With all manner of statistics and survey results pointing directly to LinkedIn as the hottest B2B marketing channel since the last one, you’d think CMOs would be taking advantage of it. At least I did. But a surprising number seem to be missing the boat.
A September 2013 assessment by PeopleLinx found that only 16% of Fortune 100 CMOs are truly rocking LinkedIn while 4% haven’t updated their profiles from their last job and 10% don’t even have a LinkedIn profile. Fast forward to today, and our work for clients on LinkedIn indicates things are only a little better and many Fortune 1000 CMOs are equally guilty of underestimating the power of LinkedIn.
I know you don’t care whether or not all 300+ million LinkedIn members are being exposed to your brand. But if you’re selling IT services, business software or any other complex, business-related product, as much as 90% of your addressable market – and influencers – can be reached on LinkedIn.
How LinkedIn-savvy CMOs help their companies
In some ways, being active on LinkedIn is a defensive play. People will look at your profile and your company pages whether you ask them to or not. In many cases they will form strong first impression opinions based totally on what they see. They’ll assess you and your company’s ability to help them. They’ll decide whether or not you’re someone they want to be associated with. You won’t actually sell a complex product, service or idea on LinkedIn alone; but you can sure remove a lot of friction from the process.
Beyond that, CMOs who embrace and “own” LinkedIn help not only themselves but also their teams and their companies in big ways. Follow them on LinkedIn and you’ll see them spreading brand awareness, establishing thought leadership positions, generating warm leads, building customer relationships, engaging influencers, attracting new business opportunities and contributing heavily to recruiting efforts.
Equally important, they are leading their teams in making the transition to useful social marketing. They clearly understand that LinkedIn is not just another social media network one can safely ignore.
What makes a LinkedIn Rockstar?
Several organizations have suggested ways to categorize LinkedIn users, and I think those offered by PeopleLinx are the most relevant. It places users into four categories – Reactors, Rolodexers, Resumators and Rockstars – based on two dimensions:
- Marketability – how well you market yourself and your company on LinkedIn
- Connectivity – how effective your personal network is.
Do both of these well and you’ll rock LinkedIn for your company and yourself.
The Marketable CMO
You get a high marketability ranking on LinkedIn when you have a polished presence and you’re actively providing useful, thought-provoking content. In other words, you look good, you sound good and you’re visible.
Your first move toward high marketability is to redo your profile. I’m 99.99% sure you need a new profile. That’s because, in this case, we’re not talking about marketability just from a find-a-job standpoint. We’re talking about positioning yourself so that customers, prospects, analysts, journalists, strategic partners and anyone else who can help you do your job better wants to connect with you.
Once you’re looking good you can focus on sounding good and being visible. For a CMO, I think this means utilizing LinkedIn’s publishing platform and your own status updates to publish high value, thought provoking content. (Note: this does not mean regurgitating tactical blog articles or blasting out news releases.)
The Connected CMO
You get a high connectivity ranking when you’re connected to the “right” people and you’re interacting with them. This is not merely a numbers game. It isn’t good enough to have 500+ connections. Those connections need to be people who a) are relevant to your world right now and b) are themselves connected to people who are relevant to you.
It doesn’t stop at the connection. What’s the point of having a great network if you don’t use it? A few of them may catch your brilliant posts on the publishing platform and see your status updates, but to really rock LinkedIn you’ll need to be more proactive. Reach out to those connections that are a priority to you. Follow them. Like and comment on what they post. Point them in the direction of truly helpful content.
Do it now
Achieving high LinkedIn marketability and connectivity will put you in the top 20% of CMOs – giving you and your company a powerful competitive advantage. And it’s just the start. As I said at the beginning of this article, LinkedIn is today’s HOT B2B marketing channel, full of buyers, customers and influencers who want to connect with and learn from you and your company. Done right, LinkedIn can be your company’s most prolific lead generation channel. It can be the platform for your own dynamic community of buyers. It can be your greatest prospecting tool.