Successful companies invest time and resources in branding.
Using a combination of signs, symbols, and concise messaging, companies craft brands to convey the personality of the business and its product offerings. In competitive markets, the presence of a differentiated brand can be a game changer for consumers.
The downside of branding is that it can be expensive. For example, the Nike "swoosh" is the backbone of Nike's corporate identity. Do you know how much money Nike has invested in branding the "swoosh" over the years? Neither do we – but you can be guaranteed that it's at least a seven-figure number.
Social networking offers an inexpensive alternative to traditional branding initiatives. Rather than investing buckets of cash in typical marketing placements, small companies can offload part of their branding strategy to social media targets like Facebook, Twitter, and especially LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a social networking site that serves business professionals. Although some consumers use LinkedIn as well, it's mainly a way for business professionals to connect with each other for referrals and relationship building. With a little effort, you can use your LinkedIn profile as a launching pad for your personal or company brand.
The Profile: Creating An Online Presence
On LinkedIn, your profile represents your online identity. It establishes your presence in the LinkedIn universe and is the building block of your personal and company brand. Here, you have the opportunity to identify your background, experience, interests and information about your business. Although LinkedIn is primarily a text-driven site, users are encouraged to include a personal photo in their profile. Don't skip this step! A photo completes your profile and makes your brand more attractive to new contacts.
Networking: Communicating Your Brand to Others
Above all else, LinkedIn is a social community based on the assumption that users want to interact with one another. Be proactive about connecting with other users as a way to communicate your personal and company brand. In addition to importing your email list to generate connection invitations, you can connect with college alumni, clients, vendors, and others. The more effort you put into networking through messages and invitations, the more productive LinkedIn will be for branding.
Group Participation: Sharing Insights & Expertise
LinkedIn groups give users a vehicle for creating online communities around targeted business topics. Joining groups is a great way to promote your brand by sharing insights with other professionals in your field. Ultimately, group participation will result in additional contacts and brand recognition.