LinkedIn announced yesterday that they were launching a ‘Follow Company’ button – essentially a graphic button that organisations could place, for example, on their own websites to encourage people to ‘follow’ their company on LinkedIn. Just to clarify, following a company in LinkedIn’s terms simply means that you receive news automatically from the company either via email or as an update on your LinkedIn homepage, according to your preferences.
You’ve been able to follow companies from the LinkedIn site for a couple of years now, but this is the logical extension to that by facilitating it away from just the Company pages on LinkedIn. It also ties nicely in with the other feature that LinkedIn added to the Company pages at the end of last year which allows organisations to post updates and hence opens up the opportunity for them to start to use their Company Page more proactively as a company mouthpiece and marketing tool.
How does this change things?
Previously only individuals were able to post updates which they could do from their LinkedIn homepage – these updates would go out to their direct (or 1st level) connections and could then be shared or liked by them and so passed on to their connections in turn. The advent of the Company Updates took that one step further with companies now able to send out news and articles as well, this time the updates going out to ‘Followers’ of the company.
As a result, companies should be looking at building the number of followers they have so that they can also extend their reach and branding opportunities. The addition of the ‘Follow Company’ button helps to start to link all of these elements up so that not only can you now place LinkedIn ‘Share’ buttons on your content pages, and ‘Recommend’ buttons on your products or services pages, but also encourage people to ‘Follow’ you directly on their website rather than just send them through to their Company Overview page as has been the trend up until now.
How do I add the button?
Luckily, all of the pain has been taken out of the process. LinkedIn has a ‘Developer’ section which you can access via the footer of every page on LinkedIn and within that there are a number of plugin options which allow you to start to integrate elements on LinkedIn. The ‘Follow Company’ button is the latest of those (direct link here).
You will be faced with the box you can see to the right and all you need to do is type in and select your company name, decide whether you want the number of followers you have to be displayed or not and then click the ‘Get Code’ button at the bottom which gives you a little chunk of code to add to your website.
Since I’m an ardent advocate of an integrated approach to the marketing between LinkedIn and other parts of your online (and offline) marketing then I’m all in favour.
However, there is a caveat – you do still need to send out information that people are going to be interested in and want to hear from you! So, do plan what you intend to put out as Company Updates – think of it as part of your communications planning, focus on your audience (as ever) and do avoid just pushing out advertising messages.