As a small business owner, you need to take advantage of every marketing opportunity given to you. LinkedIn is one such marketing opportunity. It’s free. It opens your business to 250 million LinkedIn members. And, it’s a great way to attract top talent to your business.
Are you ready to get more out of LinkedIn for your small business? Here’s our collection of the best tips, tricks, and practices you can implement today.
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Understand the Value of LinkedIn
First, some small businesses still don’t see the value of LinkedIn. Isn’t it just like any other social network? Do I really need to use it to attract clients?
Well, there’s plenty of evidence showing how useful LinkedIn can be. Consider this graph produced by the Wall Street Journal’s Small Business CEO survey:
WSJ summed up that study by saying “Small Firms Say LinkedIn Works, Twitter Doesn’t”. LinkedIn has done quite a bit of work since that study was released, including adding small business-friendly features like Showcase Pages while making it easier for firms to share and spread content updates.
Setting up LinkedIn to market your small business doesn’t even take that long. At the most basic level, all you need to do to start is spend 5 minutes setting up your profile.
How to Set Up a Profile for your Small Business on LinkedIn
Creating a company page for your business can be done in about 2 minutes (if you’re fast at typing). To start, log into your LinkedIn profile, then hover your cursor over Interests at the top of your homepage, then select Companies. Click Create in the Create a Company Page box on the right-hand side, then fill in all appropriate information about your company.
LinkedIn will ask for your company’s official name and your work email address. Then, you can click Continue to enter your company information.
If you can’t click the Publish button on your company page, then it may be because your company description isn’t long enough. You need to have a description 250 to 2000 characters in length (including spaces). You’ll also need to setup your company URL.
Once you’ve done that, you’ve setup your profile and you’re ready to start using LinkedIn for your small business.
Encourage your Employees to Get On Board
Whether you’re the only employee, or you have a few employees, you need to connect your profile to your company’s profile. Encourage your employees to follow your company on their personal account. They’ll automatically appear as employees on your business profile.
With a small business, this step is crucial: your customers might want to see your employees, for example. They might want to see how your employees are qualified or get an idea of what your employees look like long before they schedule an appointment. With any small business, personal connections are crucial. When you add yourself and your employees to your company profile, you make personal connections easy.
Build Up Followers
This part can be fun or painstaking – depending on how personable you are. Reach out to your friends, family, and business connections and ask them to follow your LinkedIn profile page. If your small business primarily targets local customers, then you’ll want to aim for a local following in your target cities.
Your goal here is to get the ball rolling before you start to target your desired customer base. Convert customers into followers by adding a LinkedIn link at the bottom of every email you send, for example. If you’re being particularly aggressive (or if you’re really close to certain customers), consider asking them personally to follow your LinkedIn page.
Interact with Groups to Build Expertise and Attract Customers
Your small business doesn’t have the marketing budget of its larger competitors. What you do have is unique knowledge and an ability to personally connect with people.
That’s where LinkedIn’s Groups feature can help. Find Groups talking about your brand or industry. Join groups that are active and start taking part in conversations.
You can start looking for groups here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/
This is where your inbound marketing expertise comes in handy. Nobody likes somebody who just uses groups to spam their qualifications or wave their business around. But if you provide helpful, thoughtful responses to members of the group, then people will naturally become interested in what your small business has to offer.
Monitor Company Analytics
When you’re a small business, LinkedIn page analytics can tell you a lot about how people are interacting with your company.
LinkedIn’s analytics go surprisingly deep. You can view analytics for each content piece you post, for example, letting you monitor the impressions, clicks, and interactions of each content update. You can also measure the number of followers you acquired from that update as well as the engagement of the update (number of interactions and clicks divided by the number of impressions).
You can take this information and use it to narrow down your target audience and determine what they like to see. Maybe you noticed that a post about climate change attracted huge engagement among your target demographic, and then you use that information to get more people talking about your company’s solar panels.
LinkedIn’s analytics will also appear in your followers section, where you can view the type of followers you have (organic versus acquired through ads), demographics, trends, and comparisons against your competitors.
Treat this information like a free marketing analysis. Your small business may not have a dedicated marketing department, and you may not be able to afford an independent marketing analysis. But you can get valuable information from LinkedIn’s free analytics. You can even use this information to guide your content marketing across other platforms. If your LinkedIn followers like to read about global warming, then your Twitter followers might be the same.
Start Publishing the Right Content at the Right Frequency
When it comes to LinkedIn content updates, most companies focus on a small number of high-quality updates. It’s not like Twitter where companies can tweet multiple times a day. It’s more like a high-quality bulletin board where companies post their most important updates and well-thought-out articles on industry news.
Most small businesses don’t use content updates on LinkedIn at all. They may occasionally post major news about their company, but they don’t often use it to actually attract followers.
That’s a mistake, because a lot of small businesses have interesting things to share. Use your content updates to comment on major industry news. Use it to highlight some interesting work performed by your employees. Post content updates containing images or videos your followers might want to see – yes, LinkedIn is a professional network, but it’s still part of the internet, and people always like flashy images on the internet.
After posting content on your page, be sure to respond to comments. This does two things: it shows customers you’re reading their messages. And, it encourages more customers to come forward and comment on your next post (they know they won’t be ignored).
Publish Targeted Content
LinkedIn actually lets you push targeted content to specific groups of followers. Using LinkedIn targeted content updates, you can make sure only certain demographics see your content. You can customize by position, geographic location, job title, company, and much more.
Ask your Employees to Publish Content to Spread Unique Industry Information
Your small business probably has a number of talented employees who play specialized roles or come from unique backgrounds. Highlight these employees and share them with the world. Ask your employees to publish their own content where they explain some unique industry information – like what they do, how they do it, and where they see their niche going in the future.
This attracts people in your industry while also establishing yourself as a thought leader in your niche.
If you can leverage each employee in your small business, you can spread out the responsibility of updating your LinkedIn page while also highlighting each employee’s unique qualifications.
Build Out Showcase Pages
LinkedIn’s Showcase Pages are under-utilized by small businesses. Some small businesses don’t need them. However, if your small business has multiple major products, brands, or services, then Showcase Pages are a great way to give each one the attention it deserves.
These Showcase Pages used to be known as the Products and Services pages. Today, the Showcase Pages look pretty much like their own individual business pages. You can post your own updates, attract your own followers, and have your own unique design.
Small businesses with just one niche, product, or service won’t find many advantages in Showcase Pages, but some growing small-to-medium-sized businesses may find them useful.
Copy your Best Competitors
This is one part of the online marketing world people don’t like to talk about. But the truth of it is: most marketing efforts are just an altered version of something that’s been done in the past.
If you start running out of small business marketing ideas, start looking at what your competitors are doing.
Now, we’re not saying you should copy their pages, copy their content, or do anything like that. But spend some time analyzing why that company, in particular, is the top company in your niche. What are they doing differently? How can you add your own twist to that formula?
Maybe you’re a solar panel installation company in Hawaii. You join a solar panel company group on LinkedIn and start liking the marketing efforts you’re seeing from similar companies in Arizona and Texas. You implement those marketing methods at your business in Hawaii, and suddenly you’re outranking your local competition.
Continue Growing your Following
You’ve set up a good base. You’ve attracted followers. Your employees are contributing content, and your profile’s analytics keep improving.
Where do you go from here?
You keep growing your following by promoting your LinkedIn page wherever you go. Follow the instructions here to add a LinkedIn button to your company website. Or, use that same code to add a follow button to your business email signature.
Ultimately, LinkedIn is a free marketing tool that you can ignore at your own peril. Your customers and future employees are already on LinkedIn. Get active and they’ll find you.