LinkedIn, the social site that specializes in professional networking, is one of the most underutilized digital platforms among independent retailers. The 10-year-old network, which boasts some 250 million users in more than 200 countries, initially was pitched to job seekers. But it’s rife with marketing and operational opportunities for business owners. We asked LinkedIn expert Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day, how jewelry retailers can use the site to pump up their online presence, find employees, and position themselves as industry experts.
What’s the most important thing retailers should know about LinkedIn?
You want to be findable. Maybe someone is looking to form a potential partnership. LinkedIn is more about presence [than sales]. It’s a great place to find employees and vendors.
What’s the difference between a company page and a personal page?
Company pages are in a different section. You should have a company and a personal page. You can update anonymously as your company. You can get statistics on your updates, add special offers, post job listings, and do things like you do on Facebook. But you can’t talk to other people as a business.
How do you make your—or your store’s—profile highly visible?
Make sure you have the right keywords and search terms. The best place to put keywords and search terms is in the title field of the experience section. You have 120 characters, and you can put more than “Dan Smith, owner of Edelstein’s.” Be descriptive. In the summary section, you have 2,000 characters to tell the story of your company or your expertise. Add search terms where they are relevant. In the interests section, you should literally dump 1,000 characters of keywords. No one really reads that section, so you can even add names of your competitors because whenever someone searches for them, you will come up too.
How important are endorsements?
Important. Endorsements are a game we have to play. But you have to have the right skills to be endorsed. You can delete skills that people endorse you for that might not fit. You get endorsements by endorsing people, then they endorse you back.
How would a retailer go about looking for new hires on the network?
LinkedIn is the best place to look for new hires. Make sure to use the advanced search. The smart search is supposed to be an intuitive search, but I haven’t seen that it works well. You could type in “jewelry design and customer service or intern.” Then see what comes up. If a lot of gemologists show up and you don’t want that skill, type in the same, but add “not gemologist” to the end. The engine will get rid of everyone who has “gemologist” in their profile.
How many connections should retailers look to have?
You want to have a decent level of first-level connections—between 3,000 and 5,000. LinkedIn gets really glitchy when you have more than 5,000 connections.
What’s the deal with upgrading profiles? Is it necessary to pay?
If you’ve been on LinkedIn five or more years, you probably don’t need to upgrade because you’ve had some things, like profile visibility, grandfathered in. I pay the basic $19 per month. That’s really all you need. For new users, it’s probably worth the basic paid.