Social media generalists, in my experience, tend to approach LinkedIn the same way they approach any other social media. They push information out via status updates and auto-posts. They occasionally post comments on pages or discussions owned by others. And they call that a LinkedIn program.
This is okay if your goal is to simply have a presence on the network in case someone comes looking for you. However, if you’re a smart tech marketer who wants to use the world’s largest B2B network to attract, find and generate leads for your sales team, the usual tactics are not enough.
We often work with social media managers on behalf of our clients; sometimes they are in-house people, sometimes outside consultants and sometimes a service provided by a marketing agency. For the most part, these folks have excellent command of the mechanics of LinkedIn; but there is something missing. They lack an understanding of the nuances specific to this network and they don’t really know how to use LinkedIn to its full potential.
So, I put together this list that includes the 10 things we most often find missing from a social media generalist’s grasp of LinkedIn. If you want to tap the power of LinkedIn to generate leads and develop sales opportunities, be sure whoever is in charge of your social media activities understands these.
Ten things your social media expert needs to know about LinkedIn
- LinkedIn is – by far – the preferred social media network for information technology buyers. Out of all IT decision makers who have used social networks for business, 95% use LinkedIn, 45% use Facebook, and 44% use Twitter.* This means you should be spending at least 50% of your social media efforts on LinkedIn. (We recommend more.)
- People on LinkedIn are in a different mindset. IT decision makers come to LinkedIn to research problems, find solutions, interact with peers and experts, and to access what they’re looking for quickly. They are busy business people looking for answers and intriguing ideas. Use LinkedIn to build a relevant trusted presence – emphasis on “relevant” and “trusted”.
- LinkedIn is not a broadcast channel. To be sure, high quality content lies at the heart of a successful LinkedIn program, but blasting out blog articles to 50 groups and your company page will get you ignored at best. More likely it will get you pegged as a spammer.
- Status updates are not enough. Face it, most potential buyers are not actively reading your status or company updates on a daily basis. They are therefore quite likely to miss them. You need other ways to engage and stay connected.
- LinkedIn is a critical source of information for tech buyers in more than just the awareness stage. Various 3rd party studies (Forrester and comScore, for example) have found that tech decision makers are using LinkedIn as they scope, plan, select and even implement solutions. It’s necessary to be aware of and meet the needs of tech buyers at every stage of the buying process.
- “Followers” is a vanity metric that is valuable only to the extent that it means more people may be exposed to your message. Do not get distracted by this number. The same is true of “connections”. There is little value in a network of connections that have no relevance to the network owner.
- “Shares” is also a vanity metric but can be helpful if you use it to understand what content is important to your target audience – and to understand what a particular individual is interested in.
- IT buyers don’t have to share or comment or link to something to find value in it. Many are simply highly engaged observers. You need other metrics to determine how well you’re doing. The amount of qualified traffic you are sending to your website or landing pages, the number of sales-ready leads you have generated, and how many relevant prospects you have engaged are the most valuable numbers to know and pass on to management.
- LinkedIn profiles should not read like online resumes. This is especially true of the headline and summary. To encourage potential buyers, strategic partners or influencers to connect with your key people, profiles should be crafted to emphasize the benefits of connecting with the profile owner. In other words – from the prospect’s perspective – how can you help me.
- A custom LinkedIn group can be your most powerful online tactic. Buyers go to LinkedIn seeking communities of knowledgeable peers and experts. For marketers of complex, high cost software or services, a group of your own is a powerful way to nurture leads and establish a thought leadership. Done right, it becomes a pool of potential buyers for the sales team.
In defense of social media managers, it’s hard to keep up with the constantly changing requirements and opportunities presented by each of the social media platforms. At The Conversion Company, we don’t even try to do it. We focus solely on LinkedIn, which is why we can claim such a deep understanding of it.
LinkedIn is not just another social network. Treat it like Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest and you’ll almost certainly fail to take advantage of this powerful tech marketing channel. In fact, if lead generation, prospect nurturing and thought leadership are among your social media objectives, putting other social media efforts on auto-pilot until you get your LinkedIn efforts firing on all cylinders may be the smartest move you make this year.
If you want to learn more about how to harness the power of LinkedIn, take a look at this free report: “12 Costly Mistakes Tech Marketers Are Making on LinkedIn and What to Do About It”.
Unless otherwise noted, the statistics in this report come from a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of LinkedIn, August 2012
* LinkedIn/Research Now study of ITDMs in North America, August 2012