If you are a B2B services or consulting business—a law firm, a medical practice, an architect, or any service provider—and LinkedIn is still languishing at a number 3 or 4 in your Social Media priority list, it’s time to go back to the sketching board. LinkedIn might seem less important and “smaller” with its 259 million users as compared to Facebook (1.23 billion) and Twitter (645.75 million), but LinkedIn has peculiarities that place it way above the other social networks, especially for B2B Marketing.
What Makes LinkedIn Indispensable for B2B Social Marketing
LinkedIn is the world’s number one platform for business, especially services marketing. Consider the following:
- LinkedIn followers are 50% more likely to buy when they engage with a particular product or service on LinkedIn
- More than 80% of people using LinkedIn say they like to interact with companies
- 22% of top-level executives use LinkedIn for industry networking
- 7 out of the 10 most liked brands on LinkedIn during the last one year are all B2B—actually, the remaining 3 are Google, Facebook and LinkedIn itself
- A whopping 84 million LinkedIn users are located in the United States
- In a study of more than 5,000 businesses, the visit-to-lead conversion rates of traffic from LinkedIn (2.74%) were found to be more than 3 times higher than Facebook (0.77%) and Twitter (0.69%)!
Why LinkedIn Works Like a Miracle for Professional Services Marketing
People check out their Facebook news-feed to read updates from their friends. They use Twitter to stay updated on news stories and the people they are following. The primary social behavior on these channels is not to engage with companies, unless a business has something outstandingly interesting to tell.
LinkedIn is different. The basic social behavior on LinkedIn is to reach out and interact with professional acquaintances AND companies—individuals and businesses that people see as relevant or helpful to their professional, business and career growth. LinkedIn users mean business and don’t have time to waste on CandyCrush. It’s far easier to recruit followers and engage people on LinkedIn, and more fruitful too.
Strategies for B2B LinkedIn Marketing
If you are reading this, you are probably not like the majority of people who hit LinkedIn on the run and find themselves coming to a dead halt soon. Planning is the key to success with LinkedIn or any other Social Media channel. Developing and implementing a sound LinkedIn strategy would depend upon the resources that you can spare for the effort. In addition to imparting knowledge and training about using different LinkedIn features and tools, you’ll also need to get everyone in your organization involved in your LinkedIn marketing.
Your LinkedIn strategy should have well defined goals, such as:
- Establishing your company’s reputation as a thought leader
- Expanding your reach, interaction, and awareness
- Generating business leads and driving prospect traffic
- Building your lasting community of employees, customers, industry bigwigs, social groups, and other stakeholders
Each of these goals would require certain actions to be taken or plans to be implemented. For instance, “expanding your reach” would involve influencing people into following your company page, which would, in turn, require a certain number of updates to be posted and a certain number of engagements to be achieved. Here are some LinkedIn strategies that you can adapt to your business needs and use to achieve your LinkedIn marketing objectives.
1. Building an Impressive Company Page
The LinkedIn audience is particularly in love with services firms. The reason is that people like to look at your credentials as a provider before they decide to hire you for professional services. LinkedIn gives you an organized, creative and flexible space to showcase your services, achievements, and endorsements. Make sure you dress to impress. Here’s an example of the way HubSpot, a B2B marketing company has established their page.
1. HubSpot LinkedIn Page…56,000+ Followers
Here’s another top-rated LinkedIn page from Aurecon Management Consultancy. Notice how both of these highly followed pages have leveraged their banner space to highlight their services and achievements.
2. See How Aurecon Consulting Uses the Banner Space Creatively
2. Optimizing Your B2B LinkedIn Page
If you are not building a LinkedIn page ‘just for the heck of it’ and want results, you’ll need to optimize your company page visually as well as for LinkedIn and Google searches.
Speaking of visual optimization, the first thing that you need is a stunningly attractive banner image with your company name and a punch-line about your business or an impactful stat about your achievements. You should use the sidebars on your LinkedIn page to feature your services and careers. You can also get creative and use the Products and Services tab to showcase your events, conferences or downloads.
For SEO optimization, use your keywords early in your company description and fill in all the profile fields such as your website, industry, type etc. Use a LinkedIn button on your website to improve your search rankings.
Here are the interesting results that I got when looking for “family dentistry” in “Greater New York City Area”. Notice that there are 38 results in total, and only the top 2 have cared to display their pictures.
3. Searching for “Family Dentistry” in Greater New York City Area
This tells you a lot about how much potential you have on LinkedIn if you happen to be a dentist in New York..
3. Posting Compelling Updates
Content may be king or it may be queen—in either case it sure reigns supreme. If you want to be successful with digital marketing, you should evolve a robust content marketing strategy. As a few rules of thumb, you should never post a blatant sales pitch as an update; if required, the reference to the sale should be made subtly. Talk about the popular issues in your industry and offer helpful information to your followers. Don’t talk about the services you sell, but the problems you solve. For instance, here’s how IBM is pushing its smart buildings solutions through its LinkedIn page:
“Your company relies on you but can you rely on your building systems? Smarter Buildings will increase the automation of processes, reliability and staff response rate by 90%, while reducing maintenance costs by 10% – 30%. Find out how a single customized dashboard can give you a complete picture.”
It is important to use attractive images or video with your updates and continuously scan sources of information (such as Google News, social media news-feeds, Bloomberg etc) for fresh, engaging news and stats that you could link to your industry or business in your updates. Try to establish yourself as an authority or expert in your field through the content that you share. At any cost, don’t be boring.
Read the last section to see how innovative content got this LinkedIn group 43,000 members in just 4 months.
4. Building Your Followership
Great updates may not prove good enough unless your business page has a solid follower base. Your employees, existing and past customers, friends, and personal acquaintances are the first people that you should invite to follow your company page. This would make sure that other people coming to your page don’t feel like they have come to a deserted place. Next, you should use the amazing LinkedIn search to find prospects.
When looking for people and sending out invites to follow your page, make sure you think strategically and stay targeted. For instance, as a B2B software firm, you might be looking for, say, hospitals or medical practices to market your healthcare app to. Always keep your goals in sight when building followership. Posting engaging, highly share-worthy updates that go viral is still the best recipe for expanding your reach and luring people into following your page.
Get creative and involve influential people with your page. See below how HubSpot posted a 30-day blogging challenge and created interesting content while at the same time strengthening their relationships with experts.
4. HubSpot 30 Days Blogging Challenge brought the Audience a Tip a Day from Reputed Bloggers
5. Joining LinkedIn Groups
Groups on LinkedIn work the same way as those on Facebook or Communities on Google+, but they are much more akin to the latter because LinkedIn’s business and professional orientation. As a company, you can join up to 200 groups, which may be overwhelming to start with. You should join groups that have a large membership and are related to your industry. There are more than 1.9 million groups existing on LinkedIn, so it might be a while until you can find and join the best ones. There’s a reason for joining groups, and that is to interact with people in order to achieve your strategic goals. Never lose sight of your objectives and join only as many groups as you can effectively monitor and engage with.
5. A Casual Search for Legal Aid Groups Returned this Page with around 3,000 Members
It is also a very good idea to start your own group if you see an opportunity, but that should come after you’ve done the basics. Read to the end to find out how LinkedIn and Citi managed to attract 43,000 highly active members to join their group.
6. Using Paid Advertising
Contrary to the popular belief, social media including LinkedIn is not free…anything but, especially if you want quick and persistent results. Before advertising, you should have a good understanding of your target audience. You may define your target market in terms of geographic location, demographics, interests, professions etc. You’ll need an ad copy that hits like a gut-punch and we definitely recommend having a slick image or video for creating maximum impact. You can easily create your advertising campaign following some easy steps in this LinkedIn ad wizard.
7. Monitoring Results
Only analytics and monitoring can tell you whether you are achieving the milestones that you have outlined in order to pursue your long-term objectives. While LinkedIn offers statistics for company pages and advertising campaigns, you should also use Google Analytics or another website monitoring tool to get the full picture.
Bonus—How did “Connect” Recruit 43,000 Members in Just 4 Months
An April 2012, Citi and LinkedIn joined hands to demonstrate to LinkedIn users, particularly services marketing firms, how successful they can be on LinkedIn if they did things right. They teamed up together to launch “Connect—Professional Women’s Network“, a group for working women. Managed by a LinkedIn content manager, the group was able to generate 43,000 members in just 4 months after it was launched. It now has a whopping 249,000 plus members and is continuously growing. What did Citi and LinkedIn do to make it happen?
In simple words, it was intuitive B2B content marketing. Citi and LinkedIn started by igniting discussions around topics that their target audience was interested in—how to advance in their career, how to deal with difficult coworkers, the best advice they ever got, etc. The topics and questions were framed with a creative twist that was intriguing for the members and instigated them to participate. For instance, the group published a poll asking “why there aren’t more women in technology?” This thought-provoking question drew more than 1000 votes and 100 comments just one day after publishing. Even today, if you visit their page, you can see some perfect examples of how to engage with the LinkedIn audience. Their most popular post invites members to “write your life story in six words”. It was published in 2012, but the thread is still alive and has drawn more than 5,400 comments. No kidding!
It all boils down to two things—great content and right targeting. You need to profile your customers accurately, and target them with spectacular content that hits like a sucker-punch, making it irresistible for your audience to engage with your post. The formula is not only valid for groups, but works equally well for growing your company’s LinkedIn connections.
Don’t think that it’s simple, though—anything but. “Great content” and “right targeting” are illusive concepts, even hard for the experts to explain. You may not be interested at all in a particular post that I find compelling. Errors in targeting can cause your progress to slouch. You may not have enough time to update all your channels, or the skills to create content that trends and goes viral.
A professional marketing agency uses its expertise to carve out highly engaging content for a precisely targeted audience. It tracks conversations across multiple channels and continuously adjusts your content marketing strategy on LinkedIn and other channels, bringing you clicks and qualified business leads that convert to a solid clientele.
So, are you going to apply some of these strategies to your LinkedIn page anytime soon? Or, maybe you are already using some of them. Share your ideas in the comments below!