Oct 10, 2011

LinkedIn Enables Brand-Follower Interactions

Administrators of Company Pages on LinkedIn can now issue updates and interact with followers. Updates appear within followers' Headlines.

There’s no question in my mind that LinkedIn is a valuable social network for professionals.   However, until last week, LinkedIn focused solely on the interactions and behaviors of individuals.   Brand presences were relegated to company pages, which were largely static and out of the LinkedIn communications flow.

That all changed last week when LinkedIn enabled a new feature allowing the admins of company pages to post 500-word updates,  distribute links and interact with their followers.    Best of all, followers of brands will see the updates in their personal Headlines.

While this is one more thing to add to the social media management list of things to do, in this case, I don’t mind.  LinkedIn is unusual in the degree to which it enables (and encourages) users to self-select, define their interests and find (and interact with) like-minded people.    This is probably why LinkedIn is consistently a top referrer of readers to this blog.

LinkedIn has built some analytics into the new updates, offering perspective on the size of your brand’s audience and the degree to which the audience engaged with the updates the brand issues via LinkedIn.   LinkIn defines the numbers as follows:

  • Impressions:  The number of times this status update has been viewed organically on LinkedIn
  • Engagement: The percentage of time members engaged (clicked, liked, commented or shared) with this status update organically.

Normally, I have very little interest in vague numbers like “impressions,” but in the case of LinkedIn’s impressions data, page administrators can learn something about their audiences – namely, whether or not they are actively engaging with LinkedIn.  Ultimately,  one can use this information to determine if time spent on LinkedIn and on issuing updates is, indeed, well spent.

The engagement number is obviously more interesting, because it indicates how many people actually did something with the update you issued.  The simple acts of a reader clicking on “more” to read the full update, or (even better) sharing it with their networks are considered “engagement” under LinkedIn’s calculus, and I think that’s appropriate, and accurate.

I do think it’s important to note that brands really do have a responsibility on LinkedIn (just as they do on Facebook or Twitter) to offer useful, credible and interesting information – and to mind dosages quickly.   Too many updates of the wrong sort feel spammy and will get a brand un-followed in the wink of an eye.   As with any network, listening, paying attention and getting a feel for what your audience is interested in are cornerstones o brand success.

It’s too early to ascertain what (if any) beneficial effects PR Newswire will derive from this change.  Once we have a month of data under our belt and I have some refreshed analytics, I’ll post an update. Until then, kudos to the team at LinkedIn.  I like this change and think it will be useful for brands … and our followers.

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media, and is the author of the free ebook Unlocking Social Media for PR.

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