May 12, 2011

Why LinkedIn Should Be Your First Social Stop

Facebook and Twitter are without question the biggest stars in the social media universe. But while those two platforms attract more media attention, there are many reasons why you may want to make LinkedIn the first social media stop for your business each Monday morning.

If you haven’t taken a look at LinkedIn in a while, it’s time to get acquainted with all of the robust new features that have taken it from its original status as your “online Rolodex” and place to look for career contacts — to a content-rich social site with many real-time features. The new functionality is quickly making it the single best way to “brand” yourself and your company in the social arena.

Founded in 2003, LinkedIn now has over 100 million members world-wide, including over 1.5 million C-level executives. As Twitter and Facebook continue to add more analytics and promotional tools, LinkedIn is quietly keeping pace in a more targeted, “business-like” way. In fact, updating your LinkedIn status on Monday morning and Friday afternoon is an increasingly valuable way to keep yourself and your business top of mind with the people you know, as well as to make valuable new connections with people you would like to know.

New LinkedIn features include the Facebook-style ability to add rich links to your updates, including links to images, videos, articles, and blog posts. You can now “like,” “comment,” or “share” other users’ posts and links as well. And one particularly targeted new feature is the ability to control which connections or groups you’d like to “share” your updates with. Think of LinkedIn as your own “Business Wire,” where you share news about your business successes (new clients, new offerings, blog posts, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.) as well as links to content that will interest potential clients, customers, partners, or employers.

While short LinkedIn posts can be cross-posted to Twitter by clicking the link in the update window, think carefully before choosing to automatically update LinkedIn with your Tweets. The kind of friendly, conversational Tweets that are so important to networking on Twitter are out of place on LinkedIn and can be annoying to your network. Think carefully, too, about cross-posted with Facebook. As easy as it may be to post to all three sites with tools like Tweetdeck, take a few moments to craft the content you are posting so that it speaks most effectively to each of your networks.

As LinkedIn enhances its real-time sociability, it is also continually adding features that can enhance your branding and create a rich sense of who you – and your business – are. Take advantage of the “Reading List by Amazon” feature, for instance, to show that you are keeping up-to-date on important thinking in your sector. Add your blog content with Blog Link, your visual work with Creative Portfolio Display, monitor what others are saying about your company with Company Buzz, or share your best thinking with Slide Share (you can find these features by clicking “add sections” or “add an application” on your “edit profile” window.)

Group functions are also becoming more robust (and open) and there are many compelling reasons for you to monitor and join the conversation in groups that are relevant to your business. Showing the group icons on your profile is great way to enhance your branding by creating a visual snapshot of what your interests are. Group Updates now appear on member homepages, which means your contributions are now more visible. And LinkedIn Answers is a great forum for demonstrating your expertise on a platform that is indexed by Google.

So why not make time to review your presence on LinkedIn? To start off, be sure that your profiles are up-to-date; that your expertise is on full display, and that your networks are current. Then you can begin to explore LinkedIn’s many new features to see which ones can help put your own business front and center in the social media universe.

This post was commissioned by British Airways. The opinions are my

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