LinkedIn is arguably the largest social networking resource for professionals to exchange information, ideas and opportunities.

With over 120 million members located in more than 200 countries and two new members joining every second, it has become one of the most powerful social networking tools available today. Yet despite its popularity, many LinkedIn users are failing to fully exploit its functionality and the potential it has in terms of marketing and growing a business.

While joining is simple, mastering the art of LinkedIn to achieve maximum business benefit takes a bit of know-how.

In the following, we provide you with some top tips on how to both optimise your company presence on LinkedIn and build an effective communication channel between your business, customers and target audience.

Optimise your company profile

Company pages provide the opportunity to profile your business on LinkedIn and connect it to customers, prospects and industry thought leaders alike. It is therefore crucial that your company description not only be persuasive and powerful, but clear and concise. It should list all of your products and services and also employ a keyword strategy.

Keywords enable users to find your LinkedIn profile through online searches. For example, if it’s important for your business to be found under the term ‘IT consultancy’, then you must make sure this phrase features prominently within your profile (taking care to avoidkeyword stuffing).

Showcase your business

A major feature of the company profile is the Products & Services tab. When used correctly, it can be a great marketing tool. This tab allows your company to catch the eye of prospective customers by listing what you have to offer, including descriptions and thumbnail images representing each product or service. These tabs can also be customised to display content personalised according to the interests of your target audience, with up to 30 distinct landing pages that can be defined for each audience segment.

In addition, don’t forget to build your showcase of recommendations. Customers can recommend your product or service via this tab. Their endorsement is then added to your company page and appears on their connections updates – providing greater reach for your brand.

Making the most of what you’ve got

Many companies have existing content and collateral that they could be promoting on LinkedIn. Prime examples include YouTube videos and blogs. YouTube videos can be embedded within each of the individual products and services pages that you create. Video is an increasingly powerful tool for conveying company messages and provides a great opportunity to engage users in an interesting way while showcasing your knowledge and expertise.

You can also embed your RSS blog feed within your company page and take advantage of a new status update feature. This is an effective way of keeping your page constantly updated with fresh, rich content whilst also keeping your connections up-to-date on your latest communications and posts.

Optimise your company profile for SEO

LinkedIn is an excellent way to secure more inbound links for your website, so it’s a great idea to add your website URL to your profile. A simple approach is to ensure that all of your employees that have a LinkedIn profile include a link to your company’s website, with appropriate keyword anchor text. This will increase both your search engine optimisation and drive targeted traffic to your site.

Create and join groups

There are now LinkedIn groups for almost any topic – ranging from the Air Cadets to Think like a Zebra – so whatever your line of business or target audience, there is a multitude of forums available for you to connect with peers and thought leaders. Taking an active role in group discussions through commenting, ‘liking’ posts and connecting with the most influential people within your business sphere ensures greater exposure for your company and boosts the profile of any employees that participate.

It is also possible to create a group to market your own company, news and services. You can invite your network and current connections in order to encourage activity and active discussion, as well as to monitor and engage more closely with existing and potential customers.

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