Did you know LinkedIn has over 660 million users across the globe? Meaning the platform is one of the top social networks today.
Now, an important question: Is your business using LinkedIn to its fullest potential to improve brand awareness, build your network, boost leads and conversions, increase revenue, and more?
With new social networks sprouting up constantly, LinkedIn is a platform that often gets underutilized or put on the back burner. But the truth is, LinkedIn can be extremely powerful — especially when you’re aware of all the platform’s hidden features that don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve.
This guide is chock full of LinkedIn tips you can begin implementing immediately to help you learn how to use the platform to improve brand awareness, share your marketing content, and grow your business.
What is LinkedIn marketing?
LinkedIn marketing is the process of using LinkedIn to make connections, generate leads, improve brand awareness, foster business relationships and partnerships, share content, and drive traffic to your website. LinkedIn is an integral part of many successful business’ marketing strategies today because of how effective it can be in expanding professional networks.
When you use LinkedIn to market your business, you gain access to useful features related to analytics, connections, and brand-building, just to name a few. (Don’t worry, we’ll review all of these and more in depth momentarily.)
But first, here’s a quick primer for those of you who may be new to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn launched in 2003 and is primarily centered around career networking, building, and sharing. The platform enables you to connect and share content with other professionals including colleagues, potential employers, business partners, competitors, new employees, and customers.
This is why having your business on LinkedIn is so powerful — the platform is a fantastic marketing tool.
Now, let’s review the various ways to use LinkedIn to market and grow your business.
LinkedIn Marketing Best Practices
LinkedIn allows you to drive traffic to your website, identify quality leads, share your expertise through thought-leadership content, and grow your network. It’s also a great way to market job openings and attract new talent to your company. These are just some of the reasons why LinkedIn is an ideal platform for all businesses to market through.
Below, we’ll cover LinkedIn marketing best practices and some effective ways to use the platform. These 28 best practices and steps can be tailored to your needs — whether you have a personal LinkedIn page, business page, or both — no matter your industry or size. However, you’ll notice some of the points we’re going to cover are more suited for businesses looking to boost brand awareness or share content while others are more tailored towards those looking to recruit and hire new talent.
Let’s dive in.
1. Customize your public profile URL.
Make your profile look more professional, and easier to share, by customizing your LinkedIn public profile URL. Instead of a URL with confusing numbers at the end, it will look nice and clean like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/amandazantalwiener.
You can do this by clicking View Profile and then clicking Edit Public Profile and URL. Here you can change your URL to anything you’d like — such as your first and last name or business name — assuming it hasn’t already been taken by another LinkedIn user.
2. Add a LinkedIn background photo to your profile.
In 2014, LinkedIn finally jumped on the cover photo bandwagon and starting rolling out the ability for users to add a background photo to their personal profiles. Give your LinkedIn profile a little bit more personality by adding an on-brand background photo of your own. Keep in mind LinkedIn is a professional social network, so choose your photo accordingly.
LinkedIn recommends a background photo size of 1584 x 396 pixels, and that it must be a JPG, PNG, or GIF file under 8MB.
3. Add a ProFinder Badge to your profile.
You might consider adding a ProFinder Badge, which is used to identify freelancers within LinkedIn’s ProFinder. This service matches contractors with project managers who are seeking help. Freelancers can display a ProFinder badge on their profiles to show prospective clients their skills, expertise, and recommendations.
LinkedIn offers two badge themes for you to choose from:
4. Take advantage of the blog and website links on your LinkedIn profile.
You can add links to your portfolio and social networks to your LinkedIn page. You can also add links to your content and business information to increase clicks. This feature allows you to draw greater attention to specific areas of your page to drive traffic elsewhere.
For example, if you produced a podcast, you can share links to your episodes on LinkedIn (e.g. SoundCloud tracks) to promote your work.
5. Search engine optimize your LinkedIn profile.
Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t limited to blogging — you can also optimize your profile to get discovered by people searching LinkedIn for key terms you want to be found for. You can add these keywords to various sections of your profile, such as your headline, your summary, or your work experience.
6. Add, remove, and rearrange sections of your profile.
You can edit and reorder sections of your LinkedIn profile to highlight specific pieces of information in any way you see fit. When you’re in edit mode, simply hover your mouse over the double-sided arrow in each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrow icon, at which point you can click, drag, and drop to another position on your profile.
7. Use Saved Searches and Search Alerts in Recruiter.
With the feature, you can save as many searches as you want and receive alerts when new candidates match your filter refinements and criteria. You can elect to receive daily or weekly search alerts from the system about relevant results via the Recruiter homepage.
8. List job opportunities and recruit new talent with LinkedIn’s job postings.
And speaking of your business’s open job opportunities, don’t forget to add and market your new positions on the LinkedIn Jobs page.
Here, candidates can learn about your business and openings by searching for specific keywords such as job title, industry, location, salary, experience level, and more.
9. Take advantage of LinkedIn Endorsements.
LinkedIn offers a feature called Endorsements — this allows you to recognize the skills people you work with (such as employees, colleagues, freelancers, or partners) have to offer.
You can promote and endorse the skills of the people you work closest with to help refer them for other work, make their profiles more impressive, show your support, and more.
10. Use Open Profile to send messages to people you’re not connected to.
To branch out and make new connections with potential partners, customers, and other industry leaders, you might want to send them a personalized message.
With the exception of fellow LinkedIn Group members, the platform only allows you to send messages to people who you share a first-degree connection with. But did you know some people let you send them messages anyway, even if you’re not connected?
Here’s how that works: The ability to be part of the Open Profile network is only available to Premium account holders, but it allows those users to be available for messaging by any other LinkedIn member regardless of membership type.
Additionally, there are options for sending messages to those with whom you’re not yet connected, similar to sending a request to connect with a note (though we don’t recommend overusing this technique). Additionally, if you have a premium account, you can use InMail.
11. Check your Network Updates (or share your own).
Found on your LinkedIn homepage, Network Updates are essentially LinkedIn’s version of the Facebook News Feed. Check this feed periodically for a quick snapshot of what your connections, customers, competitors, and others are up to and sharing. You can also share updates of your own, such as details about your products or services and noteworthy content your business has created and published.
You may choose to sign up for email notifications or sort by “Top Updates” or “Recent Updates” to filter your feed in any way you choose.
12. Be identifiable.
Your LinkedIn profile visitors should recognize it as yours to the moment they look at it. A great way to make your profile easily identifiable and on-brand with your other marketing content is by ensuring your profile’s name, headline, and other simple identifiers are easily viewable to any visitor. Make sure these features on on brand, match your other marketing content, and are uniquely yours.
Note: You should always have your Public Profile setting enabled as well, to be visible and identifiable for your audience.
13. Check out who’s viewed your LinkedIn profile.
Learn a little about your audience members, potential leads, and customers who are viewing your profile and marketing content that you’re sharing on LinkedIn.
How? With the Who Viewed Your Profile feature.
This tool, which is accessible in the main navigation via the Profile dropdown, enables you to identify the exact people who have visited your page. You can see how you stack up against the profile views for your connections, other businesses like yours, and more.
14. Export connections.
Now, it’s no secret that you can use the connections you make on LinkedIn to drive traffic to your site and grow your base of paying customers. Exporting your connections — to a contact management system, for example — is a great place to start.
Under your Advanced Settings, you can start exporting your LinkedIn connections.
15. Customize your Connections to grow your professional network.
LinkedIn offers features to help you grow your professional network and make valuable connections. There are several ways to do this depending on what you’re looking to accomplish.
Here are some examples:
- Add, view, and remove connections depending on their level of value to your business.
- Control who can see your connections — maybe you do or don’t want your competitors to see that list of people.
- Leverage your second and third-degree connections to grow your network and build new relationships.
- Import and sync your contacts from your email and other sources to stay in touch with colleagues, partners, leads, and customers across the board. These connections will see your content in multiple places so they learn more about who you are as a business, deepening their relationship with your brand.
16. Join LinkedIn Groups.
LinkedIn Groups are a great way to make connections with people who are in, or interested in, your industry. They serve as a hub for you and other members to share content, grow your contact list, establish yourself as an expert in the field, and boost brand awareness.
There are a number of other benefits that come from joining LinkedIn Groups. For example, by joining Groups related to your industry and participating in discussions within those groups, you’ll exhibit thought leadership in your industry.
Additionally, by joining Groups, you can view complete profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Also, if you’re a member of the same group as another user, LinkedIn allows you to send up to 15 free 1:1 messages to fellow group members per month (typically, you can only do this if you’re a first-degree connection).
17. Create your own LinkedIn Group.
Consider creating a LinkedIn Group of your very own, like HubSpot did with the popular Inbound Marketers Group.
You can use your group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, grow a community of advocates, generate new marketing content ideas, promote brand awareness, and generate new leads.
18. Communicate with your LinkedIn Group.
And on that note, there are more reasons to create your own Group on LinkedIn. In fact, one of the perks of managing a LinkedIn Group is that LinkedIn makes it simple to interact and communicate with the members of the Group you’re in charge of.
You can either send messages to group members or create a group post. Sending messages allows you to write a member of your group directly, or share content with them, from your group’s page. This is great if you have something to share with a specific person in your group. Creating a group post allows you to share any content you’d like on your group’s page which is ideal for initiating a discussion.
19. Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter.
Add your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile so you can share status updates across platforms. This is also a great way to boost your Twitter follower and LinkedIn connection counts.
For example, if you’re posting an update to LinkedIn that you’d also like your Twitter followers to see, you can easily syndicate that update to Twitter by selecting the Public + Twitter option in the dropdown menu within the LinkedIn update composer.
20. Leverage @mentions in your status updates.
Want another LinkedIn user or company to see your status update? On LinkedIn, you have the ability to tag — or @mention — users and other companies in your status updates much like the way it works on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
Include the @ symbol immediately followed by the user’s/ company’s name in your status update or post. As a result, that user/ company will be alerted that you mentioned them, and their name will also link to their profile/ page in the status update itself. This is a great way to boost engagement and interaction on your content as well as improve brand awareness.
21. Design all aspects of your LinkedIn page.
The design of LinkedIn pages has changed a lot over the years. Make sure yours is set up correctly and optimized for the latest layout, featuring a compelling and high-quality banner image.
Take a look at what HubSpot’s Company Page looks like for inspiration:
22. Create LinkedIn Showcase Pages.
LinkedIn Showcase Pages are niche pages that branch off your business’s page to highlight specific initiatives and campaigns or feature specific content you’re working on.
Think of Showcase Pages as extensions of your main page that allow you to promote specific products or cater to your individual marketing personas — this provides a more personalized and targeted experience for your page visitors. This is great way to expand your network on LinkedIn because other users can choose to follow your Showcase Page(s) even if they haven’t followed your main page.
23. Post company status updates and target them.
Publish Status Updates for your business on your LinkedIn page for your followers to see. This keeps your LinkedIn connections engaged and in the loop regarding your business’s latest developments, work, content, and updates. In your status updates, you can share written information, images, videos, documents, and more.
You can also post Targeted LinkedIn Status Updates tailored towards specific people and groups within your audience. To do this, use criteria such as company size, industry, job function, seniority, geography, language, or by including/ excluding company employees.
These targeted updates will appear on your page — or Showcase Page — as well as on LinkedIn for the targeted users (specifically, in their Network Updates feed).
24. Check out LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Score & Trending Content resources.
You can learn how impactful your organic and paid LinkedIn marketing content is with the platform’s Content Marketing Score and Trending Content resources.
Your Content Marketing Score tells you your impact on LinkedIn by measuring overall audience engagement with your content. Trending Content tells you which topics you are posting and sharing content about that are resonating with specific audience groups on the platform, allowing you to optimize your content for greater impact.
25. Experiment with LinkedIn Sponsored Content and Native Ads.
If you’re looking to complement your organic LinkedIn marketing efforts with some paid advertising, LinkedIn Ads are a smart choice. One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn advertising: the targeting options.
LinkedIn’s PPC ads let you target specific job titles, job functions, industries, or company size, to name a few — you know, the people who are more likely to want/ need what you sell.
If you want to get started with LinkedIn’s advertising platform, check out our free guide to advertising on LinkedIn.
26. Share content through LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
Good news! You no longer have to be a LinkedIn Influencer to publish new articles to LinkedIn. Publishing is available to all users on the platform. Experiment with how this feature can support your marketing goals by creating content and promoting it on your your business’s LinkedIn page.
For example, you might experiment with syndicating content from your blog to LinkedIn — this way, you can promote subscription to your blog via LinkedIn.
27. Add a Page Follow Button to your website.
You can add the LinkedIn Company Follow button to your website to promote your company’s LinkedIn presence and the content you share on the platform. When your website visitors click to “Follow” your LinkedIn page via your site, they’ll automatically become connected to you and be able to view your company’s latest updates on the platform.
28. Analyze your LinkedIn marketing performance.
So … how are your LinkedIn marketing efforts faring? Analyzing your efforts and making necessary adjustments is critical to your success on the platform.
LinkedIn has in-depth page analytics as well as reporting tools for businesses to evaluate overall performance. There are specific data about how effective your status updates, content, and reach are as well as details about your page’s engagement and followers (like audience member demographics).
Begin Marketing on LinkedIn
Are you ready to get started marketing your business on LinkedIn?
With so many updates and additions to LinkedIn since its launch, we can’t wait to see how the network continues to make itself an integral resource and platform for marketers, job seekers, candidate seekers, and other professionals. Get started marketing on LinkedIn by experimenting with the best practices that make the most sense for your business.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
5 Startup Marketing Ideas That Actually Work
Are you new to the startup game, and even newer to the content marketing game? With all the work that goes into starting a business, there’s little time to think about marketing strategies that prove successful and are feasible for a startup’s teams to execute.
If you find yourself in this boat, don’t panic. You probably know the tools that are helpful for startup marketers to use when strategizing — a CMS, social media accounts, and graphic design software, for instance.
Now, what you need to know is how to use these tools, and similar methods, to create campaigns that align with your business goals. You may have seen other startups’ glowing marketing techniques and found yourself wondering how to create a winning strategy.
For that, we’ve got you covered. To get a sense of how a marketing strategy can produce success for your startup, we’re going to lay out some ideas. These ideas are from startups, and will help you visualize how a successful strategy can be helpful for your own marketing goals.
So, in the next section, let’s go over some startup marketing ideas.
Startup Marketing Ideas
Other than starting an email list, using online software, and taking high-quality images, what else can you do to market your startup? Below are some examples:
If you’re struggling to come up with new marketing strategies, maybe you can put a new spin on one that works for your campaign goals. Like some of the companies mentioned, you can use tools you already have at your disposal to execute a winning campaign.
1. Use paid ads to build a community.
Starburst Data is a B2B that helps companies understand their website analytics. They use a search query engine that organizes data, so customers can interpret large amounts of data quickly. This startup uses ads on LinkedIn to connect with its audience, like this one promoting their software:
A content marketer for a company like Starburst has a good chance of finding its target audience on LinkedIn, since it’s a platform for professional networking. Part of this marketing campaign involves using LinkedIn Ads to build community and provide helpful information.
A similar B2B startup strategy could involve making use of a social media platform’s paid ads offerings to cater to your audience. Alternatively, you can upload offers for free and use hashtags to get them seen by more prospective customers, like #B2BMarketing, or #MarTech.
2. Try social media to connect with customers.
Social media marketing doesn’t have to include spending money — it can be used to grow your audience and connect with existing members. Take Paperless Parts, for example, a manufacturing company with a stellar Facebook page:
It’s free to create a Facebook Business page and optimize it so leads and customers can find it. The Paperless Parts feed begins with recommendations and reviews from happy customers, showing that the business has a dedicated customer userbase. After that, the business posts videos that go behind-the-scenes of the manufacturing process, and also post reminders for webinars and other website content.
A social media page for a startup that showcases customers provides helpful content and encourages audience participation is a free strategy to expand reach, bring clicks to your website, and show credibility in the industry.
3. Crowdfunding marketing, which can generate press.
Are you thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign? If you do, you could earn great press from publications, expanding your campaign’s reach. Take NeighborSchools, for example, which is a child care startup. NeighborSchools offers unique daycares from licensed and experienced professionals.
When the minds behind NeighborSchools began to seek funding to scale up their service, they turned to crowdfunding to seek out people who believed in the service and were able to invest. This tactic earned the company $3.5 million in seed funding, and the success caught the eye of major publications.
Even if you have just a few customers, you can use your crowdfunding campaign as a marketing tactic to get more people interested in your business.
4. Host a virtual meetup instead of a conference.
Mabl is a Boston-based SaaS provider for machine learning test automation. It makes the lives of developers who have to test their solutions way easier. To build a larger community, Mabl hosted a virtual meetup with industry experts.
The meetup’s speakers educated its attendees about software testing. This idea is a cool, low-cost way to expand your professional network and provide valuable content for customers without hosting a conference.
5. Use user-generated content to tell your story.
Startups don’t usually have the revenue to produce big-budget social media campaigns. For travel agency Hopjump, their marketing team found that the best way to tell their story is on Instagram. The business page is filled with clients enjoying their destination vacations, booked using the service:
Customers who post their amazing travel pictures on Instagram can tag Hopjump for a chance to be featured on the page, and this also increases exposure for the startup. Satisfied customers can share their experiences with more of Hopjump’s target audience.
A marketing campaign that includes user-generated content is an easy, free way to work in testimonials. You can use your social media channels to execute the campaign and include hashtags for the chance to appear in more feeds.
When thinking about campaign ideas, you might not have to look that far. You might be able to turn some of the tools you already have at your disposal to boost your campaign messages. Is there a webinar you can host about a topic, or a content offer you think will resonate particularly well with your LinkedIn audience?
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B2B Orgs Make Authentic Connections With Audiences On Social Channels Amid ‘Social Distancing’
During a time when “social distancing” has become the new norm, it’s no surprise most people are turning to social media to connect with friends, family, colleagues and buyers. The digital world has quickly become a safe alternative for B2B organizations to maintain relationships with prospects and customers alike, as in-person interactions are not an option for the time being. And while social media always has been a top channel for sales reps to engage with prospects and customers, and for businesses and individuals to share thought-leadership content with audiences, this “new reality” has shifted marketing strategies, requiring reps to rethink traditional tactics to cater to the needs and pain points of modern buyers during this unsettling time.
While the message always has been an important component for authentic engagement, it has become more critical than ever to understand what your audience is going through to better cater to their current situation in the right tone.
“Everything starts with the message … it always did, but I think the message is absolutely imperative even more now,” said Courtney Beasley, VP of Marketing at the B2B agency Walker Sands, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “So, make sure that you are meeting your audience where they are. And that might mean going back to the drawing board of understanding your personas and putting yourselves in the shoes of your customer.
“What are the words that they’re using right now? What are the new challenges that they’re facing? Getting that message down to the granular of, for example, the language they are using. And it’s not even just the words, it’s the tone as well. Do you need to be more empathetic right now or is your audience truly just looking to get back to work? There’s a lot going on and we still have to figure out how to run companies if this is going to be a new normal for a little while. So, I think the tone and language choice are very important.”
Promoting Digital Communities & Education On Social Media
In a new world of canceled trade shows, as employees are forced to work from home and companies are shifting strategies to digital experiences, social media channels have become key to promoting virtual events and communicating discounts or free offers for services. B2B organizations such as Moz and Inverta are using company social channels, as well as individual employee’s social channels, to relay useful information to audiences and promote a sense of community. Social media also allows organizations to share how they are helping the greater community in their time of need.
“It’s important for everyone to play their part in trying to support whoever needs it the most,” said Brendan Burns, podcast host and CEO of the coaching and consulting company Burns International. “A lot of companies are offering specials where they say, ‘Hey if you buy then we’re going to donate this percentage back to relief funds.’ Now more than ever, I think it’s always important to have an element of contribution in your business and your communication strategies. And it’s really important to get those out there and share that on social because there’s a lot of craziness happening in the world and while we don’t want to take advantage of the hysteria, you want to address it and try to help people and give them hope. Let them know that you’re thinking about these things and doing your part as an organization to help.”
Inverta, for example, tapped into social media to promote an impromptu virtual roundtable for marketers to engage with each other to discuss strategies following the COVID-19 crisis. The company put together a Zoom meeting that was mainly promoted by the Inverta marketing team on LinkedIn, which led to more than 120 registrants for an event that didn’t require registration.
“I said this was going to be a networking lunch and I want marketers to get together and discuss how they’re dealing with these event cancellations and budget reallocation, and really anything else on our minds right now,” said Ashley Schailer, VP of Marketing at Inverta. “I just put it out on LinkedIn and had some of my coworkers at Inverta also post it. We also did some highly targeted paid social through LinkedIn that was account- and title-specific.”
Moz, an SEO software provider, also turned to social media to promote free educational services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is offering free courses within the Moz Academy and leveraging channels such as LinkedIn and Instagram to share the initiative.
“I’m seeing brands, especially in B2B, utilize their platforms a little bit differently,” said Beasley. “Moz did a really awesome ad campaign where they’re offering their training programs, which are normally around $250 a month, for free for whoever signed up. I happen to know that that was incredibly successful for them. They were running ads for that within Instagram stories since people are spending a lot more time on their phones interfacing with anything that’s going to be collaborative. There’s a lot of big opportunity to share those kinds of things via social ads and such.”
Making Professional & Personal Connections On Social Channels
When it comes to deciding which social channels to leverage, marketers must first understand their audience and know which platforms they frequent to make both a personal and professional connection.
To no surprise, Demand Gen Report’s 2020 Content Preferences Survey found that LinkedIn continues to be a top channel for sharing thought-leadership content, with 81% of respondents saying they share business-related content with their network. However, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are also becoming fairly common for sharing content.
Specifically, the research showed that 43% of respondents saying they share resources on Twitter, 40% share on Facebook and 22% on Instagram.
Buyers also continue to turn to social media to gain feedback and commentary on potential purchase decisions. More than half (57%) of survey respondents said they are relying on social feedback and commentary as they navigate new solutions and vendors.
“LinkedIn is still the starting point of where professional relationships begin, and often where the professional nature of relationships continues,” said Mike Orr, Founder and CEO of Grapevine6, an enterprise social and digital sales engagement platform. “We can almost think about it as a continuum. And this is probably the same for brands, where it goes from a professional realm into the personal realm. [LinkedIn] is usually the starting point for most of the social programs that we see in B2B. But then often, when you build a relationship, especially with current customers, you then would start to engage in more personal conversations that may extend into Twitter or Facebook or even Instagram, some of the more personal platforms. It really depends on the maturity of the relationship or the depth and personal element of the relationship and how that progresses to those different platforms.”
Orr noted that these more “personal” social media channels are ideal platforms to visually present company culture to a new audience, as well as promote charitable initiatives and support.
“The personal nature of the visual medium is that you can have a chance to externalize your company culture,” said Orr. “If you have a company culture that supports people internally or externally, or helps your customers do amazing things for society, you can visually represent those on social. If that’s authentically part of your company culture, those platforms give you a way to externalize it.”
Amid our new reality, social media can make or break the way prospects and customers feel about your company. Taking the time to reassess what matters and what doesn’t for your audience is critical to delivering an authentic customer experience on social media.
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