LinkedIn is sometimes thought of as the poor relation to Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps that’s because it was originally perceived as just a jobhunting site and a place to post CVs. But to me LinkedIn is an invaluable resource for my job, both for gathering information and connecting with great people, and I often wonder why charities don’t use it more. It may not be as big as Facebook and Twitter but with more than 150 million members it’s no slouch either. There is a growing sense that it is no longer the ‘Cinderella’ of social media. I want to share some tips to help you make the most of this underrated but brilliant tool.
Don’t be put off by appearances. LinkedIn is a relatively simple site, without the bells and whistles of Facebook. Its value lies in its focused and lean approach. And once you dig a little deeper, it pays rich rewards. Shirley Ayres, digital strategy and communications consultant, says, ‘It has taken quite a long time for people outside of the recruitment industry to recognise the value of belonging to a professional network. Now I believe (LinkedIn) is a vital tool for professionals and organisations to make connections and share knowledge and resources.’
Here are some ideas to help charities leverage what LinkedIn offers:
- Get into the habit of using it. I know a lot of people who sign up to LinkedIn and then don’t take it further. If you want to make the most of it, then you’ll have to devote a bit of time to it. As with any social media platform, the best way is to get involved. This doesn’t have to take long. I check it a few times during the day for no more than five minutes each time, and I always learn something useful from it.
- Use it for targeting decision makers. Want to reach that elusive pro bono partner at a City firm, a high net worth individual or a senior grant officer at one of your funders? Chances are that she or he will be on LinkedIn. From their profile you should be able to see what their interests are, what their professional background is and who you may know in common. It’s the kind of information that money can’t buy.
- Use it for connecting. I normally connect to people after meetings, if I’ve worked with them, or talked to them a lot on social media. It’s a great way to stay in touch and can help strengthen relationships when used well.
- Set up a charity group. Establishing a group can be a quick and easy way to engage with your stakeholders. It is a good forum to start debates about issues that are important to your charity, or to take soundings. I particularly like the way Knowhow Nonprofit use their group in this way. Admittedly it takes a little time and effort to manage a group, but if your target audience used LinkedIn it could be worth it.
- Use it for market research. I’ve blogged before about how you can deploy LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) for market research. I also love LinkedIn’s daily news story updates, which pull together the most shared stories on the site. Like you I’m short of time, so I rely heavily on this and my Twitter feed to keep me up to speed with key developments.
I’d love to hear what you think of LinkedIn. Is your charity using it yet and how have you found it?
This is a guest post written by Zoe Amar, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Lasa, a charity which provides services to Shelter, Age UK and thousands of other charities across the UK. She is also on the Bright One board and she is a regular personal commentator and speaker on charity marketing, contributing to The Guardian and Charity Comms. Zoe is also a Chartered Marketer and tweets from @zoeamar