It’s been a big week for LinkedIn, and I am looking forward to greater things from this valuable platform following its acquisition by Microsoft. In the meantime, while I expect it to remain business as usual for the foreseeable future, I’d like to discuss a serious weakness I see every day that needs to be sorted out.

And that is the shambles of most LinkedIn company pages.

Even if you are not responsible for your company page, or don’t even know who is, play along with me for a minute? This is the professional window of your company to the world right?

Your first job is – find your company page. Found it? You can search for it in the box at the top if you don’t know where it is. Got it? Good. Follow it. No really, just press that yellow follow button right now. Nice work.

Now I want you to review your company page. When you are doing this, I want you to put yourselves in five different pairs of shoes and I want you to be critical. (An additional suggestion, take notes while you’re doing this and pass it on to your marketing/HR team. They might appreciate the feedback).

The five pairs of shoes

  1. As an employee of the company
  2. As a potential recruit
  3. As a customer or potential customer
  4. As a partner
  5. As an influencer – analyst, media, etc…

Tell me – when you put yourself in the five different shoes listed above, how does your company stack up?

  • Is it speaking to each audience?
  • If not, who do you think it’s targeting?
  • What is it doing brilliantly?
  • Is its strength aligned to the value you place on LinkedIn? As in a place to learn?
  • Where is it weak?
  • Or perhaps it’s trying to be all things to all audiences?

Let me know in the comments if you like.

Now as you reflect on how your business is doing on its LinkedIn company page, how would you rate the balance of content? Is it about your company – PR, marketing, your events, awards, your people, etc…? Or do you think it’s about helping your customers be successful?

As a best practise, I always recommend 80% of content on LinkedIn company pages should be information that is useful to your customer – which means it shouldn’t be about you. Only 20% should be about you – PR, marketing, events, etc. How does your business rate here? Anywhere near 80/20 or is it more 20/80?

If it’s the latter, I would say that’s the majority of my experiences with LinkedIn company pages, and we need to change it, because customers just don’t care anymore. Shall we get them to care again?

So what do we need to do to get it right?

Audience

You need to define the audience for your LinkedIn company page. Start by thinking about who is on LinkedIn and what we are all doing there. We’re there to learn right? What are we personally sharing? Knowledge that helps our community.

So what is relevant to post on LinkedIn? Information that is of value to your customer, and the content has to be so good, your customer will feel they just have to share it with their community because they think it’ll be great for them too.

Real value gets shared. Simple.

However, many many companies are still using LinkedIn company pages as a recruitment tool. LinkedIn is still great for recruitment, but for a couple of years now, 70% of the focus of LinkedIn has been on quality content. If your company page is still exclusively owned by your HR team and focused on recruitment, you are missing a massive opportunity to influence customers.

So define your audience (the customer) and then what you create and curate for your LinkedIn company page must be focused on them.

Focus

Now we need to get focused. You’ve defined the audience for your LinkedIn company page, now what is the story you are going to own to help them be successful? Come up with a big picture theme (which is what defining your content strategy will achieve) and then make the majority of the content you share aligned to that theme and all about delivering value to your customer.

The vast majority of your content should be in this category, with a smattering of PR and marketing added throughout the week. Remember the 80/20 split. PR and marketing is OK and it gives customer’s confidence in your brand, it just shouldn’t make up the majority in this always-on world.

I know that companies are really good at talking about themselves. That’s how we’ve done business for years. But customers don’t care anymore. They have plenty of options and will value you if you make them the focus of your content.

Ownership

Who owns your LinkedIn company page? Which department? Who has the rights to it? If multiple departments (HR, Marketing and PR for example) how are you aware of what is being posted and when? How are you getting the right balance of content at the right time based on who your target audience is? Do you have a committee across these functions, meeting regularly to align and plan?

And if you are in a subsidiary office, or part of a regional or global company, do you have the right to post content on your company page? If not, can you get access? If you can’t, is it time to set up your own regional page, so you have your own channel to the market?

I’ve talked about this before and I know LinkedIn does not recommend multiple company pages, but if you don’t have any control over the content uploaded on your page in your market, then perhaps you need to say “tough! I’m doing my own.”

Having a channel to market for your content is critical. And the central ownership of content just isn’t working – especially for those of us outside of global HQ!

Content

The only way to build a strong company page is to feed it with powerful content, focused on the audience you have defined. You must have your own content, so you can drive customers back to your Website, however, curating world class content from partners, customers, the media, influencers, etc…. adds to your overall story too.

By curating the best content aligned to your company focus, you are providing a valuable service to your customers. No one is looking for a single point of view, when we all have access to so many different opinions, so why not become a resource that delivers a big picture perspective on your topic, for your customers? That’s how you build loyalty.

The consulting firms can teach us all lessons

I think the best company pages are definitely the consulting firms. They provide awesome examples of how it can be done. I’ve also written about McKinsey before, and it still holds true. There are many examples of great company pages. Go and find the best and learn from them.

I definitely recommend taking note of the companies you value on LinkedIn. Ask yourself why do you value them? What sort of information gets your attention? Once you know that, have the same mind-set for your own company page. One of delivering value.

As business leaders, we need to step up and own our company pages.

This is not a job for the junior people in your organisation. We also need to think hard about why people are on LinkedIn in the first place. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes – if it’s not of value to them, why are you even bothering with a company page? Sure some publicity is fine, but only 20%, yes?

Which company do you follow and value on LinkedIn? What turns you off a company page? Let me know. I’d be interested to hear.

Cheers

Andrea

Photo: JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com

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