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LinkedIn is an underused social network

The other day I was asked about my thoughts on LinkedIn as a marketing platform and I explained that it is not used primarily for marketing. There are several reasons for this including businesses not knowing what LinkedIn is about.

LinkedIn is a social network for people in a work or business environment. Users are encouraged to share content just as they are on other social networks, and to increase engagement and so conversations. If you want your business to be in front of people whilst they are in a business frame of mind, then you need to have a presence on LinkedIn beyond your personal profile. You also need to work at keeping your business in the mind of LinkedIn users by sharing content from your business pages.

Not just recruitement and sales

Over the years, LinkedIn has encouraged recruitment industry professionals to use the platform to find talent to fill vacancies. LinkedIn has also encouraged sales professionals to use the platform to seek out opportunities to sell products and services. LinkedIn has been quite successful with these two business streams to the extent that many users think that LinkedIn is only for recruitment and sales. This is not good for LinkedIn because people reduce their use of LinkedIn as a business connection network.

In 2017 Microsoft bought LinkedIn and have spent the last 12 months or so developing changes to the platform to help businesses to get better value from it. As well as the changes to Talent solutions (recruitment) and Sales Navigator (social selling) the changes to the rest of the platform have been positive.

Company pages

Company and Showcase pages have become much easier to create and to post updates to, including the use of 3rd party scheduling tools such as Hootsuite and Hubspot. LinkedIn have managed to keep this aspect simple and easy to use daily. They even supply in-line help at almost every stage from creating the pages to posting updates. The only criticism that I have for Company and Showcase pages is that you are restricted to 1300 characters with no possibility of publishing articles, as you can do with your personal profile.

Video on LinkedIn

Video has long been an experiment for LinkedIn. First, they did not allow you post video to either your own profile or pages. Then they allowed you to embed video from the likes of YouTube and Vimeo and finally they permitted “native” video, i.e. video uploaded to LinkedIn. The LinkedIn algorithm favours native video in that it gives you wider distribution to your network. You can post images and video in your company and showcase page updates, to make up for the lack of long form text articles.

Using video is a whole subject on its own but I will give a couple of tips on its use on LinkedIn. People reading their LinkedIn feed may be doing other things at the same time and so you should ensure that your video makes as much sense with the sound off as it does with the sound on. Your video should be short and to the point, nobody on LinkedIn likes a rambling video that goes on forever and they will move on quickly. I normally aim for no more than 2 minutes for a simple “piece to camera” and a bout a minute for an animated video.

Advertising on LinkedIn

Of course, like all businesses LinkedIn likes it when you spend money with them. You can do this by advertising on LinkedIn. Advertising brings you the quickest results and gets you in front of your intended audience much quicker than by just posting updates and publishing articles.

LinkedIn’s advertising platform has been criticised in the past for being cumbersome and expensive. Adverts were so unobtrusive as to go unnoticed on feeds. LinkedIn have made great strides forward with the platform over the last 12 months and it is catching up with the advertising platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

The advertising feature on LinkedIn works by way of Campaigns, Advert Groups and Adverts themselves. You can create specific adverts that are displayed on the right of users’ feeds or you can “promote” updates that appear in the feeds directly, you may have seen some as they have the word “promoted” at the bottom of the update.

Missed opportunity?

Another reason why businesses do not use LinkedIn for marketing is time and focus. Small businesses do not have the time to devote to marketing activity and so they tend not to do it until forced to by circumstances. After all, marketing is not their business. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is highest business priority and 10 lowest LinkedIn marketing comes somewhere around 15 to 20. In my view, they are missing an opportunity. People who do work LinkedIn, both with their personal profile and company pages, say that they get very good results after they have been posting and publishing regularly over several months.

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