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Understanding How LinkedIn Can Benefit Higher Education Marketing

Anthony J

Anthony Juliano is the Vice President of Account Service and Business Development at Asher Agency. Anthony has more than 15 years in marketing and communication strategy and has presented on social media and LinkedIn at national and international conferences.

Anthony has provided social media, blogging, and LinkedIn training for a wide variety of individuals and businesses and writes a monthly column about social media and has written for a variety of publications and blogs, including Convince and Convert, "the world’s #1 content marketing resource."

Michael Lynch: Who should be engaging with LinkedIn? Who could get the most benefit out of it?

Anthony Juliano: The obvious answer is job seekers and recruiters, but it goes way beyond that. Really anyone who has a service to promote, specifically in the B2B environment can benefit from LinkedIn. It is really a place where people go not just to find jobs, not just to find talent, but to find people who can be resources to them in their professional lives.

ML: How can higher education institutions utilize LinkedIn, and how can they use it for their benefit?

AJ: There’s tremendous possibilities in higher ed, and I think LinkedIn is decidedly under appreciated in that space. LinkedIn has the potential to help reach the families of traditional prospects, as well as nontraditional and graduate school prospects, which is becoming more important to many institutions as they look for new revenue streams and to look beyond just traditional prospects. It's great for connecting with alumni and connecting students with alumni. It's great for employer partners, advisory boards, and it's really good for reaching out to the community at large. Now I want to say LinkedIn will not get you in front of everyone, but for higher ed institutions, it can help them reach just about every audience except for traditional prospects, because many of their traditional prospects, high school kids, aren't really on LinkedIn yet.

ML: What do you think are some of the misconceptions possibly that some of these institutions of higher education have that keep them from really fully engaging in LinkedIn?

AJ: I think there's two primary problems. One is something I just mentioned in that most people believe that LinkedIn doesn't have a lot of utility unless you're looking for a job or looking to hire. That's simply not the case. The other issue with LinkedIn is it's really different than most other social media platforms in that the use of LinkedIn is best distributed throughout the organization. What I mean by that is on a platform like Facebook or Instagram, you're generally going to have marketing in control of the conversation. It's going to be the institution speaking with one voice, largely marketing to all of its audiences, and that gets the job done. LinkedIn doesn't work that way at all. The company page has some value, but it's way less impactful than the actions taken by individuals in the organization with their LinkedIn networks. The collective impact of that is huge. So it's a little scary for marketing folks, because they've got to let the reigns go a little bit, and they have to collaborate with their teams, give them good content to share, educate them about how to use LinkedIn and why it matters, and that's very different than how marketing folks go about using just about every other social media platform.

ML: Is there really a good way to sign up for premium services or use premium services, and maybe even for a student or a young graduate, is that something they should really consider?

AJ: I would throw out two prerequisites to getting a premium LinkedIn account. This is true for students, but it's true for those us who are further along in our career, as well. The number one thing that I encourage people to do before even thinking about paying for LinkedIn membership is to make sure they're getting a hundred percent usefulness out of the free version of LinkedIn. Because what I find is most people don't take advantage of some of the lowest hanging fruit on LinkedIn, and what they then do is they buy the premium membership thinking that that's somehow going to transform what's possible for them, and it just doesn't happen. The other thing I encourage people to do, if you are making 100% good use of the free membership and you're considering a premium membership is to ask LinkedIn for a trial.

ML: Another issue is who should you consider connecting with on LinkedIn?

AJ: The answer is a little different, pending on what it is you're trying to accomplish. Is your primary goal to find a job? Is your primary job to connect with new talent, to recruit people? Is your primary job to promote a product or service? Is your primary job to build a referral network? The answer to the question of who should you connect with is really based on where is the best opportunity for you. For me, the biggest bang for my LinkedIn buck is building stronger relationships with the people I already know, to stay top of mind to build those connections. So that means I'm going to say no to some of the connection requests I get from people who are maybe out of my market, out of my industry, who aren't really going to be able to benefit from my expertise and who I really might not benefit from their expertise. But if you're a recruiter, or you're just getting started in your career, or you're in sales, you might want to be more expansive with who you decide to connect with, because there may be some opportunities there in connecting with people you don't know.

ML: Why should institutions really think about adding LinkedIn to what they do?

AJ: I think it's a matter of return on investment, right? Most of us, especially higher ed folks, are really busy. They're not looking for anything else to do, but what LinkedIn can do is really compliment some of the other stuff you're doing and make it even better. I wear multiple hats in the higher ed space. I'm a higher ed marketer, I serve on our board of trustees, I'm on the alumni board, and I teach. I find that using LinkedIn makes me better at all of those things. And I haven't really added time to my work day. I've just replaced things that are less efficient or complimented other things that I do. Like anything else, I really want people to be intentional about social media.

ML: What are the keys to success with LinkedIn, and where are we going to get results? How do we best get results?

AJ: The key to success on LinkedIn is creating content. A lot of people, they build a profile, they make some connections, and then they just kind of sit back and wait for good things to happen. That obviously doesn't work. What I highly recommend is that individuals share status updates, daily if possible, but at least weekly. What's the most interesting thing you have to share, whether it's something you created, something you read, on a given day, share that out with the world, and what that does is it puts you in the news feed or at least gives you a fighting chance of being in the newsfeed. Because if you don't do that, if you're just relying on your profile, people are first going to have to think of you out of thin air, then they're going to have to find you in search. Then they're going to have to go to your profile. If you're creating content on LinkedIn, you get results.

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