We all think of LinkedIn as “the business social network.” But, is that really true? Are businesses on there, and if so, what are they doing? In other words, is the idea that LinkedIn is a super useful business tool based in fact, or is it just a well-propagated myth we only think is true because we’ve heard it so many times?
Perhaps some numbers can help us clear this up.
Over 400 million people are using LinkedIn, with over 100 million active every month. While this pales in comparison to Facebook in terms of sheer human volume (Facebook has over a billion monthly active users), when it comes to businesses connecting with other businesses, LinkedIn takes the cake.
B2B marketing is perhaps LinkedIn’s greatest strength. Measuring lead generation puts LinkedIn (59%) ahead of Twitter (28%) and Facebook (24%). B2B marketers using various social media said LinkedIn was responsible for 80% of leads generated across all social media platforms.
Perhaps it is because of the 400 million users on LinkedIn, 61 million are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are decision makers within their companies. LinkedIn is also the social media platform utilized most by Fortune 500 companies. This is further reflected in the flow of traffic from social media to visiting corporate websites – 46% of which come from LinkedIn.
Clearly, we can see that LinkedIn, when deployed for the purposes of B2B marketing, can be incredibly useful. To that end, here are 5 tips for improving your company’s LinkedIn profile and developing a more productive strategy.
1. Company Page as an Inbound Tool
One of the first and most crucial aspects to improving your LinkedIn strategy is to actually have one. Many people think it’s enough to just port over the same information from their website or Facebook page and call it a day. But “if you build it, they will come” is not an effective strategy for LinkedIn (or really, anything other than haunted baseball fields).
It’s important to understand that LinkedIn, and especially your LinkedIn company page, is a tool. And like any tool, it has to be utilized properly in order to be effective. A LinkedIn company page is not the same thing as an “about” section of your website, and it isn’t the same as a Facebook profile – nor should it be. Facebook is a great place for the public to engage with your company at a more personal level, and for your company to interact with the outside world. Your website is the center of your online universe, and the “about” page (or whatever equivalent you may have) is the best place for you to tell the story of your company in an environment that you design and totally control.
So, don’t try to use LinkedIn to duplicate either of these roles. Instead, think of your company page as an incredible B2B portal to your website, and thus your business universe. It is an amazing inbound marketing tool, and the sooner you embrace that role, the sooner you will start using it to generate leads.
Once you look at your company page as the lead generator that it potentially is, you can craft every section to that end. As quickly and efficiently as possible, as your visitors make their way down your page, make it clear who your target audience is, what service you are providing, and what your value proposition is – then create a clear path back to your website, where they can find out more about your company.
Your “recent updates” should be thought of in the same way. They should be frequent and relevant – pointed directly at your target audience with the goal of conversion.
2. Connect Through Search
Once you’ve stepped up your company page game, it’s time to start creating those sweet, sweet connections.
Connections are the currency of LinkedIn, and fortunately, the built-in search tool makes it easy to get more of them. Once again, ignore whatever your strategy may be on other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. The idea here is not to connect with anyone and everyone under the sun. Keep your strategy and your goals in mind. You want to connect with your target audience so that you can lead them back to that company page you just created.
The “advanced people search” is available to all members, free and paid (though there are additional filters and expanded reach for upgraded memberships). This tool can help you find connections by location, industry, current or past company, school, profile language or nonprofit interests. Using these filters, you should be able to find a solid number of people within your network as a start.
Once you get your first set of results, you can use the left sidebar to continue filtering to narrow the number of results to those say, just in a particular area, or within a particular company.
As your network grows, so too will the results of these searches. That’s why it is extra handy that you can save your search settings and come back to them later to see what new results you have.
3. Be Active in Groups
Groups are one of the more interesting aspects of LinkedIn. They are basically unique communities within LinkedIn where people can connect by way of common interests or industries. There are over 1.6 million groups, representing everything from Java Developers to Mining Industry Professionals to Professional Networking Events to Sustainable Agriculture.
You can join up to 50 groups, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Remember, we aren’t carpet bombing the LinkedIn-iverse. Target the groups that are the most relevant to your business and connecting with your target audience to generate leads.
Once you have joined a few groups, try to be active within those groups. Post relevant content, join in on discussions, ask interesting questions. The more you can organically establish yourself as a leader in this group, the more members will view you as a leader in your field – which will lead them to take an interest in doing business with you and your company.
4. Deploy Your Employees
We’ve all heard the adage that a company is only as good as its employees. Well, a company’s presence on LinkedIn is somewhat the same. Encouraging your employees and co-workers to set up and update profiles, and connect those profiles to your company page, helps to create a picture of what your company looks like and how it is structured. When people can see that a company is made up of real people, they start to view it differently, more personally.
Aside from the picture that it creates, having your employees on LinkedIn also broadens your network. They become surrogates for the company, as well as its efforts to use LinkedIn for lead generation. Employees can also join groups and be active in those groups, as well as publish content which can help lead back to the company.
5. Publish Relevant Content
Having the ability to create a highly targeted audience strategy makes LinkedIn the perfect place to publish content. Since your whole LinkedIn presence is built around reaching a specific B2B crowd, you’ve got a great platform for distributing content that you know will be relevant to a certain segment. According to Buffer, 6 out of 10 users on LinkedIn are there in the hopes of seeking out industry insights. With that in mind, it should be possible to provide highly valuable content.
LinkedIn is unique amongst social networks as being the only one designed specifically for business and professional uses. This makes it the perfect place for making connections that can bolster your B2B lead generation. If there’s one thing you should take away, it’s that LinkedIn is a great big targeting engine. It’s important to have goals in mind when using it, and to form a strategy. Once you have a strategy, you can shape your company’s presence around achieving those goals in a specific, targeted way. Do that, and you are more than likely to reap the benefits of this powerful and effective tool.
Need help with your company's LinkedIn strategy or with other areas of your marketing? Contact 10twelve for more details.