How To Get The Most Out of LinkedIn For Your Business
One thing that isn’t always clear with social media is how useful it actually is from a marketing standpoint. Sometimes people aren’t really all that interested in seeing your company’s ads on their facebook, or you end up targeting the wrong people and it’s all for nothing. LinkedIn is one of the most important social media platforms out there from a marketing standpoint, and if you’re not using it you’re missing out.
Ten years ago, when social media really came into itself nobody knew what to do with it. Nobody wanted to be creating ads for twitter and facebook, they didn’t get it and they kept trying to fit marketing content like early 2000s google adwords to social media. It didn’t work. That’s not how it worked then, and it’s definitely not how it works now. Marketing has changed, and now it’s much more about getting yourself in front of the right people than it is about shoving things down everyone’s throats.
Getting connected with the right people
To build up a strong network on LinkedIn, it’s important to know who you want to focus on. Does your company sell to a specific industry? Are you trying to move into another sector of the market? You need to narrow down what your focus is, and who exactly you want to be influencing. For 5fold, we focus on companies in the manufacturing world that don’t usually have access to marketing, and try to provide a niche service that cannot be found elsewhere.
Once you have your target audience, you have to start building your network. To build your network on LinkedIn, you have to send out connection requests. A lot of them. Filter a search down to just people in one area, in one industry, only C-level executives, whatever it is that you think would help your company get noticed the best, and start sending. LinkedIn used to tell you to only send requests to people that you had met in real life, but they’ve since lifted that rule – don’t let that stop you. If you send out 100, 300, 500 requests a day, you’ll get accepts from about half of them regardless and that will start growing your connection pool.
When you connect with someone, you are automatically a second degree connection with everyone they are connected to, if you’re not connected with them directly. Those second degree connections are valuable as well, since if you post something and their first degree connections aren’t posting much, they’ll see your content as well. More connections means more people seeing your content, so get clicking!
How to utilize your connections
Now that you’ve got all your shiny new connections, you’ve got to start using them. If you have content already being posted to your website, to your facebook or twitter or on your email marketing, that’s great. Take that content and post it to LinkedIn. For everyone else that doesn’t have large amounts of content being created already, we’ll go through a crash course of where to get content that benefits your company.
One of the easiest ways to get content for posting is the places you already get content. Do you subscribe to any newsletters or magazines for your industry? Do you ever see anything online that is related to your industry? Then you have your first source of content. Pull articles that are related to your industry, things that are impactful to your business and to the people you’re selling to. Set up a regular posting schedule, so that you’re posting relevant articles 2-3 times a week to your LinkedIn. That’s all you need to start, relevant content that you were already reading anyway.
The most important thing is to be consistent, so get a social media planning tool (there are plenty of free ones online, and you can schedule directly in some social media platforms) and start scheduling. Make a goal for the company and try to post at a minimum of once a week, then build up from there once you have a good baseline.
Why do I have to post stuff?
We’re so glad you asked! Posting content is important because it puts you out in front of the people that you’re trying to be noticed by. If you’re connected to 50 CEOs, CFOs, or other people associated with the industry you market to and you’re posting two times a week on LinkedIn, they’ll see your posts and even if they’re not looking for anyone to do what you do right now, they see that you’re 1) in the industry 2) a company that is up on current industry news 3) able to set and keep a posting schedule. That may not sound like all that much, but being noticed is one of the hardest parts of marketing.
Laying the groundwork with every one of your connections means that you’re making sure they’re consistently aware of your company, of your industry, and aware that you’re a current, forward thinking company they already have a connection to. The field of marketing has changed so much in the last fifteen years that now it’s much more important to be available than to be in everyone’s faces. The ‘pretty girl at a party’ syndrome happens because there was so much aggressive marketing that people are sick of it, they don’t want to hear your pitch on why you would be the best ever company to do what they’re already paying someone else to do. Being around, being noticed but not aggressively bothering them is what make them come to you and what makes you seem like a company worth trying to work with.
Okay, I’m posting other people’s articles. What now?
Now you start making content yourself. It sounds scary, especially if you’re not content-oriented, but it’s one of the easiest things to do because you already know everything. You’re an expert in your industry, you’re a company in the field that has important things to say. Do you already have any whitepapers posted on your website? Make sure they’re being posted to your social media, and while you’re at it, write some more.
The thought of making content is paralyzing to quite a lot of people, because they’re scared that it won’t be perfect. Perfect is impossible, so don’t even make that a goal. Aim for consistent. Set goals to post new content regularly, and choose a timeframe that you think you can stick to. If you take a look at what your competitors are posting (if they’re posting anything at all – if not you’re already way ahead of the game) you’ll see that nobody is making anything perfect. The making is more important than the perfect. Make and post things relevant to your industry.
What kind of things?
We already mentioned whitepapers, if you have the resources you should be trying to write and post those regularly. They’re good content, and people generally want to read them if they’re in the industry too. Other things include infographics, lighter articles, promotional branded graphics that have your name and logo, and videos. Yes, videos. Yes, we know they’re scary. LinkedIn and Google are both promoting videos more than any other posts, so if you post a video it’ll get more traffic than just an image or an article. Take an article you already had, and make a video of it. Post it and link back to the original, ta-da, you now have a lot more traffic on both posts.
Okay, I’m creating and posting content. What now?
Now you sit back and wait. Marketing isn’t just about big wins and punchy sales pitches, but also brand awareness. The more people that see your posts, the more brand awareness you have. It may take some time, but sooner or later you’ll have someone saying “Oh you know, we need someone to do this, I know a company that is in this industry”. Making people aware of your brand and keeping yourself in the back of their minds is how you make them come to you, and how you make sure that your customers know you’re a leader in the industry.