5 Tips on Using LinkedIn “Company Pages” Effectively in Your Association

In the past couple of years, businesses and professional associations have realized that LinkedIn is the most useful Social Media network for most, if not all, B2B professionals. LinkedIn (hereafter “LI”), unlike Facebook and Twitter, is a professional networking website where personal information is not shared. Even more relevantly, LI does not feature (or allow) direct self-promotion or marketing: the “hard sell” is taboo on this network, where no one is allowed to sound like an advertisement (and those rules are enforced by system administrators). LI works indirectly by eliciting participants’ expertise and knowledge indirectly (e.g. in response to LI Questions and in discussions or exchanges in its many groups), by privileging content above sales. LI’s content-rich nature mirrors the nature of B2B Associations themselves (where “content is king”) and therefore makes the network so useful to us. Interviews of association leaders, YouTube videos on the latest techniques of SEO for B2B content pages and Twitter Updates and blogs on your association website can all be shared (indirectly) through discussions in LI “groups,” or in comments and responses to LI “Questions.”

Any professional association in the world is eligible to create a FREE “Company Page” on LI. With well over 23.1 Million people world-wide finding companies or professional associations using some form of Social Media, and from more than 135 Million people using LI itself, clearly LI  is  too important a vehicle to dismiss (Corliss and Khavinson). It is the world’s largest network of professionals, whose users, many of whom are associations, want to connect with prospects, members, business partners and investors. On LI, a “Company Page” or profile can make an association more personal to the visitor, by providing “engaging content and conversation” (Gunelius 61).

Here are some basic tips and information to guide you as your build or maintain your own professional association “Company Page” over LI:

(1)   If by some small chance, your association does not yet have its own “Company Page,” then go to the Main page of LI (www.linkedin.com). There you can search electronically for company profiles (to which you’ll soon be adding your own), by entering an association name along the top right hand side of the navigation bar:

“Companies ________________.”

To construct your own association’s page, go to “More” (on the navigation tab) and select the option in the very top right-hand side:  “Add Company” below it. (You’ll be prompted for details of the association name and email address.) When the new page appears, you’ll be invited to create an overview of what the association does, what it’s about and what services it offers. You can upload your association logo, locations, and your association blog RSS feed, to stream information from your association website to your LI Company Page.

(2)   By 2012, most association administrators like you have already done these things, and will know that you can edit your LI profile anytime, updating news, information about products (like e-books) and services (like memberships), business opportunities and association staff or board openings. (And that’s not an exhaustive list!).

(3)   From the “Company Page,” you can also start conversations with current prospects, clients and even job-seekers. You can post association updates,   promotions, industry articles of interest, and “fun facts,” all of which will show up on the Company Page and can be read on followers’ homepages (desktop and mobile devices). There, those followers can “like,” “comment” and “share” your post, and therefore spread its influence. This is a key way to build your association’s community and range of influence. (Content may even “go viral!”)

(4)   An association’s Company Page is divided into four parts, named on tabs (along the top of the page) as “Overview,” “Careers,” “Products and Services” and Analytics”—LI specialist Susan Gunelius writes that “Each tab offers different ways to engage with visitors, publish content and share useful information” (61). I’ll visit each of them, below:

(a)    “Overview” is the page that makes the first impression, housing content, status updates, and where people can follow you. Here you can describe your association, identify its industry, location, revenue, size, website and date of founding. You can also display your association’s blog and LI activity feeds and Twitter feeds. Your information here will help prospects and members to put faces to names of association board leaders, executives and staff.

(b)   “Careers’ Page” is where visitors can view your LI site, to research potential employment on your association board or as staff. You can freely post board or office openings here.

(c)    “Products and Services” enables you to tell your association’s story or news. You can describe your e-books, training programs and services when they become a relevant, secondary part to the primary discussion or conversation. (This is what LI users refer to as “indirect marketing.”) You can publish videos or pictures; receive and display recommendations and testimonials; give dates on promotions, promote special discounts on events or products, and announce upcoming conferences and events. Here you can encourage people to “like” and recommend these services or products.

(d)   “Analytics” are a section visible only to the page administrator(s). As the name suggests, “analytics” allow you to track the metrics of how your Association or Company Page is performing, over time. Charts on this page will display the number of followers each of the tabs of your profile receives, identify who has clicked on your page, track those people, and allow you to compare the statistical performance of your page with that of another association. Such statistics will enable you to identify trends, examine what features of your page are working or not and reconsider them for revisions. Gunelius adds that if you hold a campaign to build the number of followers that you receive, you will be able to analyze how visits and page views “were affected, during the campaign” (75). LI’s Analytics’ tab can be used alongside your current association’s methods of analyzing performance.

(5)   As you grow more familiar with options and functions of your LI Company Page, you’ll see how urgent it is for every association to develop a clear marking plan: in order to make your LI efforts strategic and efficient, you need to know why you aim to network with people on this site, and to build a strategy that is centered on specific goals and units of time. Do you want to “generate leads, showcase products, engage customers, recruit talent”? (Corliss and Khavinson). LI offers ways to maximize your use of social media for busy association executives and staff. For instance, you can recruit new members more cost-effectively and faster through a LI profile than by conventional advertising, reaching not only executives, members and prospects, but also investors, purchasing managers, recruiters, journalists, and others, all of whom could visit your association page, for various reasons. You should remember to highlight your association’s activity feed and pitch your content also to the broader community in which your association exists.

It’s commonly said that it takes only about 15 minutes to construct a basic “Company Page” on LI, but many, many more hours to master all of the features and functions of the network. And these continue to grow and change, sometimes daily. (Try opening a Google alert on “LinkedIn,” to stay current.) But even the experts started somewhere, and now is not too late to jump onboard LI. But you need to do so with an attitude that is open–not grudging–toward exploring the network’s many functions.

LI’s “Company Pages” in particular have the potential to provide service ranging from the most basic networking and measuring functions for a small association, to a high-end research tool (in a paid “premium account”) for market research, job-searching and hiring for a large association (functions that exceed the limit of this blog to detail).  But to return to more modest terms, a LI “Company Page” can be very useful to associations like yours, who seek to build in number and quality the “bread and butter” relationships that you have with your members and prospects. I hope that the newbie-oriented notes of this blog posting will assist you in doing just that.

 Resources and Recommended Reading:

Corliss, Rebecca [Hubspot] and Lana Khavinson [LinkedIn]. “Getting the Most from your LinkedIn Company Page.” Learn.linkedin.com (LinkedIn’s official learner-website, and the most up-to-date source on the uses and functions of LI). An excellent source of updates to turn to, once you have mastered the basics detailed in the introductory books.

Elad, Joel. LinkedIn for Dummies.  2nd Ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2012 (a popular guide to LI).

Gunelius, Susan. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to LinkedIn. New York: Alpha, 2012 (the best of these introductory guides yet published on the topic).

Stacey, Kim. Marketing Professional Services on LinkedIn: Tapping into the Power of the World’s Largest Network of Professionals. Ed. Robert Bly. River Vale, N.J.: Centre for Technical Communication, 2012 (the best e-book I have found on LinkedIn, edited and recommended by the Copywriting guru, Bob Bly).

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