LinkedIn 101 For Small Businesses

How to establish a presence for your small business so you can network and grow your audience.

LinkedIn is more than just a website for like-minded professionals to meet, share ideas, and communicate with one another. It’s also a valuable way for small businesses to market to their target audiences.

While social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram appeal to a wide range of audiences, LinkedIn specializes in professionals and businesses. This makes it an invaluable channel for marketers who are looking to target these types of audiences.

In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of LinkedIn, explain how to set up your profile, and discuss some of the basic strategies that will help you start marketing your small business with the platform.

Why invest in LinkedIn?

As a small business, you have to make smart choices about which social media platforms you invest your time and money into. When you establish a LinkedIn presence for your business, you’ll be able to:

  • Reach professional audiences. LinkedIn is a community for business professionals, making it ideal for generating new leads and connecting with folks who have an interest in what you do.
  • You can establish thought leadership. Businesses are always trying to demonstrate their expertise to establish credibility and outshine competitors. If you participate in groups, share content, and engage in conversations, LinkedIn can help you build thought leadership and earn the reputation of being an expert in your field.

  • Connect with other businesses. LinkedIn is a valuable platform for business-to-business (B2B) marketers, but that doesn’t preclude business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers from taking advantage of the platform and connecting with other businesses, too. You never know which new connection will lead to a valuable partnership or the discovery of another B2B product that will enhance your business.

  • Share different types of content. The professional audience on LinkedIn makes it the ideal platform for sharing long-form content—like articles, eBooks, infographics, and slideshows—that might not perform as well on your other social channels. LinkedIn users are often eager to learn and be exposed to new information, which means they are much more receptive to informational content.

Creating a business profile on LinkedIn

Businesses on LinkedIn can create a “Company Page,” which helps distinguish them from a standard, personal profile. To start building a profile for your business, visit LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions page, click “Create Your Page,” and answer a few quick questions.

After you’ve created a page, all that’s left is to plug in the details. Do your best to fill out as many of the boxes as you can; the more information you can include about your company, the better. Here are some areas to pay close attention to as you create your profile.

  • Cover image and profile picture: Your cover image is the banner that spans across the top of the page. Often companies opt for a picture of their employees, offices, or products as their cover image, but feel free to use anything that looks professional and is a good representation of your business. Your profile picture should also be kept professional; a simple 300 x 300 pixel image of your company’s logo is often the best option.

  • Company description: Unlike platforms like Twitter or Instagram where your account’s description space is limited, LinkedIn provides ample room (2,000 characters) for you to describe your business. That said, you’ll want to pay close attention to the first 156 characters because that’s the portion of the description that will appear in Google search results.

  • Specialties: Think of specialties as keywords that will help people find your profile. (Keywords are words or phrases commonly searched on the internet.) You can only include up to 20 of them in your profile, so it’s important to choose wisely! Start with words most directly associated with your business or industry, then branch out to other words and phrases that might help people find your profile. Not sure what terms to include? Get inspired by browsing the profiles of other businesses in your industry—including your competitors—to see what specialties they’ve listed.

  • Publishing your page: Once you’re happy with your profile and you’ve checked (and double-checked) to make sure that everything is accurate, you’ll be ready to go live. Use the “Member View” option to see what your profile will look like to visitors, then click the “Publish” button to make it visible to the world.

Optimizing your LinkedIn profile

As soon as your page is published, you can begin growing your audience. These tips will help you establish quality connections and get the most out of your marketing on LinkedIn.

  • Encourage employee connections. Ask employees, partners, and other professionals you know to connect with your business and encourage them to share your content. LinkedIn’s algorithm uses these connections to place your business higher in search results, so every new follower helps extend the potential reach of your profile and the content you share.

  • Reuse content. You don’t have to create brand new content exclusively for LinkedIn. You can save a lot of time (and money) by recycling older content that you think will be relevant to your audience. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is a place for businesses and professionals, so content that didn’t perform well on Facebook or Twitter might end up generating more engagement on LinkedIn—or vice versa.

  • Participate in industry-relevant groups. These micro-audiences are full of industry professionals and potential customers who are interested in the expertise and experience that your business brings to the table. Offering your unique take on industry topics will help forge those all-important connections while simultaneously establishing your credibility.

  • Post content regularly. It’s important to establish your page as a valuable resource that audiences can continuously visit to gain new insights, find solutions, and catch up on industry trends. Ideally, this will be content that you’ve created, but feel free to share helpful articles and resources that you find on the internet, too.

  • Utilize LinkedIn ads. When you’re ready to extend the reach of your page beyond your existing connections, you may want to consider advertising on LinkedIn. In just a few minutes, you can choose the audience you’d like to target, create unique ads, decide how much you want to spend, and start attracting new customers.

  • Pay attention to data. LinkedIn provides valuable information that can help you effectively optimize your page. By studying the engagement metrics on all of your posts, monitoring audience trends, and keeping a watchful eye on your competitors, you’ll have data-backed insights into which content formats work best, which topics resonate with audiences, what time you should be posting, and so much more.

Start growing your professional network

Most of the strategies that lead to successful marketing through LinkedIn require just 1 thing: being active. LinkedIn, like all social media networks, is a community. Participation in the community will allow you to establish yourself as a thought leader and help build the connections, credibility, and reputation that you need to be successful. The more you commit to being active, communicating with others, and publishing content, the more you’ll get out of marketing on LinkedIn.

Written by Ashley Segura for Mailchimp. Ashley is an expert in social media marketing.