February 6, 2014

LinkedIn apathy — a curable disease

When it comes to social media, LinkedIn often gets overlooked. Think about it like siblings from TV’s most famous sitcoms. I’ll go with shows from three eras — The Brady Bunch, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Modern Family. Facebook is the pretty and popular older sibling (Marcia Brady, Hilary Banks, or Haley Dunphy). Twitter is the younger, lovable cutie pie (Cindy, Ashley, or Luke). And then we have LinkedIn — the middle child (Jan, Carlton, or Alex) — not as flashy, not as fun, definitely more nerdy.

Jammin on LinkedIn

If your website is indeed awesome, LinkedIn is an outstanding conduit to drive prospects there.

On “the world’s largest professional network,” your profile might suffer from inattention — only getting updates when you’re gearing up for a job search. But this modus operandi is outdated and you need to shake it off. Long known as the least-social social network, LinkedIn is slowly improving its social skills. Status updates, endorsements (love ’em or hate ’em), and now Pulse (news curation) make interacting with your connections — and, more important, prospective clients — both easier and more essential.

Besides apathy towards personal updates, I’m continually amazed by companies’ total lack of awareness about their own pages. Shockingly, if you’ve filled out your company description and posted a link to your website, you’re actually ahead of a lot of companies. Product/service listings, sharing interesting content, recommendations — you’d think these simple tasks were rocket science.

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t need LinkedIn. People can get info from my awesome website.” Well, guess what? You don’t get to decide where people learn about your company. It’s the omnichannel, folks. If someone prefers to do searches on LinkedIn, your feeble profile won’t do you any favors.If your website is indeed awesome, LinkedIn is an outstanding conduit to drive prospects there.

Especially if you’re in a B2B company, LinkedIn should be your jam. On that note, let’s turn back the clock for some LinkedIn advice themed to a few tracks from the era that brought us hair metal, hammer pants, and a heck of lot more Rocky movies than were necessary.

Check Yo Self

You may think your profile is as cool as Ice Cube’s Coors Light commercials, but I guarantee someone else is doing it better. Someone else is ranking higher in searches, driving more website traffic, initiating more conversations. Set aside some time, pull up your profile, and ask yourself the following questions.

On your personal page:

  1. Do I have a summary? Is it any good?
  2. Am I being social — sharing content and participating in groups?
  3. How many connections do I have?
  4. In my line of work, what skills or areas of expertise are people searching for?

On your company page:

  1. What page am I driving visitors to? My homepage? A landing page?
  2. What specialties are listed (and which ones are absent)?
  3. What products or services are listed? Does anyone recommend them?

The Best

Pit your profiles against the best — the Tina Turner of your industry. Match up against the competition. None of your competitors have a good one either? Not surprising — but don’t use it as an excuse to set your bar low. Look outside your industry for inspiration. Put other companies through the same scrutiny; see how you stack up. I bet you’ll uncover more than a few areas for improvement.

Everybody, Everybody

Again, think about the many ways that prospects can find your company. They might search out your company page directly, or they might find you through your employees’ profiles. Your employees are brand advocates, so, in many ways, their pages are just as important as the company’s. You increase your chances when everybody on your team is consistent and working together. Each one should have the type of profile we’re talking about here — chock-full of recommendations, work samples and valuable links. This is especially critical for client-facing employees. Outdated profile information reflects poorly; conversely, a complete (and creative) employee profile makes you more credible and hopefully memorable. More employees who frequently use LinkedIn equals more chances to get your company’s name in people’s news feeds.

More Than Words

If you want people to connect with you and your company, offer some insightful content — an observation on a trending topic, a blog post (driving people to your awesome website, remember?), anything interesting and shareable. Short on time? Post a link to an intriguing article and offer a brief comment. Do it a couple times per week. Seriously, is that asking too much? If it keeps your name in the mix, it’s well worth your time.

The Final Countdown

Look, I could spend more time taking you through best practices for improving your profile and showing up higher in searches. I highly encourage you to sync up your website with Google Analytics (it’s free — why wouldn’t you?) to examine which platforms are driving website traffic and what visitors  are doing after they hit your site. But for starters, promise me you’ll at least: 1) update your profile; 2) list products, services, specialties, and the like; 3) give and get recommendations; and 4) post status updates. Additionally, LinkedIn recently rolled out some (much needed) new features for company pages, so get in there and capitalize.

LinkedIn apathy is a curable disease. After you see the difference some simple grooming makes, imagine what an actual LinkedIn marketing strategy could do for your business. Don’t let your LinkedIn laziness cost you customers and prospects.