Until recently, LinkedIn was mainly a social media tool used by individuals or professionals to network, find a job or further their career. While volunteers or staff were using their own LinkedIn profiles to promote their nonprofit or membership organization, it wasn't a strong social media tool for organizations. But there have been some changes at LinkedIn that might make it a better fit for your membership or non-profit organization.
For example, as Rebecca noted in a post earlier this year, LinkedIn Sharing: a New Tool for Non-profit Outreach, LinkedIn has added features that enable social sharing:
- Public vs. private: You get complete control over who sees what you’re sharing, whether it’s everyone, your connections, a group, or a specific individual.
- Images and article excerpt: The chances of someone clicking through your shared article are greater when you’ve got images and brief excerpts pulled from the news article or blog post. What you share looks great, and you can customize it completely.
- Easily re-share: Like what you’re reading and want to re-share it? That’s only a click away. And share it with your connections, your groups, or individuals – or all at the same time. The re-share has automatic attribution, too – that means when you re-share a link, it gives credit (“via so-and-so”) to the person who shared it with you.
How Can Your Organization Use LinkedIn?
Non-profits can consider creating an organizational or company page as they are called on LinkedIn. While, as the name suggests, these are designed with for-profit companies in mind (for example, check out Wild Apricot on LinkedIn), many nonprofits and membership organizations are creating a presence on LinkedIn. As Joanne Fritz notes in a recent post, Are Nonprofits Warming Up to LinkedIn, nonprofits are creating LinkedIn profiles to connect with and recruit volunteers as well as donors. After all, LinkedIn now commands a formidable social media audience - with more than 90 million members in over 200 countries and territories, and now, more than one million companies with LinkedIn Company Pages (formerly known as company profiles).
If you are interested in finding out more about what's involved in creating a LinkedIn company page, you can see the "components of a company profile" in LinkedIn's Learning Centre. This is a great place to start for new users to check out tutorials, case scenarios, etc. all based on verticals, including "non-profits."
In addition, the LinkedIn Learning Centre suggests that non-profits can use LinkedIn to "spread awareness and find the right resources to help your cause." For example, they suggest LinkedIn can help:
- Develop best practices and/or specialized knowledge:
- Use Advanced Search to find experts with the talent, experience, and aligned interests who could advise you and request an Introduction from your network.
- Post a question on a specific topic and you’ll solicit feedback from subject matter experts and other non-profits who have been through similar experiences
- Increase awareness and build credibility:
- Utilize Advanced Search to find the right contacts at other non-profits that you can partner with, or corporations who can provide sponsorship, etc
- Post a question on LinkedIn to receive advice on which organization you can partner with, given your goals.
What About LinkedIn Groups?
In addition to, or as an alternative to a company profile, you can consider participating in an existing group or starting one of your own. If you have a lot of supporters who want to connect to your cause, starting a group is a great way to foster discussion and networking. People who join can choose to have your logo posted on their profile if they include their group affiliations. There are categories for Professional Groups, Non-Profit Groups, Networking Groups, Corporate Groups, etc. For more information, check out the Groups Directory. There's also a feature - "Groups you may like" - that will suggest groups to you based on your profile information and connections.
Figure Out What Works for Your Organization
If you do decide to develop a company profile or create a group, it can help with SEO (search engine optimization); allow your staff and volunteers to list you on their profile; and provide another opportunity to link with your main website. So have a fresh look at LinkedIn to determine if or how your nonprofit or membership organization might use this as one of your social media vehicles.
Has your organization had some success in raising awareness and/or building a community through LinkedIn? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments below.