LinkedIn ChocolatesThough it might lack the flair its younger siblings on social possess (Facebook, Twitter, et al.), LinkedIn remains the great stalwart of professional networks, regularly attracting some 81% of today’s B2B marketers (“How B2B Marketers Use Social Now,” Zachary Reiss-Davis, Forrester Research).

The site has also made strides as a content hub, becoming in the process a valuable tool for lead generation and an essential for recruitment. In fact, Forbes reports content sharing on LinkedIn rose by 15% in the third quarter of 2013, at a rate faster than larger content-sharing giants such as Facebook and Twitter.

So what can today’s businesses do to optimize their offerings on LinkedIn and get the most from their pages?

LinkedIn for Recruiting

The content you share to LinkedIn can help you connect with potential hires and improve your transparency as an employer, which, as Mashable notes in its highly readable guide to LinkedIn etiquette, is something job-seekers care about. Accordingly, it may well be worth your time to be discriminating in content you share, and to read Mashable’s guide in full, which includes advice to job seekers (“Hide your activity, but make your profile public”), recruiters (“Be personable”) and PR pros (“Don’t make us work”), and includes a link to seven resume designs that rewrite the rules.

LinkedIn for Lead Generation

LinkedIn penAct-On’s Center of Excellence has a fresh new training course completely focused on how to use social media for lead generation. Here are three tips from the LinkedIn chapter:

  • Be thoughtful in how you organize your page. Most every company page has certain requirements to meet – links to a distinct domain (, coverage of what the business does and who it serves, and so on. In attending to these criteria, think carefully about what you’d like your customers to see and what sort of image you want to put forward. After all, your company page is how people get to know your business, brand, products/services, and job openings; the more deliberate you can be in what you offer, the bigger an impact you’ll have
  • Make content a priority. The average LinkedIn user values content that helps them do their job better, so treat content as a means of engaging and empowering your followers. Share whitepapers and case studies that your fans find relevant (say, a data sheet on SEO if you happen to be a search engine marketing firm), or publish articles that relate to what you do (perhaps a study on how search is changing).
  • Grow your following. Your success on LinkedIn will hinge on just how sizable and active a following you’re able to attract. High caliber content will go a long way to building out that following, but it may also help you to reach out to employees and customers directly and enlist them as LinkedIn evangelists. You can share posts on your other social sites that draw people to your LinkedIn page and call for more followers (such as, “Want to read our new eBook on Hummingbird strategies? Follow us on LinkedIn!” [your URL here]).
  • Invest in LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn users are constantly on the lookout for others who share their interests and specialties, which is often why they seek out highly targeted group forums (e.g., groups with names like Marketing Automation Experts and B2B Tech Marketers). They’re far likelier to join groups that bear a brand’s name, so the sooner you can create a high-value niche group of your own, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Hosting a group can give you transparency, providing followers and prospects a glimpse behind the veil and the chance to connect with people behind the scenes (which, as Mashable points out, job-seekers especially appreciate). Joining other groups (and sharing to them strategically) can also do wonders for a company’s positioning as a thought leader and content provider.

Sure, it may not have the pithiness or urgency of a site like Twitter, or the pomp and pizzazz of Facebook, but LinkedIn more than makes up for those deficiencies with the connections it can forge and the strategic sharing it supports. It is a social network with real potential and staying power, and the sooner marketers can capitalize on that, the stronger chance they’ll have of solidifying their brand, interesting new prospects, and attracting top-flight talent.

Read all about LinkedIn and other ways to drive leads through social marketing at our Center of Excellence.

“LinkedIn Chocolates” by Nan Palmero used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license
“LinkedIn Pen” by Sheila Scarborough used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license