LinkedIn is the marketing hub of many social selling executives and solopreneurs. What about small businesses using LinkedIn to reach their goals? 80% of small business owners, with 200 or fewer employees, use social networks to find new customers and grow their revenue, and LinkedIn is one of them, as they report. A recent Wall Street Journal study also indicates that 41% of small businesses feel that LinkedIn provides them the most potential to generate business.
Your LinkedIn for small business goals can range among:
- Expand and increase your relationship currency with your network with key contacts
- Build your credibility with content
- Expand the reach of your story by leveraging your employee base
Today, the LinkedIn profile is the new business card. And, content is the new networking tool. As with all social media platforms, LinkedIn has a social contract with its members, along with key use cases. LinkedIn is not another sales channel or place to promote a coupon. LinkedIn becoming more of an editorial and publishing channel and when used correctly is the foundation for every small business to build credibility with content and an evangelizing workforce.
Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Company Page
With over 3 million company pages, as of late 2013, you need to play to win on LinkedIn, or get left behind. In addition to maintaining an All-star personal page, you need a LinkedIn company page to amplify your brand to distributors, association members, customers and others. A LinkedIn company page also lets you highlight your services, thought leadership and your employees to build your external credibility and community. Best of all, a LinkedIn company page is free is you have a healthy personal profile.
Step 2: Run Your Personal and Small Business Company Page as a PPC or SEO Campaign
If your small business marketing strategy does not include a search engine optimization component, then it should – ensuring you are there when your customers are Googling you. There are over 1 billion annual searches on LinkedIn and 87% of purchases start with a search engine. So, by running your personal and LinkedIn company page and personal profile as a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, you can increase your company’s and content ‘findability.’ Include keywords in your headline, summary, anchored text, job descriptions and endorsements to be found on Google and LinkedIn searches.
Step 3: Find and Participate in a LinkedIn Group With Local Ties
LinkedIn reports the average user joins 7 LinkedIn Groups, so your customers, influencers and competitors are using this LinkedIn community. Over 70% of customers use groups to research, network and vet buying decisions. So, join all 50 of your potential LinkedIn groups to be as accessible as possible by other group members. And, regularly participate, in a non-promotional way, in 3-5 groups to network with other business owners, distributors and press.
Step 4: Begin To Blog On LinkedIn
Technorati reports that 31% of customers are influenced by blog posts. So, it makes sense for every small business to post articles on their blog, their website and on LinkedIn to reach and connect with their audience. It could be the same content on each platform since you will be connecting with different audiences on each site. Blogging is a new content networking tool and will help build your credibility and increase your business’ message’s reach when others share it to their network.
Step 5: Leverage Each Employee Within Your Small Business
Dell reports that only 8% of their owned channel followers overlap with their employees’ followers. Train and leverage your small business employees as brand ambassadors to build your small business brand; telling your company story and accessing their incremental network.
Step 6: Secure LinkedIn Endorsements
Dimensional Research reports that positive endorsements, like those on Yelp and Amazon, influence a purchase decision 88% of the time. LinkedIn endorsements are like Yelp and Amazon review for your small business and you and your employees can use these personal endorsements to build your small business’ reputation.
Step 7: Secure LinkedIn Recommendations
86% of US consumers are influenced by recommendations. With over 1 billion annual recommendations, you and your small business need to be a part of this ‘word of mouth’ marketing strategy, since these recommendations are like referrals, you need to get as many as possible to make a difference with customers.
Step 8: Showcase Your Work In Video, Slides, Interviews and More
Only 22% of B2C companies have secured a lead through LinkedIn, while 53% of B2B businesses have. The real impact LinkedIn has is its ability to share work examples, thought leadership, research and a POV to help influence the purchase or relationship. For example, an easy and ‘built in’ way to share this type of content is to research and connect with distributors is using SlideShare.
Step 9: Send 6 to 8 Daily Status Updates
LinkedIn is not the place to be posting coupons for your small business. The social contract to which you should subscribe is to use LinkedIn to develop your positioning. Send at least 6 daily messages spread across 6AM to 12AM to increase your company’s exposure to your followers and your 2nd’ and 3rd-level connections (i.e., the followers of your followers and their followers).
Step 10: Shine Up Your LinkedIn Curb Appeal
49.5% of LinkedIn profiles are not completed, which means they will not show up in a LinkedIn search. Just like selling a home, you cannot sell your small business’ credibility and products and services unless you work on its social media curb appeal. Audit and tune-up your profile to see immediate and measurable results.
You cannot be using the same Facebook and Twitter content and techniques in this channel, even though it has the same customers. So, if you embrace the channel to distribute your thought leadership to impact your small business, then you will be successful.