With more than 134 million members, LinkedIn has changed the way employees and employers connect – and how professionals and businesses find partners.
Anyone building a business (online or offline) should take a close look at how this powerful network can work for their business.
LinkedIn is a very simple platform. People, in large majority, use the site for job searching. And because of this most LinkedIn users are not active as often as those on Facebook or Twitter. However, there are niche opportunities that many businesses can take advantage of and should make sure they are considering.
Here are the 4 cornerstones to using LinkedIn for your marketing. Make sure you are not missing out on an opportunity.
1. LinkedIn Groups
This is the favorite LinkedIn activity amongst heavy users, yet while savvy businesses recognize that creating a LinkedIn group gives you the ability to generate (hundreds and thousands of) leads, they understand this is only the first step on the long journey to success.
When creating a group on LinkedIn for business purposes, your goal is to create a group that holds value for the audience first. A few tips:
- Look for a niche topic in your industry. Look at pain points that your customers have a lot or growth areas of your business and focus there.
- Name the group for the niche and not for your business name. This helps search and helps guide the group toward audience value and not the business goals.
- Make the group open so that it can grow more easily.
- Promote the group to your existing channels.
- Target existing brand champions and passionate fans and ask them to stop in once a week to help promote discussions.
- Have a plan for maintaining activity in the LinkedIn group. How often will you or other employees promote discussions? What messages are allowed and how often will you moderate group posts?
- Use the best discussions and reoccurring questions as inspiration for blog posts and new products/services.
2. LinkedIn Answers
Similar to Yahoo Answers, this professional network has a Q&A section, available for users to post (niche-related) questions to their network, inviting connections and other users to answer. LinkedIn answers is the largest professional based Q&A site out there. Recent trendy Q&A site Quora is another good direction for this type of networking, but LinkedIn certainly still has some street cred when it comes to business networking.
When you take advantage of this option and actively participate inside on a weekly or daily basis, you start to naturally build your credibility by connecting with new professionals and top experts in your industry. Some tips for using LinkedIn Answers.
- Have a schedule and interact regularly, either weekly or daily
- Pick a handful of topics to focus on and become a heavy hitter in these sections of the site
- Provide overly useful answers, pointing to many resources. The more helpful you are the more attention you will get from potential business partners and customers.
- If you are acting as a company, use multiple people to support each other in discussion in a show of force. There is not need to game the system and just comment with “attaboys” and “I agree”. But having multiple employees with smart helpful discussion can only help your cause.
- Make sure you don’t go into sell mode and overwhelm other users by pushing your product constantly or aggressively.
- Again, look for opportunities to reuse your answers and discussions as blog posts to keep the thought leadership going.
3. LinkedIn Events
This is a fantastic way to engage with your clients and leads online, or offline. Here you can post your events, with a short compelling description about each, and a link to the registration page.
Towards the end of 2011, LinkedIn overhauled their events application and made it much more use friendly and much more useful to businesses. Attendees to events can connect more easily with one another. And event search is better making it easier for you to get your event in front of new eyeballs.
A few LinkedIn Event tips:
- Use events for more occasions. If you have a sale on your product coming up for black friday, make an event people
- Fill out everything, including: Full and descriptive event title, avatar, short powerful description, times, location, and registration link.
- Link the event to your LinkedIn company page
- Direct all potential attendees to click on the “I’m Attending”. Each time someone is added, it gives you more chances to show in their timeline and for their friends to be influenced to find out more about your event.
- Setup the event early in the your planning process to get all volunteers, speakers, partners, participants active as “attending” to make the event look as popular as possible.
- Promote your event through LinkedIn Groups
- Promote your event through LinkedIn Ads
4. LinkedIn Advertising
Imagine how it would feel like to be able to tap into specific audiences like for example 1.3M small business owners, 12M small business professionals or 2M C-Level execs, and have total control over your advertising budget, by only paying when someone clicks or views your ad.
LinkedIn calculates a quality score for your ads, similar to Google AdWords, but only uses your all-time CTR (click through rate) and your bid. LinkedIn ads have far fewer options than Google or Facebook ads but can still be a great performer.
Your text-ad will appear at the top, right under LinkedIn navigational menu, and/or on the right sidebar with your logo, next to it.
A few tips for LinkedIn ads:
- Your headline will be 25 characters in length while your description 75, meaning what you say should be concise & compelling.
- Target, target, target. Just as with Facebook ads, targeting your audience is one of the most important aspects of your ad, as well as one of the largest benefits. Use the filters available.
- You can advertise LinkedIn groups, events, company pages, and profiles. As well as outside URLS.
- Split testing is easy with LinkedIn Ads so setup groups of ads to test performance on your copy, your targeting, and your images. Your minimum daily spend on LinkedIn Ads is only $10 so it is very affordable to test.
- Social networking ads see user fatigue often. Pay attention to performance declining. You may have to change out your ad creative weekly to maintain performance.
LinkedIn claims to have a more affluent and attractive user base than Forbes, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. There is value in this network. Leverage these 4 techniques