If I ask you if you’re using LinkedIn for your business, chances are you’ll make an awkward face. I can read your mind at this very moment: “Not really but I have a profile on there. Not sure why. Uh, market my small business?”
I get it. You maybe haven’t heard much about whatto do on LinkedIn and I’m here to help. Here are some best practices for using LinkedIn for small business marketing.
Profile vs Group?
I’m asked whether companies should market on individual profile pages or create a special group instead. While some groups end up thriving, this requires a lot of maintenance. I don’t recommend groups unless whatever you sell really lends itself to a very active group-based interactive experience.
The challenge with marketing from only one profile is that it’s somewhat required that the profile you use be easily available to everyone who might want to contribute, and/or it changes the “feel” of the profile from being one person’s perspective to a corporate communications entity.
Instead, my recommendation is to have more than one LinkedIn profile of real people in the company post content and promote interactions in support of the company.
My old boss and friend Debbie Millin works at Globalization Partners, where she’s the COO. Her posts are a blend of personal business perspective (which is great because she’s the smartest boss I ever had), as well as pieces directly about the company including “We’re Hiring” reposts from the HR team and articles about the industry where her company interacts. There are several other individual profile pages from key team members at Debbie’s company and they all post their own content as well as share important company material.
What on Earth Should We Post?
Smile! First, I have to say it (and you’re reading it everywhere and trying to ignore it): video is hot. People are watching videos and posting a video is a surefire way to earn more engagement, even if the video is only the quality level of you holding your smartphone at arm’s length and talking into the camera. Video.
Give them knowledge. Second, thoughtful articles written on LinkedIn tend to do well if the topic is universal enough. Unless you have raving fans, no one cares about “Wanda’s Top 7 favorite pencil sharpeners.” But if you write about “The Ultimate School Supply Checklist for Fall,” you’re on to something. The more “evergreen” the article, the better. (Meaning it’s okay to write topically about current events, but it’s delightful to write posts that can still be useful a year or two later.)
Links are In. Post a few links here and there to articles you find interesting. People like to know what else is on your mind.
Shine the light. Here’s an easy and well-appreciated marketing tip: post thoughtful recommendations for other businesses and people in your local community. Maybe you sell tile and bath supplies. Do your “plumber of the month” or “interior designer of the month” profile. Write enough to praise the other person and promote their business without talking much about your company. People love the heck out of this.
Share Educational Webinars. Invite people to a live webinar and/or take advantage of LinkedIn’s ownership of Lynda.com and Slideshare to create interactive learning products. That sounds fancy, but give people something they can do, step by step, using your product and post it on your profile.
Invite People to Live Events. Post invites to events in your offices or local community appearances. Tastings. Whatever you can manage. There’s nothing like a face-to-face engagement to make the digital world look even better.
Okay, so how often should you post?
A Simple LinkedIn Posting Calendar
You can edit this to match the needs of your business, but here’s my recommendation:
- Post links to other people’s articles daily
- Post a video once a week minimum. Better if you can post 3 videos a week
- Post an article monthly (or more if you can muster it)
- Do a profile of someone else monthly (unless you can manage weekly)
- Share event invites whenever it makes sense. You can post reminders to the event 2 to 3 times as well
- Avoid Monday morning posts - worst time ever
- Avoid Friday afternoon posts - tied for the worst time ever
- If you sell to a very specific time zone, 11am and 2pm are my magical posting times for businesses. Earlier and later for self-owned and customer experiences
Content Guidelines to Follow
The videos you post should be brief – no more than 12 minutes, no fewer than 2.
The articles you post can be brief or longer (200 words up to 1500 words).
With links, write about 30 words explaining why you’re sharing it or what to look for.
And with profiles, make them between 200 to 500 words with ample links to the person you’re writing about and any relevant links to their materials.
Add a call to action where it makes sense. Realize that if someone sees this content in their stream and they like it, they will click your LinkedIn profile icon to take a next step.
That’s my advice. Tailor content to fit your business, but don’t skimp on the parts you feel weird about. They’re maybe new to you but it doesn’t mean they’re not what people want.
Give it a try. What do you have to lose?
About Chris Brogan
Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advisesleadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.
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