By WHM Intern: Jenny Carter

LinkedIn is one of the best networking and marketing tools out there. Yet, we find most companies don’t use it to its full advantage. LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding connections, building sales leads and increasing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to put your business on the map.

A foundational step to using LinkedIn strategically is optimizing your professional profile. This means making sure every field is filled out and you are not leaving any vital information off of your profile. It also means making sure you have a professional profile picture so that people can easily identify you.

Keep relevant keywords and search terms in mind when filling out your profile. The more information you include, the more you or your business show up in relevant searches. Just make sure that when you are adding this information that you keep it honest, accurate and concise – avoiding long and wordy entries.

 

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

Where a lot of companies and individuals struggle is SEO. SEO essentially determines how often you come up in searches and how relevant you or your content is to your target audience. To assist with this there are at least four things you should put emphasis on:

1. Join & Be Active in Groups
Joining groups is a great way to get your name out there as an industry expert. It also lets LinkedIn know more about you and what search terms are relevant to you, according to LinkedIn. Not only that, assisting others in the groups by sharing helpful content, answering questions or starting thoughtful discussions helps further establish you as a good person to know and a subject matter leader. Involvement in LinkedIn groups is also a great way to grow your network.

2. Get Recommendations/Endorsements and Give Them Too:
Recommendations show others that you are good at what you do and enhance your credibility. Not only should you aim to obtain recommendations, you should also give recommendations and endorse skills for your connections.

3. Share More (Especially Your Own Content):
Sharing content drives traffic to you or your business. The more frequently and consistently you post valuable content, the more people will look to you as a subject matter expert. Sharing a healthy mix of original content and content from others is a great way to encourage engagement. It’s also a great way to increase your content’s reach without being too self-promotional.

4. Put LinkedIn Personalized LinkedIn URL Everywhere:
Once you’ve customized your LinkedIn URL, sharing it often encourages people you meet to connect with you on LinkedIn. Add your URL to anything from business cards to your résumé to your email signature to help expand your network.

 

PUBLISHING BEST PRACTICES

What goes into a good post? What is more likely to grab people’s attention? OkDork suggests four actionable steps that really work:

1. Titles should be between 40 and 50 characters long:
No one wants to take the time to read a really long title. At the same time, you will need a title long enough to generate interest and convey a message.

2. Use “How-To” and List-Style Headlines:
As evident in the first step, headlines are responsible for generating initial interest in a post. Afterall, they are the first thing that someone looks at when deciding to click on your content. Popular blogging websites such as Buzzfeed and Upworthy are good examples of companies that put an emphasis on creative headlines. This is something that works for them as it increases click-through rates and website traffic.

Sometimes is it necessary to test your headlines before you actually use them. You have a few options when it comes to testing headlines. One method is to simply ask. Poll your social media audiences and ask them which one appeals to them best. You can also post the same content with varying headlines to see which gets the best click-through rate.

It is important to try to avoid posts poised as a question, such as “Does Facebook Dominate All Other Social Media?” On LinkedIn, “How”, “How-To”, and list posts tend to perform better. Instead try titles such as “7 Reasons Facebook Dominates All Other Social Media” or “How Facebook Dominates All Other Social Media.”

3. Do Not Try to Get Your Audience “Fired Up”:
This is important when it comes to posting anywhere, especially on LinkedIn. Try to keep your posts written in language that reflects positive sentiment to generate more shares and likes. On the other hand, however, neutral posts tend to generate more comments and views than positive and negative posts. If you’re unsure what sentiment your post is creating, here is a brief list tools to analyze sentiment.

4. Keep it at an 11-Year-Old Reading Level:
While it may be tempting to use a complex vocabulary (especially on a social media site like LinkedIn), your posts should actually be written for an 11-year-old’s comprehension level. Easy reads expand your audience by attracting more views and shares. It’s also great for SEO.

 

BUILDING SALES LEADS

LinkedIn is a phenomenal source for prospecting sales leads. The best way to guarantee success is to use LinkedIn’s Three Pillars of Lead Generation as a guide:

1. Find Qualified Buyers
If you are going to use social selling please, PLEASE do not treat it as cold calling. Treat it more like you are trying to build relationships. Use warm intros and avoid sounding “salesy.” Quality conversations here only! Join the groups your target audience is joining and contribute. Find and follow influencers to keep up with what leaders in your field are discussing. Like and engage with posts from potential buyers.

2. Get Qualified Buyers to Find You
Nowadays, people usually do some form of research before they purchase something. People look up reviews and reach out to people for referrals long before making a buying decision. This is where it’s important to become a helpful source of information for your buyers. Optimize your social media for keyword searches and become a valuable source of content to assist in the purchasing journey.

3. Get More Sales Referrals
Most decisions start with a referral, which is why it is important to get those LinkedIn recommendations as well as provide them for others. Don’t be afraid to also ask for introductions to potential leads if you find you have connections in common. It would be beneficial to even create a formal referral program and incentivize people to give these referrals out.

 

WEEKLY ROUNDUP POST

Bonus Tip: If you’re looking to become a relevant source of content, but don’t have time to always create original content, consider creating weekly roundup posts. A weekly roundup post is like a newsletter of sorts, but posted on your page. These can include a few articles from the previous week that sparked interest or posts by influencers that have inspired you who your connections would also appreciate. If you want tips on how to begin you can check out this brief article here!

To sum up: LinkedIn is far more than just another social media platform. When used strategically, you can use LinkedIn to build quality business connections, promote your business, work sales leads, and position yourself as a subject matter expert.