It's true, I've been a fan of LinkedIn since that wonderful day in August of 2005 when I set up my profile. Since that time I've only become more enamored with what has been and will likely continue to be my absolute favorite social media. So I was excited when I heard about Showcase, and decided last week I was way overdue to share my impressions. So here's what I've learned so far about Showcase and how businesses can use it to their benefit:
What are Showcase Pages?
The simplest answer is that Showcase is LinkedIn's response to the recognition that Company Pages really didn't work for companies that had multiple product lines that appealed to very different targets. Not to pick on anyone, but Caterpillar is a monster of a manufacturing giant, with products lines that range from enormous dropline shovels for surface mining, to log loaders for forestry, earth movers and bulldozers for highway construction, to generators for any industry that uses mobile electricity, to turbines for powerplants. So as a customer, prospect, vendor, or potential business partner, following Caterpillar's company page closely doesn't make much sense if your interests are focused on one product type or vertical market. So the risk to Caterpillar is their audience gets turned off by the volume of mostly irrelevant content.
Enter Showcase Pages. They're designed to be segmented extensions of a company's main LinkedIn Company Page, for easy navigation and tie-in to the main company page. Each Company Page is allowed 10 Showcase Pages, so in the case of Caterpillar, they might decide to dedicate their Showcase Pages to their 10 largest product categories, or their 10 most important vertical markets. Or maybe to the markets that have the most opportunity for distributing content via LinkedIn. Best thing about Showcase Pages today? They're FREE!!!
How Does Showcase Work for Marketers?
Microsoft is a great example of a company with a powerful LinkedIn presence before Showcase was introduced, who's already making good use of Showcase. Microsoft has almost 1.5 million followers or their Company Page, but they've recently added 8 Showcase Pages that include pages for Dynamics, Office, Project and Partner Training.
Comparing the content between the company pages makes the point elegantly by demonstrating how much more relevant the Dynamics page is to Dynamics customers and partners, and by comparison how irrelevant the company page is for someone who is just interested in Dynamics. Now the people at Microsoft responsible for Dynamics marketing, training or partner relations have another potential direct communication port that's an easy place to promote Dynamic's events, new releases, special programs or promotions, etc. All the things that wouldn't go through the Company Page because they just wouldn't be relevant or compelling to that larger audience.
Setting Up Showcase Pages
It starts with your company page. As an admin just:
Determine the Showcase pages you want to create, based on products, markets, business units or channels. LinkedIn currently limits use to 10 Showcase Pages
Click on the Edit menu, and from the drop down options select Create a Showcase Page
Start sharing relevant content to a target audience that cares
Because Showcase Pages are intended to be attractive, compelling content portals, each page contains a larger hero image across the top of the page, and a two-column feed design to highlight the most relevant content. Set-up is so simple that, well, even I could do it, assuming my team would let me.
Showcase Page Analytics
If you're familiar with Company Page analytics, surprise! Showcase gives you as an administrator access to the same information, allowing you to:
See how engaging your individual posts are
Identify trends across key metrics
Understand more about your follower demographics and sources
Are Showcase Pages Right For Your Business?
So how do you decide if Showcase Pages might make sense for your business? Start by looking at your customers and other meaningful constituent groups. If they're naturally segmented by market, like Caterpillar, that's an easy decision. Or if your customers seem to self-segment by product, like Microsoft, or by their role or relationship to you, like Microsoft partners, that also seems like an easy call. Any business that sells through distributors but also wants to connect with end user customers would clearly benefit from Showcase, because the conversation should be different between those two groups even if the same products are important to each.
But once you decide that segmenting your LinkedIn conversations makes you more powerful to your different constituents, that's the time to pull the trigger. After all, it's both free and easy, and who knows how long that will last, and when the next free and easy opportunity comes along.
Posted by Greg Linnemanstons
With 18+ years in senior management roles at Fortune 500® and medium-sized companies, Greg has deep marketing and sales experience with CPGs and manufacturing. He leads strategic initiatives with clients and is involved in developing client inbound marketing plans. Greg holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University.