LinkedIn was founded in 2002 as a networking resource for business professionals. Its main function is professional interaction, making it the perfect platform for up-and-coming businesses to reach out to existing and potential customers.
When it comes to social media, it’s easy for emerging companies to become inundated and distracted. With all the various platforms available, it’s important to keep in mind that the manner in which your customers and prospects find you is often determined by their online habits. This means that your online marketing efforts need to dovetail with the digital habits of your audience.
Start your Social Media Strategy via LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great place to start any social media strategy because it’s where you find key decision makers including C-level executives, sales people and managers—most of whom are already LinkedIn members. What’s more, if you’re serious about inbound marketing—and haven’t been living in a cave for the past decade—chances are you too are a member of LinkedIn.
However, acquiring good prospects is not as simple as merely joining LinkedIn and making and accepting connections. Nurturing relationships and generating solid leads begins by starting a conversation with your targeted audience. Below are seven ways to jump-start this process using LinkedIn.
1. Create a Branded Company Page
LinkedIn allows you to develop a branded LinkedIn Company Page that is separate from key company members’ personal pages. Use this option to post updates and links about your business such as new product releases, blog posts, news, awards, etc., and have managers and staff share what is on your company’s branded page with their own personal connections through their own LinkedIn accounts. You’ll find it’s time well spent.
2. Start Scouting Leads Within Your own Network
It’s entirely possible that you may know someone who actually works with an important decision maker whom you want to reach, or perhaps they are connected to someone who does. To find out, search your existing LinkedIn network and see if you already know people at the companies you are targeting. Getting acquainted via LinkedIn in this way is much more productive than cold calling for leads.
3. Publish on LinkedIn
LinkedIn recently developed an easy-to-use publishing platform. This allows your company to gain real strategic advantage and start driving quality traffic to your website. Similar to publishing a blog or providing Facebook or Twitter updates, these posts should provide information that your target audience wants and needs while also building your credentials as your industry’s thought leader.
4. Join Appropriate LinkedIn Groups and then Comment
In contrast to LinkedIn Company pages, users of the LinkedIn Groups feature must comment as individuals. Talk about a captive market—this is your chance to share helpful, reliable information to these groups and prospects who will then start viewing your company website. Just make sure you’re selective by choosing appropriate groups where you know you can add value.
5. Start Your own LinkedIn Group(s)
Once you’ve established a LinkedIn following by commenting in a number of relevant groups, you can start your own LinkedIn Group, or groups. Each group should be focused on a narrow topic of interest to attract a niche audience. This is a great forum in which to educate them with your specific industry expertise and thus build brand and trust.
6. Try LinkedIn’s Showcase Pages
The LinkedIn Showcase Pages function like mini blog posts for your products. Here you can easily gear your information to buyer personas. When posting updates, be sure to use industry specific keywords and create unique content different from that which is on your Company and Showcase pages.
7. Use LinkedIn’s Advertising Options
LinkedIn has three main advertising options:
Display Ads: These ads typically appear alongside other ads and are displayed on the right-hand side or at the top or bottom of the page. They function very much like Google Ad Words and other cost-per-click (CPC) advertising.
Sponsored Updates: LinkedIn will sponsor your company’s content and spread it to your specific audience in a manner designed to look like editorial content and less intrusive than other ads. Known as “native advertising, these ads are in step with other media on the platform and appear alongside organic content in users’ news feeds— distinguishable from other content by a “sponsored” label in the top-right corner. Examples include links to Videos and White Papers, blog posts and E-books. This is a great opportunity to test content organically by targeting exactly who sees your message, and you can even adapt and optimize ads on the go.
Direct Sponsored Content: This is LinkedIn’s latest ad type, an expansion of its Sponsored Updates and a way to enhance ad performance. With Direct Sponsored Content, you don’t have to first publish content on your Company Page. Moreover, your ads are shown to targeted audiences through their LinkedIn feed. Direct Sponsored Content frees up who is allowed to post within the feed, with approval controlled by the Company Page administrator. Since content doesn’t have to begin on your Company Page, various business units and individuals can post content personalized to specific audiences. Just like the Sponsored Updates option, you can then test different content ideas while controlling your Company Page’s content. Since the content is more relevant you will connect better with target audiences, thereby generating quality leads.
People use social media platforms for many purposes, often unrelated to business. But LinkedIn users—who are part of a growing global audience of close to 300 million members in over 200 countries—are there for business reasons and are thus amenable to business advertising and messages from other professionals.
Ideally, your LinkedIn marketing efforts should be part of an overall inbound traffic generating strategy.
Need more information on how to use LinkedIn as a powerful lead generator? Be sure to download our e-book on digital marketing by visiting our website: www.moresales.ca.