Although LinkedIn has been around since 2003, (Yes! That long!) not many companies have embraced it as a marketing platform. It’s been great for prospecting for new jobs or meeting up with old colleagues, but what about using it as a bona fide marketing tool? How does LinkedIn fare against its social counterparts when your goal is to bring in leads?
Firstly, LinkedIn is a networking tool, or in other words – a social media. In an age where social media is synonymous with bagel eating, duck faced selfies the business suited, professional world of LinkedIn just doesn’t seem to fit the profile, but as much as it goes against the ‘casual’ grain, LinkedIn is very much a social media.
In 2003 when the platform was launched it was directed at businessmen so that they could create a network of trusted colleagues to call on for information, introduction and for lead generation. Somewhere along the line people readily grabbed on to the idea that it could be used to network personally, and that it was great for finding a new job, but in that stampede of ‘working for the one’ the option for it to be used for the ‘good of the company’ was somehow lost.
There are many reasons why you need to consider LinkedIn as a part of your marketing strategy, one of the major ones being that it is free! Where else can you connect with industry peers, leaders and influencers and have it cost nothing? It may be harder to remember people’s names and faces, or to even recognize them at all, but it worth connecting with them. You never know when you may need to contact them and to already be connected is a huge advantage if speed is of the essence.
Another strength of LinkedIn is that you stay on the radar of other potential client companies. Many businesses generate leads through LinkedIn so they proactively trawl through company pages and profiles. By having an active presence as a company and a personal page, you will be there when people are looking.
As LinkedIn is primarily a networking site, you gain contacts, called connections. These connections are likely to be industry qualified, professional connections that are in a position to buy your product. The question is – how do you transfer your LinkedIn connections into your sales funnel? The answer is surprisingly easily …
With a standard account you are allowed to inmail 50 connections a month. That’s 50 invitations a month into your sales funnel. The invitation doesn’t have to be heavy handed, just a, “Hey! Thought you might be interested in joining my email list,” kind of interaction. Invite them to join your email list, include a link to make it easy for them to do so, and explain what they are signing up for. Again, not in any great detail, just, ‘it’ll keep you updated to what is going on with us,” and then offer to keep up with them. Invite them to send you details of what they are doing. It’s advertising your company, but also garnering goodwill.
Like all the other social media platforms, to keep the platform free for users LinkedIn has to charge for advertising. To gain the amount of followers it needs to be useful as a marketing medium, it needs to stay free. So the days of free advertising are long gone, and paid advertising is here to stay.
The advantage is LinkedIn advertising is the amount of personalization that can be achieved. Instead of just being able to reach an audience in a geographical area, you can drill it down to job title, company worked at, industry, skills, schools, groups – the list can go on. These niches are vital to creating an effective data base of potential leads. This is refined marketing that makes your dollar more effective.
The most successful marketing on LinkedIn is not overly salesy, and much more palatable if it’s free industry related information, like white papers, cheat sheets, research or inside guides that appeals to the niche you are targeting. It can also promote thought leadership and establish credibility, so it’s a good idea to back it up with other publish content on your personal and company pages.
One of the best ways to maximize your impact on LinkedIn is to make sure that you have a complete profile – and that all your employees have a complete profile too.
Take the time to fill out all of the sections on the profile page, including the photos and backgrounds, then when that is done, you populate the page with interesting posts and information that showcases your company, your product and the industry you belong to. When people are drawn to your page you need to ‘wow’ them with the content so that want to become more involved with it. The same goes for your personal page.
Your personal page will link to your company page, so that needs to be just as impressive as your company page. It takes time to set up a LinkedIn profile page well, but it’s one of the first places people will go – and that goes for all your other staff too. By making all the LinkedIn profiles a uniform level of quality, your pages speak to the brand of your company. If you want to be taken seriously in the market you work in, then this needs to be done. You can’t force people to fill out their profile pages, but ask them to nicely, then facilitate that request with a meeting where everyone does it together. It will encourage brain storming on details to be filled in, and share ideas that make your company look outstanding. Having a photographer there to take an appropriate image is a great idea too. Every aspect of your companies contact with LinkedIn needs to ooze professionalism.
Once you have an impressive company and personal page, it’s a good time to look at groups. LinkedIn groups are exactly what they sound like, a group of people all interested in the same thing. Once you are in a group you can post and message away, having a very willing and captive audience.
As you interact with people, you will set up your credibility as well as network with people you may not otherwise have access too. Being part of a group is important, but if the group does not directly align with your plans, you can go the next step and create a group to network with. Invite them over. After that, the sky’s the limit!
LinkedIn has a lot to offer any company that wants to use LinkedIn marketing as a steady source of inbound leads. Like all marketing campaigns it takes a little time to set up and start working, but with a little dedication and consistency you can connect with the people that are looking for what you have to sell.