LinkedIn is a social media site that can return great results for nonprofits—if you know how to use it effectively, that is. It’s the world’s largest professional network with 300 million members and growing. LinkedIn connects you to contacts all over the world and helps you exchange ideas and opportunities with a broader network of professionals and other nonprofit leaders. Simply put, if you haven’t joined yet, you should.
Here are five LinkedIn features that a nonprofit like yours can benefit from.
Company pages. If you and your nonprofit’s key staff have personal pages on LinkedIn, that’s great. But they don’t take the place of a company page, which offers a snapshot of your organization. Although it doesn’t take the place of your website, it provides you with a little real estate on LinkedIn’s very large turf—there are over 3 million company pages. A company page gives your nonprofit credibility and a place to share information on upcoming campaigns, volunteer opportunities and more.
Connections. You can use Advanced Search to find the right people to partner with at other organizations or connect with corporations who can provide sponsorship. In fact, there are a number of good reasons to connect with others on LinkedIn. Plus, it saves you time and money by providing one place where you can find contacts quickly and easily. It sure beats the days of rolodexes and yellow pages.
Groups. You can join other nonprofit groups for tips and advice or form a group for your constituents to connect with each other. This is where the gold is on LinkedIn—groups allow you to engage with influencers and thought leaders and establish your own thought leadership by participating in discussions. There’s no need to start a group in order to reap engagement benefits (unless you notice a specific need for one). It may be easier to become an active contributor in an existing group that has a built-in audience. You can even join a group for getting started with Groups so you know the best way to proceed.
Status updates. Much like Facebook, you can write status updates that will appear on your profile and on the homepage of everyone who’s connected to your nonprofit. This is one of the most powerful features of using LinkedIn, so use it wisely. Remember, this is a professional network, so resist the urge to be cutesy or casual, even if that’s the norm for you on Facebook. You can use status updates to share relevant facts and information or ask people to visit your website for a particular purpose. Just be sure not to overdo it.
Pulse. Many users are excited about LinkedIn’s publishing platform, which allows members to publish long-form posts on their page or profile. This is where you see the little pencil icon at the top of your homepage, by the status update box. The goal of long-form posts is to get your content featured on Pulse, the award-winning mobile news app now fully integrated with LinkedIn. Being featured is a bit of a long shot, but if you set yourself up as a publisher and create a robust following, you could get lucky. The ultimate jackpot is being invited to be an Influencer, which is a tough gig to get, but worth a try. LinkedIn changes the roster regularly, looking for the most “engaged, prolific and thoughtful contributors.” If you haven’t started posting, why not make that a goal for 2016?