As an owner manager, whether you like using it or not, social media has become a key marketing tool and there is plenty of evidence that using it effectively can help generate enquiries and sales.
This is not to say that all businesses should immediately start using all platforms. Using social media should still be a strategic decision and subject to an assessment of your objectives, the audiences you are trying to reach and the return on investment you are likely to achieve.
However, if you want to reach decision makers in a B2B environment like we are, you will probably find that LinkedIn is one of the best platforms on which to engage and influence decision makers.
Why use LinkedIn?
Often considered as the Facebook of the corporate world, LinkedIn is increasingly being used as a tool to connect with like-minded individuals. According to statistics released on 9 May 2019, LinkedIn currently has over 610 million members. The network has 303 million active monthly users, 40% of which visit the site daily and 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million decision makers use LinkedIn.
It is therefore a really good source of potential prospects and market intelligence.
LinkedIn Best Practice
We are probably going to get a fair bit of criticism from what we have to say below, but here goes…….
- LinkedIn is an online business networking tool. So sharing info about your personal life and what you’re having for dinner is quite frowned upon.
- The platform is to share knowledge to help others run better businesses. So before you post, think about the relevancy of your content to your audience and the effect what you share will have on your reputation
Again, at the risk of attracting serious criticism, we believe LinkedIn is also the online equivalent of a referral system. Therefore to us the same values exist in that you’d only refer someone if you know and trust their expertise and quality of service. In the offline world, it is highly unlikely that you’d refer someone you had not met or had dealings with.
So why should this be any different on LinkedIn?
We believe that just as you would make a verbal recommendation that is based on meeting, looking in the eyes of the person you are about to recommend and having had some experience of their expertise, there is no way LinkedIn users should be expected to accept everyone who asks to connect.
Why? Because when people view your LinkedIn profile and see you are connected to someone they want to be referred to, how can you do it confidently when you don’t know them?
Yes, we know this limits the number of connections you have, but far better to have quality than quantity if you’ve got to stake your reputation on someone you’ve never met.
Our etiquette rule is to always tailor the invite to say why you want to connect, particularly if you have never met as this enables each party to weigh up whether to connect or not. Treat this as the equivalent to meeting someone face to face, having a discussion and from it, deciding if you like the person and whether they can add value to you and your network.
Starting out on LinkedIn
If you are new to LinkedIn or have not updated your profile in a while, now might be a good time to set one up or update it. Always be as comprehensive as possible and use an appropriate business orientated photo. Is the glamour pose, modelling pout, beach scene wearing sunglasses look the image you want to portray?
When we are onboarding new clients and taking over their company social media we start with a review of all staff profiles to ensure they are consistent and complete.
We then ask everyone to review their existing LinkedIn connection to make sure all these connections are on the company database/CRM system.
We then ask them to review their email history and contacts lists against those on LinkedIn to identify any to which they have not connected with on LinkedIn.
These two housekeeping tasks ensure that when sharing posts on LinkedIn they are going to reach people and help you achieve your objectives.
Learning how to use LinkedIn
LinkedIn has some great tutorial video’s, organisations like the East Midlands Chamber also offer training courses, some of which can be free to help users make the best out of social media. Use them and don’t be afraid to ask others for advice.
What content is best?
Our advice is to post content that will interest and engage your audience. In our opinion, too many users are now using LinkedIn like Facebook and are publicising content that is not business related.
We think LinkedIn is best used to publicise the following content:
- Advice articles you have written or read that will benefit others
- Company news such as new people, project wins and other achievements like work anniversaries
- Product or service stories that will help people understand how you can help
- Case studies
- Testimonials from satisfied customers
- Re-sharing business news about your industry with an appropriate comment on why you have shared it
- Information about events you are attending that others might want to attend
- Summaries from events you have attended about what you have learned
A number of the above content sources probably will never go out of date and therefore can be used on a rotating schedule by coming up with different introductory sentences and links to the respective page on your website. This will also help drive traffic to your website.
When and how to post content
The easy answer is to post when you have something worth posting.
However, to maintain a presence, particularly if you have content that won’t date which can be re-used, there is no reason why you can’t use advance scheduling software such as Hootsuite, ZoHo, Buffer, Hubspot and Tweetdeck to schedule posts. This also avoids the time and inconvenience of posting on the go and means it’s easy to set aside time each week or month for social media activity.
Obviously, if your posts involves photography that can only be taken at the time you’ll still need to post on the go, but these platforms are a great way to ensure regularity.
To ensure social media is an ‘active daily task’ we find it is best to do it in ‘dead’ time, such as when traveling as a passenger in a car, taxi or on a train, or whilst waiting for meetings to start. LinkedIn has a great mobile App which makes catching up and posting really easy.
Our client base has a mix of businesses and industries, but so far all have benefited from adopting our advice about using LinkedIn. Some have had to be dragged kicking and screaming, but once we have explained the benefits and shown users how to post and re-assured them that it doesn’t have to be a massively time consuming activity, they have embraced using LinkedIn and have enjoyed receiving new business enquiries and recommendations.
If we can help ensure your business has a regular and co-ordinated approach to marketing that integrates with all promotional tactics including social media please get in touch.