Q: What’s LinkedIn?
A: The world’s biggest database of business professionals.
Q: What are they doing at LinkedIn?
A: Looking for jobs, clients, consultants, partnerships, and growth opportunities. In short, they are there for business.
LinkedIn is, without any doubt, the most effective Social Media platform for business networking, probably the only one, where you don’t need to think of “angles” or “hooks” to promote your business, because it’s tailor-made for B2B marketing.
And while LinkedIn is a superior platform, as it comes to B2B marketing, it isn’t a bad choice for B2C oriented businesses either, as long as you target customers, who are of well-educated and well-placed professionals. Once you are connected with people who are decision-makers both at home and in the office, you will enjoy a lucrative customer base. Usually your LinkedIn audience will have an impressive household income of $83,000, which is twice the purchasing power of an average US consumer.
Here’s how you can ensure your success on LinkedIn:
Setting up the page:
You need to buff up your LinkedIn profile for two reasons:
- So that your business profile appear in the social network search results for queries that your target audience tends to use. Just make sure your business profile is interesting enough to attract new followers
- Having an active LinkedIn business profile can improve your online reputation management strategy and enrich the Google search results for your brand name.
Your cover photo is the first thing a visitor to your LinkedIn profile notices. Use an image that will help you stand out, let it be memorable, and it would be best if it focuses on your main products or services.
The LinkedIn layout is responsive so your cover photo will adjust to any screen size. Nevertheless, keep in mind that 1400 X 425 pixels is the recommended resolution, and the file shouldn’t exceed 4 MB.
Consider your LinkedIn profile as your mini company website. The cover photo is followed by generous free space where you can add a company description, specialties, website address, and other details, including a section for recent updates. You can display your recent blog posts too.
Use your main keywords and their close variations to describe your business. Optimize both your personal and business profile to improve your company visibility. This will increase your chances of appearing in as many searches as possible.
Keywords in your name, headline, company name, and specialties section will further boost your visibility, so keep an eye on those.
There’s an option to create additional pages, known as showcase pages. Your target audience can choose to follow a showcase page instead of your main business page (they will get company updates from that page only). For example, Cisco has separate pages for Cisco Security, Cisco Data Center, Cisco Services, etc. with each of these pages having its own set of followers.
Showcase pages are often used by big brands and large enterprises, but there’s no reason why a small business can’t have them too.
For example, an online marketing agency can have separate pages for services like SEO, PPC, or CRO (the only downside of this approach is that managing and updating multiple pages will take more time and resources).
Lastly, remember that 100%complete LinkedIn profiles are ranking higher in search results, so make sure you are using all available fields and features.
Start building your Audience
The level of connectivity plays an important role as it comes to higher rankings in the LinkedIn search results.
So the more followers you have the greater your chances of getting “found” in relevant searches, because you will have a lot of 1st or 2nd degree connections.
When it comes to getting your first few connections, your employees should be the obvious first choice. Even if they aren’t on LinkedIn, it’s worth conducting a training session or two to turn them into brand ambassadors.
Get in touch with your contacts, past colleagues, email subscribers, and existing customers and ask them to follow you on LinkedIn.
Be Proactive in Networking
Adding a new contact to your network will automatically result in lots of new 2nd and 3rd degree connections. So don’t restrict your networking to people you already know.
This does not mean that you should start networking with everyone, however you need to be proactive. Once you are connected to your existing contacts and customers on LinkedIn, use your existing network to get introduced to more people and keep the chain going. See the example below:
That’s a screen shot of the “contact list” of one of my contacts at LinkedIn. I can quickly pick three out of these ten contacts who can be my potential clients. And because we share a connection, it makes it a lot easier for me to reach out and start a conversation with these professionals.
Use Company Updates to Build Trust & Credibility
Customers are exposed to a plethora of choices through many different types of advertisements, resulting in Analysis Paralysis, so they need a little more guidance and assurance before making a purchase decision. Social Media gives you the opportunity to present yourself as the expert that they are looking for and help them choose the best possible solution to their problem.
It doesn’t matter if you are using LinkedIn or any other social platform, the basic rule of content marketing still applies: provide your target audience with the information they are looking for in form of articles, videos, slides, images, eBooks, or any other type of content. That’s the only way to build and retain your audience.
Create and share thought-leadership content to demonstrate your expertise. And remember not to just stick to your own articles, but also post relevant news and information from other sources.
See below how Amazon is mixing it up nicely by sharing self-promo updates along with other information that their target audience shows interest in.
Use images and rich media to get more attention, comments, and shares.
Join or Create groups
Participating in relevant groups and discussions is the easiest and simplest way of engaging your target audience and building trust. According to LinkedIn statistics“ group participants get 4x the number of profile views”. And more views means more followers.
If there are some active groups where your target audience tends to hang out, then by all means, join them. If there’s none, create one (keep it open) and invite like-minded people.
Once you are part of the group, get involved, initiate discussions, ask questions, or respond to other people’s posts on a regular basis.
Just because professionals at LinkedIn are here strictly for “business purposes”, doesn’t mean you can start sending business proposals all around. LinkedIn is meant for creating connections and leads, while sales are just a byproduct of the already established connections.
Similar to other social platforms on LinkedIn you can engage with other members by liking or commenting on their posts. You can also mention other people in your posts to involve them in a discussion. LinkedIn will send a notification when any of your comments receives a response.
Know your Tools
LinkedIn offers a number of tools that you can use for making the most of this wonderful platform e.g. LinkedIn Pulse, SlideShare, Sales Navigator, etc.
LinkedIn Pulse is a news app to help members keep tabs on latest developments and trends. Businesses can take advantage of this app for content marketing purposes. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, you can actually publish (or republish) an entire post on LinkedIn and it will be directly listed on the Pulse streamline.
And just like Google Plus, LinkedIn posts can get indexed and ranked in Google search results.
Many businesses have started using LinkedIn as a publishing platform and they are getting impressive results. Publishing a post is simple. Click on “Publish a post” from your status update window and it will take you to a WYSIWYG interface.
Similarly, Content Marketing Score and Trending Content are two very effective tools designed for content marketers. Knowing and using these tools will definitely aid in marketing.
Using Paid Advertisements
Just like Google or Facebook, Linkedin is a bit skewed towards its paid features (for obvious reasons). So, to make the most of this community and get new followers, you could consider using some paid advertising solutions every once in a while.
Lead Accelerator is a fairly new feature, with limited availability, but something to watch out for. It allows you to follow up with your website visitors and sales prospects outside LinkedIn.
Display Ads are great for increasing brand awareness and visibility.
Text Ads can be used to filter your target audience based on their industry, job title, geography and more.
Sponsored InMail allows you to send personalized messages directly to your target customers Inbox.
Sponsored Updates help you reach and lure new followers with your best content.
Using Advance Search
LinkedIn has some advance search options to find potential leads and sales prospects.
You can filter results based on their salaries, industry, job title, or experience level.
There’s a reason why professionals are lining up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than 2 members per second. They are most definitely not signing up just to pass the time. LinkedIn is the online hub for business opportunities. Are you interested in growing your business, getting new clients, forming partnerships? All that is there for the taking at LinkedIn.