I've noticed that since LinkedIn's evolved to a content platform, its potential for brand building isn't always as clear to some of the business leaders I talk with as I think it is. While some look at it as a resumé platform to find talent and don't consider their presence as particularly important, it's become a content platform for building personal and company brands that works like no other. Because it blends content with helping people find experts who might be outside their immediate connections, it's worthwhile for entrepreneurs to rethink the strategies for their presence on the platform.
Create influence through trust: People can carry more influence on LinkedIn than the brands they work for because they're trusted individuals within their networks. You can spread your thought leadership through trusted connections and their networks to create influence for your personal or company brand, or both, depending on how you direct the influence. For consultants, clients value your influence and you can leverage it on LinkedIn to spread awareness for projects which deserve attention.
Cultivate thought leadership: LinkedIn is slowly rolling out its publishing platform so you can apply now to post your blog to your LinkedIn profile to enhance your authority in your space (and by extension, for your company). LinkedIn helps you get noticed by people interested in your expertise and it's like being included in a magazine read by your peers and their networks. Their news platform, Pulse, features elevated thought leadership content integrated into the website and as a standalone mobile app to a global audience. It tailors content to your feed and offers rare opportunities to connect with industry leaders.
Build a company profile with purpose: Lots of companies create their LinkedIn groups without a plan. If you can help people understand whether the group is for employees, volunteers, investors, customers, other users and tell them what they can expect if they join you're more likely to get engagement. Let people know the purpose of the group and the kind of content that's shared. What's obvious to you isn't necessarily implicit. If you're not clear on why you're there, don't start a group. You might have more impact by posting about your company's news to your personal profile. Which leads to...
Engage with more than news posts: According to Nicole German, business strategist and ex-Global Head of Enterprise Marketing for LinkedIn, "Getting the right message (or content) to the right person at the right time is important... it's not just about company news but helpful and useful content in forms that help people learn and be better in their professional lives." Social sharing is the easiest way to be relevant and to engaging.
Better than email: On July 1, 2014, Canada will be clamping down with arguably the most severe anti-spam laws anywhere. More than spam will be affected; everyday email will be limited in how people reach out with a cold call for a meeting or to promote a product or service, even within existing relationships (it's complicated, this article in the Globe and Mail explains more). Look at LinkedIn as a business communications platform to be inspired by how successful people aren't promoting themselves, they're carving out value in their area of expertise.
Brenda van Ginkel
Every great brand that's making a difference to people or the planet deserves to stand out and be noticed. I write about creative direction and brand strategy for entrepreneurs and those supporting them, packaging concepts with messaging for growth and audience engagement in a crowded, noisy digital space.