This week LinkedIn celebrated its 100 millionth global user and 1.3 million of those are in Australia. According to one expert, participation and profiles very seriously reflect every professional’s online brand. While Facebook and Twitter lead social conversations, LinkedIn, with its 17,800,000 group members, leads business conversations.
The choice is no longer, do we participate, but how we do, says Melbourne-based LinkedIn expert Jennifer Bishop, who is recognised as a top global LinkedIn influencer.
“The only thing you will get from burying your head in the sand is the sand kicked in your eyes,” Bishop says. “Think Harvey Norman’s response earlier this year to negative social media sentiment. The key question is how do organisations manage themselves and their employees by establishing social media policy and guidelines that mitigate social media risk?”
Bishop explains that to understand the SEO power of LinkedIn, all you have to do is Google a person’s name to pull up their LinkedIn profile. In fact, she says, LinkedIn usually appears before either a Facebook or Twitter reference.
“To manage the corporate brand, you should have all employees registered on LinkedIn, all with correct links back to the ‘company website’ and to your ‘company profile’ on LinkedIn. Each comment, update or post on LinkedIn should constitute a business interaction and should always reflect an organisation’s corporate brand guidelines and policies.”
LinkedIn’s SEO power has now been magnified with the inclusion of open groups, LinkedIn signal, and LinkedIn today (its new news site). These provide more opportunities for professional commentary which are searchable via Google and other search engines.
“For large corporations this will mean revisiting your brand manual and guidelines to ensure that these guidelines extend to representations about the organisation in any online format such as social media,” says Bishop, of Content and Copy Australia. “This would include Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
“That is separate of course to comments that are made that could constitute libel, defamation or serious brand damage. And these statements should be included in any legal agreement between the employer and the employee.”
LinkedIn also provides businesses with the ability to actively listen, watch, gather and learn from their customers and employees. The information gathered can be converted into employee advocacy, brand building and inspire loyalty much quicker than traditional methods.
“In summary, make sure you understand the power and scope of branding tools like LinkedIn and realise that comments or profiles on these sites are most likely to be the first information found on your organisation. So If you take the time to learn and understand the platform, your opportunities to control your brand online are going to be far greater than the social media ostrich seated next to you.”