask your followers whether there’s anything they’d change about it, so that you can refine it further. If you’re thinking of expanding into a new service area, you could find out whether there’s a demand for it.

You can use LinkedIn Groups in a similar way. Find groups relevant to your business and start a conversation to ask for opinions, or just browse to find out what challenges others are facing that your products or services could potentially help with.

Depending on your industry, it can be a great way to help understand your target audience. If you’re a software provider, for example, you’re likely to find people discussing the shortcomings of software they use for business. You could well find valuable insights to help you develop your own offering.

Recruit new staff

Finally, anyone who’s serious about furthering their career will have a LinkedIn profile, making it a great place to find talented people who might want to work for you. You can post a job advert on LinkedIn, or use it to headhunt potential candidates by approaching them directly. Click here to find out more about posting jobs on LinkedIn.

We hope we’ve convinced you that LinkedIn has many benefits for your business, as well as for your own career. Don’t forget to check out our other social media blog posts to get loads more great tips on how to make the most of social network platforms to grow your business.

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Natalie Wood is Digital Communications Lead at the UK Domain. Natalie leads the email and social communication strategy. She is responsible for advising and implementing all online communication strategies to promote brand awareness.

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