A lot brands were quick to get the LinkedIn bug but lacked a clear strategy or idea about how to use it. But what does this really say about their approach to social media? It shows that they’re slap-dash and a bit careless – not an image you want to portray online. That may sound harsh, but it’s true and businesses do it all the time. How then should it be used?
Social media isn’t a pick n’ mix aisle, so brands shouldn’t treat it that way. Like a good cup of tea, it needs to be carefully planned and executed (don’t leave the bag in for too long!) Today, in my first blog for AB, I wanted to focus on LinkedIn and explain where I think it should fit into your social media strategy. So suit up, put your cufflinks in and read my thoughts on using the ‘professional’ network.
Who should be Linking in?
Should Maria’s tea shop, a one-off independent, create a page on LinkedIn? Unless it has real niche popularity or plans to grow into a franchise perhaps, then my answer would be no – it’s simply a waste of time and effort. In a similar vein, should an accounting firm have a Facebook page? My view would be that professional services shouldn’t feature on Facebook. Facebook is a space for inspiration, photos and everything outside of work – it’s not professional. Big FMCG brands do well on Facebook simply because they maintain the fun aspect of this medium.
But the mistakes go much deeper than selecting the wrong channels. The types of content going out on these pages are now getting absurd. LinkedIn, for example, has always been a space for sharing industry insight, white papers, guides and so on. All this content is being undermined by sloppy content being posted by both individuals, companies and groups alike, such as memes and photos that are off-topic and off-brand.
For example, I saw this post just yesterday from anonymous: “Fantastic time at the XYZ party”… “- had to take a selfie”. This type of content clearly indicates that there’s not a strategy and can reflect badly on your brand.
LinkedIn – what’s it really for?
On the topic of LinkedIn, we sparked some healthy debate (one without tears and raised blood pressure) with one of our clients last week about how LinkedIn should be used. This continues to be a challenge for businesses because they, quite rightly, have no control over how their employees LinkedIn accounts look and even whether they are on there at all. However, a sharp presence on LinkedIn amongst your employees is always highly recommended. Even the simple things like making sure company logos and links are there are often forgotten – these are often quick and easy ways to get website referrals for your brand. Consistency of content is also incredibly important and we always recommend that LinkedIn profiles should mirror the company profile of its employees. This not only looks professional but it is important for SEO purposes.
Also, the more you encourage your employees to share, write and blog the more it increases the opportunities to be seen by Barry Scott, a 3rd connection of one of your employees, who just so happens to be the CEO of Walkers (I’ve made this up, but you get the picture). Like with any digital platform, however, LinkedIn requires a commitment to man hours. It needs to be updated, refined and refreshed both in terms of content (blog posts and articles) but also with the administration of the company page. Hootsuite is a fantastic social media manager that can help you organise the content side of things.
The companies that do really well on LinkedIn do a few things very, very well:
- Create downloadable content (usually featuring a strong call to action).
- Share quality posts from thought leaders, e.g Richard Branson.
- Incorporate high-quality video campaigns into their posts.
- Break content into smaller chunks, e.g. ‘35 LinkedIn tips’.
- Aren’t too wordy.
The LinkedIn divide
Another common theme that crops up in the LinkedIn conversation with clients is not knowing what its purpose is. Is it simply a medium for recruiters, to steal all your best staff? LinkedIn got bad press as a hotbed for recruiters to pinch top talent. However, LinkedIn has done a lot to counter this negative image with greater privacy settings, with the ability to keep your connections private. However, encouraging employees to build quality LinkedIn profiles simply enhances your image as an employer brand. If you have a strong LinkedIn strategy you’re likely to get individuals attracted to finding job opportunities with your company organically, rather than from recruiters.
Transparency and honesty are valued by customers in the modern age and in fact companies don’t have much choice – someone will find a skeleton in your closet if you have any. As long as you play by the rules, keep things fresh and updated, you’ll see LinkedIn as a great source of quality referrals, enquires and web traffic. If you think your LinkedIn strategy needs dusting down.