Social Media marketing is one of the most powerful tools in business to business (B2B) industries. B2B marketing is about connecting to the right people, with the right message, at the right time. No social media network does that better than LinkedIn. If your business needs to reach the consumer you need to look at Facebook but if its B2B then let’s talk about LinkedIn.
Marketing is not sales although sales are the reason that you do marketing. Marketing is about communicating to the market the value that your business creates. One way to get this done is to connect to the right people and get to know them. Like all marketing challenges this is about reach and frequency where reach is your network and frequency is your newsfeed contributions. Another key element that businesses sometimes miss is that Social Media is a conversation not a speech.
Pick Your Players
The first step in Social Media Marketing is to decide who in your organization will be market facing. These are the people in your organization that are responsible for connecting to the market and that is all business relationships not just sales (although sales will be our focus for this article). Picking market facing people is a big deal and it should be carefully considered. In most organizations you will have people with the mission of connecting to prospective customers but others could be for strategic partners.
Create Amazing Profiles
Once the Market Facing profiles are identified, the first task is to evaluate the profiles and fix any problems on them. Incomplete profiles with no pictures, no background, or few connections scream to the market that you are there to do the minimum work, probably not a message you want. Make sure that every word on the profile is evaluated and that you create great content for these profiles. Ask customers for referrals, join related groups, and start to read (and ‘Like’) some of the discussions.
Upgrade Your Profile
To use LinkedIn professionally you need a professional profile and that costs a few dollars. As I write this the basic professional service level is $47.99 a month or $575.88 a year. There are lots of other services from LinkedIn but this basic one will get you the services you need. The problem with the free profile is that after a very small number of searches the search results become blurred forcing the upgrade. LinkedIn is earned media so while there is no cost per click there is a subscription cost and a labor cost.
Reach in social media is measured by the size and quality of the network connected to your profile. While measuring quality is a complicated conversation, measuring the size is easy. Look at your profile and display the metrics of your reach somewhere your team looks at all the time. In our office, this started out on the whiteboard and was promoted to the electronic dashboard where it is visible to everyone every day. Reach is as simple as three numbers; Starting, Current, and Additions.
Ask the Right Person
Once you have selected the Market Facing Staff the next step is to create a model of the ideal contacts for that person. The search process in LinkedIn is simple but your target may not be. To target a list it has be less than 1,000 names because the system will only show you the first 100 pages. Our process starts by limiting to the 2nd level connections and then we start slicing it with other settings. There is no one way to do this but common slices are geographic location, title, industry, etc.
Introduce Yourself to the Right People
Marketing 101: “If you do not ask for the connection then your rejection rate will be 100% and your growth will be 0%.” Where people fail in this step is by being lazy and not thinking about the person they are contacting. If you want a connection, tell the person why and make it as personal as possible. If you cannot make it personal then you have not really thought about the person you are contacting. I start this process by thinking about the profile of the person I want to connect to. This becomes a search profile that we use to find those people and deliver a targeted connection message to. The mission of the message is to clearly state in 300 characters or less why connecting to me will be of value to them. If you fail to reach this standard you will have problems with LinkedIn and will be eventually blocked from future connection requests. People who are in interested in what you say will accept the connection. A good guideline is if your yes rate from your message is less than 10% you are in trouble, 10-20% is average, and over 20% you will earn a positive reputation.
Watch Your Timing
Marketing is about timing and social media does not change that but it can help. When we work with clients on this we often look for events that trigger or are associated with demand. In the business world, this can come in many forms but a common one is conventions and seminars. A recent example of this was a client in the tourism trade that wanted to rent accommodations to business travelers. We found several venues in the local area that hosted conventions and then requested connections to the managers most likely to be involved in the event logistics. This allowed us to communicate with the person that was most likely going to set the accommodations for the team that would staff the convention. This is an example of using events and social media to get messages to the right people at the right time, after that all we needed was the right offer.
Engage with the Conversation
Once you have a network you need to invite a conversation and avoid shifting into speech mode. Businesses often fall into the trap of only talking about themselves and it comes across as something between arrogant and conceited. Messaging in social media needs to be of value to the intended audience and failing to meet that standard is a big problem. Communication in LinkedIn is part of the newsfeed and needs to be thought of as a mosaic that you put together one posting at a time. Your posts taken as a collection is your story.
In our social media plans we decide on the frequency and message content and then measure the engagement we get from that. We use a simple Excel spreadsheet as shown below as a management summary. What we are looking for are topics that engage our audience, aka network, and our reach outside of our established network. If the audience finds your content interesting they are likely to read more from you and the system will see that and give you better distribution.
Yes, It’s a lot of Work
Social media is earned media not paid media and as a result it has more work in it. Earned media has been around for generations although in the olden days it was called PR. Earned media is 10x more powerful than paid advertising but less controlled. If you want to build you network we do offer this as a service and we would be glad to discuss this in detail – call us 800.272.0887 and ask for Josh or Bob.