If you were buried in snow earlier this week you may have missed the big news about Linkedin going public. Already valued at $2.51 billion, the IPO is only looking to raise another $175 million. Actually, this could easily be accomplished if every registered global user (90 million) donated just $2. And it gets cheaper by the minute. Linkedin reports that it gains a new member every second.
Its great news for those companies looking to build brands on the cheap. In November, Linkedin rolled out a suite of new services designed to help companies showcase their products, client and job opportunities and easily enhance their social brand.
Adam Kleinberg, co-founder and CEO at Traction shares the following primer on Mashable! Those of you still too busy shoveling and salting for the DIY methods, feel free to call BRANDEMiX for some support.
The basic features have not changed since previous iterations of LinkedIn Companies. (In fact, if I have one criticism of the new version it’s the utter lack of integration between the new features and old. The new ones all live under one tab.) You can upload a logo, add a paragraph describing your business, list contacts and attach their profiles. There’s a decent chance someone at your company has already done this. Other legacy features include the ability to post job listings.
LinkedIn also automatically displays the profiles of employees and new hires. This can be a great tool for business development pros because they can quickly discover the people with the “right” job titles at companies they are targeting.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn does this by keyword association, so there is a significant degree of inaccuracy in the profiles listed. Of the forty-four “employees” listed for my agency, at least ten are from other companies with similar names. Allowing administrative control over this would be nice.
The biggest new feature of LinkedIn Companies is the addition of the Products & Services tab. Your company can list each of its products or services, upload a 100 x 80 pixel icon and description of each, and create a bullet list of attributes. Pretty standard, right?
This is where we begin to have fun and start to build a really powerful marketing tool. The first thing you’ll notice when you visit a souped-up page is the “carousel.” Through a simple admin tool, you can upload three whopping 640 x 220 banners (JPEG, GIF or PNG, no Flash) that rotate on the page and link to specific URLs that you designate. Obviously, these can be landing pages set up to generate leads. You can also go with a softer sell — my agency put up ads driving toward case studies in our website portfolio.
The impact of these is substantial and the fact that LinkedIn allows you to create links that take users away from their website (and advertising revenue) is to be applauded.
You can now also embed a YouTube video on the Overview page and each of the individual Products & Services pages you create. When done well, video is a powerful tool to convey your message to customers. This is a huge opportunity to engage people in a contextually relevant manner. You can use a different video on every page and embedding them is as simple as copying and pasting a URL from YouTube.
Probably the most important new feature is the ability to solicit recommendations from your customers for each of your products or services. This works just like the Recommendations feature does on an individual LinkedIn profile. You’ll want to take the time to edit the default message when asking for an endorsement.
This will soon become a vital reference checkpoint that people use before doing business with your company. According to Forrester Research (in Groundswell), 83% of us say we are at least somewhat influenced by word-of-mouth. While the highly edited “Success Stories” on your website may comprehensively cover the breadth of benefits and messages you want to convey, their impact is no match for a three sentence endorsement attached to the personal profile of an enthusiastic customer.
LinkedIn has elected to give you administrative approval over which testimonials go on your profile. Users are savvy and will recognize this, so don’t think Recommendations can replace actually having good products and services. Google is only a click away.
This is where LinkedIn Companies gets powerful. LinkedIn allows you to completely customize how you present your products and services to distinct audience segments.
If your ears just perked up, you may work for a company with a diverse customer base or product offering. Or maybe you’re a marketer who knows that creating content that is relevant to your target is essential for provoking engagement, inciting response and maximizing ROI.
Either way, you’re probably realizing that this is not something you’re going to do in one afternoon. You’re going to want to be strategic in your approach and thoughtful about the content you create.
Taking advantage of Audiences may take strategic planning, but it won’t take technical acumen. LinkedIn lets you easily “Create an audience segment,” select its attributes (job title, seniority, company size, industry, location, etc.) with a few clicks and then edit a clone of your base company profile.
Each product or service (for each audience segment) also has a placeholder for a unique offer associated with it. For example, you can easily create an offer for a free white paper or a free coupon for your tasty and delicious consumer packaged good.
Once you’ve got your products and services all set up, you can create targeted Campaigns to drive traffic to your profile. LinkedIn has a self-service tool with simple filtering options to find the right audience. Self-service is a good thing because it means you don’t have to be a big company with a big budget to start generating traffic, leads and revenue.
The system works a lot like Google AdWords. You can create multiple versions of your campaign — up to fifteen of them — to see what works best. You can set a daily budget and a maximum bid for either clicks or CPMs (cost per thousand views). And you can set campaigns to run indefinitely or until a specific date.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be digital if you couldn’t measure it. LinkedIn has some nice charts that allow you to view your performance in terms of page views, visitors, clicks on various types of content visits by industry and followers.
What I really like is that LinkedIn compares your performance in each of these categories with similar companies, so you have a contextually relevant benchmark. I don’t like that I can’t export any of these charts to Excel or embed them in a dashboard. But hey, a guy can dream, right?
Overall, I think LinkedIn Companies could become as important to brands as websites or Facebook Pages. It’s worth taking the time to do them well to harness the power these new features can provide.
Unlike print marketing, marketing across Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Stumbleupon, we can actually see our audience. We can get direct and immediate feedback from them. By clicking on their profile, we can tell if they are married, have kids, and where they grew up. Invasion of privacy? Maybe. Effective for marketing? Definitely.
By tracking the words your visitor is searching for and using them, you can increase traffic to your site. Then, wait and observe your audience’s behavior, and use that insight in order to maximize marketing techniques.
Trust me, it works. Make them realize your brand has a human and personal feel to it, and connect with them more.
Essentially, the best trick to make it stick is giving your audience what they want to see.
Lets get trendy, let’s hop on the BRANDwagon and start 2011 off with a trends piece.
In an excellent blog post, Gary Halliwell, the co-founder of NetProspex, spilled his thoughts about the top 6 social media trends to look out for in 2011.
Among the most notable highlighted driving revenue: moving beyond Facebook, flourishing in the world of “word-of-digital,” delivering happiness to both employees and consumers, and operating in real-time.
As I digested his analysis on future social media trends, and some key words, phrases and interpretations stuck out.
When you get a piece of information via email, post, Tweet, blog, etc. did you know that piece of information may have traveled two or three degrees before reaching you? The future of “word-of-mouth”, this phrase relates to the movement of companies using more than just Facebook to get their message out there. When you pass information along in cyber space, it doesn’t stop there. It can get passed onto thousands more people, people you have never spoken to and don’t even know exist. This concept, the notion of “word-of-digital,” is where companies will focus their social media efforts in 2011. The perfect example of word-of-digital: retweets. This is the act of forwarding, spreading and continuing the flow of information indefinitely. Why is this different? When a user retweets a piece of information, he is electing to do so himself. As a result, other users trust this piece of information because a fellow user is recommending it, as opposed to reading it from a company feed.
Employees vs. customers.
Traditionally, customers always come first. Because they are the ones consuming, smart companies have always had good customer service. However, digital times are changing, and company employees are moving up in the rankings. As Halliwell says, “Social is about “we” – a dimension that few companies are used to operating in.” Social is about “we,” meaning everyone involved in the brand, rather than just customers. Good customer service requires good customer service employees, which requires happiness amongst all employees. Think about it: if an employee is not happy where he is working, will he treat the customers he deals with well? Reacting to customer complaints in real-time means employees must be motivated, well-treated, and genuine.
CEO’s will start tweeting.
When you follow a company on Twitter, it is certainly not the CEO that is generating the click-y, SEO-friendly 140-character tweets. It is most likely an employee who has experience in the social realm and knows how to get users to click on their links. However, in 2011, social will begin to make its way toward higher management employees like presidents and CEO’s. (Think Zappos.)
Where do you see your social going in 2011? Will you be looking out for certain trends?
Those wishing to be featured during my upcoming SHRM speaking engagement are encouraged to share.