My Business Magazine – The Top Mistakes Business Owners Make On LinkedIn And How To Avoid Them
Written by: Sue Ellson
Title: The Top Mistakes Business Owners Make On LinkedIn And How To Avoid Them
Date: 25 February 2014
Format: Article in the My Business Magazine both online and via printed 28,000 magazines
Publisher: My Business
Editor: Justin Grey
Online at: http://mybusiness.uberflip.com/i/262522/20
Published text: See transcript below
Copy of article as it appeared:
Social Media Marketing
The top mistakes that business owners make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them
By Sue Ellson
Professional Social Media Networking Platform LinkedIn launched in May 2003 and there are now boasts over 260 million LinkedIn members worldwide – and five million in Australia alone. Here, bona fide LinkedIn-er Sue Ellson explains the most common mistakes SME business owners make on LinkedIn, and how you can instead use LinkedIn to support and grow your business.
Many SME business owners have a personal aversion to social media. LinkedIn’s immediate apparent value is that if you Google your name, the first search result that comes up is likely to be your LinkedIn profile. So having a good quality representation on LinkedIn is vital.
Sourcing the best tips and strategies to complete, develop and maintain your LinkedIn profile is essential. It may appear simple to just ‘complete the boxes’ but there are several mistakes that SME business owners can make on LinkedIn (the free version, not LinkedIn Premium which requires a fee to access). Below is a compilation of the biggest mistakes SME business owners make on LinkedIn – and how you can avoid making them.
#1: An incomplete profile and a bad photo
It sounds so obvious – and it is so obvious but for some unknown reason, up to 50 % of LinkedIn profiles are not complete. Imagine reducing the value of any other form of free marketing by 50%! Consider increasing your free marketing by 50% if you do complete your profile – and not just you as a person, but your business (as a company) and possibly also an online business forum (called a group). Creating an additional ‘person’ as your business name is also a great way to keep the business connections all in one place and part of the business goodwill when it is time to sell your enterprise.
Most people who can see the screen will judge your photo, particularly in the search phase but again in the viewing phase. Is it the best representation you can provide and does the image reflect how you want to be perceived as a professional? A photo from a cocktail evening with a drink in your hand is obviously not appropriate.
The same applies to photos that are out of focus, unrecognisable, not current (profile photos that are more than 10 years old are a big no-no), covered in shadows, not smiling or that take the eye in a direction other than the right. And don’t make the mistake of photoshopping your profile photo – you want your LinkedIn contacts to recognise you, if and when you meet them in person.
A ‘completed’ profile will appear in search results 40 times more than the average LinkedIn profile.
#2. Not following up
Converting a new contact into a client, using most mediums, takes several steps. So SME business owners who expect to create a profile, accept connections and then never target them, correspond with them, offer them value, provide referrals or even simply ask questions, is not completing any follow up.
LinkedIn allows you to tag your new connection, set up reminders, allow you to fill in how you found them and more. So set up your standard operating procedures each time a new connection is added to your network and wait for your reminders to remind you.
#3. Spamming people
Just because someone has become a connection of yours, does not mean that you can automatically add them to your email mailing list, send unsolicited group emails or annoy them with irritating connection requests. Be courteous and find ways to offer them value, invite them to relevant events, share useful information related to their interests or work out other ways to reward or recognise their value to your network.
#4. Spending too much time on LinkedIn
As the owner and operator of a SME, it can get lonely from time to time. It can feel like you’re an island sometimes, and it is quite easy, if you feel like procrastinating, to spend your time viewing member profiles on LinkedIn, reading articles or tracking down long lost girlfriends, boyfriends or former colleagues.
Some consultants can become addicted to commenting on every post in a group, seeing their name on the screen or receiving a like when they post an update. Ask yourself, is this working towards your business goals? How much real time are you spending every day? Aim to spend no more than an average of 10 minutes a day doing this.
#5. Not keeping any statistics to track your ROI
On the free LinkedIn accounts, you can check how you have performed for the last 90 days and you can see exactly what the statistics are today. But in three, six or 12 months time, how will you be able to tell whether or not you have improved? You need to prepare your own spreadsheet and monitor your return on investment over time. Using a spreadsheet, you can clearly keep track of your number of connections, your views, your appearances in search results, your recommendations, and your endorsements.
You can download a PDF of your profile to see how it has changed over time and you can also export all of your connections so that you can have your own record on your own computer storage. Recording details of other manual metrics can also be a reminder in the future of the ‘serendipitous’ value of your LinkedIn profile (new leads, new connection requests, new referrals, new opportunities etc)
#6. Not optimising your profile
A 20 year old relative can help you complete all of the sections of your profile if you’re a little LinkedIn illiterate, but can they optimise it to reach your ideal client, opportunity or connection? Do they understand the keywords that work in your profession or industry? Can they write without spelling mistakes? Will the text include inappropriate or inaccurate information? Do the words demonstrate how you can add value and include a call to action?
If you were chastised at school for your writing ability, you may be reluctant to prepare your profile and inevitably it sits there incomplete ad infinitum. If you need help, ask for it – from someone who can create a profile that really achieves your goals. Your LinkedIn profile can work for you 24 hours a day, internationally, so the investment in refining it will be worthwhile.
#7. Not integrating LinkedIn with your other marketing efforts
It’s hard to believe that many business owners will not include details of their LinkedIn profiles on their business website. Or keep a record of the updates they have shared so that after posting, the intellectual property isn’t lost. Working on an ad hoc basis with any social media is not sustainable and can be counter-productive. Design your strategy, implement it, reflect and modify for improvement.
How do you rank on the above pointers? Is it time for you to ask for help to get the right advice for your business? When sourcing an advisor, ask them some pertinent questions before starting work, create a baseline of statistics and track over six months to see the results. You may just find that LinkedIn could be one of the best ways to attract and maintain a professional network and open the door to new business opportunities.
Sue Ellson joined LinkedIn on December 21, 2003 and is one of the first 100,000 LinkedIn members worldwide. Her LinkedIn profile is in the top one per cent of viewed profiles and she has over 4,000 connections worldwide.