Given LinkedIn's more than 200 million members, a company page on the popular professional networking site can provide a valuable venue for recruiting talent and promoting your products and services. But while setting up a LinkedIn company page is relatively common, some business owners have questions and wind up making potentially costly mistakes.
To generate the kind of results you're looking for, it's important to consider many details when setting up a company page on LinkedIn. Cambridge, Mass.-based business-to-business marketing software firm HubSpot, for instance, found LinkedIn to be nearly 300 percent more effective for visitor-to-lead generation than Facebook and Twitter, says Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot marketing director and co-author of The B2B Social Media Book (Wiley, 2012).
To help you create a standout LinkedIn company page, here are 10 essential questions to ask:
1. Who should set up and maintain my company page?
If you're a startup with only a handful of employees, consider assigning the task to someone on your team who is an active LinkedIn member, preferably with some digital marketing knowledge and experience. At a larger company, a qualified employee in the marketing department would likely be up to the task.
If you're creating the page yourself, begin by going to LinkedIn's Create a Company Page section and selecting "Start Now." Next, enter your name and company email address. Then, follow the prompts to enter a description of your company and its products and services.
2. How should I describe my company?
Every LinkedIn company page features a brief explanatory About section. This is your chance to tell potential customers and employees about the number one thing that you want them to know about your business, says Lana Khavinson, senior product marketing manager at LinkedIn.
Describe exactly what your company does and what your overall mission is. You can also provide some basic information such as headquarters location, website address, the industry you're in, the company's public or private status, founding date and number of employees.
3. What images should I use?
A banner-style horizontal image is the first thing someone visiting your company page will see. That's why it's critical to choose an attention-grabbing image that reflects your brand and draws people in to learn more about the company, Khavinson says. CNBC's main LinkedIn image is an example. It features its famous peacock logo at an interesting angle, with newsroom flat screens in the backdrop.
You can also use your main image space to highlight the latest company news and events. For example, Xactly Corp., a San Jose, Calif.-based sales incentive management company, recently promoted a conference with a photo of the keynote speaker and an overlay of text detailing the event's date and time.
4. Should I include videos, too?
Both Khavinson and Bodnar recommend adding videos as a way of bringing your brand to life, whether they're professionally produced or simply shot on a smartphone. Video content to consider: passionate customer testimonials, product demonstrations that are anything but dull, snippets of your CEO speaking at a webinar or conference, and behind-the-scenes vignettes that show the lighter side of your brand or office culture.
Keep your videos short and to the point. "Sometimes video is the only thing people have time to click on," Bodnar says, "so you have to grab their attention right away, in the first few seconds."
5. What should I list in the page's products and services section?
Meeting the needs of your target market should be top-of-mind when listing your products and services, Bodnar says. So, describe what each of them will help people accomplish.
Also, it's important to carefully choose which product or service to feature first on the list. People often skim online text and might not read past the initial product or service description.
6. How often should I post status updates and what should they be about?
Status updates let you reach out to LinkedIn members who follow your company page. Your status updates will appear in their main LinkedIn Home view, which looks and feels similar to Facebook's News Feed.
Ideally, update your status no more than three to five times a day about company events, achievements and product releases. You also should try to highlight the "human, less hard sell side" of your business, Bodnar says. For instance, you can pepper your status updates with links to blog posts, memes and videos that might resonate with your target audience. Doing so can encourage a two-way conversation with your followers through the comments section of your page.
7. How can I encourage LinkedIn members to recommend my products and services?
Often, all you have to do is ask, Bodnar says. HubSpot includes an option to recommend its products on LinkedIn via customer surveys. You might also create a section on your main website or blog that reminds satisfied customers to recommend your services, complete with a link to your LinkedIn page.
Recommendations lend credibility and trustworthiness to your brand, Khavinson says. The more you receive the better. And you can always delete unwanted recommendations.
8. How can I promote my page?
You can add a LinkedIn "follow" button to your company website and put your company page's URL on your business card, email signature and your e-newsletters. Another option is to ask your employees to create LinkedIn member profiles, if they don't already have them, and request that they regularly like and share your status updates.
LinkedIn pay-per-click (CPC) and pay-per-1,000 impressions (CPM) ad campaigns can be effective ways to boost your page traffic quickly. You control the cost of your ad campaign by bidding and setting a budget.
9. How can I track the effectiveness of my page?
LinkedIn provides analytics, similar to Google Analytics, for each company page. Only your page administrator can view the results. LinkedIn Analytics can help you see who's visiting your page and what types of content they click on, like and share most and least often. You'll have access to statistics about your follower community, including how it's growing and what kinds of LinkedIn members you are attracting.
10. How can I directly recruit talent from my page?
Millions of job seekers visit LinkedIn every day to research employment listings. To recruit the best talent in your industry and show them content specifically targeted to their professional background, you can contact LinkedIn about adding a premium LinkedIn career page that connects to your company page. Your career page shows LinkedIn members your current job openings and employee testimonials. It also gives job seekers an opportunity to directly apply and to contact recruiters within your company.