Twitter and Facebook undeniably garner the most attention in discussions about social media and marketing communications. As a result, many communicators overlook the excellent value and utility of sites like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is interesting, and maybe even unique, because of the way it combines professional networking with breaking news and interaction. With over 200 million professionals signed up to LinkedIn from across the world, this is a good place to do PR. A good LinkedIn profile is a living resume that can be seen by the network’s active community. What makes the site work so well is how well organized it is. LinkedIn is great communication tool for companies because is provide brands with a free medium to tell their story to the audiences who are most interested in them.
Why LinkedIn is good for your brand
LinkedIn is focused on acquiring content for their site, and the action of sharing content via the LinkedIn Share button is something that makes this site a must for Public Relations practitioners. A PR person worth his salt will also make sure that the LinkedIn share is embedded on the media section of their website and their blogs sites. They will also persuade their CEO and other executives to join linked in because Linkedin provides opportunities for executive branding through expert opinion and for executives to network with other like- minded people.
Tactical PR and LinkedIn
Public relations pros can use LinkedIn in different ways for tactical PR, including:
Researching and networking with journalists and bloggers. Most people keep their profiles up-to-date and provide links to their blogs, Twitter accounts and Web sites. Once you’ve researched someone, you can invite that person to connect on the site. This allows you to follow what they are doing and presto… they are also able to follow and read what you are saying and about your company. Chances are when you have interesting and newsworthy content they may re-blog it or ask you for detailed news release. That is free publicity right there.
Listening to your own audiences. LinkedIn has thousands of professional and special interest groups, as well as active discussions taking place on the site. Keeping an eye on the conversations in these sections is a great way to learn what is on your audience’s mind. It provides useful information for planning your own communications, especially blog posts and other content creation activities. When you start to see the same questions pop up over and over again, it usually means the market has done a poor job filling the need for that information. Can you spell “opportunity?”
Identifying influentials. As you become more familiar with the people who participate in the different discussion groups and you will start to spot real influencers among the crowd, people who are well connected in your industry and who have voices that rise above the din. Often, you will find that these people are able to provide educated and expert answers to industry challenges and issues.
Build relationships with them. They can become powerful advocates for your brand.
Building your own credibility and that of your brand. Build your brand’s credibility by posting updates that make your followers see that your company is an expert in its field. It’s no use having a Company LinkedIn page if you don’t use it to augment your brand values, identity, create brand equity and tell other professionals in your industry what great activities your company is involved in. As a professional , LinkedIn also give you the opportunity to give your industry expert opinion to your connections. It’s enables you to establish your bona fides. Once established, more people will want to connect with you.
Honing your social skills. As with any network, it’s important to listen and observe the group dynamics before you interact. Notice what kind of questions generate responses in group discussions. Certain types of messages are almost certain duds – if you pay attention, you can determine what sort of content the audience does and doesn’t like, and plan accordingly. In addition to making your interactions on LinkedIn more effective, paying attention to what sort of content generates interest and interaction can also inform your future content strategy.
In addition to providing powerful personal networking tools, LinkedIn also offers companies the ability to establish company pages. Its unfortunate that many companies do not use this communication opportunity. These pages are an important touch point within LinkedIn for your brand. You can plug your company’s Twitter feed into your company page, along with an RSS feed from your blog. Other tabs allow you to highlight products (including the addition of video and images related to the products.) You can even conduct polls and surveys. Page admins can access analytics, enabling them to see activity on the pages. All in all, company pages are good tools that are free and easy to set up. The more time you spend with LinkedIn, the more opportunities you’ll discover as to how this important network can be used in your PR workflow.
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