Published on August 20, 2015
1. 1 Assignment 2: LinkedIn Prepared by Bonnie Elaine Mager ID: 5662832 [email protected] / [email protected] In fulfilment of Diploma in Social Media Marketing This paper is referenced using the Harvard referencing style.
2. 2 Introduction LinkedIn is an important tool in the business world which is growing each year in use and popularity. In fact, in 2014 50% of LinkedIn members were more likely to purchase from a company if they had engaged with them on LinkedIn (LinkedIn 2015). In the current digital world, social media presence is becoming a vital part of running a business. LinkedIn provides one of the best networks for businesses, due to its professional focus and tools tailored to job seekers and companies alike. Each year more and more companies are signing up to LinkedIn with company page usage jumping from 24% to 57% in 2014 (Conner 2014). Company Pages are becoming an important part of Social Media Marketing for companies, as they have the potential to gain both employees and customers who are researching companies online (Forrest 2015). Company Information/Background Sign up Requirements Any company with a name and a company email address can create a LinkedIn Company Page - so long as they meet the following requirements; The person creating the company (who will become the page admin) must have a personal LinkedIn profile; The profile of the page admin must be at least 7 days old; The profile strength of the page admin must be at least ‘Intermediate’ (meaning they have filled out a sufficient amount of information on their profile to be categorised as reliable); The profile of the page admin must have several profile connections; The profile of the page admin must be a current company employee of the company and their position needs to be listed in the Experience section on their profile; The profile of the page admin must have a company email address; and the company's email domain needs to be unique to the company (LinkedIn 2015). Important Company Information Needed Once a Company Page is established and verified, it is important to add as much information as possible to ensure the page is as complete and accurate as possible.
3. 3 Figure 1: The “edit company’ section in a LinkedIn company page As seen in Figure 1, there is a range of information needed in order to create a company page. Company Name This is the name the company will be displayed as across LinkedIn. It is important that this matches the company name in the admins profile exactly. Company Description The company description is the one chance to really describe what the company does and stands for. In order to maximise the efficiency of this area it is important to include a range of relevant keywords that help shape the company’s online identity (Charalambous 2013). It also helps to make the first 150 characters keyword-heavy to make Google’s search previews as relevant as possible. As LinkedIn hides the remaining description after line three, this needs to be kept in mind when creating a company description also (Forrest 2015). Admins At least one current employee will need to be an admin in order to set up the company page. There is an option to have more than one administrator on the page; the only requirement for each admin is that they have a current employee email address.
4. 4 Logo A small logo which needs to be uploaded by an admin. It needs to measure 100 x 60 pixels in size. Company Type, Size, URL Company type is chosen from a range of selectable business types provided by LinkedIn. Company size indicates the amount of current employees and there is a URL section to add a link to the company’s website. The inclusion of a website URL allows LinkedIn to become a free advertising and website traffic router to a business’s core website. Industry, Operating Status, Year Founded Much like company type, the main company industry allows admins to choose from a range of LinkedIn categories. Company operating status indicates the current status of the company which can be changed at any time, and the year founded, which is an optional entry (Tabaka 2011). Locations Up to five different location addresses can be added for companies who operate out of multiple locations (Tabaka 2011). Company Specialties Company Specialities are useful to help people find a company in LinkedIn when looking for keywords and services. When creating specialties it is important they reflect what the company does, to make them appear in relevant LinkedIn search results (Forrest 2015) Figure 2: An example of Company specialities for a Public Library Direct Sponsored Content Posters A direct sponsored content poster is a user who has the ability to share content with company employees and members without needing to publish it first on the company page. These sponsored
5. 5 posts will appear in members’ newsfeeds but will not be visible on the company page (LinkedIn 2015). This is an important advertising tool that allows users to customise messages for different audiences and for companies to trial different content by sending personalised messages to specific and targeted groups and individuals without sending the content to all page followers. Description of the LinkedIn Social Media Site LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking site in the world with over 347 million users. (LinkedIn 2015). LinkedIn allows users to create profiles and gives companies the opportunity to showcase what they have to offer both to potential customers and employees. There are three main types of profiles/groups that LinkedIn offers; 1. Personal profiles Pages Figure 3: Example of a LinkedIn personal profile Personal profiles on LinkedIn are used by individuals. These profiles list the employment history and skills of members that emphasize their professional lives, similar to an online CV. Users can “connect” with other users to build up an established network of colleagues, friends, and others in their line of work. These profiles can be used to build connections with others around the world, and for users to promote themselves to potential employees.
6. 6 2. Company Profile Pages Figure 4: Example of a LinkedIn company page Company profiles are a place for companies to tell their story, highlight products and services, and advertise vacancies (LinkedIn 2015). Company pages are also a great way to establish industry expertise, and to drive traffic to company websites (Torr 2015). It is also a free marketing tool for companies to advertise their company, and gain exposure. 3. Company Profile Groups Figure 5: Example of a LinkedIn Company Group
7. 7 LinkedIn groups are places for LinkedIn users with similar interests, or those in the same line of work, to; congregate, share information, establish networks and advertise jobs (Torr 2105). Anyone can create a LinkedIn group, and groups can be found by using the search option at the top of the Page. LinkedIn Advantages and Disavantages LinkedIn is not the perfect solution to all business needs, and while there is a range of extremely useful and easy-to-use features, there are also a range of disadvantages to using the site. Outlined below is a brief summary of the biggest advantages and disadvantages while using LinkedIn as a business (Table 1). Table 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of LinkedIn Advantages Disadvantages Creates highly visible search engine results for profiles and company Pages. Not as user friendly as other social networking sites. Internationally Focussed so can be used to reach customers worldwide. Active users spend less time on LinkedIn than active users of other social networking sites with an average of 9.8 minutes a day compared to 17.1 on Twitter and 42.1 on Facebook (Bennett 2014). Great inbuilt targeting features mean that content can be effectively aimed at the right clients and businesses. Increasing the effectiveness of posts. Smaller Reach than other social networking sites, due to a smaller user base. The number of active monthly user in millions as of March 2015 was 1440 on Facebook, 288 on Twitter and 187 on LinkedIn (Facebook 2015; Smith 2015; Twitter 2015). Professional Connections – Because LinkedIn is aimed at professionals, users are more likely to be professionals and in certain companies this is advantageous. Credentials are not regulated, so potential employees and/or employers may have “embellished” information on their profiles.
8. 8 Recommendations as to Company Profile Page or Company Group The best suited LinkedIn page for an educational software company would be a Company Profile Page rather than a Company Group. However this would be more efficient if it was supplemented with an online presence in a series of targeted educational and digital literacy groups rather than the establishment of a company group. Firstly, Company Profile Pages create high visibility in search engine results. With effective keyword use, LinkedIn company pages are almost always featured in the 1st or 2nd page of Google search results (Torr 2015). Company Profile Pages also have a range of beneficial features and advertising tools companies can benefit from including the ability to target posts to specific users. This function has proven to be extremely beneficial to companies with one study showing targeted company posts increasing audience engagement by over 66% (LinkedIn 2015). Company posts can include blog posts, promotional material, news and updates and free downloadable content (Kopecky 2013). By effectively tailoring this content, and using a wide range of these, they can help create a company page that releases interesting and relevant content which will in turn increase page engagement and users. There is also a range of free, inbuilt analytical tools which allow companies to monitor post clicks, engagement and audience, and the ability to tailor future posts depending on these analytics. Secondly, people join groups to discuss and share. When creating a company group the reach is limited to those who have specifically searched for that particular company name. However, if instead a company joined targeted interest groups, it could share information about its business to those who may find it useful but have never heard of the company before or realised they offered something relevant to them. In the instance of the software company, this would be a useful way to engage teachers and other educators who not only making buying recommendations to their schools, but to others in their field as well. Self-Promotion through groups is an important free marketing tool that should be taken advantage of as groups tend to have a larger reach than company pages (Kopecky 2013). When posting in groups however, companies need to ensure that the posts are educational and aimed at relevant users, or that they promote user discussion as being too promotional in a group is ineffective and can result in a company getting kicked-out of a group (Kopecky 2013).
9. 9 Thirdly, Groups are falling in popularity. A recent study compared user popularity of groups. In 2014 60% of those interviewed quote groups as their favourite feature of LinkedIn, compared to only 42% in 2015 (Conner 2015). This is contrasted to the increasing popularity of Company pages with the current count being over 3 million LinkedIn company pages, representing over 148 industries. This cannot be ignored when looking forward in the way in which LinkedIn is being used. Company Strategy for building up a company network Once a company page has been established, the first step is to promote the page. This can be achieved in many effective ways. 1. Build up your network using previous media outlets Direct Traffic from website and other social media channels To begin with, the software development company should make use of the LinkedIn Company Follow button by adding it to their current website and blogs. This allows users to be directed to the LinkedIn page with the simple click of a mouse. It is important to build awareness of the page not just with new customers, but with current customers too (Gunelius 2013). It can also be helpful to add links to LinkedIn on all online publications, emails and print promotional materials. Encourage Employees to Connect with the page Employees can be the biggest supporters of companies, and it is important to get them on board and following the company page (Khavinson 2013). Even though the company only has 7 employees at present, each brings with them a different range of connections and group involvement which can be utilised to spread the word about the company. If the Employees aren’t on LinkedIn, the company can encourage them to do so as Professional Development – they will gain the benefits of professional knowledge sharing that occurs in the LinkedIn groups, and once they add the company to their profiles they will automatically become followers.
10. 10 Take Advantage of the inbuilt adverting features Use Targeted Updates Not all posts and content will be relevant to all followers, so it is important to target these to those who it is most relevant to. You can target by employee or non-employee, company size, industry, function, seniority, or geography (Gunelius 2013). Launch a Follow Ad campaign Follower Ads appear throughout LinkedIn and can be targeted in the same way company updates can be. These ads are strategically placed by LinkedIn to give a company exposure to users who would find what the company has to offer relevant and useful. If successful, users will then follow the company which has a flow on advertising effect as their connections will then see who they have followed and may in turn follow the company too (Khavinson 2013). Use the Analytics Tab LinkedIn has a great inbuilt analytics tab which allows user to analyse how posts and updates are going, the engagement they get, and their reach. After posting social campaigns, updates and promotions it is important that companies take the time to then look at these steps in order to establish what works and doesn’t work for their audience, and then use their results to tailor future posts. If there's a certain type of content that is always underperforming then stop posting it. Join Relevant Groups Companies should join groups that will include users who have a common interest with what the company is selling. This software development company would benefit from joining groups that would be interested in pursuing new online testing software such as institutes that offer distance learning, as well as most tertiary education providers. Other relevant groups could be companies which offer online training courses such as professional associations like LIANZA (the professional organization for library and information workers in New Zealand) first aid certificate providers, and a range of
11. 11 workplace education and professional development providers. Below is a list of current LinkedIn groups which are currently active, and would be useful for the Software Development Company to target. Table 2: A list of recommended LinkedIn Groups for the proposed Software Development Company to join in order to promote their product Group Name Group Description Online Learning Consortium The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is the leading professional organization devoted to advancing quality online learning by providing professional development, instruction, best practice publications and guidance to educators, online learning professionals and organizations around the world. OLC is a key factor in the transformation of the e-Education field. Through our conferences, quality learning opportunities, and tools for individual and institutional success we have been a part of this swift growth Simplilearn - An online learning platform for Professionals The group is driven by knowledge and experience. Its main charter is to help address the queries and concerns of professionals who are looking out for training resources for professional certification such as PMP,ITIL, Ms Project, Six Sigma etc. Members can get their doubts instantly clarified by experts in the fields. The group will also cater to those organizations who are looking out for assistance on deploying learning management system (LMS) for their requirements… and more E-Learning and Education management software We has been helping colleges and schools to attain this advantage with world class software solutions like, > Integrated portals with different sections for students, teachers and parents. >Integrated system for managing daily operations like lectures, attendance, courses, admissions etc through high end technology. > Online e-learning module integration with the portals. … and more These groups can be tailored more, if more information is given about the software the company develops.
12. 12 Conclusion To conclude, the final recommendation for the software development company is that, if they only use one LinkedIn Feature it should be the Company Profile Page. This is due to its ability to create an online presence which can be uniquely tailored to how they want to be perceived. Company Profile Pages can gain followers passively, simply by being mentioned in an employee’s profile and it has the ability to create and tailor advertisements and posts for users and to target them for a wider range of demographics. On top of this, the Company Description can be created to meet optimal search engine optimisation, thus gaining an increase in traffic from google search results. However, the preferred recommendation would be for the client to not only use the Company Profile Page in isolation, but to supplement its use with effective and strategic group membership, to build discussion and promote their products to a wide range of LinkedIn members, who would be likely to purchase their software, such as online trainers and training institutes.
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