This is #4 in a series of mistakes we address in our report on the “12 Costly Mistakes Tech Marketers Are Making on LinkedIn and What You Can Do About It.” Click here to get your copy of the full report.

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“Social Media” gets lumped into one big category by everyone from research firms and industry analysts to authors, teachers and social media experts themselves. As a result, technology marketers – and everyone else – tend to approach various social media in much the same way. They focus on creating posts, updating statuses, and getting followers, likes and shares.

Why this doesn’t work

Every social media network has its own strengths, its own personality, its own “rules” of communication. Twitter forces the short-form post. Pinterest is for photos. But there’s an even more fundamental difference that separates LinkedIn from the other biggies in the pack.

Facebook and Twitter are platforms. LinkedIn is a community. Facebook is a billboard. LinkedIn is a club meeting.

Technology buyers may be members of Twitter and Facebook and even Pinterest, but they use LinkedIn differently. They’re visiting LinkedInin every stage of the buying process (source: comScore and Forrester) looking for peers and experts to help them learn about their current business problems and available solutions. They are validating information they’ve received from other sources. Status updates and blog auto-posts aren’t going to get you into the decision-making conversation – no matter how many followers you have.

What you can do

  • Take LinkedIn out of a general social media category and develop it on its own. With the right strategy and program management you’ll find LinkedIn can be one of the best – if not the best – channel for lead generation, prospect development and thought leadership positioning.
  • Focus on establishing on-going relationships and building two-way 
communication. People who don’t really know what they’re doing on LinkedIn tend to use it as a newsfeed – blasting out blog articles as if they were press releases. This is not the way to engage potential buyers and get them to interact with you. Reach out to people as individuals. Get to know them. Help them solve their problems.
  • Customize content and messages for the audience.  Most major IT buying decisions are made by a committee these days. Forty-three percent of the committee members are not IT people. Half are individual contributors and managers. The other half are executives. (Source: comScore) Make sure you provide the right people the right content at the right time.
  • Create your own community. LinkedIn groups are a unique and powerful way to engage with your prospective buyers, partners and influencers. Unfortunately, mainstream LinkedIn groups are suffering these days because of increasing spam and auto-posted blog articles that offer no value. A private LinkedIn group of your own – centered around a theme or topic of interest to your target audience and carefully moderated to remain useful – is a great opportunity for you to provide value and your prospects to get to know you.
  • Work toward taking the discussion offline. No complex B2B technology product is actually going to be sold on LinkedIn – or any other social media. View LinkedIn as one part of a multi-step process. Connect, engage, develop the relationship and then move to a call or online chat.

To get a complete copy of our report about 12 Costly Mistakes Tech Marketers are Making on LinkedIn and What to Do About It, click here.

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