Philip Ellis
News & Views
Now is the time to tap into LinkedIn’s branding potential

When it comes to leveraging social media for PR purposes, it can sometimes seem to be all about Facebook and Twitter, all the time. LinkedIn, the professional network that’s currently smashing Wall Street estimates, can often be dismissed as a hunting ground for jobseekers and recruitment firms with limited wider uses – but it is also rife with branding opportunities, especially now that it has spruced up its official company pages to incorporate stronger visuals.

Among the obvious benefits of launching a company presence on LinkedIn are the valuable relationships you’ll forge and the buzz you can cultivate around your business. But a more recent addition is LinkedIn’s new “thought leader” function. While it is unlikely that every individual who applies will instantly join the ranks of current contributors Richard Branson and Barack Obama, it is clear that LinkedIn is now the place to be if you’re interested in establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Technology writer Kerry Butters at My Social Agency outlined the advantages of becoming an online influencer, including the potential 175 million readers that LinkedIn offers.

There has never been a better time to launch a LinkedIn group, if you haven’t already. Either way, here are the essentials to managing a successful group:

  1. Make it easy for people to find you. People use LinkedIn just like they would a search engine, which makes keyword optimisation a crucial part of your launch strategy. People finding their way to your group will live or die on the title and description of the page. Another reason to optimise your key phrases is that LinkedIn groups are indexed by Google, giving your brand another potential slot in search engine results pages. You have about 48 characters to play with in the title, so use them wisely. Similarly, only the first 140 characters of the description will appear in search results when the page is indexed by Google (the same length as a tweet), so ensure that you lead with the most important content.
  2. Don’t shy away from being strict. You have the opportunity to craft your own set of rules and guidelines which all members of your group are required to adhere to, so make the most of them, e.g. no bad language, and no spamming or solicitations for business – this space should centre on people discussing and engaging with your brand. Making this clear creates a certain expectation of quality and exclusivity in newcomers. For this reason, it is also advisable to screen new members and member discussion posts.
  3. Make your organisation’s voice consistent. If you are a large company, then it is important that you designate an individual or small team to maintaining your LinkedIn group alongside your wider social presence. If you are a single entrepreneur or manager of a small business, then you should be the public face of your brand. Either way, it is vital that whoever manages the LinkedIn page is also its most active member, starting and joining conversations and building trust. Simple ways to go about this are posting a daily or weekly question or poll to spark discussions.

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