Often, social media can leave business-to-business companies in the lurch. Unsure if they can effectively reach out to other businesses through Facebook or Twitter, they shy away from using social media completely. But here enters LinkedIn with a solution. It's what I would call the “gateway platform” for businesses, especially B2B ones, who are looking at establishing a social media profile.
Using LinkedIn for your business can become a bit of a juggling act – you need to speak both as yourself on behalf of your business and, as your business on behalf of itself. Here are a few ways to engage more people on LinkedIn, both as an individual and as a business.
As an Individual:
Have a complete profile
Be personable, authentic, and experienced. Include photos, details, and recommendations in your profile. If someone is looking at your business, especially if you are a sole proprietor, they are looking at you, too.
Know what is going on in your field and grow contacts with other professionals.
Participate in discussions
Answer questions. Become known as an authority figure, and link back to a blog post or article if you have recently written a more comprehensive answer.
Be alive – sharing links, answering questions. One of the easiest ways to do this is to incorporate your Twitter efforts – you can even pick and choose which tweets are copied to LinkedIn and which ones aren’t. Use these conversations to expand your network, and engage your contacts on multiple platforms.
Face-to-face networking is still a powerful tool, and events that are also integrated online are even better.
Show your personality and increase the interactivity on your profile by including apps. You can include videos and slideshows with SlideShare, integrate your blog posts, and show what you are reading or learning by displaying Amazon books.
As a Business:
Have a complete business page
Include logos and photos, link to your employees, and make sure that contact information is complete. Company pages also don’t show more than a few lines of your “About” section, so make sure it grabs the reader fast and encourages them to click “more…”.
Describe products and services
Though there is not as much personalization possible on LinkedIn as on Facebook, you can still feature your products and services on the Products and Services tab. Include details, frequently asked questions, and links back to your website for more information.
Just like you can get personal recommendations, you can also collect testimonials on LinkedIn from people who have purchased and used your products or services. If you know that a customer is on LinkedIn, be forthcoming about asking for a review or recommendation, but be polite and don’t offer any incentive besides your gratitude.
Link to and from your website
LinkedIn now provides a capability to include a “recommend” widget on your website. This allows people who have just found your site to interact with it on LinkedIn without going to LinkedIn and searching for it. You can also link to blog posts and other recent updates.
Encourage people to follow your company as well as to recommend it, so that they can get updates when staff changes. I anticipate LinkedIn will continue to expand the role of company pages, so that they will be able to post updates and other engaging information. Until then, engage customers yourself – and make sure your connection to your company is loud and proud!
Want to see an example of a company page on LinkedIn? Check out Single Grain’s LinkedIn page.