You created a Facebook page, you have started pumping out content on Twitter, and you’ve even optimized directory listings and local search listings. You’ve got social media covered, right? Wrong. You are leaving out one very important player in the social media mix, Linkedin.

Just this month, Linkedin reached a major milestone, becoming the first ever social networking site to be traded publicly. According to the Digital Journal, on the day of the Linkedin market debut, the New York Stock Exchange estimated the professional networking site to begin trading at $42.00 a share, however the site exceeded the expected trading price by nearly 90% and soared to $83.20 a share, making the valuation of the company somewhere around $10.25 billion. Clearly, there is huge demand to invest in social media stocks, and given the impressive performance of Linkedin on its very first day trading publicly, it is obvious that investors are anxious to put their money on the success of social networking.

In March of 2011, Linkedin hit 100 million members and are now growing at roughly 1 million new members a week, according to Jeff Weiner, CEO of Linkedin. With a worldwide network this large, your potential for generating connections, leads, and sales is huge.

Not only is the size of the network important, the quality of it is as well. Facebook allows anyone and everyone to join, starting at age 13. So when you are marketing your business through that channel, you never know how many of your actual target customers you are reaching. Your business may have 1,500 fans, but how many of them are actual customers with buying power? Linkedin is a professional networking site, it appeals to a much more segmented group of people that want information about your business and industry, not just to see the latest sale or promotion you offer. If you are not reaching this audience, you are missing out on expanding your reach and visibility to an important segment.

Create a Profile for your Business

The first step in leveraging any social channel is claiming and optimizing your business profile. Linkedin keeps things relatively simple, just upload a short description, add your contact information and URL, and upload your logo. When writing a description, keep in mind what the audience is interested in (Hint: It’s probably not a regurgitation of your “About Us” page).

Something you should consider doing when optimizing the profile is setting up campaign tracking through your site analytics provider. With a tool like Google Analytics Campaign Tracking, you can tag the URL on your business profile so that you are able keep track of each time someone arrives at your site from the Linkedin business profile. Most Analytics providers will already show referrals from Linkedin, but Campaign Tracking can help you get even more detailed information.

Leverage your Employees

Since Linkedin is primarily used for individuals, it is important to get your employees and coworkers on board with optimizing profiles. Depending on the size of your company, it might be a good idea to develop a set of guidelines for Linkedin and other social media sites. You may want to specify a company description and the appropriate URLs to use. That way your entire company has a cohesive and branded presence.

Another important aspect that can be overlooked is obtaining ‘Followers’ on Linkedin. You should ask that your employees ‘Follow’ the company in order to get the ball rolling. It’s the classic “Empty Bar scenario”; people want to be at the cool bar, not the empty bar. So gain some momentum from employees and begin getting ‘Followers’.

Create Content

You can utilize Linkedin to drive more traffic to your business’s website by creating groups, pushing content, and including links.

Linkedin allows users to create their own group. Businesses can use this functionality to target segments of their customers. For instance, a company that sells biking products may create or join a group that is for fans of off-road biking. This group will give you visibility into what customers are talking about and even allow you join in on the conversation. There is a huge opportunity to place strategic links back to a blog article on your site or to a specific product through participating in these targeted discussions.

Also, Linkedin has a newsfeed similar to that of Facebook. It allows users to publish updates, share information, and increase connections. As an online business you can use this as another opportunity to grab some traffic. Remember, Linkedin is different from Facebook and Twitter in that it is not considered a personal communication platform so obvious direct selling techniques and self-promotion will not go over well. You should have a unique content strategy for Linkedin that is focused on providing information to a professional audience.

Why is Linkedin Important?

Google has begun pulling social media profiles into its search engine results. By claiming social media profiles, you will be helping your business to “own” the entire first page of search results for the company’s name and thereby adding credibility and an indication of size.

Linkedin has been one of the most consistent top referrers to the Groove Commerce site. Our Analytics proves that a legitimate amount of traffic comes from this social media channel in particular (most of the time beating out Facebook referral traffic). I hate to think of all the missed opportunities we might have if we had decided to ignore Linkedin as part of our social media strategy.

At the end of the day, no one believes that Linkedin is going to cause their business to skyrocket to the top of the SERPs overnight, but the point is, it provides an opportunity to drive an important audience back to your site and that is valuable to any business regardless of industry.

http://blog.linkedin.com/2011/03/22/linkedin-100-million/
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/306945

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