In the second part of RH Strategic’s series on LinkedIn, we look specifically at the resources provided by LinkedIn and how to best leverage them to gain maximum results.
Do More than Dress Up for the Online ‘Networking Gala’
Networking is an integral part of building a brand and reputation in the industry. While some leads come organically, a bulk of them come as a result of who you know – which, in turn, translates to the people they know, and so on. It does no good to wait in the corner while everyone else is making introductions and handing out business cards. Just the thought of wallflower networking is enough to make professionals cringe.
So how does this translate to online?
It’s best to imagine LinkedIn as one big networking gala – and everyone is invited. When stepping into this online community, spokespeople and brand advocates need to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and do a lot of digital handshaking. Connecting with industry professionals is the obvious first step, but the real ROI comes from the engagement level a company maintains with its followers and network – and the best way to extend this engagement is participation in groups.
Consider groups to be like topic tracks in this online gala. They bring together like-minded people and present a forum where professionals can discuss trends, share advice and more. The more someone participates in these discussions, the more influence he or she will have online. This will then attract followers, and more followers means a greater extension of a company’s viral reach. Active participation will keep a brand or a spokesperson top of mind for group members.
In addition to groups, LinkedIn has a publishing platform called Pulse, which allows users to write content and share it with the site’s online network. The effectiveness of Pulse is still something professionals are waiting to validate. The initial wave of Pulse was exclusive to selected top influencers, which made the content fresh and challenging. Pulse has since opened up for use by any user, and that comes with positives and negatives. If you produce great content that resonates with your target audience, then others will start to see you as a thought leaders, giving you rank and authority. Unfortunately, since everyone is able to post to Pulse, it is easy for articles to be lost amongst the countless, generic topics like “10 Tips for Interviews” or “Do’s and Don’ts of Whatever.” Strong, relevant content will always attract readers. It is also important to understand publishing on Pulse may limit a company to the confines of LinkedIn instead of pushing traffic back to a company’s homepage. This mean Pulse will also affect any SEO and branding strategies in place to drive traffic.
One good strategy would be to establish thought leaders in groups and in the network, and then publish a piece on Pulse to use as collateral for comments and engagement. People do need to be careful when it comes to self-promotion in groups (Pulse makes this especially easy). Nothing turns off the online community faster than people who don’t contribute anything to a thoughtful discussion and only keep posting their own material.
This means don’t just share content created internally. People should look to their network, find the influencers’ content they connect most with and share it to their own network with additional comments and insights. Everyone likes to know someone is out there reading his or her content. The best way to break the ice and begin a dialogue is to share an influencer’s content. The “scratch my back” mentality doesn’t disappear online – in fact, it might be the golden rule of social networking.
Stay tuned for the final part of the series where we will discuss how to successfully execute these strategies and achieve your end goal. Leave a comment below, or tweet us at @RHStrategic with the hashtag #RHetoricBlog.
RH Strategic is the PR firm for a hyper-connected world, delivering integrated traditional, digital & social media strategies for technology, healthcare, and public sector markets.