Using LinkedIn for your small business is essentially free advertising. LinkedIn marketing techniques involve building your profile page with information and producing and sharing compelling content. Small businesses have a few additional challenges in branding themselves and expanding their network, but with a little planning you can attain a lot of free exposure.
Create Your Company Page
Introducing your small business on LinkedIn will require a company page. In many respects, this page is like a personal profile with additional functions and features, like Showcase pages.
Before creating your company page, think about your brand. Do you want to stress your family-run origins? Or perhaps you are a one-man (or woman) operation? Are you a more local brand—a brick-and-mortar type—or do you have surprising national or international reach? Do you have a charity focus? You may want to differentiate yourself from the faceless corporate world, or you may want to blend into your competition and downplay your size. You may even want to write the introduction to the company in first person rather than the third person like a larger corporation. Know your brand before you begin writing out your company page.
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Note that most of LinkedIn marketing is business-to-business, not directly to average consumers. If you plan to recruit talent through LinkedIn, you will also want to think about what potential employees are looking for in their future employer, particularly when it comes to company culture.
Showcases are additional pages where you can expand on your product and service descriptions and upload high quality banner images. Unfortunately, Showcase pages require their own list of followers, so you’ll want to push the link to this page as necessary.
Remember to update your personal profile, too. There are still benefits to using a personal profile to network and advertise your company through the job title and company name listed on your page. For example, you can only comment on Top Influencer posts—a great place to get exposure—under your personal account.
Know Your Keywords
Many small businesses can’t afford an SEO team, but a little research can help you find your best keywords for LinkedIn marketing. Include these keywords early on in your profile, with a special focus on the first 156 words of your company description. These first few words are the ones that will show up in search engines as a snippet of text, so entice readers to click the link for more information.
Offer to exchange recommendations with your best clients and vendors. Recommendations will appear on the company page as a review of your company’s service and products. Try to have the author include content about how your small business is to work with. These will have a lot of weight with others who may be looking to do business with you.
Use LinkedIn Pulse
The blogging platform Pulse is basically free LinkedIn marketing. When tagged under popular category titles, your post can be seen by professionals all over the world (or locally targeted as needed). You can also share your post through your content feed for all of your followers to see.
The goal of these long-form writings is partly to gain exposure and partly to establish yourself as an expert in your field. As you produce content that is relevant and educational, you’ll attract more followers. A page that has a healthy number of followers sets itself apart as a professional, knowledgeable and accountable small business. Some followers may even bring in new orders, especially if they re-share valuable content you’ve produced.
Add a Follow Button
It’s very easy to add a “Follow” button on your company website using this plugin generator. You can add this in a social media header or footer on your site that features LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
You can also include links in e-mail signatures and QR codes on printed materials. When a QR code is scanned with a cell phone or tablet, it will automatically take the user directly to your company page.
Get Employees Involved
Everyone involved in the company should set up a personal LinkedIn page and list the company as their employer. Each additional page is a whole new platform with a whole new set of connections to market your small business. Encourage employees to click “Share” on the content you produce under the company page.
Employees can also be a great resource for curating interesting news articles and even writing short thoughts about industry topics. You may want to set a goal for each person to send in one link and short commentary per week or month.
Participate in Local Groups
Groups have always been a good place to begin Linkedin marketing. It puts your expertise before a niche industry audience. However, certain small businesses may need a more local focus, too. Perhaps you can start an “Entrepreneurs of Lake County” group to exchange information on local economic conditions, events and news while gaining more exposure for your company.
Be creative with the type of content you post on your profile and share on your feed. Videos, images and links always get more attention and engagement in the form of likes, comments and shares.
Images are relatively easy to edit with text using a web program like Pixlr. You can host videos through YouTube and edit with a program like WeVideo. The time investment here can pay off outside of LinkedIn if you pick content universal enough to post on multiple platforms.
If you’re looking for small business YouTube tips, check out these 20 video ideas.
Use LinkedIn to share event news, whether you’re hosting it yourself or simply attending. Raise awareness for networking events or conventions where your followers can meet your company.
Don’t Wait to Be Found
Search people you meet, especially after business trips, meetings and conventions. Go through all of the business cards you received and send out a message by e-mail thanking them for their time. Let them know they can follow your company on LinkedIn for insider updates and to stay in touch.
Download the mobile app and use it for quick re-sharing of content. Waiting to find time to sit down at the browser version can sound exhausting when you run a small business, so it’s easy to procrastinate. With the app, you can check in and share in a minute or less. You can also read and respond to messages more quickly.
Posting Job Ads
For around $199, you can post a 30-day ad for a job on LinkedIn. For a small business, this opportunity to reach out to the world’s largest professional talent pool is ideal for finding the right fit for your company. You can also invite users to follow your company page for future job opportunities.
Paying for LinkedIn Marketing
Your last resort as a small business is to pay for additional LinkedIn exposure through text, image or video ads. These can be paid per impression or per click with a set monthly budget. The Sponsored Content that pushes your content posts to the top of non-followers’ feeds may also be worth considering for your best blogs and videos.
Ultimately, though, small businesses need to be careful with paid Linked Marketing. There are many, many options and LinkedIn encourages you to call for pricing and details. Before you know it, you can be blowing your entire advertising budget through one outlet. Do your research and know what you want to accomplish before you sign up for anything—or at least know what your maximum budget is and stick to it regardless of the perceived benefits of spending more.
Update, Update & Update Again
Don’t leave your hard-earned company page to wither away. Always continue to build on your success with frequent posts to your feed.
Make sure you update on your actual company. Congratulate a new hire, promote a new product, thank a helpful vendor, or share the work performed for a client (with their permission of course). Some followers may follow you to obtain industry news, but don’t forget to take the next step and make yourself the news, too.
Keep Tabs on Your Analytics
LinkedIn offers a breakdown of how you obtain content views and followers. Check in once a week to see how you’re doing. You’ll see whether videos fare better than links, or whether more entry-level professionals are following you than senior management. The location of your followers can also tell you if your LinkedIn marketing is effective.
Paid ads and job postings will offer their own tabs for analytics. When you’re spending the money, pay extra attention to these. If you don’t see continuous improvement followed by increased sales over 6 months or so, it may be time to reconsider this part of your advertising budget.
Small businesses can find great success using LinkedIn marketing, usually without even having to pay. Through a combination of producing and sharing quality content and engaging your current network (including employees), you’ll be well on your way to increasing your company’s exposure and building its reputation for expert service.