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How to Take Real Advantage of LinkedIn Company Pages - 2/14/2012 -

LinkedIn has updated its company pages to help organizations become more engaged. Here are five steps to help your association harness the new capabilities.

By Carla Kalogeridis

Associations and other organizations can increase their opportunities to network with members, potential members, vendors, and customers through a well-developed presence on LinkedIn, says Stephanie Sammons, CEO of Wired Advisor, a blogging and social media platform for financial professionals.

LinkedIn has updated its company pages to help organizations become more engaged. For example, organizations can update their individual company pages to allow followers to receive updates and insights about job opportunities, organizational news, and more. However, these are far from the only kinds of updates that an association can post on its company page. "Think about this as a brand-new opportunity to showcase your thought leadership,” Sammons says.

Although at first glance, it appears that LinkedIn’s company updates are designed to help big brands and corporations, Sammons believes that small associations and professional service organizations that get creative about their status updates and commit to being active with their company pages can also benefit from increased engagement with industry peers, prospective members/customers, strategic allies, and potential new hires.

Here are Sammons’s five steps to expanding your organization’s reach through the LinkedIn company pages:

Step #1: Update/create and complete your company page. Sammons says that LinkedIn provides the opportunity to integrate rich media content such as images, hyperlinked banners, links to your website and blog, and videos from YouTube into your organization’s profile. "Take advantage of these benefits to make your page more attractive, engaging, and interesting,” she advises.

To either create or enhance your existing LinkedIn company page, Sammons says focus on the following tips:

· Populate your company overview page using informative descriptions about whom you serve and how you serve them. Include the key specialties of your association in the designated "specialties” area and use keywords here that will resonate with your target markets. Also, be sure to pull in your blog posts by inserting your blog feed URL.

· Build out your products and services pages on your profile. On these pages you can include an image, description, list of key features, landing page URL to your site, or a link to a special promotion, Sammons says. You can even embed a YouTube video both on the products and services overview pages, as well as on each individual product/service page. "Take advantage of the opportunity to integrate rich media,” she advises. "It will liven up your company page significantly.”

Once you have completed setting up your LinkedIn company page, enable the page for status updates. You must officially designate who can update the company page within your settings. Once you’ve completed this, designated people within your organization can post status updates to your page.

Step #2: Build followers for your LinkedIn company page. "Before you can really start to see any benefit from your LinkedIn company page, you have to work to get followers, just as you work to build a community of followers with your Facebook business page and Twitter profile,” Sammons says. "Otherwise, your updates won’t be visible unless someone visits your page directly and decides to share or comment on a status update.”

The advantage, she says, is that increasing your organization’s followers will increase your visibility because your updates will be seen throughout LinkedIn and can easily be shared by your followers with their professional networks. "Building followers for your organization isn’t just a one-time process,” she warns. "You should constantly be working to build followers for your company page on LinkedIn in order to expand your reach…You simply need to focus on gathering relevant followers.”

Here are some of Sammons’s suggestions to quickly build your unique business community for your company page on LinkedIn:

· Encourage existing employees to link up with your page (existing employees can help extend your company’s reach by sharing your status updates with their connections on LinkedIn).

· Follow the company pages of industry peers, vendors, current members, and prospective members and customers (many of them will reciprocate the action).

· Send a call-to-action announcement to your existing database of members and prospects asking them to follow. Always provide two to three concrete benefits for why someone should follow your page.

· Post a call-to-action to follow your page within relevant LinkedIn groups.

Step #3: Provide interesting and value-added company page updates. Although LinkedIn suggests that you post status updates to your company page about jobs and breaking news, these types of posts are all about your association, points out Sammons. "If you want to engage followers, make it all about them and provide interesting and value-added updates that can help them to succeed,” she says. "This is your opportunity to establish your association as the industry expert.”

Step #4: Engage and network with people from companies you follow. Want to get on the radar screen of an organization that your association would like to work with? Watch for their company updates and engage with them, suggests Sammons. "Just as you can engage with individual status updates that you see on LinkedIn, you can do the same with company page updates,” she says.

To find the right companies to follow on LinkedIn, Sammons suggests using LinkedIn’s advanced search features to find and follow industry partners, groups in your geographic location, companies that you currently do business with, companies that you’d like to do business with, and organizations within your same industry (competitors and non-competitors).

Step #5: Monitor and focus your efforts. Sammons says that while LinkedIn provides an analytics feature to help your organization monitor and track visitors to your company page, these metrics do not highlight how effectively you are engaging your target markets. However, she points out that on the main landing page for your company profile, you will be able to see who has engaged with or commented on any of your company updates.

"Carve out time specifically for ‘company’ networking on LinkedIn,” she suggests. "Update your company status frequently, check for comments and engagements on those updates to determine what’s working, and continue building followers for your page.

"Also remember to keep your LinkedIn company page fresh and interesting,” she continues. "Add new videos or images from time to time, run special promotions, etc.

If you focus your time with your social networking efforts, you can accomplish greater success rather than just skimming the surface.”

Finally, she reminds organizations not to forget that their LinkedIn company page will also be indexed by search engines, which can provide another positive gateway online to your association.

Carla Kalogeridis is editorial director of Association Media & Publishing.


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