If you look at how LinkedIn has progressed since its launch in 2002, you'll see that the network has gone from merely being a "resume website" to becoming a go-to resource for top employment advice and hot industry news. Needless to say, this spells new opportunities for social media marketers.
Many LinkedIn promo ideas have already been voiced in the SMM community, but these usually don't go beyond something along the lines of "use LinkedIn Answers" (that are no longer supported, by the way) or "participate with LinkedIn Groups".
So, let us switch on our right brains for a moment and see what unexplored marketing opportunities might be hidden in LinkedIn as well as at the junction of LinkedIn and other online venues, shall we?
Some time ago, I noticed that the number of LinkedIn shares for the posts I published had increased dramatically. My first thought was, "Okaay, LinkedIn must be gaining traction", but then I stumbled on this article that talks about the termination of the Twitter-LinkedIn deal and how that could have resulted in the increased number of LinkedIn shares.
Another reason LinkedIn is worth paying attention to is that, according to statistics, it is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter. I believe this is due to the fact that, when one wants to be professional, one doesn't want to be anonymous - hence LinkedIn has more real-deal players.
1. Advertise on the sites LinkedIn shares content from
There is a way to garner (even though indirectly) exposure for your business by owning it at the websites LinkedIn syndicates articles from. The list of these websites isn’t that long, and some of them are perfectly accessible for common mortals.
For instance, LinkedIn regularly sends me emails titled "Top news today", in which I normally get articles from such websites as Forbes.com, Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, BBC.co.uk and others. These are really top-tier and it’s tough to get featured on them.
However, in the emails titled "Top news tailored for you", I get articles from such websites as:
You can check what sites LinkedIn sends you updates from in your niche and target them as advertising platforms. Besides, you could try to become a guest author on those websites and get exposure this way.
In addition, sometimes LinkedIn editors simply find a post on "recruiting, hiring, top talent, careers and stuff, business, statistics or research" somewhere on the web and include it into their roundup. So, I'd consider writing a kick-ass post on one of these topics and pitching it to one of your industry blogs (well, the post needs to have something to do with your industry, of course).
To get you started, here is a list of top 150 social media blogs.
2. Let your employees be a vehicle for brand promotion
Every now and then I'd look up a company's profile on LinkedIn. And then, of course, I can't resist checking out some of the company employees' profiles. One may argue that most LinkedIn profiles are not available to most users. But, tell you what, you never know who might be in your network.
Quick test: I just searched for the first company that came to mind (Apple) and saw that I had 4 second-degree connections inside Apple:
And (yippie!) if it's a second-degree connection, you can actually view the person's profile. Besides, if you are a paid LinkedIn member (more about it later in this post), you can see full profiles of anyone in your network and do other things.
So, employee profiles are also part of your company's LinkedIn image and you'd better exert at least some control over that. Of course, you can't force employees to write certain things in their profiles, but you can motivate them to make their profiles more professional/appealing.
For instance, here is a great list of epithets to avoid in a LinkedIn profile. My personal favorite is "serial entrepreneur."
Another thing you can do is to encourage employees to endorse one another for applicable skills. Well, one may say it's counter-intuitive to develop your employees' LinkedIn accounts since this will only make them more appealing to headhunters. But the idea here is to be reasonable and to do what makes common sense: you could at least check that no employee has something totally out of the line written in his or her profile.
3. Get onto the radar of LinkedIn's Top Influencers
Another type of content that enjoys massive exposure on LinkedIn is articles published by the network's Top Influencers.
Now, if you thought that LinkedIn's top influencers were just random popular people, they are not.
It is a "150-person panel that includes President Barack Obama, business moguls, Internet bloggers, self-help gurus and entrepreneurs." The members of the panel were hand-picked in October of 2012, and LinkedIn said it was planning to expand the list in the future.
So, if just like the rest of 199,999,850 LinkedIn users you're not on the Top Influencers' list, you can identify though leaders in your niche and try to establish contact with them. Hopefully, the word about your partnership will go out or you'll get a chance to be featured in one of that influencer's posts in their LinkedIn column.
To connect with the influencers, leave comments to their posts, follow them on other networks, share things specifically with them, look for them at various industry conferences, buy them a beer - whatever works.
4. Share more visual content on LinkedIn
No doubt visuals help your message sink in. These days, people expect at least some visual/multimedia content to be available for them when they're getting to know a brand or a company.
You might have heard that LinkedIn acquired SlideShare in May, 2012. SlideShare was originally a presentation sharing site, but one can also upload videos and other content to it.
So, the visuals you upload to SlideShare can now be displayed in your LinkedIn profile. To set this up, use LinkedIn's SlideShare application – and enjoy higher engagement from your LinkedIn following.
5. Purchase a paid LinkedIn membership
Paid LinkedIn membership can be of big help when you're trying to establish valuable connections on this network. As a pro member, you gain access to additional information, have advanced search and targeting options, can see more statistics data, etc.
I believe it to be ideal for those who:
- Need to go through a lot of LinkedIn profiles to effectively connect with the right people (recruiters, etc.)
- Need to approach high-profile professionals who are not easy to connect with by other means (lobbyists).
So, for what it's worth, think about becoming a privileged LinkedIn user- this could be the key to your success on this network.
LinkedIn search tools
Now, how do you find the right people and the right information on LinkedIn?
First, you can use the platform's native search engine to search for people by their company name, their first and/or last name, the groups they might belong to, etc.
Second, if you're a paid member, you get to use LinkedIn Search filters that help you make your search better-targeted AND you can use Saved Search Alerts (= you get an alert when new results for your search are found).
Alternatively, you can use third-party social listening tools with LinkedIn support (such as BuzzBundle). What great about these tools is that they normally let you leave comments to relevant discussions, send private messages and share posts from one single dashboard.
If you think about LinkedIn social media marketing, it's definitely different from promoting things on Facebook or Twitter. However, as LinkedIn promotion normally yields higher ROI, taking an effort to tune into the network's specifics is normally well worth it.
Besides well-known LinkedIn promo tactics such as sharing your company's updates, taking part in LinkedIn groups, etc., there are also not-so-evident means of expanding your influence and generating leads from LinkedIn, such as connecting to Top Influencers, becoming a paid member, promoting individual employees, and others.