LinkedIn was founded over ten years ago now, and although the original idea was for it to be used to share tech and sales leads in Silicon Valley, most users have adopted it as a means to further their career. Over time it’s been associated with job search, but in the last few years, I would say it’s shaken off its label as a career site and instead widened its offering to become a professional platform hosting information about people, companies, industries and more.
It’s no longer just about people signing up and optimizing their profiles to look good for the next job interview, instead of up to 80% of LinkedIn users are there for other reasons such as networking, interacting with peers and researching their industry and companies.
Do a Google search of people in your team and see what you find – I’m betting their LinkedIn profiles are at the top of the results page. The LinkedIn profile is the format we want to look at when researching people we don’t know online (at least in a professional context). Once you’re looking at one person, it’s easy to click on to the next. In fact, most LinkedIn users’ favorite activity is checking out others, and then, of course, checking out who’s checked them out.
Your company, or any company on LinkedIn for that matter, will have most of its interactions with users through employee profiles. This means your organisation is already getting lots of clicks on LinkedIn (even though these clicks go to employee profiles), the question is how your company can capitalise on these impressions.
Here are some of the benefits of having strong employee profiles on the world’s largest professional network:
As an employee grows with a company, they start to feel loyal and proud towards the business, its services or products as well as the workplace culture that it’s emerged in. If the individual enjoys their job and where they work, they will become a natural ambassador without even realizing. Apart from telling friends and family how happy they are at the current workplace, this will also be evident on social media and nowhere more so than on LinkedIn which is all about your professional life.
The LinkedIn profile can be seen as the platform where the employee shares the latest news, happenings, and achievements of your company and show how much they care. This will not only show what a dedicated employee they are, but it will actively advocate for the employer brand and culture in the process. Further reading at A Kickstart Guide to Employee Advocacy.
One of the greatest benefits of LinkedIn is that it is seen as one of the most (if not the most) credible professional business websites. If a user’s previous companies, clients, suppliers etc. acknowledge the fact that they worked together and even gives the user a recommendation, this adds to your entire company’s credibility.
People want to know people, and not necessarily just a ‘position’. Your employee’s profile will showcase their career path and what led them to work for your company. It will also show what type of individuals you are hiring and the standards that you set for the company as a whole. The same skills that are typically transferable from one job to another will help showcase the experience of your people and ultimately reflect well on the company brand.
It’s a Matter of Trust
Allowing your employees to promote themselves and discuss your brand online shows that you fully trust them. As an employer, limiting or restricting your employees’ online movements might come across as controlling and distrusting.
“Employers should support employees who want to build a robust and comprehensive profile; it’s worth the effort for the individuals and their organization”. – LinkedIn
Encourage them to represent themselves online and show them that you trust the ‘company message’ that they are conveying to the world via this platform. Good communication will lead to a boost of morale and your employees will gain confidence in their ‘voice’ and skills.
If you have the time, budget and C-level support, I would suggest creating social media guidelines, providing short and interactive training sessions and actively advise employees on their social networking usage. Social media should be fun and employees need to feel they have the company not just behind them but in front and leading the way.
Lend a Hand with Recruiting
OK, there’s more to LinkedIn than jobs but let’s not ignore the fact that the career aspect is an important element for users from time to time. Like most sites with jobs, companies can advertise openings and anyone interested can follow and create alerts to be notified of new opportunities. Members can search through the job listings as well as look at companies individually to understand if they are hiring.
If your employees are active on LinkedIn as well as their other social media channels, they become another ‘link’ in the recruitment process. By sharing the news with their following, your employees will broaden the reach and attract more individuals to apply for the position. Some individuals might be interested in applying but they have no information on the position or company. If they are then connected with one of your employees on LinkedIn, this allows them to connect and inquire with these professionals, a much warmer approach than firing off a job application to an unknown inbox.
Then of course, just by having your entire team on LinkedIn will also give the applicant a clear indication of the possible team they will be working with. If you happen to have an industry superstar your on your side, you’ll want to make sure they have a well-thought out and on-brand profile as they will probably have a lot more traffic to their profile.
Strengthen Online Presence
Your online audience also wants to know the ‘voices’ behind the brand. According to Forbes, people are more likely to like your company’s feed if the updates are shared by your employees. From the moment that your employees list themselves as working for your company, you are creating a link from their profile to yours. Their profile will then drive traffic to your company’s page which in effect will draw attention to your website and its services or products – and ultimately your brand.
“Companies that have a greater proportion of their employees on LinkedIn have more followers on their company pages. In fact, 9 out of the top 10 brands with the most followers on LinkedIn have at least 60% of their employees on LinkedIn”. – William Arruda
With regards to online presence, it is all about the ‘reach’ of your brand and how many people you could potentially influence and encourage engagement with your brand. More employees on LinkedIn will directly expand the reach of your brand, and its message. Think for a moment about IBM, who have 400,000+ employees listed on LinkedIn, almost 2.5 million followers and around 6,000 jobs posted. I would say IBM has a powerful reach here just by its employees being on LinkedIn. The number of followers proves that people want to get company insights and learn about opportunities with Big Blue.
This is a clever way in which LinkedIn can be used as a marketing tool for your company. Deploying brand ambassadors and creating more opinion, content, and influence within your industry will most definitely benefit the company as a whole.
Whilst most people still think of LinkedIn as very career-focused, there is much more to this social giant and if used strategically, efficient employee profiles are in effect free online advertising space for your brand. Think of it as building your online army, with every employee on the same ‘page’ you will be ready to take the world by storm.
Next up I’ll talk about how a company can go about building a strong employee presence on LinkedIn, stay tuned.