225 million people use the networking extravaganza that is LinkedIn. For many, it’s the only destination for job seekers, with over 70 percent of Brandz’s top 100 advertisers listing open positions. People use the social network to stay in contact with past colleagues, teachers, and motivators, and to keep a comprehensive digital resume. What many don’t realize is that LinkedIn offers loads of valuable marketing tools and tactics too. As popular as LinkedIn has become, the marketing offerings are still massively underutilized.
Want to know how to make LinkedIn your new marketing mecca? Keep reading for the best kept secrets.
An Audience of Decision Makers
To understand how and why LinkedIn has become such an influential sales tool, we must first consider the demographics. 4 out of 5 members state they have the power to drive key business decisions, and they’re 93 percent more likely to have a college degree, compared to the average web citizen. This means the LinkedIn demographic holds a much higher than average business value than virtually any other site. This is a pre-qualified, highly influential audience of intelligent leaders, most of whom are receptive to like-minded companies and offerings.
With demographics like these, LinkedIn gives businesses the power to better understand the size and qualities of their audience, gain a full understanding of the ideal buyer, and identify emerging business opportunities – all by studying the trends and profiles of top ranking executives in your industry.
LinkedIn’s Top Marketing Tools
We’ll start with the obvious – your profile. If it doesn’t accurately showcase your business’s skills and offerings, you’re already missing out on hundreds of prospects. Pay special attention to your headline, as this appears in all listings and forms the basis for keywords potential clients and customers must search for to find you.
Your next goal is to immerse yourself in the fantastic custom groups section of the site. There are thousands of groups covering all manner of business topics, from online games to fashion industry trends, to professional women’s networks and troves of developer groups. Become an active member of those that most reflect your business’s niche, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, create and monitor your own.
The Polls feature continues to be a valuable tool for marketers, allowing business professionals to find answers to their most nagging market research questions. Polls can be posted through the Facebook or Twitter integrations, or you can simply embed the module on your website or blog.
You’d also be wise to spend part of your ad buy budget on LinkedIn. Display Ads are especially useful, as they allow advertisers to target the exact demographic they are hoping to reach. You can also post Recommendation Ads, which proudly display the number of recommendations your business has generated via your LinkedIn Company Page.
Don’t forget the mighty status update either. On LinkedIn, these are often ignored by marketers, as people assume they function just like Facebook. Not so, these are far more powerful. LinkedIn allows you to target your status updates to specific groups of followers. You can target by any number of parameters, allowing you to tailor exact messages to your various audience segments.
Finally, if you’re not already showcasing videos of your brand, you’re missing another golden opportunity. 60 percent of the top 100 LinkedIn brands frequently post videos from their YouTube channel. Videos bring pizzazz and life to your page, and can give a very human face to an otherwise corporate feel too.
Beef Up Your Following
In the LinkedIn world, the number of followers you have is actually meaningful. They don’t just earn your company bragging rights, your followers help increase brand awareness in a demographic that is educated, powerful, engaged, and highly influential.
So what’s the secret to a sizable and loyal following? It starts on the inside. Motivate your employees to have an active LinkedIn presence, ensuring they clearly showcase their role at your company via their profile. Studies have shown there is a direct, positive connection between employees following their own company and that of overall brand followers. 90 percent of the top brands have at least 60 percent of their employees listed on LinkedIn. So it’s clearly advantageous to enroll your team members as evangelists on LinkedIn.
Beyond your employees, your followers are truly your brand advocates; that’s why more is merrier. They represent the perfect audience to share company updates, news bites, giveaways — you name it. The more you work to deliver valuable and thoughtful content to your followers, the more they will in turn share your news, and help you market your business through the best channel possible — word of mouth.
Every marketer knows the most powerful messages are delivered by fans of the brand, not the company itself. Therein lies the most underutilized powerhouse tool on LinkedIn — recommendations. A recent Aberdeen research study showed a whopping 59 percent of customers look at reviews and opinions before making any technology decisions. LinkedIn’s Products & Services page empowers users to recommend companies and products, submitted via recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers to say a few nice things; their honest feedback is the most valuable marketing content you can acquire.
LinkedIn Contacts: A Networker’s Best Friend
Earlier this year, LinkedIn launched a new service called LinkedIn Contacts, and there was much rejoicing. Contacts first lets business owners sync their contacts from all conceivable sources; email accounts, business card apps, address books, calendars – you name it. Everything can be synced to your mobile device as well, and the service alerts you whenever major events happen in the lives of your contacts (job title changes, birthdays, etc.) There’s no excuse not to stay well connected to clients and contacts, as LinkedIn makes it ridiculously easy.
For marketing professionals, there are many more bonuses. Contacts syncs with popular app TripIt too, allowing you to connect with local clients and business liaisons who live in the area you’re visiting. Savvy usage of Contacts can help you foster your existing relationships, and build key partnerships to help further your marketing goals. It’s a must-have tool for salespeople, and ideal for content creators looking to stay in touch with publishers and PR professionals too.
These are just a handful of the many fantastic marketing tools available on LinkedIn. With an audience full of educated and powerful business influencers, you’d be hard pressed to name one reason why you shouldn’t be spending a significant amount of your marketing efforts in the LinkedIn space. Many of the world’s top marketers use the site as the centerpiece of their strategies – if you’re not yet following suit, it’s not too late to join the LinkedIn marketing brigade!
About the author: Digital producer, game designer, Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs, Tina Courtney-Brown has been shaping online businesses since 1996. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, social networks and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and true cooking diva. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.