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Every person reading this article has undoubtedly heard of LinkedIn before, and considering that the social networking site now has more than 450 million users, chances are, everyone reading this has a LinkedIn profile as well. The efficacy and frequency of using LinkedIn, however, can vary drastically from person to person and company to company. While the popularity of LinkedIn marketing has increased steadily over the years, it can still be a difficult channel to navigate for those who are unfamiliar with the platform.

There are four primary aspects you should be focusing on when starting a LinkedIn marketing campaign:

  • Personal LinkedIn profiles
  • Company LinkedIn pages
  • LinkedIn groups
  • Paid advertisements

This article will break down some best practices for each topic, as well as some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn efforts.

Personal LinkedIn Profiles

When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Chances are, it was the last time you were looking for a job. Many people (marketers included!) forget to regularly update their LinkedIn profile until they have some reason to use it. Keeping your LinkedIn profile professional and current can help with your marketing efforts, however, as it is not only a reflection on you but your company as well.

Here are some quick tips to optimize your personal profile for LinkedIn marketing:

1. Use a professional photo

This should be a given, but it still amazes me how many people have unprofessional photos (or no photo at all) on their LinkedIn profile. You don’t need an expert photographer to make it a good shot, but the image should be high-quality and not pixelated. Your appearance should be neat and professional for your industry, and the lighting in the photo should be flattering. Bright sunlight, casual clothes, and candid photos usually make for bad profile pictures.

2. Keep your profile updated

If the last time you updated your profile was five years ago when you switched jobs, it’s definitely time to give your details an update. By keeping your profile up to date and filled out, you’ll look less spammy when you’re engaging with people or LinkedIn groups as part of your marketing efforts. Make sure each section is filled out and is up to date with your current job, skill set, and any other professional details. Consider adding a header image, listing certifications, and sharing your portfolio or website if relevant.

3. Connect with the right people

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Connections are an important part of LinkedIn marketing. When you share, like, or post content to your personal page, your connections and followers will be able to see and share those posts in return. This can help drive traffic to your blog, promote a new ebook, or just allow connections to see an interesting article or piece of news. That being said, throwing out connection requests left and right will make you look like a spammer or a fake profile and deter people from connecting with you. If you do want to connect with people you don’t know or are unfamiliar with, feel free to tell them why in your connection request. This can be anything from looking for local networking opportunities to the fact that you follow and enjoy their blog.

4. Encourage your coworkers to optimize their profiles as well

While marketing and sales employees are usually leading the charge, getting other employees engaged in your efforts can be beneficial to your LinkedIn marketing efforts as well. Engineers and technical staff can bring a breadth of knowledge to discussions or promote themselves as thought leaders in your industry, while your CEO or other executives can help raise brand awareness and promote your company on a higher level.

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5. Take advantage of LinkedIn Pulse

Using LinkedIn’s blogging platform is a great way to position yourself as a thought leader, get more followers and connections, and boost your marketing efforts. If you currently have a blogging strategy in place, consider diverting one or two posts a month to LinkedIn Pulse. You can embed relevant links in your post to lead readers back to your website, increasing your traffic and promoting your lead-generation efforts if you divert them toward gated content.

6. Join and use LinkedIn groups

We’ll talk about some more specific best practices for LinkedIn groups later in this post, but because you can only post to groups from personal accounts, there will be a blurb included in this section as well. Joining industry-specific or relevant groups gives you an avenue to start discussions, crowdsource sentiment, or ask or answer questions. This can help build your reputation and promote your company, and it allows you to share your content (but do so sparingly). You should encourage a wide variety of employees across your organization to join LinkedIn groups so that one single person isn’t responsible for all the posts.

Company LinkedIn Pages

Company pages are another important aspect of your LinkedIn marketing strategy. This page will represent your company as a whole and can be used for marketing, recruitment, sales, and more. For the most part, the same best practices that you use on your profile page will apply here but with a few key differences.

Here are some tips for making sure your company page is the best it can be:

7. Optimize your page

Just like how you should optimize your personal profile, you should be optimizing your company page as well. Add a professional image or logo to help with branding and fill out the details section to help people become familiar with your company. You can post careers and news updates as well, to keep people interested in your company.

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8. Share content

You should be sharing content to your personal LinkedIn page, but you should also be sharing blog posts, ebooks, and other content that you create on your company LinkedIn page. When followers see and engage with your posts, it will once again help drive traffic, generate leads, and boost your social reach as your content spreads.

9. Add showcase pages

If your company is multifaceted, it might be wise to add showcase pages. These will show the different subsets of your company and help direct visitors in the right direction. This is especially important if you have numerous visitors who are interested in vastly different topics. Google is a good example. Marketers visiting Google’s page might be interested in AdWords, whereas an IT executive might be doing research by using Google for Work. The showcase page allows these different personas to quickly find the content they’re looking for.

LinkedIn Groups

Groups are one of the most compelling aspects of LinkedIn marketing and can be a treasure trove of resources for those willing to take the plunge. Not only do groups make up a valuable marketing tool, but groups can also help you with professional development, networking, and job-seeking as well. There are a countless number of groups dedicated to every industry, profession, and topic imaginable, so every employee at your business should be able to find a few LinkedIn groups that are relevant to his or her practice area or job title. Like we mentioned before, you can only join and post to LinkedIn groups from a personal profile.

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Here are some tips for using groups when marketing on LinkedIn:

10. Pay attention to the description and rules

When looking for LinkedIn groups, you might be tempted to join every group you come across. This approach is generally frowned upon, however—and for good reason. You’ll want to choose groups based on a variety of factors such as the number of members, the topic, and the rules. Groups with very few people probably aren’t very active, and sharing promotional content is prohibited in a number of LinkedIn groups. You’ll want to carefully read the description of each group to make sure you’re not infringing on any rules, as well as to make sure it’s aligned with your goals for joining the group. If you’re a marketer, you’d want to join groups relevant to your target audience that also allow promotional advertisements or blog posts.

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11. Share content (sparingly)

Just like how it might be tempting to join a plethora of unrelated groups, it also might be tempting to post every blog article you write or ebook you create to each group you’ve joined. This is generally a bad habit to get into for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it makes you look like a spambot. While sharing content to groups is a great marketing tactic on LinkedIn, there’s a fine line between helpful and annoying. Try to target your content to specific groups that might be interested in it and don’t post there every day. The last thing you want to do is to have people grow tired of you or, worse, remove you from the group.

12. Promote discussion

There are a number of ways you can promote discussion, but one of the easiest ways is to do so during your marketing efforts. Don’t just share blog post after blog post to LinkedIn groups—take this as an opportunity to get feedback on your writing and opinions. If you’re sharing a list-based post, ask readers if there are any other features or items they’d add to the list. If you’re blogging about a new product or technology, ask for opinions on it. These will not only give you opportunities to reflect on your blogging but also to see how it resonates with your target audience. Additionally, you can use LinkedIn groups to ask questions of other users. If you’re struggling with a certain aspect of marketing, it might be beneficial to ask for tips or to see if anyone else had trouble with your particular issue.

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Paid advertising is one of the most interesting marketing features on LinkedIn. There are a few different options, depending on your needs and goals, including Sponsored InMail, Text Advertisements, and Sponsored Updates. These ads allow you to target your audience based on the wide breadth of demographic data that users provide LinkedIn with, making them a powerful addition to your LinkedIn marketing efforts. This is another reason why it’s so important to optimize your company page, seeing as how paid advertisements can direct traffic back to your company page and drive brand awareness.

A few best practices to keep in mind when advertising on LinkedIn:

13. Write compelling copy

LIke any paid advertisement you’ve created in the past, LinkedIn ads also perform best when there is compelling copy involved. Even though space is limited on advertisements, you’ll want to make sure that everyone who sees your ad has a clear idea of what value they’re getting by clicking on your ad. Vague wording oftentimes will drive readers away and prevent you from getting your desired click-through rate.

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14. Include a call to action

While this should be common sense to any marketer, it can be easy to slip up once in a while. That being said, it’s imperative to include some sort of call to action (CTA) in your advertisements. Whether or not you’re offering an ebook download, a free trial, or a coupon code, it’s important to tell readers why your advertisement should be clicked on. What value are they getting out of this offer? It’s your job to tell them.

15. Choose an engaging image

Bright colors can draw the viewer’s eye, but neon orange and bright pink might not be the best choices in ad colors. Make sure your image looks clear and interesting when you preview your ads. Low-quality images or pictures with text can come across as pixelated and unprofessional if you’re not careful; images that are too busy can turn off your audience from reading further.

16. Experiment with targeting

LinkedIn’s advertising features offer a wide variety of targeting criteria. So much so that it might be overwhelming when you’re launching your first campaign. You can add filters such as job title, industry, and location. You can even target companies based on their name, if you want to be that specific. It’s important to start off with a wide net and narrow it down from there. If you’re too specific, you can miss out on a valuable audience. However, if you’re targeting too many people, you can be wasting your ad spend on clicks from unqualified or uninterested users. It can be a tricky line to walk, so it’s important that you regularly review your campaigns and experiment with different audiences to see which options perform best.

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17. Optimize often

Just like how you should review and alter your target audience, it’s important to review your overall campaign and performance as well. LinkedIn marketing is just like any other channel or campaign in the fact that you should be regularly updating, testing, and optimizing your ads to make sure that they’re performing to the best of their ability. Try switching up copy, CTA, or image from time to time to make sure that a particular aspect of your ads isn’t hurting its performance. You can also experiment with different offers or products. Just because one ebook doesn’t perform particularly well, it doesn’t mean that your next ebook won’t have stellar results.

While LinkedIn marketing is multifaceted and has numerous nuances, there are a number of best practices that are the same across many aspects of marketing. Hopefully, this guide has given you better insight into how to navigate LinkedIn and why this platform is so important to marketers. Whether or not you’re using paid advertising, or simply just promoting your blog posts to groups, LinkedIn can provide you and your company with a number of opportunities to create awareness, generate leads, and increase traffic—whatever your goals may be.