Over the years, LinkedIn has become so much more than just an online resume. From media-focused profiles and influencer content to advertising, the social network has become a staple in the marketing arsenal. To help guide you the company has released the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, a free downloadable e-book that acts as a one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about getting the most out of the platform.

The new guide is less of an instruction manual and more like a strategic guide, complete with interviews and tips from marketing thought leaders and expert insights from the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions team. Written with you in mind, the e-book highlights why and how businesses can market themselves on LinkedIn, the best practices for optimizing content on the platform, and ways for companies to engage professionals with display ads and text ads.

As people spend more time reading news and keeping in touch with their network through LinkedIn, it’s created a powerful opportunity for marketers to build and grow relationships with professionals across the globe. Many of those relationships eventually translate into revenue. According to LinkedIn, the number of B2B and B2C marketers generating sales from LinkedIn has grown consistently (65 and 51 percent, respectively) since 2010.

Whether you’re focused on building your brand or generating leads, LinkedIn provides you with several customizable solutions. Here are just four of the tools that the company highlighted in its Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide for LinkedIn.

Company Pages

In Q3 of 2013, LinkedIn reported 184 million unique visitors as more people turn to the site to learn about professional growth, job opportunities, and your business. Company Pages have become an integral piece of the social network. Through it, you can market your business, tell your brand’s story, and give customers and potential hires a place to learn about your business, your employees, and your products or services.

It also goes without saying that employees should create and regularly update a LinkedIn Profile. One of the first steps a person takes after receiving content from a company or another member is to click through to that profile or Company Page to learn more about the sender. For this reason, it’s critical that both your LinkedIn Profile and Company Page are optimized for visitors.

An optimized profile or page can boost the visibility of your company and its content in search results on and off the network as well. “Search engines like Google scour pages and URLs for keywords, and LinkedIn profiles offer many opportunities to embed keywords, such as within the LinkedIn URL, other URLs you list within your profile, job titles and descriptions, and content links you include.”

Company Updates

According to LinkedIn, content now garners six times more engagement than jobs properties on the social network. Company Updates, sent from your Company Page, are a powerful way to reach and engage professionals with relevant content. Similar to other content you share, it’s important that you optimize your updates for your audience.

In it’s new guide, LinkedIn highlighted several best practices to follow when creating and posting your company page updates. These include attaching a compelling image or some type of rich media to your updates, aligning your content to members’ needs, and keeping your audience’s attention by creating consistent content and responding in a timely manner.

Sponsored Updates

Once you’ve got a few company updates under your belt, try extending your reach by delivering updates into the feeds of members beyond those already following your company. Sponsored Updates let the more than 3 million companies on the platform pay to promote updates to a broader audience.

The updates look like regular posts, are clearly labeled “Sponsored,” and given viewers the option to like, comment, and share, the updates, as well as follow your company. You can define your audience by location, company size, industry, job function, and seniority. You’ll also have access to impression and engagement metrics within minutes of publishing your update.

Display Advertising

When sharing engaging content isn’t enough many marketers turn to advertising to help reach their target audience. LinkedIn allows you to display ads on various pages, including profiles, home pages, inbox, search result pages, and groups.

Want to encourage members to follow your Company Page or your Showcase Page? Use Follow Company Ads to deliver personalized messages on the home pages of your target audience. Hewlett-Packard used the ad unit over a two-month period and found its follower count increase from 300,000 to 1 million.

Content Ads deliver five different types of content, including blog posts, case studies, white papers, and video. For this reason, the ad unit helps to position you as a thought leader on the network as well as encourage members to engage with your content. It’s recommended that you review the different ad specifications before starting the creative process.

LinkedIn has seen some incredible growth in 2013 and we expect that 2014 will be another big year for the professional social network. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to take advantage of all the company has to offer, regardless of industry or business size. Download the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn for more information on the features we covered today, as well as an in-depth look at the ones we didn’t mention.

Once you’ve read the guide, tune in for the corresponding webinar on February 19th. The one hour live webcast will be hosted by LinkedIn’s senior content marketing manager, Jason Miller, and will help you visualize how you can tap into the company’s marketing solutions.

[Image credit: Taka@P.P.R.S.woodleywonderworksJD Hancock, SierraTierra]