Q: Should small business owners use LinkedIn?
A: Small business owners should use LinkedIn because the platform can be a cost effective way to network and grow your business.
Social media is a vast world, but small businesses who successfully use platforms like LinkedIn can set themselves apart from the competition and grow an online community unlike any other.
The early to mid-2000s served as a time when people no longer had to find friends in real life — they could simply click the “Send Friend Request” button.
Instantaneous connection made it simple to reach an audience that the average person never would have in real life. Social media users could say that they had friends from all over the world, even though they had never met them face-to-face.
While social media might be hit or miss for developing true friendships, it certainly has proved helpful to small businesses looking to expand their reach.
Businesses were able to create their own profile pages in order to build community on popular social media sites.
For those looking for a more professional online presence, LinkedIn for small businesses became their best bet.
Social media has become one of the most critical tools for businesses. If a business does not have a Facebook or Instagram page, their advertising and marketing is probably viewed as outdated.
However, we now know that not all social media is the same.
Twitter marketing is associated with quick quips or memes relative to a business, while companies use Instagram to give followers a visual representation of their products or services.
LinkedIn, in particular, has served as a social media platform specifically made for professional networking, job searches, and other work-related discussions.
In 2003, LinkedIn launched its platform that allows job seekers to upload resumes and cover letters to their unique profile, and businesses to post job opportunities.
Since then, the platform has skyrocketed and has quickly become a one-stop-shop for job seeking, networking, and marketing for 756 million users worldwide.
Professionals and businesses of all sizes use it to showcase their business, post articles and job openings, and network.
But how can a small business utilize LinkedIn to its fullest potential?
Signing Up For LinkedIn
Signing up on LinkedIn is a fairly simple process. You can sign up as an individual or as a business.
First, start with a personal LinkedIn profile.
You can create one easily on the homepage of the website and fill out any information you please, including your name, a brief description of your job title, a personal photo, skill highlights, job history, and whatever else you feel necessary to add.
From there, you can create a brand new company page that incorporates everything you want LinkedIn users to know about your business.
On the “Create a LinkedIn Page,” you can fill out more details about your business.
The process will look something like this:
These are the essentials for starting your LinkedIn page for small businesses.
However, it’s important to note that simply including your company’s basic information is not enough. Having your brand’s voice shine through on your profile is essential to stand out from the millions of other profiles on the platform.
Once the business page is set up, make sure that your employees all share it on their own profiles to increase engagement. This will help pull in a larger audience and help your business gain awareness.
After uploading your business logo, you can get more creative about growing your online community and interacting with new potential customers.
LinkedIn allows prospecting for small businesses to go beyond the salesy trope companies often fall into — it humanizes your company and makes your audience more inclined to support the brand.
After experimenting with how you want your LinkedIn business page to look like, the platform allows you to use analytics to see which methods are working and which are not building the type of online traction and engagement needed for a successful profile.
Knowing what does and doesn’t work will be crucial when building your online community, and inevitable in the effort to get your company’s name out there.
Using Linkedin for Small Business
Using LinkedIn for small businesses not only shows that your company is committed to getting its message out into the world, but it also provides a space for like-minded people to (virtually) gather, discuss, and share insights about your industry.
But this all starts with showcasing your brand’s voice.
When establishing what your company’s voice will sound like, the most important lesson to note is that you must avoid viewing your audience as dollar signs.
Companies who have humanized their brand’s social media voice have found great success and support for their company in the long run.
For example, diner chain Denny’s has become an unlikely Twitter phenomenon, frequently posting viral, wisecracking tweets that are witty, humorous, and meme-driven. Using this strategy, Denny’s often sees high engagement levels despite simply being a restaurant chain.
So unless you’re marketing life-saving services or products, ensure your content weaves light-hearted and down-to-earth quips, while still offering an enticing and informative tone.
This all still requires staying true to your company’s brand and that your message resonates with people who interact with your LinkedIn page.
The best way to tap into this audience is to consistently share content that is relevant to both your company and industry as a whole. Doing so establishes your company as an expert in the field, which means people will turn to your page when they need help or information.
It’s also essential to comment on posts that are relevant to your industry, send connection requests, respond to comments on your posts, and accept connection requests from others. Some LinkedIn users choose to be very picky about who they connect with; others accept nearly everyone.
As you interact with professionals in your universe, more users will be guided to follow your page, which will inevitably make them more likely to interact with your content, purchase your products or services, and share your business to their own personal page.
And the more you’re able to expand your presence on the platform, the more reach you get to a global audience.
In fact, research from Sprout Social has shown that, after following a brand on social media, 91% of consumers will visit their website, 89% will purchase from the brand, and 85% will recommend it to someone they know.
Getting started on sharing content and seeing what sticks will require trial and error. But where can companies start?
Once you’ve been able to establish the type of content that is most effective, you can start building a content calendar that makes it easier to post on a regular schedule.
Planning content means understanding that some posts may perform better depending on when it is posted, so keep that in mind when creating a schedule.
From there, you can start distributing your content more widely.
This will require help from team members. Ask employees to engage, like, and share posts that are important.
The more it is shared, the more people will see it, and that means exposure for your company.
A good way to ensure that people interact with your content is to prompt them with a question or poll. You can also use these surveys and polls to get a gauge on public sentiment about a certain service or product to measure how well it may do before it goes to market.
For instance, if your company is thinking about launching a new product but hasn’t decided exactly on the design, you can simply ask your followers which option they think would be best.
Think of it as a LinkedIn focus group.
How To Create Engaging LinkedIn Posts
On the journey to finding the best formula for a highly-engaged post on LinkedIn, you might feel overwhelmed about the seemingly endless possibilities.
Having the knowledge in tow when creating new content will be essential during this process.
Again, while experimentation will be part of the process, there are a few things to keep in mind before your company makes its debut on the platform.
So first let’s look at the different strategies that are guaranteed to enhance the engagement on your company’s profile.
Avoid posting a link to a new blog post with no additional quips or insights
Use visual elements, such as infographics, to convey new information
Infographics are a great way for audiences to easily digest new research and data
Create videos and share excerpts on your profile to entice your audience to watch more
Utilize bullet points or emojis so text-based posts are more eye-catching and don’t feel bloated
For example, use a green check mark emoji as bullets in a “How-To” posts to eliminate the risk of redundancy and create a more visually pleasing post
Don’t shy away from long-form posts, as they perform particularly well on the platform
Analysis from okdork.com shows that LinkedIn posts between 1,900 and 2,000 words perform the best and receive the largest number of post views, likes, comments, and shares.
Social media is not a one-way street. Emphasize the social aspect of your content, by engaging and responding to your audience under with your own posts
End some posts with questions or a call to action (e.g. “Like if you agree!”) so your audience is encouraged to engage and discuss
Don’t feel the need to link to your website in every post
This can be perceived as too pushy or salesy, and can be off-putting for a new audience
Keeping content just on LinkedIn works to boost traffic to your profile too.
Taking all of these suggestions, you’ll be able to nail down a rhythm that keeps your audience engaged with your company, encourages interaction with your brand, and expands your online community.
Better yet, if you maintain your company’s voice, LinkedIn’s algorithm will bring your target audience to you. Once the ball is rolling, your follower count and online community will grow with ease.
Operating your LinkedIn business page can be completely free.
There are ways you can accelerate your brand’s presence on the platform, namely through LinkedIn Premium.
While this will cost you, there are four different plans that LinkedIn Premium companies can use to best meet their budget needs.
Networking In The Digital Age
The idea of networking often coincides with the idea of physically attending events, exchanging business cards, and trying to keep track of everyone’s names and backgrounds.
But with a LinkedIn profile page, you have the ability to create even more meaningful connections. Like in-person networking, you never know who may be able to provide you with new opportunities.
Using LinkedIn breaks down geographical barriers.
So instead of limiting your ability to connect with professionals to your immediate area, your company’s LinkedIn profile gives you the chance to network with like-minded people all over the world.
Not only is this useful for opening up opportunities with companies and professionals within your industry, LinkedIn for small businesses can be implemented for its original purpose: hiring new team members.
On LinkedIn, you can post open job positions that will quickly reach your newly established audience. This allows you to tap into a much more diverse set of talent, which is always essential for any forward-thinking company.
With a LinkedIn global survey finding that 80% of professionals believe that professional networking is vital to career success, it’s easy to use this platform as a one-stop-shop solution to both networking and career recruitment.
The survey also revealed that 61% of the nearly 16,000 respondents agree that consistent online interaction within their professional network can help them with job opportunities in the future.
Interacting online comes with much ease, and helps usher in a more diverse way of networking and seeking top talent.
But beyond sharing posts relevant to your industry and accumulating an audience, what can your company do to further establish a presence in your industry and become better connected to others?
- Attend or host virtual networking events
- Join LinkedIn groups within your industry
- Personally reach out to professionals who seem well-versed in your industry
The past year has taught us that human connection is more important than ever, and despite parts of the world reopening after over a year of shut down, the value of social media in professional networking should not be ignored.
You’ve Built Your Audience — Now What?
While accumulating an audience can take time, once you have, you can continue to nurture a community that will inevitably help you shine the spotlight on your company’s offerings.
And you can do this by creating a Showcase Page for all of your organization’s initiatives or projects.
A Showcase Page is essentially an extension of your business’ LinkedIn page and is used to focus on other business units, initiatives, or individual brands.
For example, Microsoft has 12 separate Showcase Pages for other products it provides, such as Microsoft Office and Visual Studio.
Creating a Showcase Page is similar to starting an new company page, but if you need a refresher, here are is a step-by-step guide to creating one:
- Click on the “Work” section to the top right of your home page
- Select “Create A Company Page”
- Choose “Showcase Page”
- Fill out the necessary information
- This will include the same information you listed when filling out your company’s main page, such as associated company name, LinkedIn URL, industry, and logo.
Once you’ve created a Showcase Page, this new profile will be featured under your main LinkedIn page’s “Affiliate Pages” section.
Through this new page, you can again accumulate a whole new audience (with crossover from your main page) and continue expanding your reach in a way that helps you meet specific goals.
This extension of your company allows you to have the same features as your main page, but unlike your central profile, some employee engagement features are not available.
Another way to continue nurturing your presence on each of your LinkedIn pages is to post direct links to your website.
But here’s the most important part of this.
Sharing direct links too often can be unappealing. Constantly attaching your company’s link to every post can come off as salesy, which can deter people from wanting to engage or support your company.
Instead, focus on the audience themselves and not the agenda you have.
Whether you’re trying to push a product or a new service, your company is guaranteed to suffer without establishing a meaningful connection to your potential customers.
In fact, LinkedIn’s 2019 State of Sales Pocket Guide found that 96% of professionals would feel more inclined to purchase products or services from sales members who understand what their business needs.
And the same can be applied to your profile’s messaging and outreach.
Be mindful of what people actually need and find methods that will actually solve their problems.
If your company doesn’t have those solutions in its arsenal yet, create them. Listening and responding to audience feedback is the foundation for retainment.
Most importantly, it creates a sense of trust between you and your followers.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of directly connecting with people, or professionally “sliding into their DM’s.”
Take note of your audience and ask yourself the following:
- Who is frequently engaging with your posts?
- What is their occupation or industry they are in?
- Have they shared posts on their page that indicate they could be in need of your services?
From there, reach out to those who often comment on, share, or like your company’s posts. They may actually need your products and services, and could open a whole new world of opportunities.
Keep an eye on their posts to see if there are any relevant opportunities.
If you’re already an established presence on LinkedIn, the person you’re reaching out to won’t feel like they’re being cornered into an unwanted sales pitch.
And better yet, you could end up making a great, long-term connection with a like-minded professional.
Why Your Company’s Online Presence Is Important
Years ago, having an active business social media profile may have been seen as going above and beyond, but now it is the crux of marketing and customer service.
For small or medium-sized business owners, the efforts needed to get your brand out to the world cannot be underestimated.
Even more, using LinkedIn for small businesses means that you become a true competitor within your industry, allowing you to expand your presence beyond social media.
From there, you can grow and nurture a well-rounded presence through one of Alliance’s office solutions.
For example, using both our Live Receptionists service with your interactive LinkedIn profile further grows your brand’s reputation and improves your customer service needs.
Then, you can use one of our many meeting rooms to connect with someone you’ve connected with on your LinkedIn network.
Although it can seem challenging to make a notable footprint on high-traffic social media platforms, following these operational steps to improving your presence on LinkedIn can help expand your network and open a world of opportunities for your company.
Creating this community allows you the chance to leverage your network to meet quotas, boost sales, seek out potential talent, and enhance your company’s reputation overall.
Don’t get left behind — modernize and accelerate your small business by tapping into LinkedIn’s massive pool of like-minded professionals and grow your network.
Small and medium business owners are also increasingly utilizing virtual office services to manage a remote business, gain authority, protect privacy, and book meeting space. Learn how a virtual office address can help grow your business today.