LinkedIn is often associated with individual job searching, uploading CV profiles and getting professional connections, whereas it has been a bit downplayed in the media compared to other social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
According to the CIPR website, LinkedIn is ranked as one of the most popular network for ‘the building of communities or networks and encouraging participation and engagement’. Currently, there are over 135 million professionals that use LinkedIn to exchange information, ideas and opportunities.
With this platform becoming increasingly popular, it is valuable for PR professionals to understand how LinkedIn can be used as a tactical tool. Especially because of the additional features such as Twitter and Facebook integration on the site, it is increasingly becoming an exceptional way to communicate to a professional community. For instance, in my mind, it must be considered a highly important platform for PR professionals to practice B2B communication.
Moreover, Matt Appleby stated in the social media handbook ‘Share This’ that, “authenticity and transparency play a critical role in PR professionals’ effectiveness, and LinkedIn is a essential tool in ensuring we communicate the professional side of ourselves and our representatives’ identity as part of the wider online personality and profile”. In other words, LinkedIn provides many opportunities in advancing the professional position on social networks.
Therefore, I have found a great article from PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, Sarah Skerik, that highlights the different ways LinkedIn can be used for tactical PR. These include:
- Researching and networking with journalists and bloggers – once you have research someone, you can invite them to connect on the site, and add them in you group of LinkedIn contacts
- Listening to your audiences – keep an eye on the conversations and the answer section in the Q&A discussions that are flourishing on the site (target your specific audiences by choosing the advanced selection option); this will be useful information for planning communications, especially concerning blog posts and content creation activities
- Identifying influencers – as you become more familiar with the discussion forums and Q&A sections on the site, you will distinguish the real influencers among the crowd (often these are many “best answers” in the answer section); cultivate and build relationships with them, they could end up as powerful advocates for your brand
- Building your own credibility – Try to achieve “best answers” feature by being active and responding to questions posted on the site, this will build your expertise and visibility within the industry segment, and make people want to connect with you
- Sharpen your social skills – listen and observe the group dynamics before you interact, if you pay attention, you can determine what sort of content messages the audience prefer, and play accordingly. In addition to making your interactions on LinkedIn more effective, paying attention to what type of content generates interest and interaction can inform you of the future content strategy
For more information about using LinkedIn for tactical PR, review the article here. I have also included a model that presents a simple overview of the different functions LinkedIn can be used for below:
I hope you found these tips helpful, and that you will perceive LinkedIn as more than an accessibility tool for employment positions. I expect that this social networking tool will be a necessity for PR professionals in the future, especially if it continues to develop as it has done the last couple of years.
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, how do you use it?