LinkedIn bills itself as the world’s largest professional network with more than 150 million members, including executives from every Fortune 500 company. With that kind of reach, LinkedIn is a B2B marketers dream. But what’s the best way to take advantage of all this social media platform has to offer? How can you use LinkedIn to put qualified leads into your pipeline?
Here are a few fundamental steps to make LinkedIn work for your B2B company:
Make sure your profile page/company page is up-to-date. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I’m always surprised to see how many marketers make the mistake of using the “fix it and forget it” approach. When customers and prospects visit your company’s LinkedIn page, they should learn what is happening at your organization now –not what was happening months ago. Start with cleaning-up personnel mentions; obviously, your company page should only list current employees. Next, you’ll also want to update descriptions of the services you offer, recent awards, recognitions, etc. The same goes for recommendations; keep those as current as possible, too. All the links included in your profile are clickable, so use this page to drive traffic to the company website, key articles, etc. Once you’ve finished this basic housekeeping, set a calendar reminder to repeat the process in a few months. By scheduling periodic revisions, you’ll maintain a profile that’s accurate and fresh.
Stimulate engagement with the content you publish. Your company’s profile page is only the first level of engagement on LinkedIn. In order to start building meaningful relationships with prospects, you’ll have to start participating in LinkedIn Groups. Use LinkedIn’s new Group Search to help you find the topics you care most about. Join a few groups and start visiting them regularly. Once you’re comfortable with the format and a few of the contributors, begin adding to the conversations. Post compelling content. Respond to threads initiated by others. Start establishing a reputation as your company’s helpful specialist, the “go-to” person in your particular field. Just remember: You’re there to build relationships –not to sell. Don’t just talk about what your company has to offer. Be engaging and help solve problems.
Establish yourself as an expert. One of the easiest ways to develop credibility is to start answering LinkedIn questions. How do you find questions to answer? It’s easy. Log in and go to your profile page. Scroll over the word “More” in the menu bar at the top of the page. Double click on “Answers” and you’ll see a variety of different questions begging for your input. Once again, keep in mind that answering questions is not an opportunity to sell. It’s an opportunity to build relationships and establish yourself as a resource.
Connect with people you know. LinkedIn recently updated its “People You May Know” feature. As explained on the LinkedIn blog, the new algorithm identifies people you may want to connect with based on factors like your existing network, past workplaces and where you’ve gone to school. Use this feature to expand your network.
Integrate social media sites. Make sure people can easily find your company’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account. In addition, you can Tweet your LinkedIn status, automatically post your Tweets as your LinkedIn status, or do both. Follow the directions here. This blog post will help you complete a similar integration with Facebook. Think of Facebook and Twitter as platforms to build awareness and promote events. LinkedIn can help you network and talk shop.
Research customers, prospects and the competition. LinkedIn content is rich with information you can use to help qualify prospects, better target specific individuals or organization, learn more about your competitors, etc. Mine profile pages, status updates, company pages and even recommendations for insights.
Measure and track results. LinkedIn may be the most popular professional network worldwide, but the platform is not known for its analytic tools. (Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t offer analytics as detailed as Facebook’s Insights.) Nonetheless, you can measure some parameters, such as new connections, requests for business and keyword mentions. There’s a comprehensive breakdown of how to measure your LinkedIn presence here. And, of course, you can also monitor how much traffic travels from LinkedIn to your website (where you can better capture a lead). Remember, with LinkedIn, think quality, not quantity.
Have I inspired you to dig into LinkedIn with renewed enthusiasm? I hope so! But, just in case you need a little more encouragement, be sure to check out these incredible LinkedIn success stories, where you’ll learn even more about how people around the world are using LinkedIn to build business success.