When you think of LinkedIn, do you simply see a digital address book, or do you see an active community in which you can grow your personal and your small business brand? Are you currently using LinkedIn just for networking, or are you leveraging its potential as a marketing tool that can help you generate new customers and strengthen existing customer relationships? Once thought of as a B2B hub where job seekers posted resumes, LinkedIn now seeks to be an integral part of your small business branding, marketing, sales, and hiring programs.
Why? They recently conducted a research study which found that 90% of small business use or plan to use social media. Of those using social media, 94% use it for marketing, more than 50% have increased their social media spend in 2013, and “hyper growth” companies invest in social media more than any other channel.
To leverage small business interest in social media, LinkedIn has created a new small business resource center designed to help those businesses both get the most out of LinkedIn and to encourage them to use paid LinkedIn services and marketing tools.
If you are interested in expanding your LinkedIn presence, a good place to start is the LinkedIn Small Business Playbook. It is broken down into four segments: Branding, Marketing, Sales and Hiring. Within each section are detailed examples of beginner, intermediate, and advanced tools and tactics that you can use to enhance your LinkedIn listings, and to increase your participation on the site. Also helpful are checklists in each category that outline daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that you can work into your social media programs.
For more in depth help, check out the tips and resources center for each key topic. They include infographics, slide presentations, blog posts, and videos covering subtopics under Personal Branding, Marketing, Sales and Hiring.
Not surprisingly, you’ll notice that many of the suggestions from LinkedIn involve using paid services, and/or are designed to increase overall site traffic– two things that go straight to the company’s bottom line. However, there are many free LinkedIn features that are well worth your time. For example, a recent program has opened up article publishing to any LinkedIn member. Previously reserved for “elite influencers” such as big company CEOs and well known public figures, article publishing lets you share your insights on any topic with your network. If your network finds them interesting enough to share widely, LinkedIn editors may decide to distribute your articles to a wider audience. Read the help post to learn more about article publishing. If you don’t see the feature turned on for your LinkedIn account, you can apply for it here.
If you’re looking for some third party advice on how to leverage LinkedIn for your small business, start with 5 LinkedIn Marketing Tips For Small Businesses, a recent post on the woorank.com blog. It provides five detailed tactics for getting the most out of your personal and company pages, complete with screen captures that show you how to perform each of the tasks. The infographic How to Increase Your LinkedIn Engagement by 386% provides a quick view of LinkedIn usage statistics as well as tactics you can use to leverage that user base.
If you created a LinkedIn profile years ago and have let it languish, or if you have a personal profile but you haven’t created a Company page for your small business, take some time today to review what you have and to make some basic enhancements.
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