If you logged onto your LinkedIn company page in the past few days, you probably saw a notification saying, “On April 14th, 2014, the Products & Services tab will be discontinued.” Much digital ink has been spilt over the value of these pages in the past, optimizing them and enhancing them. These pages, however, kept the focus of our social media marketing efforts on our products rather than solutions to customer problems.
Now, as one of the top social media platforms for people who want to organise and grow professional relationships, LinkedIn is forcing marketers to enter into the New Age of Customer Communication, whether we want to or not. And that’s a good thing.
One of the main tenants of both social media and content marketing is that you should focus on providing solutions to customer problems. That’s how you become a thought leader in your industry. More importantly, it’s also how you develop a relationship with current and potential customers in the age of information consumers.
LinkedIn’s Product & Services pages were all about you, though. They gave you an opportunity to showcase your work on a social media channel, while leaving other key ingredients to successful LinkedIn marketing behind.
On the flip side, if you were doing inbound marketing correctly, you were probably ignoring these pages in favor of more customer-focused social media and content marketing updates. LinkedIn Product & Services pages were left to stagnate as you created more relevant content. It’s enough to have to update your corporate website product and services pages without having to add another area for constant maintenance.
Now that the pages are set to be retired, marketers who focused on Products & Services on LinkedIn have to reconsider their approach to maintaining their LinkedIn Company Pages. And for those of us who were already creating solution-focused content for customers, we have one less product-focused content area to worry about.
Over the past couple years, LinkedIn has gone from being a place to connect with contacts to a place for engaging with contacts with content. Content marketing is where LinkedIn sees its future, and it has been all-in since it updated its iPad app to a magazine style reader almost two years ago. So it’s not a coincidence LinkedIn has decided to retire Product & Service pages just as it opened up its publishing platform.
LinkedIn’s new open publishing platform provides employees at any company the opportunity to engage users with new, fresh content rather than stale product information. It has already made steps in this direction by launching content-heavy Showcase pages, too. But the difference here is putting people, not products or brand, out in front.
What could this mean for Company pages? Rather than simply pushing out brand updates, LinkedIn could be positioning Company and Showcase pages to be hubs for employee-generated, personally branded content.
It’s simple really. All you have to do is fill out this form and you’ll be added to the queue for publishing approval. Depending on the amount of content you’re already creating, you can be accepted quickly, sometimes in just a few days as happened to John McTigue and Brianne Rush here.
Once you’re accepted, you simply click on the pencil icon on the status update bar from your LinkedIn homepage to write your posts:
From there, treat your published posts on LinkedIn like you would the educational content on your own company blog. Just remember to follow LinkedIn Publishing policies so you can get the most out of your content efforts.