LinkedIn for Small Businesses

LinkedIn is the top go to destination for job seekers and employers at first glance. But LinkedIn with its 467 million users is an important social media platform for any business, established or not. It is the world’s largest social media platform for working professionals. Although LinkedIn’s primary function used to be employment networking it has now expanded to include business oriented, content marketing focus groups, networking and lead generation. LinkedIn will help you construct your businesses progress in a manner that shows you as an industry expert within your domain. It is a great platform to conduct B2B operations and not specific or complimentary to B2C activities.While content generated elsewhere across different social media platforms has a hint of lifestyle, fun and other miscellaneous elements to it, your LinkedIn content generally tends to be specific to a business industry and how your presence adds value to it.We at huloo have carefully gathered and presented information to help you kick start your business’ social media presence on LinkedIn. Let’s dive in!

A variety of LinkedIn pages

A personal profile on Linkedin essentially becomes your online resume in a different comprehensive format. In order to start creating company pages, groups, or pages for groups, you need to create a personal profile first. We will concentrate on the company page first.Creating a company page should be your first task after setting up your profile. Having a strong company page has some definite implications like cementing your position within your industry and contributing to it more so than generating content for the platform. This is a great article by LinkedIn for creating a company page.The benefits of having a company page include:- It allows your business to tell its story and milestones- It allows you to engage with your audience and share appropriate content with them- It allows you to share product launches, updates and news pertaining to your business- It allows you to cut a niche for yourself amidst your competition and while also keeping an eye on competition- It helps enhance your Google search engine ranking for your brand- It also helps with talent acquisition for your business

Business communication via LinkedIn

It’s important to engage your audience with content that enables them to receive value and help understand your brand. This content would broadly include (but not limited to) the following:- Interesting articles pertaining to your industry- Blogs- Feature length articles- News- VideosIt is important to not be spammy as this will undo the purpose of your branding and make you look desperate and anxious. What needs to be done is to visualise the right sort of content specific to your industry and post it carefully. For example - If you are an overseas education consultant securing placements for students within UK universities, you may look at sharing an article on Brexit implications on higher education in the UK or perhaps aim at writing a blog about the benefits of studying in the UK. This mode of content curation or development would attract your audience’s attention and further implies that they would look up to you for credible, accurate or value adding information about your industry.It is a nice way to network and also engage in branding your business by liking, commenting and sharing other business’ content which you believe is top notch within your industry.If you maintain blogs on your website and they lean towards a high level of professional credibility within your industry, you should consider posting them as links on LinkedIn or as whole new articles.It is recommended that you also incorporate your business within your updates in a manner where you showcase your accomplishments and milestones. LinkedIn suggests you do this for every 4 news updates or trending articles you share.

Networking on LinkedIn

Advanced Search

A preliminary objective to appear frequently in searches pertaining to your industry is fair. In order to achieve that you need to have multiple appropriate connections within your industry. In 2013, LinkedIn introduced several search enhancements to their search function. This included locking in your interests and customising your newsfeed accordingly, as well as your network with adherence to industry. Advanced search goes deeper, through school, university, location, companies, industry and languages. You can click on search with filter option within your normal search bar menu prompt. You can the utilise existing connections to build space for new ones in this manner.

Taking advantage of groups

LinkedIn groups are the most important feature of the social media platform for networking. These groups are specific focus groups around a particular industry with active enthusiasts and professionals. You can find appropriate groups in sync with your interests using the search feature mentioned above. It is also possible and recommended to create a group from scratch if you are focusing on something niche within your industry.Contributing content within these groups will prove beneficial for your business and generate interest towards it. It’s also worth noting that you should not advocate and promote your content solely in a group, instead, aiming to acknowledge and show interest towards content shared by other group members. One thing would be to gain networking opportunities and the other reason would be to learn skills pertaining to your industry. After all, a group is comprised of industry experts and seasoned professionals.Some organisations have a members only group on LinkedIn, if you are part of some these organisations it would be appropriate to be part of their members only LinkedIn groups to gain powerful insights, updates and information relevant to your industry.You can start out by being part of as many groups related to your industry as you would like, but ideally you would narrow these down towards a few active groups later on. This way, the goals to be achieved are networking, branding and attaining an industry leader persona, not social presence across a variety of groups.

Competitor Analysis

LinkedIn as a networking and staffing platform offers an opportunity into monitoring your competition. You could have your eye open looking at the activity of large businesses within your industry.The crucial thing here is to take a cold shoulder approach to the connections with your competitors within your industry. It takes a significant amount of effort to get out of this zone of discomfort. You will be surprised to know the fact that, according to [Haimat] 70% of people on LinkedIn do not activate privacy settings. This means that all your rival businesses connections and clients are an open book for you.When you follow or connect to one of your competitors pages or profiles, tracking the following helps give great insights into your industry and how to learn from your competition:- Launch of new products and services- New office setup(s)- Rounds of hiring- Client Acquisition- Targeted prospective clienteleAll this allows you to identify the growth regions of your competition. This would mean your rivals should inspire you, but not to provoke you to imitate their methodology. Talent acquisition opportunities on LinkedIn are prime as you can identify your competition’s best people and hire them when you see fit.Huloo offers a service which measure your competition's growth and provides you with consolidated documents.

LinkedIn Etiquette

Let’s look at what you definitely should do on LinkedIn:- Humanise connection request. Profiles connecting to you would have a better chance of accepting your invite if your invitation to connect is accompanied by a personal note.- Respond in as prompt a manner as possible to messages on LinkedIn.- Have a professional quality headshot/portrait as your LinkedIn profile picture.- Post content regularly.- Introduce connections to each other and become a business matchmaker persona.Better yet, let’s look at what you should not do on LinkedIn:- Spamming is punished with account restriction on LinkedIn. Just like spam, irrelevant messages are also not appreciated. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform which is quite different from Facebook or Twitter.- Do not tweak your privacy settings in a manner where you cannot be found. LinkedIn is a social platform and everybody can benefit with mutual interactions. Alternatively, you can remove connections in your contacts list if you think your information should not be revealed to them.- Do not post content which is self indulgent. If there is no value given to your audience from a promotional post about yourself or your business, it is going to look cheap and desperate.- Insulting and patronising comments and critique are also a big negative on LinkedIn. This will only serve to turn people off.- Do not ask strangers for endorsements or recommendations on LinkedIn. If they do not know you, your skills, interests and connections, they cannot give you any genuine endorsements or recommendations.

Lead Generation

According to LinkedIn pulse, 51% of companies use LinkedIn as a marketing platform. Times have propelled consumers and businesses to use LinkedIn as a social media platform to enhance trade and communication.With the understanding of LinkedIn making up a network of pure business professionals, it is important to remember that professionals are also consumers. A platform like LinkedIn gives you a better chance at leveraging your brand, driving traffic to your website and helping garner leads.According to Content Marketing Institute, 77% of B2C businesses have a content marketing strategy. The following facts from LinkedIn’s survey highlight some important insights for small businesses:- Brand and advocacy and loyalty are high on LinkedIn.- LinkedIn members have 2x times more purchasing capacity than users on Facebook.- Content published across LinkedIn is trusted 2x times more than any other social media platform.With over 500 million members on LinkedIn, B2C companies are not just staffing human resource but also marketing their brand and culture to generate sales.

B2B Lead GenerationAccording to social media platforms on a whole are not generating phenomenal amounts of leads. But LinkedIn stands out as the most lead generating social media platform of them all.Let’s take a look at the some helpful guidelines for generating leads from your company page:- Use an image that is impressive and grabs attention as a header image. It is also a great idea to showcase offers and subscriptions within your ‘overview’. The header image is a means for continuation towards getting your audience to subscribe or read on.- The company description is a critical area where numerous pages fail to convey appropriate content helping to generate leads. Not everybody wants to read your growth and the offices you have opened so far. It is okay to speak in direct terms with your target audience. For example, look at the first few lines of the description in the About Us section of huloo, we've put the user at the forefront instead of being salesy and self indulgent. If the user chooses to click see more, they will then get to our website.- Showcase pages are a brilliant means to engage your target audience, especially if they are multiple. They serve to exhibit your brand, business unit or initiatives. All you have to do is identify which business areas can be showcased and what target audience they would cater to.

Paid Services on LinkedInThere are two types of advertising on LinkedIn, self serviced and managed ads. With both, you will use LinkedIn’s campaign manager. Self service ads are those which you can start almost immediately while customising your budget and run time of the ad easily through the campaign manager. Alternatively, managed ads are run by a dedicated LinkedIn support team. You can learn more about these services here.Huloo can customise your ads, content and lead generation methodologies and management for your business on LinkedIn.Do you think we missed out on a new tip? Or maybe you have a great tip for other LinkedIn small business owners? Please feel free to use the comments section below to let us know!