LinkedIn or Left out? If Your Bank Is Uncertain about Getting Involved with Social Media Marketing, Perhaps LinkedIn, a Business-Networking Platform, Is the Right Place to Get Started

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LinkedIn is a dynamic connection and conversation resource for over 50 million professionals worldwide. The focus is on the value and community provided to the individual, but smart businesses (and banks) are realizing the opportunities associated with building a presence on this site.

Launched in 2003, it took nearly a year and a half for LinkedIn to reach 1 million users. This October, 1 million new users were reached in 12 days. Nearly hall of LinkedIn users are decision makers at their companies. While many banks continue to be hesitant about developing a presence on social media sites, LinkedIn and its business-centric platform may prove to be the right place for your institution to start.

Nurture your bank's social media experience from the inside out: The first community you build as a bank on LinkedIn will most likely be with your employees. They are the bank's greatest resource as brand ambassadors to their personal LinkedIn networks, networks that likely include important audiences for your bank to reach and engage with.

Start with your individual profile

Chances are if you are reading this article, you are in a position to be a prime LinkedIn ambassador for your bank. Before moving to the company level, it is important to understand how you can customize your own personal profile and connection building to support your institution on this site.

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Individual profiles are easy to create. Take the time to input relevant information about yourself from the start. Your profile offers a glimpse into your professional persona, and no one wants to connect with a LinkedIn user that portrays no vested interest in being on the site. Digital first impressions count and lay foundations for future relationship building.

Make sure to take advantage of the three Web site URLs that your profile allows. This is where you want to link to your main Web site and any other social sites associated with your bank. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn now has status updates. Promote your connection with bank activities and interesting projects to instantly share with your LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn connections should not end with your imported Outlook address book findings. Search out current business banking customers, prospect companies and employees on the site. Whenever you receive a business card, check for the connection on LinkedIn. This is a social network that truly will only go as far as you take it.

Applications

Additionally, LinkedIn offers a series of applications to enhance your bank's presence on individual profiles. A few of note:

* Blog Linking: If your institution has a blog, make sure its feed is streaming into your profile.

* LinkedIn Polls: Do market research and pose questions to your individual network for free. You can also target selected professions (e.g., small-business owners) that you can further define by geography, job title and company size among other factors. Customized target polls are pay-per-response, at a $50 minimum.

* SlideShare. Easily upload any presentations or educational pieces that your bank has created as resources for your connections.

Company Profiles

Every bank should have a LinkedIn Company Profile. Your bank's profile acts as a home base, pulling in all data connecting to your bank name on the site. For example, any bank employees who identify themselves as such on personal LinkedIn profiles will also be identified and linked to on the company profile. There are two primary components to profiles: information about relevant people associated with the company and aggregated statistics (such as median age, demographic breakdown, common job titles) gathered by the site about employees. To create a profile, go to the Companies menu and select Add Company. Only current employees have the ability to create and edit a profile. …