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What Can LinkedIn Do for Nonprofits?
Interview with LinkedIn Specialist, Carol Kaemmerer
LinkedIn is THE place where business professionals such as your prospective Board members, volunteers, and donors can be found — so it behooves every nonprofit leader to have a solid presence there as well. Having a company page for the nonprofit is important too, because it gives your nonprofit added credibility and helps staff, Board members, and volunteers proudly list their affiliation with the organization. And then, there is the opportunity to share your nonprofit’s photos and stories of beneficiaries online to share the message with people who don’t spend their time on Facebook. It’s free to use and is a powerful tool. Join this session to hear how you can leverage this powerful business tool for your nonprofit.
Carol Kaemmerer is an internationally recognized personal branding expert, professional speaker, and author of the award-winning book LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive, now available in its Second Edition. Prior to her focus on LinkedIn and personal branding, she was a marketing communications consultant for 20 years with a Fortune 500 medical device company.
Since 2011, Carol has focused her communications expertise on helping C-suite executives and senior leaders use LinkedIn powerfully, creating positioning and messaging that reflects their business passion with authenticity. Pairing her flair for communicating with her deep knowledge of the ever-changing LinkedIn platform, she optimizes her clients’ ability to be found on this essential social medium to increase their visibility and influence, attract high-performing talent and steer their careers.
As a professional member of the National Speakers Association, Certified Virtual Presenter, and Advisor to the C-Suite Network, Carol is a popular speaker and corporate trainer.
More about Carol and her work, go to https://carolkaemmerer.com
Read the Interview Transcript
Hugh Ballou: Greetings, everyone. It’s Hugh Ballou, founder and president of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. This is The Nonprofit Exchange, interviews with people who have a message. They have been there, done that. They have an expertise. Many times, we interview business leaders because we need to know good, sound business principles to install in a 501(c)3 charitable organization that we run. We call it a nonprofit, but we have to make some money to be able to grow our organization and pay decent salaries and actually fulfill our mission. We need to tell people about the good work we’re doing. One of those places I believe is very under-utilized is LinkedIn.
Today, I have a dear friend Carol Kaemmerer here, who is a branding specialist. She is going to focus her message today on how to utilize LinkedIn as a nonprofit to accomplish your goals and let the world know about the good stuff you’re doing. Carol, welcome. Tell people who you are and why you do this work that you do.
Carol Kaemmerer: Okay, I’m Carol Kaemmerer. I work with companies and senior leaders to help them share their brand online so that they can do the things they are looking to do. LinkedIn is such a powerful tool for doing that. My experience is that senior leaders of any stripe generally don’t use it well. That’s who I focus on working with.
I also am a philanthropist in my own right and a board officer in two nonprofits. The one I want to share with you today is Water to Thrive, which does well projects in eastern Africa: Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda, bringing clean water for the first time to people in rural areas.
Hugh: Wow. I think every leader should serve on a nonprofit board. It’s so important that we share not only our philanthropy of money, but our philanthropy of time and talent. It’s good for business, but that’s not why we do it. It’s good for us to be active.
I have a presence on LinkedIn. I have a pretty decent following of 15,000 people.
Carol: Yeah. Think that’s pretty good.
Hugh: I seem to know something. Engaging people and getting them to do something is a whole different ballgame. To start with, LinkedIn is very different than the other social media platforms. Talk a little bit about that. If we run a nonprofit, do we set it up as me, the executive director, or the organization?
Carol: Tell me your first question again.
Hugh: What’s different about LinkedIn, and why should we be on there?
Carol: On Facebook and Instagram, we can show what we had for lunch if that’s important to us. That doesn’t work on LinkedIn. It really has a business purpose. Not so much pictures of your son playing in a Little League game, unless you are making a business point. No cat pictures. No dog movies. LinkedIn is a platform for business. It really, really is. We need to adjust how we communicate. But really, if we have a nonprofit, we are likely to have a “business purpose,” however charitable it might be, so it’s not hard to use LinkedIn.
Your second question was about-
Hugh: Do we set up a profile for the organization or for the leader?
Carol: You cannot set up a profile for an organization unless you have a profile for yourself. Your organizational profile, we call it a company page, has to be connected to someone in the organization. First, I would recommend the executive director set up a profile for themselves. Then, if there has never been a company page on LinkedIn for the organization, it’s really important for them to do that, to set up a company page. It’s not hard, and it doesn’t cost anything, which is something that really should resonate with leaders of nonprofits.
To set up a company page, you need a website, a logo, an email that goes to the domain of your nonprofit. Then you can set it up. It’s so easy. It takes five minutes. You need some kind of banner image. Most nonprofits have really great pictures. You need to propagate with your logo.
Then, here’s the magic: Once you have it set up, it is accessible for every member of your staff to have it on their profile, which is a real credibility builder. And every member of your board can list it as a volunteer activity and have that logo show up on their profile. If you have volunteers that spend a significant amount of their time working with you, and they feel like listing you as one of their volunteer organizations, they can have the logo, too. It’s just magical because a logo on LinkedIn translates to credibility. If you have no logo for your nonprofit, it’s not a good thing.
Hugh: That’s awesome. There is a common mistake, however, that if you have a pretty logo, people think that’s your brand. It’s not true. Would you speak to that?
Carol: Your brand is so much more. Your brand is how you see the world. Your brand is who you serve and how you serve them. Your brand just can’t be captured in a little picture with letters on it. It is important to have your logo there because it says you’ve arrived. You know how the business world works. Every nonprofit needs people with business skills to be on their board. It’s hard to join a board. A senior-level leader has to figure out where they want to spend their time. They want a little credit. That little credit comes in having the logo show up on their profile. The only way you can get the logo to show up on anyone’s profile is they have to be a company page.
Hugh: Great. Is there a certain size or format logistics we need to think about?
Carol: These things probably change all the time, like everything on LinkedIn. Just work on it. One of the things about the banner image is it’s long and skinny, and it’s about the same size as the banner image that is in the back of your own personal profile.
That is another thing you can do. The executive director for sure should have a picture of something that depicts what your organization does. Like with Water to Thrive, you can certainly have pictures of people in Africa drawing water. It’s wonderful. You can have people celebrating. We have all kinds of pictures on our website of people celebrating that coming of clean water to their community. It’s full of color. Instantly, you have a connection between the person and who we serve and how we serve them. In the United States, we have to have lots of signoffs when we put clients in our pictures. Something that depicts the organization. You can even draw an image into Canva, which is a very easy-to-use program for graphics, and superimpose your logo or some words that are part of your mission statement. This is real estate on the LinkedIn profile that you can use.
Hugh: There are special places for special information. We want to talk about the work of the nonprofit. Think of the Simon Sinek TED Talk, Start with Why. There needs to be a clear branding message about why you exist and what problem you solve. You were clear with the water project. People don’t have water.
Carol: It’s a big deal.
Hugh: it is a big deal. You’re solving that problem in a unique way in specific places you’re helping.
I see lots of really weird things on company pages. What is good protocol? Where are the pockets we want to make sure we populate? You talked about some images of the work on the nonprofit. That’s different from I had coffee and went to work with my friends like you do on Instagram or Facebook. It’s a very different audience and tone of conversation. It doesn’t have to be somber, but it’s a serious representation of the work that we do.
Carol: It is.
Hugh: There are particular sections. Can you talk about what’s good for those sections? My pet peeve is when I find somebody good and I want their contact information, the only thing in there is their LinkedIn profile. I’m already there. There is no way to get ahold of everybody. What are the different sections, and why are they important?
Carol: I’m going to start with your personal profile sections. Then we can talk about the company page. Assuming that you are senior leader of a nonprofit, like the executive director or the marketing director or the communications director, you want to make sure that you’re making some use of that banner image we just talked about, the image behind your photo. A really good possibility is that someone in the marketing area of your nonprofit could make several different possible banners that staff might be invited to consider using. I feel strongly that you should demand your staff do that. If they felt that was appropriate, they could load up a picture. That is the first place.
A second area is your headline. That is the text that comes right under your name. instead of just saying, “Executive Director of Water to Thrive,” we have 220 characters to customize that. It could say, “Executive Director of Water to Thrive. Connecting people with a heart to give with people who need clean water in East Africa,” something like that. You can talk about your mission right there in that 220 characters, which is a lot of characters. That’s the second place.
Another place is the Featured section, which is a fairly new section, about two years old. It is all about visual. The things that you would want to put in here are not Word documents. You put instead photos of your staff at work, the people receiving (if that’s possible), depictions of what you do. Load up videos from your nonprofit. If you have any kind of video, that’s a great place because the images there are not teensy tiny, they are pretty big. In terms of impact, the Featured section is just fabulous.
Your About section is really about you. But it’s hard just to miss what you do. Some of that will be about your organization.
Your current position as a leader of a nonprofit, that should include information about the nonprofit and what you do for the nonprofit. What are your accomplishments?
One thing is that on LinkedIn, people like to see numbers in our section about our experience. If you were the communications director and you were able to increase the social media following from one year to the next, you might put that in there. You would certainly put in things like increase in the number of people served. That is what you would do on your own profile.
Do you want to talk about the company page?
Hugh: Yes, that has my attention.
Carol: The company page, again, it would be nice to have a great picture from your organization as a banner image.
Then you have the logo.
Under the name of the company, you get to upload your mission statement. When you’ve done that, you have a de facto company page that everyone can access.
But you can also on a periodic basis post something. What I do, because most often people know people instead of companies, I post my stuff from my personal site to my company page. I would recommend that. You are more likely to get more views. After it’s posted to the company site, all of your staff and board can use the URL of the post to post it again from their profile.
Hugh: There is also some value if you’ve posted because the algorithm for LinkedIn looks for things like comments and shares and likes.
Hugh: If you’re posting something, this is a place where your volunteers, board, and staff could be engaged. Understand if you do it pretty close to the time it’s posted, it has a lot more energy. Do you know anything about the algorithm and how that works?
Carol: Not particularly. One thing I think is that you just encourage your staff and board to amplify. We have people on our board who don’t use LinkedIn. That happens. You have staff that never want to be on LinkedIn. Do what you can. It’s a possibility. If you could get everybody to repost on the same day, it would probably have more value than if they post three days from now. On the other hand, three days from now, somebody reintroducing it into the feed might get traction. All of these optimizing things about how many minutes between this and that, just let that go. Make sure that people are just following you.
Hugh: What’s another way for people to be engaged? I find if I give people a sample posting, “Would you go post this on your page?” they are more likely to do it. They are more likely to do the cut and paste method rather than making up something. That’s where they get stuck.
Tell me about the book. [Carol’s Zoom background has a book featured in it]. You can find more about Carol at CarolKaemmerer.com.
Carol: My book is available on my website. It’s called LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive: Promote Your Brand with Authenticity, Tact, and Power. It’s in the second edition, which I published last January. It’s well up to date. It’s all about strategies, just like I have been sharing with you.
One thing you won’t find in my book is a bunch of screenshots of how it looks when you do this and that because if you did that, the book would be out of date before it was published. What I say is this is what I see now. If that’s not what you see on LinkedIn, Google it because Google keeps up with what’s happening on LinkedIn. They can get you to the right place on LinkedIn Help. If you bumble into LinkedIn Help, it’s very unhelpful. You can’t figure out where to go. Google is a great tool. When you get to the right place on LinkedIn Help, it’s very helpful.
Hugh: I’m sure it’s for the unsavvy, too. Even I could benefit from that.
Carol: You are one of the savviest people I know, Hugh.
Hugh: I was phishing; got busted there. There ought to be a point person in the organization to set policy and procedure for social media. I guess that would be it. The board itself needs to approve it, but the leader of the organization is the executive director. That could be delegated, one thing we don’t do very well, to a person who will be able to post on a regular, consistent basis. That’s also important. In the book, do you talk about a protocol or process that should be installed?
Carol: Things are a little bit different when you are talking about an organization. This book is mostly geared to the individual. I didn’t talk about how an organization should develop its social media protocols. The concept of having whoever is in charge of communications and whomever is in charge of the organization, they should sit down and think about what the issues are that are likely to come up.
One thing I feel strongly about is you cannot demand that your staff or your board post anything. It’s very intrusive. But you can make it possible for them to do so. You want to have in your HR manual things that would be unacceptable staff behavior, like to post pictures of clients when there is no signoff. That is not acceptable here in the U.S. Demeaning staff or board members online. Scandalous stuff. I am guessing that anything that would be posted by the top executive or the communications person would be something that could easily be shared and would be a problem.
Hugh: My guideline is don’t post anything I wouldn’t want my mother to see.
Carol: What I hear is don’t post anything you would be embarrassed if your grandmother saw.
Hugh: Posting is important. It’s a communication, and it’s a value. There are regular posts, and there are articles. Are those different?
Carol: You go to the same starting place, but they are different. Articles are longer. Articles start with the expectation that you have a picture, so you need a photo of some kind or an illustration to go along with it. They have a byline. You will be able to find them again.
You can post your article, but posts are generally shorter. They may or may not have a picture. You can post in a lot of ways. You can post with a poll. Ask your friends about something. Anything that tickles you but in a business way.
Hugh: When people to go CarolKaemmerer.com, what will they find when they get there? What should people be looking for?
Carol: I have my book for sale. You can also buy my book on Amazon. If you want an autographed copy, it’s available through my website. If you are looking for how to make my own profile better, I have a great course called “How to Be Found Online: Key Strategies for Attracting Ideal for You Opportunities,” which is available on my site. Because I read about how to use LinkedIn effectively to achieve our goals every month, I also have a sign-up for my newsletter, and I send my monthly articles to people so they see them in their inbox.
Hugh: You said your book is written for the executive. I would still think the whole process is similar if you want to be clear on what you stand for and the results that you’re looking for.
Hugh: Your trainings are for the leaders. It would probably be good for the board members, too.
Carol: Absolutely. People who are in college or graduate school, I have guest lectured many times to those groups. People just love the book because it’s written with a person in mind who wants the high-level, a lot of white space. They want to know what’s important. My book has both red and black text, and boxes and callouts. It’s very well-designed. It gets you through the book so easily.
Hugh: I like pictures. We have a couple minutes left in our timeline here. What are some of the things that you see on LinkedIn that make you cringe? What are some of the biggest mistakes people make?
Carol: The most egregious mistake is thinking it doesn’t matter, that no one will look. People are looking all the time. We had a situation where we were trying to figure out if we could find someone from Doctors Without Borders. We wanted to talk to them about collaborating with us on a particular project. I was able to use my search skills on LinkedIn to find there was someone right in Austin, Texas, where Water to Thrive is, that we could contact. It was so good. It’s important to be there. It’s amazing the number of ways and reasons why people would look at your profile.
Hugh: Write like it matters. Be consistent. Provide value to your readers. I advise nonprofits to have a communications person that includes the writing of articles and the posting. Someone really should own this whole channel. It is still approved by the board. There is an official process. Someone needs to have the beginning page. It’s a conversation. Social media is in fact social.
Carol, thank you for sharing some of your long-respected, well-earned, and proven secrets. As you pointed out, things do change, so we need to stay abreast of it. But the fundamentals have not changed. It’s a business place, B2B conversations, but there are people on there who could support you if you tell a story. Why is it important, and what is it you’re looking for? We are in business. We are a tax-exempt, for-purpose business, so it’s important for us to utilize the tools. LinkedIn certainly is a valuable tool. What do you want to leave people with today? Is there a thought, challenge, or tip you’d like to end this conversation with?
Carol: I really hope that every nonprofit will make sure that they have a company page. Let everyone know on their staff and board to enable that logo to appear. You have to sometimes delete the name of the organization and type it in and find it from the drop-down menu. If you just created the company page, everybody needs to do that so that the logo will appear. Just use it. It’s the best advertising you never had to pay for.
Hugh: This has been helpful. I’m glad I tuned in today. I learned some things. I’ve been at this a long time, but we can always learn some stuff. Carol Kaemmerer, thank you for being our guest today.
Carol: Thank you. What a pleasure.