Social media has been around for well over a decade, it’s everywhere and it’s not going away anytime soon. As a business owner, it’s likely you’ve either, considered, dabbled or mastered social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These can be fantastic options, but LinkedIn’s professional approach offers a different focus which can be beneficial, especially from a B2B perspective. For many, however, it’s still underutilised and relatively untapped in comparison to other mediums.

For those who are still a little new to LinkedIn, here are five top tips to guide you through the process of establishing yourself or your brand across the platform.

  1. An individual vs company approach
LinkedIn will enable you to set up a company page and list key information with links to relevant web pages. It will also allow you to post updates from this company page. But unlike Twitter, for example, there are certain things you can’t do as a company on LinkedIn that you can do as an individual. For instance, a company can’t comment on an individual’s update post within groups or publish on LinkedIn blog platform, Pulse.

To exploit the potential of LinkedIn, therefore, a company needs to do more than have a company page. It’s a great idea to also have key individuals within an organisation who can act as the brand ambassadors on the platform. You can then support them as they post and engage on the platform in a way that the company profile alone can’t do.

  1. Establishing a strong network
Making connections is a key first step in any form of networking, and LinkedIn is no different. Any individual will, therefore, want to build up a broad network of connections which will allow your posts to reach more people. You can start developing this by tapping into your email contacts – LinkedIn will help you do this automatically.

Once you’ve exhausted your own list of personal contacts, you can also find further people to connect with by looking at other people’s connections, such as established figureheads within your industry.

A word of warning though, don’t try to connect with lots of strangers that have no reason to connect with you. This isn’t just a social faux pas, if too many people say they don’t know you then you actually run the risk of LinkedIn barring you from sending further connection requests via the platform.

  1. Staying active with regular updates
If you want to increase your visibility on LinkedIn, you’ll need to post updates on a fairly regular basis. Sharing interesting news articles, blogs or industry news that is relevant to your target audience is a straight forward way to do this. It can also help to associate you with a particular area of interest or expertise.

A good tip if you want to grab people’s attention is to add an image to your posts, this helps as updates with a picture tend to appear larger than a standard post – even when a web page link is included.

  1. What not to share
Don’t make the mistakes of only ever posting updates that sell your products and services. LinkedIn is aimed at people who want to become more productive and successful, so think about how you can help them, not what you can sell them.

Given that LinkedIn is a social network aimed at professional people, you may also want to avoid sharing memes about piano playing cats. That’s not to say you have to be dry and boring, however. It’s no bad thing to show your human side – you could maybe share a behind the scene snap of your business. Just make sure you consider your target audience at all times, and think what will inform, educate or even, at times, entertain!

  1. Writing effective pulse posts
Pulse posts (LinkedIn blogs) are a key way to position yourself or a brand ambassador as an expert or ‘thought leader’ in your industry.

It can be difficult to decide what to write about when it comes to Pulse posts though. You can’t just comment on other people’s articles as you can with updates – it needs to be original content.

As with updates, you also need to remember that people will only appreciate your posts if they are relevant to them. So think about how you can be helpful. Can you provide advice that can help them do their job better or grow as an individual? Could you explain how an industry trend or world event will affect them or their organisation? If you can do this, you have something interesting to share. So don’t be shy, share a post that makes you more visible to the people that matter to you and will enhance your reputation at the same time.

By Paul Maher, content marketer, Fourth Day PR