When I discuss social media strategies with prospective clients most of them mention the troika of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – usually in that order. Depending on the industry you are in, your chosen target audience and what product/service you sell, one of these platforms will be better suited to your needs than the other two.
If you are doing business to business (B2B) and offering a professional service such as accountancy; LinkedIn is likely to be your best social media channel. I have here listed five recommendations in the shape of actions to take to boost your LinkedIn presence and to get on the radar of current and potential customers.
In this post I have assumed that you have already signed up and have a decent profile to use, if not check out this simple guide. Let’s crack on:
1. Status updates
Just like Facebook and indeed Twitter, you are able to tell the world what you are up to. Whenever you post a new update on your profile, this will be added to the home feed of your entire network. Most users (depending on their settings) also get either a daily or weekly email with updates from you and everyone else.
This is an excellent way to showcase your expertise. Tell everyone that you are going to be speaking at conference X, that you have signed up a new deal worth Y and that you are meeting up with Z this afternoon. Or even better, use the status updates to promote your latest blog post, just tell people why they should read it and they’ll click if it sounds compelling enough.
You can choose to integrate your Twitter updates into LinkedIn, unless you are only tweeting max once per day I wouldn’t recommend this. Twitter is the platform for noise, LinkedIn is more professional and business-oriented so best to keep these two separate.
2. Set up a company profile
If your business is bigger than yourself, you should create a company profile straight away. This page will look slightly different to a user profile but it’s editable and you should take your time to upload the right information. The company profile will be checked out by anyone doing business with you and can strengthen your brand if your coworkers have powerful individual profiles.
You would be amazed if you know how much people like to sit there and click around your company profile. There is plenty of information to digest and readers tend to check out more than three employees at the time and really scrutinize what the people behind the company are all about. LinkedIn added the new follow feature a few months back, this means anyone can follow a company’s activities meaning new hires, fires and promotions. You can expect headhunters to use this feature with particular interest.
3. Nurture your network
To be a good networker on LinkedIn you have to stay on top of what is happening to others. LinkedIn make it easy for you, in your home feed you’ll see people’s promotions, birthdays, travels (via TripIt) and so on. Be sure to drop a little comment about these things, it’s best to do it in a very helpful way and asking how you can assist them with a referral perhaps. You will find that most people love to hear from you and it will keep your name at the forefront of their minds.
4. Join groups
There are several benefits to joining groups; they are targeted and categorized around location/industry, you get access to all the group members and can invite them direct, you can post your blog posts and other updates to the entire group. Before you join any group that you might be invited to, check out the Groups Directory where you can search for relevant groups and see how big they are. I wouldn’t join any group that has less than 1,000 members unless it’s in your exact niche.
You can choose whether you want others to see that you are a member of a particular group on your profile, by using the Group Settings. This can be useful when you are a member of “Global Accounting Forum” but not when you are a member of “Need a New Job”. You also want to be wary of your contact settings, be sure to disable most email notifications from your groups or you will be getting daily emails rounding up the latest discussions – potential time waste here.
5. Engaging with the masses
To participate in discussions, your best bet is to start in a group where you know your stuff. See what others are debating and hit the reply button if you can add value. When getting involved in discussions, your end game should be to educate others or learn something yourself. By-products of this could be that your showcase your skills and generate interest in your personal or company brand. It could be that you find a new business partner or just extend your network in general by being seen.
The other way of engaging in the conversation is to use the Questions and Answers section. This is very much like Yahoo Answers where anyone can ask a question and anyone can try to respond. The asker will pick out the best answer after a few days and if you are lucky you’ll be awarded a star for your answer which will be visible on your profile – just like in school!
And where is the business?
Being active on LinkedIn and keeping a high profile can lead to business in the short term. I would however say that it’s more likely to be a medium to long term campaign where you build up your brand awareness and name recognition. Sooner or later, someone in your network will have the need for your services and since they have seen your name about in groups, discussions and their home feed you’ll be the first port of call.
Have you generated business from LinkedIn? Please share your experience!