When you start a new business, social media channels will be one of the first things you think of as you consider marketing. In fact, availability of social media handles should be one of the first things you think of full stop; when you are considering a name for your business. But for most of you, LinkedIn is probably not the first social media channel which leaps to mind.
Which social media channels should you use for your business?
Which social media channels are right for your business is a whole other blog, which I have tackled here, and Andrew and Pete cover it in lots of their content (a good place to start is Social Media Mania).
The most important question you need to answer is where is your audience? We all know the world and their dog (or cat – plenty of them on Facebook too) are on Facebook along with 1.45 billion other daily active users around the world. So your audience are quite likely to be on Facebook, and you may well be able to reach them through targeting on Facebook ads even if organic reach is getting hard to come by these days.
Your other options depend on the type of business you run.
Lots of regular images? Instagram might be for you.
Selling fashion or homewares? You may do very well on Pinterest.
Estate agent? Twitter might be for you.
But more important than that is where your audience hangs out. Yes, LinkedIn should probably be the first choice for B2B, but B2C can have success on there too when they understand their target audience and how to talk to them.
So why should you use LinkedIn?
LinkedIn has over 200 million daily active users but it has other advantages going for it which may make you consider it as a possible business social media channel. For a start, as it’s a professional platform we know that 45% of users have an income of over $75K a year. 70% of users earn over $50K a year. Even 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn! Whether you’re trying to sell socks or coaching slots, an audience with plenty of disposable income is attractive.
It’s where business professionals hang out. If you want to get known for thought leadership, this is where you can do it. Facebook can be an escape for people, but while you can certainly spend some happy minutes or even hours looking at your feed if you follow interesting people, it’s more than acceptable to talk business on LinkedIn. In a survey of business executives it was found that 76% of them are on LinkedIn and many check it every day.
Another plus point for LinkedIn is the great reach it offers at the moment, since all the changes last year. I am regularly getting views of 2K, 3K, even 5 or 6K on a post. That far outweighs what I can generally achieve on other platforms for the same effort. As a hard-working entrepreneur I’m all for maximising returns for efforts! And as a social media consultant I’m well aware of the rabbit hole social media can be. Yet 30 minutes on LinkedIn can be worth far more to you than 30 minutes on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Why’s that?
Well, it’s because LinkedIn can be a humungous, fantastic lead-generating machine. According to Kissimetrics, more than 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn compared to less than 20% from all the other social media platforms combined. Sounding good yet?
How can LinkedIn generate leads?
First of all, let’s just clarify what you should be doing to attract leads, or prospects. They don’t just happen, you attract them by doing everything right.
- Yes you need a bright, shiny, optimised profile
- You need your branding message and tone of voice to be completely on point
- You need to understand the type of prospects you want to attract
- You need to understand what they need help with
- And therefore, you need to understand what kind of content you need to be posting to attract them
- You need to post the right content consistently
So let’s assume you have done all that. How can you identify ideal prospects, speak to them in a non-spammy way and ideally lead them away from LinkedIn onto your email list (and still be GDPR compliant let’s remember!)?
- Start the old-fashioned way. Look at your connections on LinkedIn, and then look at their connections. If there are people you’d like to connect with, ask them if they will introduce you.
- Simply engage with people. Spend some time every day on your feed, getting involved with conversations. Don’t necessarily stick to conversations with people you think may be ‘useful’ to you. Just be you! (Unless you’re not a very nice person. In that case be someone nice.) The algorithm will reward you for it which is just as important as actual lead generation in the long term.
- Use the Search bar for connections – more on this from John Espirian next week on the blog…stay tuned!
- When you make connection requests, personalise them.
- One to be used sparingly, but join Groups and you can message people regardless of whether you are connected. Use sparingly because a) groups on LinkedIn can be full of spam and b) messaging strategies need to be carefully monitored so that you aren’t annoying people.
- Be consistent and post content regularly, ideally every day so that you stay front of mind among your connections.
- Have a mix of content – video (using LinkedIn’s native video feature which is prioritised by the algorithm), text only, text with image and long form articles.
- When writing an article, make sure it is about something your target audience is needing help with, and use keywords that they would be searching for.
- Monitor who has checked out your profile, and ask them if they’d like any help.
- Create message templates to make it easier for you to send a series of messages to prospects – but do spend time personalising them.
- When someone connects with you send them a welcome message using your welcome template – but don’t overstay YOUR welcome.
- Allocate yourself goals each week in terms of social selling, eg. 5 new contacts, 5 pieces of content, messaging 5 new people.
- As with all social media marketing – measure the results you get, and refine the method according to what’s working and what isn’t.
Naturally there are more strategies you can use if you have paid for LinkedIn Premium, but this article is based on using the free version of LinkedIn only and I honestly think you can make it work with that, at least at first.
I’d be the first to admit that although it’s now my favourite platform (and I can’t help thinking of Bruce Forsyth when I say that!) LinkedIn’s advertising platform does NOT have the tremendous targeting advantages of Facebook Ads. It can also seem quite expensive (though Facebook Ads appear to be rising in price rapidly). However, the functionality to target by job title is very useful and you may well find that LinkedIn advertising provides better quality leads than other platforms’ advertising. You can also run a LinkedIn Lead Generation Form campaign which (according to LinkedIn) increases conversions by 2 or 3 times compared to regular Sponsored Content campaigns.
Business Page or Personal Profile?
Naturally every business can have a business page on LinkedIn, but how useful it’s going to be depends on a couple of things. If you are going to advertise, this can only be a done through a page. BUT, and it’s a big but, it’s very hard for business pages to get traction on LinkedIn without employee buy-in. Think about how many business pages you follow on LinkedIn. I bet it’s not all that many and that most of those you do follow are large companies. If you have very few employees or it’s just you, personal profiles are going to be a better way of increasing your company reach and visibility.
So are you going to go all out on LinkedIn?
If there’s one thing I hope you’ve learned from this blog, it’s that LinkedIn is NOT just a version of your CV. Your feed is likely to teach you a lot more than you’ll learn on Facebook in half an hour, although you’ll most likely see fewer pictures of puppies. And as I hope I’ve demonstrated, LinkedIn is the leader for lead generation. Be consistent and don’t be spammy and you will see your network grow.
Cathy Wassell is a marketing consultant with over 20 years’ experience who now specialises in social media marketing through her consultancy Socially Contented. (www.sociallycontented.com) She is surgically connected to the internet and divides her time between her children, her two mad spaniels and the pursuit of cake. Currently in the throes of setting up a new business, Go With The Pro, with some colleagues – watch this space!