Doug Antkowiak // Nov 19 2010
As the Facebook of the business world, LinkedIn has become the go-to social media scene for career movers and shakers, and now it’s more influential than ever. Once known as just a social network for tech-savvy professionals to find a new gig, the leading business-oriented social network recently gave companies the ability to strut their stuff with a new Products and Services tab.
LinkedIn’s latest addition isn’t just important because it looks hi tech and it’s easy to use – it transcends the ability of this social media to service both people and businesses.
“We are glad to provide companies a place on LinkedIn to showcase their products, services and associated recommendations,” says Director of Product Management Ryan Roslansky on the LinkedIn blog. “Company Pages will enable companies to build their brand through network-aware recommendations, giving members rich, credible insights into how any given product (or service) is perceived by their fellow professionals.”
What this means is that companies can list off what they do best, and other LinkedIn members can provide direct recommendations to the each of the products and services, or to the company as a whole. This is measurable word-of-mouth marketing that goes beyond a simple Facebook “Like” because the LinkedIn user’s profile image is attached to the recommendation.
LinkedIn makes this process really easy, which is great for the technically challenged, but doesn’t allow much room for creativity for internet professionals and business owners. Once you’re on your business profile, go into the Products and Services tab and then click Edit.
As you go through the step-by-step process, you’ll find as you write your company descriptions that the text boxes only allow simple text. This means no bolding or italics and no use of HTML links or images. On the upside, LinkedIn does pay attention to optimization for keyword phrases. Sprinkle in targeted phrases and long-tail keywords within your description, as well as using CAPS LOCK or direct visitors to a phone number, email address or website as a call-to-action.
As you can see, I highlighted the company name and also described what we do. Search phrases like “internet marketing company”, “search engine optimization” and “PPC” are keywords I want Portent to be relevant for on LinkedIn. I also included our phone number and email as a call-to-action for people to contact us if they have any questions about our services. Also keep in mind that LinkedIn allows you six to seven lines of text before it cuts your description off with a “More” button.
One of the more interesting options in your custom Products and Services page is the ability to create separate page versions to target specific audiences. Think of it as if you were creating a landing page for Suzie-the-CEO and a different landing page for Bob-the-builder. While I think it’s really confusing to make this the first step in the customization process (not to mention that it’s major overkill for many small businesses) this option will give medium to large companies a chance to increase their conversion rate with an exclusive copy or images based on specific demographics.
The Product and Services page allows you to add up to three showcase images on a rotating spotlight module. Surprisingly, the links you can add for each image appear to be followed (although it is redirected through LinkedIn).
My advice is to commission a designer for this one because you’ll need a custom-size banner. LinkedIn asks for a 640×220 pixel image and if you use an image of any other size, it’s liable to look like it was stretched out on the side of an overinflated balloon.
As for adding a YouTube video, simply add the URL into the text box and add a video header to describe the product or service.
To add a product or service to your company’s LinkedIn profile, click on the Products and Services tab and then click “Add a Product or Service.”
Just like creating the Product & Services page, follow LinkedIn’s step-by-step process to add each specific product or service. In addition, each product/service page allows you to create a bullet list of product/service features, as well as list a set of contacts using their LinkedIn profiles.
Adding a thumbnail image gave me the most trouble (and it should be pretty simple). The 100×80 pixel thumbnail display is confining, and unless your image is a horizontal rectangle, you’re going to have the same issues you had with the company showcase image. As a workaround, if you have a square image as your thumbnail, add an equal amount of white space to the left and right of the logo to create a proportionate rectangle.
After you’re done creating your Products and Services page, it’s time to tell the world about it. LinkedIn gives you the option to request a recommendation for an individual product/service, or the option to promote your product/service or company with paid advertising.
To request a recommendation, click on the Request Recommendation button from within the product/service page.
LinkedIn provides you with an adequate standard message, but since you’re asking for a sincere recommendation, take the time to write a personal greeting.
It’s easy to build up your LinkedIn profile. The hard part is using this social network to your advantage. Dedicate a few minutes to it every week. Make a few connections. Ask for a recommendation. LinkedIn basically provides FREE ADVERTISEMENT. If you do it right, your LinkedIn profile will rank reasonably in search engine results pages (SERPs) for your brand, giving you added reputation management.
Since LinkedIn Company pages are still in the Beta phase, things are still changing. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below or send a direct message (or better yet, a recommendation) to the Portent Interactive LinkedIn profile whenever you get the chance.