There are gazillion studies, reports and blogs out there on how few B2B companies are really engaging on social media. This isn’t one of them. Instead, here are a few tips on how to get your C-suite over the first social media hurdle by using a channel they are familiar with – LinkedIn.
Why LinkedIn and not Facebook or Twitter? Perception. For many executives of a certain age and conditioning, Facebook and Twitter are simply platforms for gossip, useful perhaps for the customer support function but otherwise a productivity thief keeping staff away from “real work”.
On the other hand decision makers generally have a presence on LinkedIn. It is perceived (and branded) as a site for professional networking and referrals. Some may even recognise its role in lead generation.
In my book, that makes it a logical starting place in your battle to get time, resources and buy-in for social media marketing. Here are some arguments in favour of a more proactive approach to LinkedIn.
Company pages – can’t live with them, can’t get rid of them
As I’ve written earlier, your business probably has a LinkedIn company page, whether you like it or not. LinkedIn generates these on your behalf as soon as you have sufficient employees on the site.
And you can’t get rid of them (I’ve tried).
Since a blank, or poorly presented, company page works against your brand, it’s logical to invest some time in populating the available space with your message.
This can be as simple as cutting and pasting existing material and linking to current video or SlideShare content. With a little more effort they can become strong lead generators (some tips care of Social Media B2B).
Action for: comms and marketing
Updates – push your trusted message to a wider audience
If your top execs are on LinkedIn it stands to reason their peers are as well. Or at least decision makers, influences and stakeholders they wish to influence. Marketing 101 tells you to engage your audience where your audience is, so LinkedIn is a logical option.
Your company page allows you to send out updates to your followers. Leveraging the perception of LinkedIn as a professional source, these updates carry a level of trust and importance that the same link on Facebook or Twitter may not.
As a first step it takes little effort (and could pay good dividends) to push content through this channel. Imagine what you could achieve with targeted updates. This LinkedIn case study shows Philips Healthcare achieved a 106 per cent increase in click-throughs and engagement with a tagged strategy.
Action for: comms and marketing
Top level profiles – why should I do business with you?
Plug any name into Google and their LinkedIn profile will most likely appear on the first page of results, often in the highly sought-after top five spots.
LinkedIn is therefore a major resource for people researching your company and its executives, spokespeople and experts.
Who they are, what they have the done, what do they know and what other people think about them = the value they can provide.
A scant or incomplete profile not only fails to provide that answer it shows you aren’t interested in doing so.
Of course, it could be argued that only connections can view complete profiles so there isn’t a lot of value. Rubbish. In my case, my 293 connections give me a network of more than 6 million people – that’s a lot of people with access to my information.
Those outside your network can also view a “short bio” which covers the person’s experience, expertise and recommendations. And let’s face it, that’s what most people are looking.
LinkedIn has a tool to import your CV as the basis of a strong profile. It’s a starting point!
Action for: executive or delegated to comms and marketing
Groups – thought leadership at its best
LinkedIn seems to have a group for everything and everyone. What better way to show your thought leadership than participating – sharing information and joining discussions on the hot issues of the day.
This doesn’t have to be time intensive. Join those conversations where you can have the most impact and then track them using the built in email alerts. Discussions can range over days, weeks, even months. It’s the quality of your contribution not the speediness that is appreciated.
Action for: company spokespeople (at all levels) and sales.
Don’t fall behind – everyone else is doing it
While not all B2B companies are on board with LinkedIn as a marketing tool, enough are to make your presence a competitive imperative (47 per cent according to Penton Marketing Services).
In fact, Track Social, which puts together social media leader boards, shows the top 10 company pages on LinkedIn are all from the B2B field.
What are your rivals doing? What do companies you admire do?
Helpful stats – let’s face it, numbers talk
- LinkedIn is consistently named as the most powerful B2B social media channel in surveys of top-level decisions makers (26 per cent according to Social Media Marketing figures and 32 per cent in Business to Community’s survey) but only 47 per cent of B2B companies are active on LinkedIn
- Close to a quarter of respondents questioned by Circle Research say internal buy-in is the biggest hurdle to engaging clients through social media
- B2B’s investment in digital advertising (which includes social) is less than 10 per cent of the entire spend – imagine what could be achieved with a bit more cash
- 77 per cent of marketers say their websites are not that effective at generating leads. Social is where the action is.
Social Media B2B is a great source for information and inspiration in this area. Its top 10 posts of 2012 are conveniently gathered here.