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5 LinkedIn Tips to Grow Your Small Business or Nonprofit

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Recently a client asked me to help them shine up their LinkedIn presence. They are in high growth mode and looking to attract new talent, share content with old and new audiences and really generate some buzz about updated service offerings. Exciting! Yet also a bit daunting as the timeline = now.

We had already worked with a marketing agency to create updated LinkedIn skins (background images) and a new profile image. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. Gaining access to the page, updating it with the new imagery, creating fresh content and determining the strategy and updates were many of the items on my list.

You have probably noticed that many companies have become more aggressive in creating and then sharing content through their influencers and stakeholders—from the CEO, via partners and even recruiting the new intern to add their two cents with a post sharing company content. When an individual shares content—whether it was created by their employer or their favorite cause—it is typically accompanied by a comment or powerful personal endorsement and also serves to expand the audience. This can be a very effective communication channel.

I'm pretty familiar with LinkedIn as a personal business tool for networking, researching donors and keeping up to speed on business news and trends. I find that I am frequently scrolling through LinkedIn (perhaps I don't feel as guilty scrolling through LinkedIn as I do on other social media platforms!) At any rate, I have plenty of connections and enjoy the variety of content. However, managing a page for a client is a whole new ballgame. I imagine I will have more to add as I wade in deeper, but for now I hope the following tips help you to ramp up your (or your client's) business presence on LinkedIn.

1) Listen.

You already knew this one but it's so important I couldn't skip it. Listen to your customers and other stakeholders. What do they need from you? What do they think about your company and your brand? What are their pain points? Listen to your competitors. What are they talking about? What aren't they talking about? You are doing this for your overall marketing strategy and it will be important to leverage, and expand on, what you learn. Listen to your employees. Who are they following on LinkedIn and how can you leverage their connections and networks? What kind of content are they more likely to share? There are many tools that will help you do this (in fact, here's a good piece by Hootsuite that discusses the concept of social listening), but good, old-fashioned research and conversation are also good first steps.

If you are managing a non-profit page don't forget to listen to the content flowing from foundations, agencies and donors as well as the groups who benefit from your initiatives. Development staff often use LinkedIn to learn more about potential donors and connections but don't forget to connect with your current board. Some are more comfortable on LinkedIn than others but listening to them here is a great way to learn about their industries, concerns and connections.

2) Figure out the admins.

This may seem like a no-brainer but it can get complicated if you aren't used to the LinkedIn setup. With one page I manage I have had to have a current executive work with LinkedIn directly to obtain admin privileges. Once he secured admin (as an employee of the company) he was able to provide me with admin privileges. However, I could not obtain admin privileges directly from LinkedIN since I was not an employee. I had to have it conveyed to me by a current employee/admin. Obviously, if you know who the current LinkedIn page administrator is, ask them to make you an admin of the page. You do not have to be an employee of the company but you do have to be connected via LinkedIn to the current Admin. (Here's a link to the LinkedIn help page on setting up an Admin.)

3) Update the images.

If you don't have the budget for a marketing agency to create a background image and profile image (logo), use Canva or some other graphic-design tool. The logo size is 300 x 300 and the cover image is sized at 1536 x 768. Often you may need to tweak your image if you created it with a template but it is worth the time and energy to provide a consistent digital brand appearance. Make sure your branding matches with your website and other social media platforms. All of this adds up to your virtual curb appeal—often it's the first exposure a potential client or employee experiences when they start engaging with your company. If you don't have the bandwidth to create it yourself, consider getting a gig worker to create one for you.

I recently searched for the LinkedIn page of a small but mighty nonprofit and found they have two LinkedIn pages. One of their pages did not have a background image but had over 500 followers. The other had a background image but few followers. This is a group that has over two hundred thousand (!) Instagram followers. Neither page had ever posted an update. Obviously it wasn't part of their social media strategy. Talk about opportunity. LinkedIn still seems to be a very underutilized platform by nonprofits, yet it is where many of the funders reside. The ROI of including LinkedIn as part of the social media mix could be significant (often just re-using content that's been posted on other platforms or amplifying blog posts). At the very least it offers more of an opportunity for your board to engage with their networks. 

4) Maximize the content!

This one could probably be broken up into multiple tips so maybe there will be a future post expanding on these ideas. Just like a personal profile, a company page has many different opportunities to position important content relevant to your organization. Be sure to use all 2000 characters in the profile section. Prior to updating the content I reached out to a very helpful LinkedIn strategist. He shared many content-related tips with me including making sure that there's a call to action (CTA) in the profile section. Think about what you are trying to accomplish. Need to focus on a new division, recruiting, an event? This is the place to spell it out and focus the ask for what you want to position. Consider creating a showcase page or pages.

Be sure to use keywords in the content, ideally in the beginning of the company description because Google's search previews up to 156 characters. This will help elevate your SEO rankings.

5) Post content and keep it fresh.

Acting as the admin for another company's posts concerned me. I wasn't sure if my personal, public-facing LinkedIn profile would be impacted. Like everyone, because I use LinkedIn for the usual reasons (making business connections, employment history, keeping up to date on connections, etc.) it's important for me not to confuse the messaging I'm creating for my client's brand with the messaging I want to share as part of my own personal brand. More on this below but just know that the public facing posts you make (whether for your own company or a client site) will not show your name. It will just look like it's coming from the company. When I viewed the posts via admin view it did look like my name appeared. But once I switched over to member view, my name disappeared. It just looks like the post comes from the company.

Keeping the content fresh is also recognized by Google. Google will consider your page more valuable with new content. Use a marketing/communication calendar to plan and create meaningful content. By the way, if you have a great marketing & communication calendar template that you like, please let me know. I've been cultivating one but would love new ideas and tips.

My clients pages are a work in progress and there is always more opportunity for enhancements. There is certainly plenty more content to add here, including ways to encourage staff and others to share your content. Perhaps that's another blog post. In the meantime, you may want to check out this great post, 9 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid on your Company LinkedIn Page. It has great content (I was happy to see some ideas I covered such as branding and SEO : ) and plenty of other suggestions.

Breaking down various marketing and development activities, like creating and enhancing your company LinkedIn page, into Meaningful Acts will hopefully help you to also transform your good intentions to great work! Please add a comment or drop me an email if you have more ideas to add, questions to ask or other comments.

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