The power of LinkedIn

I seem to be failing hard as a blogger – it’s been several weeks since I last posted. Hope my many dedicated readers can forgive me.

LinkedIn has come a long way in the past year. It wasn’t ago that it was used as an online Rolodex – you’d meet someone at an event and instead of simply exchanging business cards, you’d add each other on LinkedIn. For many, it was also a great way to keep tabs on former classmates and colleagues: where is she working now? How did he get that job? Freelancer? Looks like someone’s unemployed *snicker*. Not that I’ve ever used LinkedIn for such purposes…

But now it’s so much more than that. It’s now a great source for employment news and commentary from opinion leaders, a helpful job search tool, and a community for like-minded professionals to network and engage. While these groups are a goldmine for organizations looking to communicate with clients and become established as “thought leaders”, creating and managing a successful group is not as simple as starting a group and expecting your customers will join and participate.

As LinkedIn users tend to be  focused on furthering professional goals and rather than just killing time (a la Facebook), spurring a conversation isn’t as easy as posting the latest meme and hoping for likes and comments. Social Media Examiner suggests that all groups need a leader – a spokesperson who is the face of the group and contributes to the conversation as a very active member. Members and posts should be screened to avoid marketing spammers, and a group policy must be enforced to keep conversations relevant and on track. A group left unmonitored will quickly devolve into a content marketing blackhole, with each post attempting to drive traffic to products and blogs.

LinkedIn now gives companies the ability to create a “Company Page” — essentially, a business profile which users can follow to learn about company products and job opportunities. It’s also a great forum to highlight your strengths and successes – links to useful blog posts, articles, or news releases can help educate your followers about your business. Some useful tips via Forbes.com for setting up your Company Page can be found here.

While my company’s page has attracted a fair number of followers with very little effort on my part, engaging with these followers via page updates and groups has proven to be difficult. It could just be my audience (lawyers), but I’m not entirely convinced. I’ll definitely be working on improving my company’s presence on LinkedIn in 2013, as the platform continues to flourish.

 

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