It's amazing how much time people spend on Facebook. And Twitter. And Snapchat. But what about LinkedIn? LinkedIn clearly has a different audience, catering to professionals instead of the casual user, but it's also been wildly successful in its market. How successful? 450 million users in over 200 countries successful.
That's a huge audience, especially for associations who are often trying to reach professional members, legislators, journalists, and prospective members.
For social media savvy organizations, a LinkedIn page is a must. Your association is probably already on LinkedIn, but if you aren't, now is the time to make a page for your organization. Start by filling out every section possible, including your website, contact information, and summary.
Just remember that you're not finished after you've created the page. A single page with some information on your association isn't going to be effective, and it isn't enough to create a strong presence on LinkedIn. You also have to optimize your page, taking advantage of LinkedIn hacks in order to reach the most people and provide the most relevant information to your audience.
Here are six tips that are guaranteed to boost your page performance and help you crease strong relationships on LinkedIn.
Your association's LinkedIn page should function as an independent resource, but it should also match your association's branding. The same logo that you use on your website and online community should also be present on your LinkedIn page, as should the keywords you want to be found for and relevant photos of staff and events.
Using the same branding will help make your page easily recognizable and give it credibility. Visitors will be able to easily see the connection between your LinkedIn page and your association's website and online member community.
Include industry keywords on both your personal, professional profile and your association's page. These keywords are what will help you get found in searches conducted by interested prospects and members. The best keywords will also showcase your knowledge and involvement in the industry, so include them in your LinkedIn page's headlines and descriptions.
LinkedIn provides companies and other organizations with a products and services section for their LinkedIn pages. Always fill out this section, adding whatever content and offers are relevant for your association. That could include your conferences, products from your online store, educational programs, certifications, or webinars.
When you add these to your page, you help prospects understand what, exactly, your association can offer them. Products and services also give people reasons to follow your page by clearly showcasing your value and expertise.
Consider adding calls-to-action as well. Effective calls-to-action will give your page visitors something to do, eventually driving them back to your association's main website or community and its offers.
It sounds like an oxymoron, but it's accurate. Not only do you need an association page on LinkedIn, you need a separate profile that highlights you as an individual professional. That means Macy Jones, your membership director, needs a profile just for Macy Jones. Why? Because association executives and staff often become the face of their organization. People who find your association will also find you, and vice versa.
Create your own profile, filling out the information sections completely. You'll need to upload a professional photo, write an engaging headline, describe yourself in a summary, and include your employment history and accomplishments. All this information will help people get to know you so you can use your profile to interact with connections as yourself and on behalf of your association.
Encourage your employees to do this as well, creating their own profile to interact with your association's page, members, and followers.
Make connections personally, encourage association followers, and engage them. The more active your profile and association page is, the more likely you are to be found by interested people. The people who find you will also be more likely to interact if you already have a proven track record of being active on LinkedIn.
Start by sharing content, such as news updates and blog posts, from your association. Branch out to share content from outside sources like industry professionals, your members, and followers. Every time you share content from your members you keep them involved, making them more invested in your association's social media presence. Keep members and followers involved by responding to their comments and personal updates as well. When appropriate, send private messages to add a personalized touch.
Keep in mind that your updates and the content you share should be diverse. Don't share only blog posts. Share blog posts, videos, essays, polls, questions, images, and infographics. If the content is relevant and helpful to your followers, you can share it.
Bonus Tip: To make your messages and updates more relevant to different member groups, target what you share by audience geography, industry, or job type. Just choose to share your update with a "targeted audience" instead of "all followers" before you post.
Groups are places where professionals can share content, ask questions, find answers, and network with other LinkedIn users. Your association and its executives should join relevant industry groups, adding them directly to your page and profiles.
Once you're a member of a group, ask and answer questions, sharing your association's expert content whenever it will be valuable. Any time your content helps another group member, you highlight your association's relevancy and reach another potential member. Your association's awareness will increase.
Bonus Tip: To increase your reach even more, use groups to directly message prospects who you're not connected to and are not following your association's page. Just click on the group you're a part of, then click on the number of members under the group's name. Use the envelope icon next to your prospect's name and job description to communicate with them privately.
Include a link to your association's LinkedIn page, along with your other social media profiles, on the association's main website and private member community homepages. The link will help direct members and prospects to your page, giving them another way that they can connect with your association.
The more ways that people can connect with you, the better. By sending people to social profiles such as LinkedIn, you also personalize the member experience. After all, members and prospects won't just find your association on LinkedIn, they'll also find staff and executive profiles. If you have a "meet the staff" section on your association's website, you can even link directly to your staff's personal, professional LinkedIn profiles from that page. Those personal profiles will help give your association a more face that's easy to connect with.
You should be on social networks such as LinkedIn, but just having a page or profile isn't enough. Your association has to create great pages and make its presence known. You need to be thorough and active. Complete your profiles, giving as much information about your association as possible, then consistently share content that will help your members and followers.
Through the entire process, remember that social networks are about connections. Prioritize content and information that will help you connect with your members, prospects, and industry leaders. That's the type of content and activity that will be most effective in reaching your audience and fostering strong relationships.