25 Aug 2014

The Connection: Marketing B2B Services on LinkedIn

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We live in a day and age where businesses are constantly seeking to acquire and to retain their employees as well as to acquire and to retain clientele; and, with social media platforms forever vying for the top spot amongst B2B markets and marketers who either market those platforms or use the same to market products and services.

Whilst LinkedIn does not have 1 billion and counting users, LinkedIn has become the method of choice for business professionals as well as entry-level to mid-careers professionals marketing services, landing employment with coveted companies, rubbing shoulders with industry professionals, gurus, peers and colleagues across the world, keeping an open, friendly, non-commitment line of communication with current and with ‘just browsing’ (potential) clientele and future business partners.

1. Show Me the Money!

It is one thing for us to write and try to convince readers that LinkedIn is the way to go for creating business relationships and marketing your business’ services to future employees and future business partners. Or, even to write and convince readers that LinkedIn is in fact useful. We scowered the internet searching for information – albeit objective information – to provide to readers to corroborate our position on this topic.

Therefore, without further ado, we present to you some LinkedIn stats derived from the LinkedIn ‘About’ page and from an article entitled, “By the Numbers: 110 Amazing LinkedIn Statistics” :

  1. LinkedIn was founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant in the living room of co-founder Reid Hoffman. However, LinkedIn did not officially launch until May 5, 2003.[1]
  2. This social media platform – network and application – is “currently available in twenty-three (23) languages being: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish Swedish, Tagalog, Thai and Turkish.”[2]
  3. Currently, LinkedIn has “more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories.” And, over 39 million students and recent college graduates (the Gen Y Generation) are on LinkedIn, making up LinkedIn’s “fastest growing demographic.”[3]
  4. LinkedIn has “executives from all 2013 Fortune 500 companies as members.”[4]
  5. “[O]ver 5.7 billion professionally-oriented searches” on LinkedIn were conducted by its members in 2013.
  6. Three million companies have a “Company Page.” (More on the importance of Company Pages below.)
  7. “LinkedIn members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than 2.1 million LinkedIn Groups.” (More on the importance of LinkedIn Groups below.)[5]
  8. “Amount of posts it takes to reach 60% of your LinkedIn audience: 20 posts per month” as of April 2014.
  9. “Total number of products / services showcased on LinkedIn company pages: 1.2 million” as of June 27, 2013.
  10. “Number of School and University profiles on LinkedIn: 1,500” as of October 23, 2013. May be a useful stat to document destruction professionals seeking to create business leads with these types of institutions.
  11. “LinkedIn’s growth in web traffic referrals from 9/12 to 9/13: 34.51%” as of October 16, 2013.
  12. “LinkedIn’s percentage of B2B social logins on websites: 26%” as of October 18, 2013.
  13. “Percentage of LinkedIn users that find it moderately to extremely useful in growing their network and developing their business: 89.7%” as of May 14, 2014.
  14. ““Percentage of B2B marketers that use LinkedIn: 88%” as of May 22, 2014.[6]

2.  The Application : What to Do with the Statistics. Join LinkedIn.

According to the article, “An Introduction to using LinkedIn for B2B Marketing,” ‘content marketing’ is the most efficient way of “reaching a business audience” via LinkedIn, as over a whopping “91% of B2B marketers” are using LinkedIn to disseminate information about their company’s products and services, “an 83% increase over [the] last year.” [7]

Many of the sources cited here, give checklists to follow in order to successfully execute LinkedIn B2B content marketing insofar as generating leads for and acquire customers for and selling products to consumers for their company/brand. Below, we have taken those lists and plugged them together: first set up a LinkedIn Profile, have a LinkedIn Company Page, and create a LinkedIn Group or join (a) LinkedIn Group(s).

In Martine Hunter’s article, “LinkedIn Company Page Checklist for B2B Marketing,” Hunter creates a To-Do List to ensure that your LinkedIn Company Page hits all the right points to attract and retain readerships:

  1. Obviously : The Company Name;
  2. Moderators and Website Maintenance : Assign Administrations;
  3. Branding : Upload Company Logo;
  4. Who Are You Exactly : Describe the Company;
  5. So, What Brings You Here : List the Company’s Specialties;
  6. Cross-Referencing Between Social Media Platform : Add the Company Twitter and Blog RSS Feeds;
  7. Industry Updates and Related Information : Add the News Module;
  8. Company Statistics : Show the Company Type, Size, and direct Website(s) Link(s);
  9. Classify the Business : Select the Industry, Operating Status, and Year Founded (up your street cred);
  10. Finding Waldo : Highlight your organizations locations;
  11. List upcoming career options : employment opportunities or franchisee opportunities;
  12. Give yourself some props : Promote your Products or Services;
  13. Useful Trolling : Monitor Traffic and Audience Analytics on LinkedIn; and,
  14. Reach Out and Touch Someone : Invite Connection to Follow Your Company on LinkedIn.[8]

3. What is Native Advertising and how is LinkedIn Using it?

According to XEN Systems (“XEN”), a digital agency based in Sydney, Australia which focuses on the four (4) S’s of digital communication being Strategy, SEO, SEM and Social, “LinkedIn is aggressively offering native advertising products,”[9] which is the advent of advertising which contains the following, as stated by Joe Pulizzi a LinkedIn Influencer in his article “The Ultimate Guide to Native Advertising” :

  • A Directly Paid Opportunity : A “pay to play” to scenario – If they did not pay for it, it is not considered native advertising.
  • Usually Content Based: Simply informative and contains pertinent information that readership will find applicable to the industry in question. Generally does not / is not endorsing the company nor its products or services – maybe indirectly.
  • Delivered In-Stream : User experience is not disturbed, but rather the advertising creates some sort of synergy with the same.

Furthermore, as stated by XEN Systems “Native advertising allows you to borrow credibility from a media property then transfer that credibility to your own brand,” creating a sense of objectivity in the overall user experience department. Kind of like what we are doing here, right now.

As XEN writes, as part of being a successful content marketer and effectively marketing your company’s brand, the content must grab users’ attention and should have users feeling as though they have learned something transferable and transportable to their professional lives (and perhaps personal lives) as well as their wider business activities and commercial activities. “Bad content can destroy credibility” as XEN Systems writes. Performing a bit of risk management through your marketing and/or communications departments might be useful, or you might soon have to bring in an external PR company specializing in reputation management to complete damage control.[10]

4. LinkedIn Groups : Create Your Own or Joining a Group

Doing the above is not only a great way to increase sales, but “enhanc[es] your company’s credibility” and allows the company and its employees to network “with industry peers and colleagues” and fellow businesses within the company’s industry or outside of the same. [11] While most articles we came across dealt with creating your own group, “B2B Selling via LinkedIn Company Pages and Groups,” by Jasmine Sandler discusses B2B sales / promotion with or within pre-established entities.

4.1   How LinkedIn Groups Can Be Used In B2B Sales

“Groups enable their members to lead and participate in business discussions, promote their own products, events and services (in the Promotions tab), as well as like, comment and share other group members’ posts.” Groups are monitored by a moderator or owner jobbed with setting the rules and determining both whom is allowed to join said group, view the group’s activities or make the group private, carefully controlling the group’s membership roster, or making the group open (i.e. public) thus anyone is allowed to join, view, discuss and comment.

4.2 Finding and Engaging in Qualified LinkedIn Groups

According to Sandler this requires a “good bit of planning and daily proactive effort.” Thus, it may be useful to take advantage of LinkedIn options to choose and to showcase what your interests are, as well as take the initiative to seek out groups and professionals, instead of waiting for either of them to find you.

4.3 Proverbial Street Accreditation through LinkedIn Groups

Give yourself and/or your organization some proverbial ‘street cred’. Chances are high that your industry will have accreditation organizations on LinkedIn (thus moderators or owners who are selective about whom they let join their respective group, albeit being exclusive, are doing their current and future membership a solid).

5. Leverage Exposure in to Successful Network & Promotion Outcomes:

“Use every opportunity to invite others to join your LinkedIn group” :

  • E-mail recipients
  • Blog visitors
  • Industry Bulletin Board Readers
  • Company Website Viewers

It is also might be handy to create a LinkedIn badge / LinkedIn icon on webpages which host company articles or blogs, wherein should someone like what they read they can share the same via LinkedIn and other social media platforms – coming full circle and borrowing credibility.

A. Quiet Power – No Bias. Be Objective :

“Keep content promotion low-key and informative. Leave sales talk at home, offer assistance and provide relevant information that will promote long-term relationships.” Or, in the case of a document destruction shredding company, do not pressure readers into using the B2B services that your company offers. If your document destruction company can / has made successful industry connections via document management professionals, not only can you evoke a sense of soft-power but the effect of self-promotion as well as promotion of the profession as a viable career option.

B. Just a pinch or it will be too much to swallow :

Distribute your content on LinkedIn, but do [not] overwhelm your group members with an overabundance” of the same. Be strategic and try to project manage your supply of advertising and information-sharing.

C. Turn on the ACC: Attractive Content Creation

“Create content to build relationships with prospects and industry peers. This will help your company attract industry attention… . Your content will not only [be] read by your peers but by extended audiences, some of who may eventually become clients and customers.” In other words, take advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing tool available to companies and individual users alike whether they pay to use LinkedIn or not: Project the number of articles / blogs your company is capable of creating, keeping the previous points of advice in your prefrontal cortex whilst you plug away in exceptional native advertising content.

D. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) :

Use key terms on your profile to leverage search engine optimization thus directing traffic to your profile whether individual or company. Often LinkedIn will give you opportunities to add specific skills to your profile thus giving you percentage points to increase your ranking and in the form of viewability – increasing your ranking in search results and ranking amongst your connections when those same key words and skill sets are requested/searched. You may also want to take a moment and scope out similar profiles: industry professionals and fellow industry companies to develop some ideas for your own profile staying focused on being current, marketable, professional, and competitive.

E. Aiding Applications :

Add-ons such as LinkedIn’s Slide Share allow users to circulate PowerPoint presentations on industry topics either publicly with particular groups or circulated privately. There is also the advent of the ‘Event application’ where you can be notified of industry-specific events your contacts will be attending. Professional events (great networking opportunities) are a great way, outside social networking to network in-person and promote yourself and your business profession (traditional or franchise).

F. “Reorganize your profile” : Treat your profile as your resume because your profile is your resume. So take it seriously.

G. “Using LinkedIn for Professional Networking” : Take Advantage of the Updates

Keep abreast with the goings-on of your connections, professionally. Do not be a troll or a stalker.

Take advantage of the “Who’s Viewed My Profile.” Becoming a Premium user on LinkedIn will allow you to reach out directly to fellow professionals, colleagues and business owners through InMail – people who would otherwise be inaccessible to you.

H. Connections from other Social Media Platforms are Transferable :

In short – though you should be both selective and strategic (this is not Facebook) – take a moment to export and/or invite your connections from Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and other “contact management systems” to LinkedIn. After all, there is no point in inventing the wheel: leverage, leverage, leverage.

I. Get yourself a Pulse (add-on to LinkedIn) account :

You can read more about topics such as this one. Not only reading but sharing, discussing and commenting on those articles with industry pros and colleagues.

Additional information / websites:

“6 Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups for B2B Lead Generation”

5 B2B Content Marketing Tips for Boosting Your LinkedIn Group by Gregg Schwartz

“Five Tips to Boost Sales Through LinkedIn”by Ben H.

“How to Use LinkedIn Publishing Platform for B2B Marketing” by Muhammad Jawad A.

 

[1]http://press.linkedin.com/about

[2] Ibid, “Company Information.”

[3] Ibid. “Worldwide Membership”

[4] Ibid, “Product Metrics.”

[5] Ibid, “Product Metrics.”

[6]http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/

[7]http://xen.com.au./introduction-using-linkedin-b2b-marketing/

[8]http://blog.mltcreative.com/blog/bid/78150/LinkedIn-Company-Page-Checklist-for-B2B-Marketing

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

 

Article By: Deleone W.J. Downes

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