How to use LinkedIn for brand authority and to generate leads
For a B2B marketing business, a huge opportunity presented itself in 2003 in the form of LinkedIn. Since it was founded, LinkedIn has continued to develop into the social networking platform for professionals. Most people have heard of it and, as of 2012, there are 175 million members around the world using the site.
However, what many businesses miss out on is using LinkedIn to generate new business leads, and this should be an integral part of the sales and marketing process. LinkedIn has a number of original features that initially encourage professionals to sign up and these features are consistently developing, meaning that connections can be made with the right people, at the right time, for the right purpose.
Sales and marketing
One consistent problem across many businesses is that the sales team and marketing team aren’t working in tandem and opportunities are missed as a result. LinkedIn provides a network that can help a business overcome this obstacle. With more and more opportunities appearing online, it’s important that both the sales and marketing teams work together to maximise the response and engagement. 4Ps Marketing often advise their B2B clients on how to teach their sales force to sell online.
LinkedIn is one of the most lucrative Social Media networks for B2B businesses. Creating and distributing interesting content is fundamental in building up brand authority online and for a B2B business, what better place is there to circulate this content than an online network of professionals? By creating valuable content about your industry and distributing it via LinkedIn, you are establishing yourself and your business as thought-leaders amongst a network of other professionals.
How do you do this?
1.Create and implement a company Social Media policy
A company Social Media policy is a document that lets staff know what they can and can’t do online under the company name. Employees should take this responsibility very seriously, especially in bigger organisations, and anyone wanting to engage online using the company name or business accounts must agree to and sign this policy. Not only should the document state that all employees are responsible for the content they generate under the company name, but should also highlight the purpose of each individual social networking site and how they will benefit both the company and the individual. The document should tie in with the sales and marketing plan, placing particular emphasis on the importance of LinkedIn as a lead generation tool.
2. Creating profile guidelines
Alongside the Social Media policy, creating a profile guideline document is another important element to introducing your Social Media innovation to the business. The profile guidelines should make recommendations as to how employee profiles should reflect your business branding.
Profiles should be formatted to include the following details:
• Job title
• Summary of their role
• An optimal number of backlinks to the company websites and other Social Media accounts
• Contact details. They should include both the generic business email and their direct email, as well as their business Twitter account .
• Relevant past experiences
Optimising a profile
It is important to note that a profile on LinkedIn represents both the individual and a business, whether that profile is particularly active or not. If a profile is live but not active, it may be a detriment to the person or brand, particularly if the information is outdated or stagnant. Realistically, a business won’t be able to have their entire workforce out promoting the company but LinkedIn is a great way for every single employee to represent the business. Prospective clients will be able to see all of the basic contact information they need and, more importantly, be able to see the skills and experience of each individual employee. LinkedIn can provide a more personal point of contact than a generic company email
3. How to build authority and generate leads
Everything that you do on LinkedIn needs to be building yourself up as the ‘go-to’ person; a specialist in your industry. This should be apparent throughout your profile; include the relevant keywords and referencing that will show searchers you are ahead of the game. See the example below, using ‘marketing’, ‘social strategy’ , as part of the interests, and a linkback to the 4Ps Marketing website and a link back to the business Twitter account.
4. How to use LinkedIn to promote your profile and business
One significant benefit of using LinkedIn is the ability to share and receive content, news and relevant event invitations. Make sure that you are constantly interacting and engaging with your connections by sharing company news and industry developments. Participation in groups is integral to developing your presence on LinkedIn, which can be done by identifying relevant groups that you’re interested in. Getting involved in discussions and commenting on news that other industry people post and share can build your reputation too. Be sure to strike a balance between engaging and encouraging engagement through your own content and content created by others.
5. Actively identifying potential leads
LinkedIn’s advanced search feature is a great tool; it allows you to identify individuals with a specific role or working for specific companies, and you can create a tailored message to invite them to connect. Making use of this search feature will really help you to connect with the right people.
Taking LinkedIn into your ‘real-life’
One of the key benefits of being on a social platform such as LinkedIn is that you can now start to build on a relationship or networking opportunity that sprang from an offline event. With the additional messaging service that LinkedIn provides, you will be able to build and nurture that initial offline connection. Integrating all of your offline activity online is a great way to keep people in the loop.
A useful feature of LinkedIn individual profiles is the space for personal testimonials about your work. If you can get a key industry name to recommend you and your work, it will help build your authority within that specific job role and sector.
Point of action
When requesting recommendations, it’s important to ask relevant people, preferably those whom you have previously worked with, not just your whole contact base. Go through your contact base and identify the most relevant names. If you share a solid relationship with any of these people, they are more likely to recommend you and your work.
6. The content plan
For any marketing activity, it is beneficial to have an overriding content plan, so that every individual knows what content they need to be sharing with their contacts and when. A huge barrier to any Social Media interaction is having no content to promote the company or the individual. Do not be intimidated by the idea of “content”. It can come in many different forms; videos, images, press releases, news, comments and blogs etc. Anything that will entice your connections to interact and engage with you or your company will be of benefit.
Important considerations when using LinkedIn
• Keep it professional
• Always add value in updates and discussions
• Don’t link to your personal Twitter
• LinkedIn social sharing and updates affect search engine ranking results
• Optimise your profile
• Include a LinkedIn button in your email signatures
• The premium version is optional, and the benefits don’t necessarily outweigh the results. The only big advantage is unlimited in-mail. This said, walk before you run. Get your sales and marketing teams comfortable with the free version before introducing premium.
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