When used well, LinkedIn is far more effective than other social networks in driving genuine leads — particularly B2B. Here are some tips on how to get far more from the professional business social network than occasional job notices.
Just the facts, ma'am
Not convinced? A 2011 report from LeadFormix1 concluded:
24 per cent of all visitors from LinkedIn (LI) to a B2B website are from enterprises.
Nearly 45 per cent of all leads from the network are first-time visitors. That level is 63.2 per cent for those arriving via LI Groups.
Website visitors from the network's Groups and ads are more likely to fill out a form (convert) - as many as 1 in 3.
Participating in Groups increases the quality of leads by attracting visitors with content and discussion correlated with their purchasing intent.
This isn't about the funny cat photos. This is powerful, scalable networking with results. If your business isn't there, your competitors probably are.
A Company Page gives your brand a presence instead of relying solely on individual profiles. You can share content and post updates, but you can't join Groups. A good Company Page not only highlights the profiles of employees, but also showcases products and services and can gather recommendations and testimonials from members.
If they are interested in your updates and information, members can also 'follow' your Company Page. The Follower Insights tab can give you more information on your followers so you can hopefully nurture them into leads.
Don't rush your Company Page. Take your time and plan the content and descriptions carefully to drive maximum interest and regular activity.
Groups are a great way to network with people within your own industry or potential clients. Identify which are the most relevant groups to you with a keyword search and check the Group Statistics. Here you can see how active the group is, how regularly people post or comment and more. You can then join the groups that will reward your effort, instead of wasting time with virtual wallflowers.
Once you've joined, resist the temptation to start trumpeting your brand message. It doesn't matter whether you're the CEO of Coca-Cola - in this group you're a newbie and status has to be earned.
That's right - status. Forget logic. Social networks operate on anthropological human behaviour that has remained the same for hundreds of thousands of years. If you don't have the necessary status in a new social group, even if you share a mind-blowing offer of value to everyone, you're likely to be ignored or even openly criticised as a spammer.
Status is earned through generosity, regular participation and a relative lack of self-interest. Share relevant content that isn't your own. Comment on discussions started by others in the group. Offer advice and answer questions while resisting the urge to pitch your product - at least at first. You need to be of value to the group before the group can be of value to you.
LinkedIn sends a regular email digest of popular (most shared) updates and links. If your content link is included, it can give it an extra boost of attention from a wider audience.
You can increase your chances of inclusion by posting your content to LinkedIn first and using the same shortened URL (such as http://lnkd.in/WYtACM) in other channels like Twitter and Facebook. Then, when it's retweeted or shared in those other networks, it also counts as a share of the original post, boosting your likelihood of appearing in the email digest.
You do need to participate regularly to increase and nurture your network. Lots of connections don't mean anything if they never interact with you and your business.
Don't use automation tools or delegate to the intern. You wouldn't send someone on your behalf to a business dinner or networking event, would you? The first rule of business networking is to turn up!
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Jonathan has worked within, and written about, the technology industry for many years. Before going freelance as a writer in 2012, Jonathan had worked for Netregistry (web hosting) and Ninefold (cloud computing). Jonathan has won awards for his articles on online business for Nett Magazine and his over-opinionated blog Atomik Soapbox. He continues to write for Chief Content Officer magazine.