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.
Products & Services
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.
Offers and Campaigns
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.