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6 Ways to Make the Most of LinkedIn’s Free Resources for Small Businesses

When you own a small business, every penny counts. So, when a small business has the opportunity to boost their business for free, they need to take advantage. We all know and love LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social network. LinkedIn currently has over 575 million members, and over 150 million of those members are in the United States. As a small business owner on LinkedIn, you may question how you can stand out among the masses. Here are a few tips to make the most out of LinkedIn’s free resources.   Your Personal Profile The most important thing you need to do to stay relevant in an ever-changing social network is to continually keep your profile up to date. This includes any information you provide such as A professional picture, Contact information, Resumes, Portfolios, Your website, Associations, the list goes on… If you are able to write well, put together an article about your business specialties (more on this below). If writing isn’t your thing, post updates to keep your audience abreast of what you’ve been up to. Your Company Profile First things first, get your logo and description up on your LinkedIn Company profile. Make sure all data is accurate, and create a keyword rich description of your business to entice potential customers– but this isn’t the place to be too sales-y. Next: Be sure you have a branded hero image, Create a calendar of company updates (this is a great place to share articles, your blog posts, industry-relevant pieces, etc), Encourage your employees to join your company page on their LinkedIn profiles, Encourage employees to engage with your posts & post their own updates about your company. Connecting with Professionals All the big names are on LinkedIn, from Bill Gates to Richard Branson. The unique nature of LinkedIn allows you to connect with the big fish of the business world. But, when you’re connecting with others be sure to: Do your research before ever sending a connections request. If you’ve never met someone and they just send you a request out of the blue, are you likely…

LinkedIn Pages Relaunched with New Features for Businesses

LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) recently introduced the “next generation” of LinkedIn Company Pages, a marketing solution freshly re-launched as LinkedIn Pages to spotlight a brand, business unit or initiative. Now you can better leverage all that the social networking site for professionals has to offer by creating your small business LinkedIn Page and sharing unique content to a niche audience on the platform. “Pages have been rebuilt from the ground up to make it easier for brands, institutions and organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises, to foster constructive conversations with LinkedIn’s community of more than 590 million members and 30 million Pages,” Sparsh Agarwal, LinkedIn Senior Product Manager, said in a post announcing the new Pages on the company’s Marketing Solutions blog. New LinkedIn Pages Features LinkedIn first launched Company Pages back in 2010. With this revamp of LinkedIn Company Pages, now simply called Linked Pages, the Microsoft-owned (NASDAQ:MSFT) social networking company aims to improve the feature and empower organizations to engage the world’s professional community. LinkedIn Pages present some exciting new capabilities small businesses may like, including: 1. Improved Pages Conversations Pages community managers, also known as admins, can now post updates and respond to comments on the go from the LinkedIn mobile app for iOS and Android, the social networking company says. Admins can also associate their Page with hashtags, so they can listen in and respond to conversations happening about their brand or relevant topics on LinkedIn. Admins have always had the ability to post images, native video and text to their LinkedIn Company Pages, the social networking company notes. Now they can share documents, like PowerPoint presentations, Word Documents and PDFs to tell richer and more compelling brand stories. 2. Useful Pages Content Suggestions LinkedIn has also added a new feature that surfaces the topics and content trending with your target audience on LinkedIn. With these insights, admins can now curate and create content their audiences are sure to engage with, the company says. This will help you grow your audience on LinkedIn. 3. New Tools to Engage Employees A new suite of tools have been…

LinkedIn Announces Enhanced Pages for Brand and Organizations

Social media is all about engagement and LinkedIn just made it easier for businesses to do just that. The professional social media platform has rebuilt Pages so organizations can engage with the over 590 million LinkedIn users. Retooling an important feature Along with the retooled Pages, LinkedIn also added two partnerships. One with Hootsuite and the other with Crunchbase. The Hootsuite partnership works with the LinkedIn’s Notifications API, which lets users receive notifications when they have new activity on their Pages. The Crunchbase partnership gives LinkedIn members the ability to see insights on their Pages, as long as they have a Crunchbase profile. These new integrated features give LinkedIn members more knowledge about the way that users engage with their Pages. Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite said: “We are thrilled to be the first social media management solution to build off LinkedIn’s new Notifications API so our customers can more effectively drive engagement on LinkedIn.” Building a stronger community LinkedIn has made these changes to build a stronger community for its 590 million members. With LinkedIn Pages, communities are easier to build because there is one location to interact with employees and customers. The enhanced social media platform also gives job candidates easier to access to information about potential employers. Enhancing daily posts On a daily basis, LinkedIn has over 2 million posts. As the LinkedIn community continues to grow, so do the daily posts of videos, articles, and other useful information. Pages is designed to enhance that growth so that real interactions continue to happen. Through Pages, users grow their audiences by: Managing interactions Posting updates Replying to comments Using the mobile app Using hashtags Researching topics Posting images and video Sharing documents With all of these capabilities, the struggle that some users have is developing content. But, don’t worry – LinkedIn can help with that, too. With Content Suggestions, users can keep stay up-to-date with the latest topics and trends. As creating content is challenging, this is an extremely useful features that is unique to LinkedIn. The updated Pages and all of the new features makes LinkedIn more effective…

Move Over LinkedIn: Facebook Jobs Is Here to Hire

Job hunters often turn to LinkedIn to find new jobs, but another social media platform has helped fill over 1 million jobs. What is that social media platform? None other than Facebook. According to a recent Facebook post from Mark Zuckerberg, over 2.6 billion people all over the world use the platform to find new employees. While Facebook wasn’t originally designed to be a site for job hunting, it is easy to see how that feature evolved. What is Facebook Jobs? In 2017, Facebook created a special section called Jobs, which works similarly to Marketplace. Users can search full-time or part-time jobs, industries, and location. When users find a job they like, they can apply directly on the site by clicking on the “Apply” button. The link shares the applicant’s name, phone number, email address, and experience. Success Story #1 For small businesses, Facebook Jobs is a useful tool for finding employees. One of those businesses is Bella Bridal Boutique in Minnesota. After sifting through 60 applicants, the hiring manager found three employees. Bella Bridal Boutique has a 13-person staff, so those new employees needed to be just right. To communicate with candidates, Bella Bridal Boutique used Messenger, Pages, and Page Publishing. There was a small fee to boost the post, but according to the co-owner Kirsten Walfoort: “We spent money on all the job sites, but Facebook was the only tool that brought a diverse pool of applicants which gave us more choices.” Success Story #2 Another small business that saw success using Facebook Jobs is Striper Sniper Tackle. In fact, the fishing tackle business can attribute 75% of its sales to Facebook itself. Instead of using Facebook to hire traditional employees, Troy Robertson – the owner – used it to attract brand ambassadors who loved to fish and did so in popular locales around the country. Robertson narrowed down his applicants to 27 and hired 15 of them, and many were professionals in the fishing industry. He found better applicants on Facebook than any other site. To keep his ambassadors on the same page, he held meetings through…

Behold the Power of LinkedIn Groups for Small Business

LinkedIn Groups have not always had the best reputation. People often think about groups as places for self-promoting profiles and spam links. While this does indeed put a damper on the productivity of a group and can turn members away, there is a vast potential for success of groups on LinkedIn. Luckily, LinkedIn heard the feedback and came out swinging. Small businesses specifically can truly benefit from LinkedIn groups as a platform to engage targeted audiences, especially with all of their newly added benefits. With the newly added updates and capabilities, Groups on LinkedIn can be vital sources for: Driving traffic to your website (sharing articles, updates, etc) Growing your LinkedIn Company Page following Sharing Industry Insight/Expertise Getting a pulse of the industry Connecting and networking Compiling survey results When interacting in LinkedIn Groups, whether they’re your own or other industry groups, be sure you are being a good “social citizen”. ‘Like’ other’s posts, comment on things you find interesting, and share when you see fit. Below are a few updates to LinkedIn groups which will enhance your user experience. Group Conversations Previously, LinkedIn groups we’re often overlooked. You would have to navigate to the group section of your profile to access the conversation. If you had notifications turned on for groups, you would receive a number of emails, or group digests, however, if you’re anything like me, you deleted them and turned off all email notifications. Now, LinkedIn is making it easier to access your Groups from your homepage. Visibility of groups has improved and conversations will be more easily accessed.   What does this mean for small business: Instead of taking 5 extra steps to communicate in groups, you can now join the conversation right from your homepage. Small business owners are always running low on time and this makes life just a bit easier. iOS & Android Apps LinkedIn has had an app for years. However, their app was missing some key functionality, especially when it came to accessing their groups. If you are a group owner, you can now access and manage your group with a…

How to Make LinkedIn Ads Work on Any Budget

As a small business, you need to be seen. The problem is getting your brand in front of the right people. After you have your website content where it needs to be, your social accounts are running smoothly, and you know your target audience inside and out, it may be time to start advertising. As a marketer, and former recruiter, my favorite social media platform is LinkedIn. Mostly because I know it so well. I always recommend LinkedIn for clients who are looking to market and advertise their services and products to professionals. It’s important to note: LinkedIn is not the ideal platform for promoting every business. You need to make sure you’re putting your advertising dollars where they matter. If you have a younger audience who uses Instagram or SnapChat, invest your money there. The problem with small businesses advertising is the small budgets that go along with them. A client of mine once told me: “A small advertising budget is like winking in the dark… nobody sees it.” Now, just because you have a small budget, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of the advertising options LinkedIn has to offer. First, What are the Types of LinkedIn Ads There are four general types of LinkedIn Ads: 1. Sponsored Content – When you open up LinkedIn and are cruising your homepage, you’re going to see a ton of content. A great deal of this content is Sponsored. Why: Sponsored content works to drive users to your website. What: In these posts, you can include text, an image or video, a link, and a ‘Follow’ button to increase your connections through the ads. Tips: Sponsored content should lead to a landing page where users are encouraged to add their contact information. (Either to trigger an automation campaign, download a whitepaper/freebie, schedule a call, etc) Don’t go too niche on your audience. You want to make sure enough people are seeing the post and you don’t want your Cost Per Click (CPC) to be astronomical (the more targeted the higher the CPC). 2. Dynamic Ads – You’ll find these ads on…

With $50M in fresh funding, Allbirds will open new stores in the US, UK and Asia

The quintessential venture capitalist’s uniform consists of a pair of designer jeans, a Patagonia fleece vest and $95 wool sneakers. The company behind the shoes, Allbirds, entered the unicorn club this morning with the announcement of a $50 million Series C from late-stage players T. Rowe Price, which led the round, Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments. The 3-year-old startup founded by Joey Zwillinger and Tim Brown has raised $75 million to date, including a $17.5 million Series B last year. It’s backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Scooter Braun, Maveron, Lerer Hippeau and Elephant, the venture capital firm led by Warby Parker founder Andrew Hunt. The Wall Street Journal is reporting the round values Allbirds at $1.4 billion. The company would not confirm that figure to TechCrunch. Like Warby Parker, San Francisco-based Allbirds began as a direct-to-consumer online retailer but has since expanded to brick-and-mortar, opening stores in San Francisco and New York. It currently ships to locations across the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Next week, the company plans to open its first storefront in the U.K. in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood. It will begin shipping throughout the U.K. In 2019. Using its latest investment, Allbirds will double down on its brick-and-mortar business. In addition to the U.K., the company says it will open even more locations in the U.S., as well as open doors in Asia in the coming months. Tiger Global, which has backed Allbirds since its Series B, may be of help. The firm has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as partners across Asia. Allbirds makes eco-friendly wool shoes for men, women and kids via its kid’s line, aptly named Smallbirds. The shoes are made of sustainable materials, including merino wool, a fabric made from eucalyptus fiber that the company has dubbed “Tree” and “SweetFoam,” a shoe sole made from sugarcane-based, carbon-negative foam rubber. “Climate change is the problem of our generation and the private sector has a responsibility to combat it,” Zwillinger, Allbirds’ chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This injection of capital will help us bring our sustainable products to more people around the globe, demonstrating that comfort, design…

Recent departures hint at turmoil at Quartet Health, a mental health startup backed by GV

Backed with nearly $87 million in venture capital funding from GV, Oak HC/FT and F-Prime Capital, Quartet Health was founded in 2014 by Arun Gupta, Steve Shulman and David Wennberg to improve access to behavioral healthcare. Its mission: “enable every person in our society to thrive by building a collaborative behavioral and physical health ecosystem.” Recent shakeups within the New York-based company’s c-suite and a perusal of its Glassdoor profile suggest Quartet’s culture is not fully in line with its own philosophy.   In the last few weeks, chief product officer Rajesh Midha has left the company and president and chief operating officer David Liu is on his way out, TechCrunch has learned and confirmed with Quartet. Founding chief executive officer Arun Gupta, meanwhile, has stepped into the executive chairman role, relinquishing responsibility of the company’s day-to-day operations to former chief science officer David Wennberg, who’s taken over as CEO. “I’m focusing on our external growth,” Gupta told TechCrunch on Friday. “David has really stepped up as CEO.” Quartet raises $40M Series C to help healthcare providers collaborate on patient care Gupta and Wennberg said Liu’s role was no longer needed because Wennberg had assumed his responsibilities. Liu will formally exit the company at the end of the month. As for its product chief, the pair say Midha had “transitioned out” of the role and that an unnamed internal candidate was tapped to replace him. When asked whether other employees had left in recent weeks,  Wennberg provided the following indeterminate statement: “We are always having people coming in. I don’t think we’ve had any unusual turnover. We’re hiring and people’s roles change and that’s just part of growth.” Quartet, which provides a platform that allows providers to collaborate on treatment plans, currently has 150 employees, according to its executives. In a LinkedIn status update published this week — after TechCrunch’s initial inquiries — Gupta announced his transition to executive chairman: “Still full-time, though focused largely on our opportunity to further evangelize our mission, [I will] drive the change we want to see in this world, and expand our reach … I have tremendous confidence in David’s ability…

Inside the pay-for-post ICO industry

In a world where nothing can be trusted and fake news abounds, ICO and crypto teams are further muddying the waters by trying – and often failing – to pay for posts. While bribes for blogs is nothing new, sadly the current crop of ICO creators and crypto projects are particularly interested in scaling fast and many ICO CEOs are far happier with scammy multi-level marketing tricks than real media relations. The worst part of this spammy, scammy ecosystem is the service providers. A new group of media organizations are appearing where pay-to-post is the norm rather than the rare exception. I’ve been looking at these groups for a while now and recently found a few egregious examples. But first some background. Oh yeah, Mr. Smart Guy? How do I get press? Say you’re trying to publicize a startup. You’ve emailed all the big names in the industry and the emails have gone unanswered. Your product is about to flounder on the market without users and you can’t get any because, in perfect chicken-or-egg fashion, you can’t get funding without users and you can’t get users without funding. So isn’t it a good idea to pay a few dollars for a little press? No. And isn’t most PR just pay-for-post anyway? No. PR people are consummate networkers and are paid to reach out to media on your behalf and their particular set of skills, honed over long careers, are dedicated to breaking down the forcefield between the journalist and the outside world. They are your surrogate hustlers, dedicated to getting you more exposure. A good PR person is worth their weight in gold. They can call up a popular journalist and make a simple pitch: “This cool new thing is happening. Can I put you in touch?” If a journalist’s mission is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, a good PR person makes the comfortable look slightly afflicted in order to give the journalist a better story. Also, like velociraptors, they are tenacious and will follow up multiple times on your behalf. A bad PR person, on the…

MasterClass raises $80M after doubling sales last year

MasterClass, the website that brings celebrity-taught classes to the public, like tennis lessons from Serena Williams and photography instruction from Annie Leibovitz, has raised $80 million to expand internationally. The Series D funding, led by IVP, with participation from Javelin Ventures, NEA, Advancit Capital, Atomico and Evolution Media, will also be used to bring more celebrities to MasterClass. The company currently offers 39 classes, with plans to exceed 50 by the end of the year. In the last year, MasterClass has added a writing class with Margaret Atwood, a comedy lesson from Judd Apatow and more. Co-founder and CEO David Rogier told TechCrunch this morning that he hopes to bring Elon Musk, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and J.K. Rowling on board one day. MasterClass’ sales more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and are on track to do the same this year. That puts the company on pace to match Udacity and Coursera — a pair of edtech heavyweights — in revenue, according to Rogier, who would not disclose MasterClass’ financials but made the comparison. Udacity has said publicly that it increased revenue to $70 million last year, up from $29 million in 2016. Coursera, for its part, is reportedly “within striking distance of $100 million dollars in annual revenue.” Udacity was founded in 2011 and garnered a $1 billion valuation in 2015. Coursera, founded in 2012, was valued at $800 million last year. Three-year-old MasterClass declined to disclose a valuation. To thrust itself ahead of its competitors, MasterClass also recently rolled out a new subscription model that allows customers to pay an annual fee of $180 for access to all MasterClass lessons, which are otherwise $90 each. It’s been a huge success so far, counting for 80 percent of the company’s revenue. On top of that, MasterClass released its first-ever mobile app this April. Before that, all the company’s growth came from desktop. “To our investors, that was a shock and a surprise,” Rogier said. “It’s really rare and amazing that you could drive that amount of growth without being on those platforms.” San Francisco-based MasterClass previously raised $54.5 million…

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