“It’s all about building relationships and starting conversations.” That’s what LinkedIn trainer and coach Cathy Yerges told attendees at October’s Social Media Breakfast at Madison’s Turner Hall. Cathy discussed the importance of LinkedIn company pages, as well as social media policy & training and employee advocacy.
As with any social media platform, you need to start with a strategy. “Understand what your goal is for using the platform. Your goal for using LinkedIn is going to be different from Facebook,” says Cathy. She says knowing what your strategy is makes everything easier.
LinkedIn company pages
If you’re doing business as a brand name, you need a company page. Company pages help with branding your business and with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For smaller companies, Cathy suggests putting the bulk of your efforts on your personal LinkedIn profile to have a broader reach and help you establish your brand. Larger companies can use their LinkedIn company pages to talk about their products, work culture, community activities and more.
Cathy briefly discussed LinkedIn showcase pages which are extensions of company pages. Showcase pages give companies an opportunity to highlight a brand, business unit or company initiative.
Cathy showed Thrivent Financial as a great example of using a LinkedIn company page. She said they do a good job of explaining and showing what it’s like at the company. Thrivent’s LinkedIn posts include inspiration, shareable images and education about the products and services it offers. They also post about the work culture and how it gives back to the community.
Cathy says having a social media policy and training your employees can help direct and encourage their engagement. But understand employees own their personal profiles. She says don’t be afraid of this, instead, nurture it and teach employees how it can do well for them and the company.
She discussed what to consider when launching your strategy:
Look at how employees portray your company on their profile – Some personal profiles aren’t linked to company pages or employees don’t have a description of their position on their personal profile.
Look at the content your employees share – If they are sharing political messages or messages contrary to your business, you can have a conversation with them. Your social media policy will make that conversation easier.
Look at how your employees use their personal profile to achieve goals related to their position – Your employees’ personal profile should make it easy for people to understand what they do and make it easy to reach them.
Look at how employees can share news and information about the company – Teach them to look at what the company is posting and share it. Encourage them to take photos at events and tell the company’s story. Empower your employees.
According to Cathy, employee networks have 10 times more connections than a company will have and people are more likely to trust company information when it’s shared by an employee. “Develop those brand ambassadors in your company because it pays dividends,” she says.
Cathy gave some advice on developing your employee advocates:
Develop and identify the people who can give a face to your company
Support your employees to become thought leaders in their areas of expertise
Invite employees to produce original content on LinkedIn and share it on your company page and in groups where relevant
Support your employees in crafting a well-written LinkedIn profile that helps to brand your company
Provide ongoing training
Employee advocacy is not a one-and-done deal. Cathy says it’s a new way of engaging that requires sustainability for maximum impact.
So why should we care about all this? Cathy says more conversations lead to more opportunities which leads to increased sales. “Your goal with LinkedIn is to move your connections further to a phone call or in-person meeting.”