In the battle to get businesses to understand the value of a social media strategy, Linked In always seems to win. Facebook is “for the kids”, Twitter has a silly name but Linked In has immediate gravitas – so why are so many people confused about it?
I’d suggest it’s due to usability. Facebook is ridiculously straightforward, Twitter requires only a small amount of knowledge to get started, but it has always seemed to me that the best features of Linked In require a bit of digging.
That’s why I was pleased the New Media Breakfast today featured the network which, according to Heather Baker from Topline Communications, will be “as important as a website by 2012.”
Digital marketing specialist Colin Gilchrist started with the basics but quickly moved on to strategy – and judging by the number of questions afterwards, could have carried on speaking for hours. Here are some of his top tips: Change all generic/default information
This includes changing the link from “My website” to the actual website name [Edit > Other then type in the name] and changing the “invitation to connect” message to something persuasive and meaningful. It makes your profile more honest and approachable, plus there are SEO benefits. Prioritise your boxes
You can move your recommendations to the top and your applications to the bottom – or anything in between – by using the little toggle to the left of the heading. Register your business on Linked In
Similar to Facebook profiles v pages, Linked In has a separate solution for companies. The benefits of linking your personal Linked In profile to your company’s page are that potential clients/contacts can click for instant access to info on company products, services and other employees. Plus it makes sense for SEO. Use the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” box for leads
Found to the right of the home page, this box provides the perfect opener for new contacts. Use Applications to personalise your profile
Go to learn.linkedin.com/apps for a full list and choose the ones which give an added dimension to your business persona. Colin suggested the Reading List as a way for people to find common ground with you. Join relevant groups
You can join a maximum of 50 groups – these are a great way to do market research, find leads and establish relationships. Tag your contacts
Similar to the Twitter list, Linked In allows you to ‘tag’ your contacts and sort them into categories – ideal if you’re looking to target a specific industry with an offer or event. Use advanced search
The level of detail is incredible plus you can leverage existing contacts who are connected to the person you’re pursuing – they can introduce you. Follow up
When someone accepts your invitation you have an opportunity to answer this with a message. This is the ideal time to broach the subject of further collaboration/a face-to-face meeting.
Far from being a simple database of online CVs, Linked In is a vibrant business community and a goldmine for leads. What I’ve realised is that it just takes a bit more time in terms of research, requires a basic knowledge of SEO and a tight list of keywords, to make sure your profile is visible to the right people. Plus, of course, an honest but persuasive pitch in that all-important “invitation to connect” box!
I had to shoot off just after 9am, so any comments on other areas raised after that time would be much appreciated! Connect with me on Linked In