Is Your Company Missing The Boat With LinkedIn?

I have spent a lot of time on LinkedIn – both professionally and personally – over the last several years and I have yet to come across a company that is doing a great job with leveraging the true power of LinkedIn.

Every employee that a company has on LinkedIn is a potential marketing dynamo that can be leveraged to build brand awareness, to push specific messages and to keep the company’s name in front of as many people as possible.  Unfortunately, most companies are wasting these potential marketing moments.

Based on my experience, I believe that there are three things that companies can do to “right the ship” and get back on course:

  1. Maximize Your LinkedIn Company Page
  2. Leverage employee profiles on LinkedIn
  3. Empower your employees to get engaged on LinkedIn

Maximize Your LinkedIn Company Page – This is the easiest part because it is the most controllable.  I have written several posts with tips for getting more out of your LinkedIn Company Page and you can find them at:

My top two tips for maximizing your Company Page are:

  1. Post regular status updates – the more content you post on your Company Page, the more you will keep your company’s name in front of your followers and in the LinkedIn Newsfeed. My best practice suggestion is to post at least daily which means you will need five great posts each week to drive traffic and awareness.
  2. Post interesting content – you do not want every message on your Company Page to advertise your products or services because that would only serve to annoy or turn off your followers. Instead, it is important to post interesting content that followers will find useful for their every day job or career, or that educates or entertains them in some way.

Leverage Employee Profiles on LinkedIn – Another best LinkedIn practice is to make sure that all employees are using the marketing messaging you want in their profiles.  LinkedIn provides users with 2,000 characters for their Summary and Employment Services section, and most people use only a fraction of this space on their profiles.  In my previous position, we created standard templates that employees could use or tailor for both their Summary and Employment sections and gave them tips on how to maximize their profile.  In addition, you should make sure that they have profile pictures that represent your brand, and that their profiles are as up-to-date as possible.

LinkedIn also lets users upload their own content and this is another way to trick out employees’ LinkedIn Profiles.  Have you received an award, do you have a short Powerpoint presentation on your company or product, do you have a whitepaper or datasheet you want employees to share?  All of this content can be provided to your employees to post to their LinkedIn profile so it is visible whenever anyone views their profile.

Employees will need training and guidance to take advantage of these advanced features, and you may want to set up a phone or email hotline to answer questions and provide assistance.

Empower Employees to Engage on LinkedIn – The final piece of the puzzle is that you have to get your employees to regularly engage on LinkedIn.  Employees must be sold on the idea that every interaction they have on LinkedIn is an opportunity to market their company.  At my last company, we had many instances of new business being generated because a connection noticed an interesting post or update from an employee’s profile.  While it is not necessary for all of their interactions to be company marketing messages, employees should be positively interacting with your brand at least once or twice per week.  The simplest way for employees to do this is to share or like what is posted on your LinkedIn Company Page.

This task will be the hardest for you to achieve as it requires developing new habits for your employees.  Employees do not have to be on LinkedIn all day, but they need to develop the habit of checking in at least once per day.  In five to ten minutes per day, most employees can build their own brand while helping the company at the same time.  Some suggestions for improving engagement are providing a checklist of daily tasks to perform or turning the effort into a contest.

 

Get Up to 40% More From Your LinkedIn Company Page

I managed a LinkedIn Company Page that was selected as one of the Top 10 LinkedIn Company Pages for 2013, so I know a little bit about what I am doing when it comes to building up readership, impressions and interactions on LinkedIn. Last month, I added “Do You Want A Top 10 LinkedIn Company Page?” – and today I am going to provide more detail behind my tip #4 about uploading your own image to Company Page status updates.

I started experimenting with different types of Company Page status updates in November 2013, and discovered that posts with larger images tended to do better than posts with the standard thumbnail images provided when you copy and paste a link into a status update.

However, I did not realize the true impact until I went on vacation in April and decided to run a comparison test. I normally post all of my Company Page status updates directly via LinkedIn since I have not been able to get satisfactory results with any of the major scheduling tools. Since I was going to be on vacation and would not be able to manually post my updates each day, I scheduled the daily updates for the week using Hootsuite. To make the test fair, I re-purposed updates that had been posted a month ago so I would have a comparison between the ‘big’ images and standard thumbnail images.

What were the results? Before I explain how I create the large images, I want to share my interesting results.Here are how two of the test posts performed in side-by-side views:

As you can see, the posts with the larger image did significantly better than the posts with the standard image by a large margin. The posts used the same introduction, shortened link and image, and the only difference was that I created and uploaded an image with an embedded headline for the large image posts.

You can also see the impact of the experiment when you look at the Company Page Analytics for Reach and Engagement for the week I was on vacation. There was a 40% drop in average impressions and a 70% decrease in average clicks for the week of the standard image test.

How do I create larger images? I use a couple of tools to accomplish this feat – specifically, Powerpoint, Snagit and Canva. Granted, creating and adding larger images to your status updates will add additional time to your posting process. For me, the process probably added less than five minutes to the time it used to take me to create status updates — but the time spent was well worth it to me in terms of impressions and engagement. You may want to experiment with what tools work best for you, but here are the three primary image tools I use:

Snagit from Techsmith is a screenshot tool that lets me grab any image or portion of an image from any website, article or document on the web. In most cases, I use the image that is already included in the article and use Snagit to create a screenshot of the image. Then I use Snagit’s editing tools to add a title, border or cut out unwanted parts of the screen grab. I also add a photo attribution in the bottom corner of the screen to make sure I give credit for the image’s origin.

Canva is a personal design tool that lets you easily create graphics to upload to blogs or other social media accounts. Canva is like Adobe Illustrator, but totally web-based and free. They also have lots of free images and clip art to use as well as images that you can purchase for $1. Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist for Canva and he has been posting links and updates about Canva on Facebook, Slideshare and other social media sites. Once I create something in Canva, I can either save it as a JPG or I use Snagit to create a screenshot of the image. Even if you don’t use Canva for creating status update images, it is worth adding to your toolbox.

I use Microsoft Powerpoint as my default image creator, but you could use any other tool that you can comfortably use. I copy images snagged via Snagit or Canva and paste them into Powerpoint where I can add additional text, combine multiple images or add shading and borders.

To add an image to a status update, click on the paperclip icon as shown below to add the file from your hard drive. Then you will need to write a snappy introduction or headline. Don’t forget to paste in your shortened URL so people know what to click to view the content. I use Hootsuite to generate my short URLs, but you could also use bit.ly or another service to create your own short URL.

Additional Tip – When I am creating my own images, I have found that I get more clicks when I embed the title of the article in the image. Including the title instead of just an images gives the reader a visual incentive to explore the link – especially if the article’s title is catchy or unique. People are bombarded with so many content possibilities these days that it helps to do anything to stand out from the crowd.

Conclusion – If you are not using BIG images with your Company Page status updates, you are throwing away at least 40% of your impressions and more than 50% of your clicks. I do see larger images on a few company pages, but it appears that most company page administrators have not figured out this trick yet.

Let me know if you have tried larger images for your LinkedIn Company Posts yet and if your experiments validate my results.