24 Jun 2014 4 Ways to Use LinkedIn for NPO Marketing
LinkedIn is a professional, business-oriented social networking service. Over the past year, it has made significant changes in its functionality with real benefits to not-for-profit organizations. Unfortunately, many associations spend precious resources on paid marketing efforts when LinkedIn’s new-and-improved functionality can accomplish many of the same goals with virtually no financial investment.
The membership of LinkedIn is enormous. Chances are many of your organization’s staff, board members, volunteers, and even donors have LinkedIn pages of their own. This underscores how essential it is for NPOs to have a presence on this popular social networking tool.
In this post, we hope to show how LinkedIn can be valuable in providing far-reaching exposure for your organization and its mission. You’ll also learn how to use LinkedIn to develop an online network filled with essential contacts and valuable connections, many of whom do not utilize “personal” social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
- A Ready-Made Audience for Non-Profit Messaging
The “holy grail” of NPO success is recognition. It’s essential that an association be well-known to large segments of the community so that individuals in the community can be tapped for participation. A few NPOs such as The United Way and The Red Cross have immediate name recognition. Most other associations, however, struggle daily to get their message in front of an audience beyond their own memberships.
LinkedIn has been an online destination for professionals at all levels of success since 2003. Its membership has grown from 4,500 at the end of its launch month to more than 300 million users. By creating Company Pages, NPOs can leverage this massive audience and connect to them with their message.
- LinkedIn Design Features for NPOs
LinkedIn Company Pages were made to work…and work hard for the organizations that post them. Company Pages have valuable built-in features, including eye-opening analytics that can be used to assess the success or a failure of your page in terms of unique views, time spent on pages, etc.
You can also add a section for individual recommendations so that your organization can glow in the reflected light of its supporters.
- Turning “Followers” into Members
As with other social networking sites, when an existing member or prospective member “follows” (likes) your Company Page, they opt-in to receive updates about your organization via their LinkedIn feed. In other words, your LinkedIn account is a free resource for list-building.
LinkedIn also provides a button you can add to your website to encourage people to follow your organization. Again, your followers are de facto opt-in subscribers who agree to be contacted in their feed about the activities of your organization.
By the way, search engines such as Google like “two way linking,” so this strategy may be beneficial to your ranking.
- Let Your Staff, Donors & Volunteers Be Your Megaphone
Staff members who are willing can promote the NPO they work for on their profile pages. They can include a listing of the organization on their page, as well as links to the organizations website and/or blog posts.
One new addition at linked in – the Volunteer Experience and Causes section – highlights the value that today’s employers put on philanthropy and service. More and more people are including information about the causes they care about and that can include your NPO.
Volunteers, committee members and board members can include organizations on their LinkedIn profile. (The organization listing, when clicked, leads to the NPO’s LinkedIn pages.) This must, of course, be voluntary. Consider mounting a written or verbal campaign encouraging members and supporters to fill out this section of their profile.
Visibility created with a LinkedIn Company Page and credibility established with lots of LinkedIn followers should create opportunities for board members to develop relationships with LinkedIn members…and turn them into association members, too.