This post articulates the primary reasons why organizations of all types and sizes should establish and manage their Company Pages (organizational profiles) on LinkedIn. It provides a three-phase approach to creating Company Pages and offers examples of existing Company Pages for reference. It also includes the results of a recent poll (N=451) on people's preferences for engaging with organizations in which they have a professional interest.
LinkedIn's "company" management capability is an amazingly powerful and surprisingly underutilized feature of the platform. Other than the Careers functionality, the feature is free. And even though LinkedIn (LI) uses the term "company," it's a feature that can be used by organizations of all types, as well as organizations of any size (including solopreneurs).
Among other things, LI Company Pages enable organizations to:
- Connect all employees on LI under a single employer identity
- Promote the organizational brand, products and services
- This is valuable even if the organization is not a for-profit entity
- Example: SMinOrgs's products/services have received almost 12,000 impressions this year - that's an invaluable return for a few hours of work
- Communicate the employment brand and enhance recruiting efforts
- Facilitate business development and other efforts to garner support from outside parties
- Provide an easier mechanism for externally facing employees to be found via LI
- Connect LI users to their website and other internet presences
LinkedIn Company Pages should be viewed as a complement to an organization's overall internet presence rather than a substitute for other platforms or websites. Although it's one of the best ways to engage with people professionally, it's not the only means by which people access information and connect with relevant individuals (see the poll results below to learn more).
As more people join and visit LI regularly, however, having a robust organizational profile will become increasingly important. Given how little investment it takes to establish and manage a Company Page (no money, and very little time), there's really no excuse for not having one.
This post is divided into the following sections:
- Establishing a Company Page in Three Phases
- Company Page Examples
- Preferences for Engaging with Organizations: Poll Results
As always, I welcome comments and questions, as well as additional tips and suggestions.
- Courtney Shelton Hunt, PhD
Establishing a Company Page in Three Phases
Establishing a Company Page doesn't require any special training or sophisticated technical skills. Anyone with a basic ability to navigate the web, along with decent writing/editing and typing skills (most of which is copying and pasting), can do it. LinkedIn has made the process extremely simple and straight forward.
In spite of the simplicity of doing so, people offer lots of reasons (excuses) for not having established their Company Pages yet. Some people are intimidated by experimenting with new things, whereas others feel they don't have time. With folks like this in mind, I offer recommendations that enable the development of organizational profiles in stages, from Basic to Advanced. Many organizations may choose to stop at the basic level, and others will continue to progress. The decision as to which level of sophistication is "good enough" should be driven by an organization's goals and objectives and the relevance of LI in achieving them.
Note: the guidance below does not expressly address the Careers feature on Company Pages for two reasons. First, it's not a feature I've worked with, so I don't feel qualified to address it. Secondly, using the feature requires an organization to either have a paid LI account or pay to post positions, so unlike the other features, it can't be leveraged for free.
Phase I: Basic
A basic profile can be created in less than 30 minutes. On your LI home page, hover over "Companies" on the top bar and then click on "Search Companies" from the drop-down menu. In the upper-right corner of that page, click on the "Add a Company" link. LinkedIn will guide you in the process from there.
Your profile will include a brief description (copied from your website or other promotional materials), a logo, specialties, and some basic demographic information. If your organization has a blog, you can include the RSS feed link as well.
Once the profile is established, be sure to designate multiple administrators for the Company Page. Not only will this make maintenance easier, but it will also provide for a seamless transition when an employee with administrator status leaves.
Finally, assuming you have employees who are already on LI, ask them to update their individual profiles to link them to the official Company Page. Here are some instructions from LI on how to do that.
Note: large organizations will have to devise a scheme for coordinating multiple identities. For example, there are at least at least 6 Company Pages for the University of Chicago, two of which - the Hospital and Medical Center - appear to be the same entity.
Phase II: Intermediate
The next big phase in fleshing out your Company Page is to add descriptions of your products/services. Depending on how many products/services your organization has, and how much descriptive material already exists, this effort could take as little as an hour. In no case should it take more than a day. A half a day is probably a reasonable amount of time to block off.
In addition to providing basic descriptions and key features for each product/service, you can
- Add images and urls for more information
- Identify specific employees for people to contact
- Create brief promotions (which will rotate on the overview page)
- Include a link to a YouTube video
- Incorporate a disclaimer
Once you're satisfied with the product/service descriptions you create, you can seek recommendations for them from key clients and other stakeholders. LI facilitates this by creating a boilerplate message that administrators can send for specific products/services to their LI connections. You can also create a general request that includes links to all products/services and send that out via email as well as through LI. You can also add a request to your website, with links to specific profile pages (here's an example).
Finally, you can request that people follow your organization by having employees share the Company Page on their individual profiles as status updates and with specific individuals from their networks. Although you don't want to share the Company Page as a Discussion Item in LI groups, because that can strike people as spammy, you can add a link/description under the Promotions tab of relevant groups. Given that Promotions don't get pushed out to people as part of the group updates, however, I am not sure it's worth the effort.
Phase III: Advanced
In addition to creating pages for each product/service your organization offers, you can also customize the overview page, including:
- Creating multiple versions of the page for different audiences and/or market segments
- Adding up to three linkable banners that will rotate through the page
- Linking to a YouTube video
- Featuring specific products/services
- Incorporating a general disclaimer
If you have the staff who are willing and able to provide regular status updates for the organization, you can activate that feature as well. As with updates on individual profiles, you should probably share no more than one update per day - far less than you would on Twitter and maybe even Facebook.
Finally, you can promote your organization and/or specific products/services by initiating a targeted LI advertising campaign.
Company Page Examples
Here are some examples of how organizations of all sizes and types are currently leveraging the Company Page feature. For each I've indicated which of the three sophistication categories I would put them in. As you can see, many organizations have still not taken full advantage of what LI has to offer, even though they have many employees on LI and many, many followers. What are they waiting for...?
Public sector organizations
- City of New York (basic)
- City of Seattle (none!)
- Council of the European Union (basic)
- State of California (none?)
- U.S. Department of State (basic)
Small, for-profit organizations
- Akron Children's Hospital (intermediate)
- Mayo Clinic (intermediate)
- Medical College of Wisconsin (basic)
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (advanced)
- Social Media in Organizations (SMinOrgs) Community (I am the founder) (intermediate)
- The Night Ministry (basic)
Preferences for Engaging with Organizations: Poll Results
One of the catalysts for this post was LI's recent announcement that they were adding a utility to enable companies to provide status updates, similar to individual status updates. As someone who focuses on non-consumer applications of social media, I thought this was a great development, and I was excited about being able to share updates via my LI Company Pages rather than my Facebook fan pages (which, as it turns out, has been far more effective based on impression and engagement statistics).
I was curious to know if other people shared my enthusiasm, so I created a LI poll - and a comparable Constant Contact (CC) version - to get some input. The 415 LI and 36 CC responses were very similar, and generally corroborated my perception that LI is preferable to both Facebook and Twitter for professional engagement. Perhaps more importantly, though, both the numbers and the comments reinforce the fact that people will use multiple channels, methods, and platforms (including face-to-face!) for conducting research on, reaching out to, and interacting with organizations and their representatives.
Click here or on the image below for details on the LI poll results