Why use LinkedIn?
Important people are on LinkedIn, people with decision making powers, people with budgets, people with influence.
There has never been a time when Probation Trusts have had more need of powerful supporters and allies. (And that’s before the probation review is published.)
LinkedIn is an opportunity for probation trusts to target these local heavy hitters with key messages about what probation trusts do.
There is a stronger bond between people who are connected on LinkedIn than between Twitter followers or Facebook page fans.
You can communicate directly with these people, rather than having to battle with their PAs, switchboards etc.
@Comms2point0 recently (20 April 2012) published a helpful blog post on Six things an organisation should know about using LinkedIn.
The first thing to do is to get all key people in your trust (Senior Management Team, Board Members, PR & Comms, anyone with functional responsibilities) to register on LinkedIn.
You may consider seeing if your Trust will allow them to set up their CV and profile in work time.
Encourage individuals to do this – LinkedIn is the number one professional network in the world and they are promoting and advertising themselves as well as your trust.
Then get all these staff to see who they know who is already on LinkedIn. The easiest way to do this if your Trust uses Outlook is to download the LinkedIn connector which will check LinkedIn against your email address book.
If this is not possible, get staff to list the key local stakeholders they want to be aware of your Trust’s achievements – sentencers, commissioners, partners, MPs, local councillors etc. and invite all of these to connect with them via LinkedIn.
It is easy to keep building your LinkedIn connections by asking at (or checking after) meetings to see which stakeholders are members.
Staff then need to post updates on LinkedIn about key Trust developments & achievements. This is just like using Twitter except you have 600 characters instead of 140. Where possible they should be including links to content on your Trust website/Facebook page.
Staff can also set up their Tweets to post as updates on LinkedIn too. However, I recommend this approach only for people who Tweet no more than once or twice a day. It is better to reserve LinkedIn updates for substantial news.
LinkedIn works well if PR/Comms leads co-ordinate matters and ask particular staff to post updates on specific issues.
For instance, although you might e-mail all your sentencers about new content relevant to them on your website, you might also ask SMT members who liaise with judges and magistrates to update their LinkedIn with the same link.
You may also want to send particularly important messages to key people via the LinkedIn messaging/e-mail function.
LinkedIn and Probation
Two Probation Trusts have registered company pages on LinkedIn but I do not recommend this approach as a priority – probably only those seeking employment with your Trust will follow you and a company account which is not updated gives a poor impression.
There are over 200 probation staff currently on LinkedIn in the UK.