It’s no secret that LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the Internet. With over 313 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is a vital tool in conveying brand identity and increasing reach. And it can be a lead generator as well: reports that LinkedIn is now responsible for a staggering 64 percent of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites. In contrast, Facebook accounts for 17 percent of such visits, while Twitter is just 14 percent.

Your company is likely one of the more than three million with a LinkedIn brand page, but – do you really know how to capitalize on this willing audience?

The key to success with LinkedIn marketing is to build relationships by establishing a company presence, attracting and engaging followers, and amplifying your message through that network of people.

Here are 10 things you should be doing on LinkedIn right now.

1. Update your company description

When was the last time you updated your company description on LinkedIn? Come on now, be honest. According to a 2012 LinkedIn member survey, nearly 80% of LinkedIn members want to connect with the companies in their lives.

Update your description with rich, descriptive language that conveys your company’s character, and your vision and purpose, not just the products you offer. Lead with an elevator speech that’s under 160 characters, because that’s about the length of a search engine preview of your page.

2. Empower your employees to be brand ambassadors

A LinkedIn study of thousands of company updates found that over one-third of all impressions were due almost entirely to amplification; that is, people sharing the content you post on your company page out to their network. (Based on a study of all company Status Updates with at least 1,000 impressions posted June 1-15, 2012)
Provide your employees with a standard company description for their LinkedIn profile, and a one-pager of any company policies you have around the Dos and Don’ts on LinkedIn. (If you need to create one, take a look at LinkedIn’s guidance.) Encourage employees to share content from your company page out to their LinkedIn network for an instant boost in amplification and reach.

3. Target college students

In 2011, LinkedIn introduced new Profile sections designed for college students. Specific sections were added to allow students to showcase projects, honors and awards, organizations, courses, and even test scores. There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, making them LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic. Post an update once a week that is specifically targeted to this segment, because these are your brand advocates and employees of the future.

LinkedIn Influencers
LinkedIn recommends Influencers based on your profile.

4. Publish on LinkedIn

In 2012, LinkedIn launched a program called LinkedIn Influencer, which allowed a designated number of “influencers” to publish long-form content on the platform, and encouraged people to follow these influencers. What started as a program for the LinkedIn elite is now available in a slightly different form to everyone. Although the LinkedIn Influencer program is still invitation-only, anyone can now publish long-form content. Encourage your employees – especially your industry experts – to publish content. This will increase your brand exposure and boost your thought leadership clout.

5. Add a LinkedIn Follow button on offline content

You more than likely have a LinkedIn share button on all of your digital properties, but do you have a Follow button? Add a LinkedIn Follow button to your newsletter, your blog and all digital properties. You can grab the plugin from the LinkedIn developer site.

6. Join one group on LinkedIn and participate

As of the writing of this post, there were almost two million Linkedin groups. The sheer volume is overwhelming. Divide and conquer. Ask your internal industry experts, marketing team members, product engineers, et al, to pick one popular group and make a point to participate in the conversations. Comment on relevant posts or start your own topics. Show your thought leadership muscle.

7. Engage with your Followers

A recent LinkedIn member survey found that members are nearly 50% more likely to purchase from a company they engage with on LinkedIn. Make your posts informative and relevant, link to great content and don’t try to sell. Keep your updates short, and don’t ever ignore the comments on your updates. Remember, it’s a two-way conversation.

8. Add more visual elements

Do you sometimes feel like you’re posting LinkedIn updates to an audience of none? There are some tried and true methods you can use to increase engagement on your updates. According to LinkedIn, updates with some sort of visual content generally result in a 98% higher comment rate. Ninety eight percent! The magic formula seems to be a short post with a link and an eye-catching image or video. Give it a try and see what happens.

9. Create a Showcase page

As of April 2014, Products & Services Pages were discontinued and replaced with an option called Showcase Pages. While your main company page should have a more broad focus, Showcase pages give you the opportunity to do a deep dive into a single product or product line. Showcase pages appear as additional tabs on your company page and are included in the free version of LinkedIn. As always, think about what you post from the reader’s point of view. Lead with benefits and make them interesting or valuable. In the example below, the green circle notes the circle S studio Showcase pages.

Showcase page 1

Note that circle S’s A/E/C Showcase page has copy that describes the benefits of working with the company.

LinkedIn Showcase page example10. Analyze and Optimize

How do you know failure if you’ve never defined success? LinkedIn provides analytics for your Updates, Followers and Visitors.

Your homework is this: take a look at your current metrics and record your baseline numbers in each category. Then set some goals to increase those numbers across the board. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different kinds of posts until you figure out what your audience wants.

Professionals are signing up for LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second. That’s 180 new members since you started reading this blog. It’s going to take some effort to attract and engage those people. Are you up for the challenge?

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“LinkedIn customized icon” by Kerl J 2010, for Culturally Connected, LLC – Idea Girl Media’s parent company. Used under Creative Commons license.