Ever since social networks became popular several years ago, small businesses have been told to spend their limited time and money there in order to remain competitive and relevant. Yet, while the number of active social networks have multiplied, the real ROI of spending that time and money maintaining a presence on these platforms remains fuzzy at best.
There is, however, one robust platform that presents a more convincing case for small business involvement: LinkedIn. While LinkedIn may not be perfect, it offers a powerful set of tools to help small businesses network, build their brand, close sales, and even recruit talented professionals. Plus, it claims to have the biggest network of professionals and business owners on the Internet. So, this platform is great if targeting these people or businesses they work for, and it is certainly a place where you should be directing your resources.
That said, here are 6 of the most powerful and useful tools for small businesses that LinkedIn has to offer:
1. Showcase Pages
As the name suggests, Showcase Pages are used to highlight the various products and services your business offers. They are extensions of your many company page on LinkedIn. Why is this so important or unique? When done right, your company page and showcase pages work together to create a dynamic mini website. Instead of listing all of your company’s products and services on one profile page, LinkedIn is the only major social media platform that gives you the ability to richly convey what your company does and offers
2. LinkedIn Pulse
Content marketing certainly isn’t new. But, with LinkedIn’s native publishing platform, Linkedin Pulse, you can potentially get your content in front of a massive professional audience. Moreover, as your content gets more popular, anyone who looks at your LinkedIn profile will have greater reason to believe that you are an authority on those topics. They don’t need to head offsite to your website or personal blog.
3. LinkedIn Recruiter
If you are looking for top talent in your industry, then LinkedIn Recruiter is definitely a tool to consider. Recruiter allows you to search through a vast pool of candidates by location, industry, profile key words, and more. Plus, you can include people in your search who will entertain job offers even though they aren’t actively searching. Once you have located potential candidates, you can reach out to them via LinkedIn’s InMail messaging feature.
4. Targeted Updates
Like every other social network out there, we are being bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information, and the worst part of it is that , most of this noise is not even relevant to us. With targeted status updates you are able to deliver relevant content to your contacts rather than bombarding your entire network. You can sort your list of contacts and connections into groups of 100 people or more.
5. Paid Advertisements
The last few years has seen a shift to paid advertising among social networks looking to capitalize on the user traffic they are generating. Most of this is due to a number of high-profile public offerings from Facebook, Twitter, and, you guessed it, LinkedIn. What makes LinkedIn’s paid advertisement platform unique, however, is that it supports the world’s largest online community of professionals. If your customer base involves college-educated professionals, or if you are a B2B business, then you almost cannot afford to overlook LinkedIn’s robust paid advertisement feature that allows you to micro-target media-rich ads to groups of people based on job title, industry, age, location, etc.
6. Sponsored Updates
The last important LinkedIn tool to make the list is also part of the advertising features. With sponsored updates, you can easily get your brand in front of current and potential customers in a way that is less distracting and annoying. Another benefit to this method is that you can let your content do the marketing for you without having to set up and tweak a formal advertising campaign that involves banner and text ads.
While the previous 6 tools can be extremely useful for a large population of small businesses, this really doesn’t even scratch the surface. There are countless Linkedin tools and third party apps and services that can enhance the user experience on LinkedIn. It just takes a little research coupled with a bit of experimentation to find the most useful and profitable combination for your business.