Digital marketing through social media can be a very powerful, cost-effective tool for small business owners. But with so many social media platforms out there, it can be difficult to know which one to focus your energy on.
Whichever one you do choose, chances are you expect some kind of return, be it brand awareness or increased lead generation.
If your focus is the latter, it’s often very easy to default to the usual suspects, Facebook and Google ads, Instagram or even Twitter. But have you considered LinkedIn for your lead generation activities yet?
What, using LinkedIn for lead generation?
LinkedIn is one of the faster growing digital platforms and one that, by its business nature, lends itself very well to strategic, targeted marketing activities. So, to help demystify this platform a bit for us all, I recently asked Alex Barron from Rainmaker SOS for a few tips on how small business owners can maximise LinkedIn for marketing and lead generation.
You can watch the full video here, and the edited transcript is included below for those who prefer the written word.
What makes LinkedIn different as a social platform?
Well, looking at LinkedIn, it’s one of the world’s largest professional networks. There’s currently 810 million members worldwide across 200 countries and different territories. Unlike some of the other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, it is more known as a business network and it’s more designed for the purpose of professional networking.
It’s growing rapidly at the moment. According to LinkedIn, their growth rate is two new members per second, which is crazy. However what it does, is it allows professionals to connect, exchange messages and build working relationships. Originally it was, and it still is, used for recruitment or head-hunting talent. But it’s also a great way to build your brand and promote what you do.
I thought LinkedIn was only for networking and connections, not lead generation?
If you’re in business LinkedIn is certainly the number one playground that you should be in.
Networking and building connections are a form of lead generation. It doesn’t mean that the end user is necessarily going to be someone that you sell to. They could be someone that you want to partner with, they could be a good referral partner or maybe a contractor.
But yeah, absolutely lead generation on LinkedIn. The capabilities of that is certainly immense. One of the main benefits that LinkedIn has over the other social media platforms is that the target audience is all in one place. You can use a number of different filters. You can drill down on your ideal client profile, or as we say the ICP, and you can look at things like location, industry, title or the company that the person works at.
And if you’re using a paid subscription on LinkedIn, that gives you access to well over 20 filters. So, once you have that list of ideal client profiles, you can then engage with them. You can comment on their posts and really start building those meaningful relationships that one day will turn into paying customers.
How can I generate leads using LinkedIn?
I’d say there’s four steps to generating leads on LinkedIn.
First of all, is building out the LinkedIn profile.
You want to make sure that it’s fully filled in, branded with your company colours and optimised for keyword search. You want to make sure that you’ve got a professional photo showing how you would want to be perceived if you were meeting someone face to face. You want to make sure you use your tagline.
A lot of people make this mistake. And will put, say it was me, Founder at Rainmaker SOS, which doesn’t really give anybody a good understanding of what I do for business. So, my tagline should be ‘assisting B2B sales and marketing teams grow their business through a variety of digital channels’, because this can be seen when I’m connecting with people. If I post on somebody’s feed or if someone searches for me on the search bar, that will drop down each time. So, it’s a free bit of promotion that you can utilise.
On the LinkedIn profile, make sure that summary is built out as well. Make sure the buyer is clear, make sure it gives a good explanation on what your business is, what the services are and certainly, how you can help your clients.
Number two would be posting meaningful content.
And when we say meaningful content, we mean things that can add value. Adding value can come in a number of forms. You could use ‘how to’ guides. You can write articles around topics in your sector, or of course, ebooks. Wherever it may be, all of these elements will help to build your reputation and brand.
Number three would be being consistent.
As with all things in life, consistency is key. This allows your followers to get to know your brand and also your business, constantly building that reputation, or you may have heard the term social proof. You’re more likely to be able to gain traction in your industry and be seen as that kind of thought leader. And ideally posting between three to five times a week.
Number four, engaging with the network.
If you build your network carefully with the right people, you can tailor your content and the approach to best suit the ideal client. Most of the time it’s going to be people like business owners, key decision makers within your industry. This is your chance to show your expertise and why they should be working with you. Building your network can take time. It’s certainly worth it. Once you have your network built, you can then start to engage with them.
How can I make the most of LinkedIn without spending a lot?
What you do is try and optimise your LinkedIn profile as best as you can. No matter what the budget is, you can always be more active on the platform as that really costs just your time. Your activity levels are a great way to get your brand out there and so gives plenty of opportunity to engage and develop relationships with your audience.
Use content as much as possible, just like being active. It’s one of the best ways to maximise your lead generation on a budget. Content is king and it helps your engagement chances and brand promotion. And finally, use a tailored outreach. Look at a person’s profile, try and establish some sort of common ground that you can approach them on, and then have a calculated reach out when you connect with that person.
How can I track results or measure the success of my activities?
Well, you can use the analytics dashboard. That gives you a wealth of data to track your results.
You can look at profile views, how many people are clicking on your profile, the post views, how much traction are you getting on the post? You really want to record these to see what sort of content is working more over other content that you might be posting on a daily or weekly basis.
You can also see the search appearances that you come up in, which is quite a good telltale sign that the summary that you’ve written has got the right keywords. If you search for the term, like maybe lead generation, then I would hope that my profile would come up because of the keywords that I’ve used in my summary. You can look at the conversions from second degree to first degree connections, how many people are connecting back. And then from that, obviously, how many people that have connected back are you really doing business with or building those relationships with.
Within the LinkedIn platform you can see those analytics from the click of the button.
What is Sales Navigator and do I really need it?
If you’re serious about generating leads on LinkedIn, I would definitely say yes. I’ve been using sales navigator for over 12 years now. The best way to explain what it is, or how I usually explain what it is, it’s like the puppet master over the top of the LinkedIn account. So, it has its own interface, its own housed piece of software that allows you to do much, much more than what you can on a standard LinkedIn account.
As I mentioned earlier, you get 20 plus filters, so you can drill much deeper down on your ideal client profile. You get many more search results as well. You can see up to 2,500 contacts in a single search compared to LinkedIn, which is a thousand contacts in a search.
And you have much more control over the leads that you’re interested in. Unlike the LinkedIn platform, it will literally show me the updates of everybody that I’m connected with now. Not all of the people that I’m connected with am I really interested in doing business with so within the Sales Navigator platform, I can save these leads into save lists. I can categorise my saved list and I can keep tabs on the people that I directly want to be doing business with or to be appearing in their notifications.
If I’ve saved my leads, I can track those leads. I can see what they’re sharing. I can see when they’re mentioned in the news and I can also track when they’ve changed jobs. So Sales Navigator for me is definitely something that you should be using if you are serious about LinkedIn lead generation.
What content should I post on LinkedIn?
The most popular and effective content type that you can use on LinkedIn would be infographics. They are certainly one of the best content mediums used today, not only on LinkedIn, but across pretty much most social networks. People are using and utilising infographics, it’s easier to convey larger messages in a more, sort of, easier to read and creative way.
Links to blogs – if you’re linking to blogs that would be on your website, you’re directing people away from the LinkedIn platform. You don’t want to be putting the link for that within the body of the caption from the post. You may see people putting those links in the first comment, or they’ll say ‘to read the blog, click the first comment below’, this is a way of tricking the algorithm of LinkedIn because LinkedIn likes, or LinkedIn promotes, content that keeps people on the platform.
Alternatively, you can upload your blogs to LinkedIn. You can use the long form publishing tool and once you’ve posted an article on LinkedIn, you can then pin that to your profile so it kind of gives more longevity to the content over a standard post on the time feed.
Other real strong areas would be video, of course. Video is hugely popular or getting more increasingly popular and a great way to convey your message, as well as PDFs. You can pretty much upload anything onto LinkedIn, documents, PDFs and eBooks, links to the blogs and of course, infographics on a daily basis.
Should I just accept every connection request?
No way! I get a lot of people say to me, you know, I’m on LinkedIn and I’ve got irrelevant content on my time feed, it’s deterring me from using the platform.
And unfortunately, that is your own doing. Remember, you’re the one that accepts people into your network and you’re the one requesting people to be part of your network. Rule of thumb for me is to always check the profile. Have they got a profile picture? Do they look like they’ve been active on the platform? And really the two questions you want to ask yourself is, will they be able to provide me any value or could I indeed do business with them in one way, shape or form? And if it’s no to either of those, then certainly don’t connect.
A lot of people want to get their numbers up. They want to have a large network, but really it’s much better to have a smaller network that is relevant than having a large network that’s really irrelevant. So, I would certainly say, do not accept every connection request that comes through.
About Martin Baillie
Martin Baillie is a Business Coach and Growth Specialist at ActionCOACH Bury St Edmunds, committed to working with business owners to create sustainable, viable, profitable entities within the local community.
We find that most business owners are experts in their industry but not in business. Our ActionCOACH business re-education coaching programmes help business owners to understand all aspects of business so they can build a profitable, sustainable business that works without them.
Contact Martin Baillie, ActionCOACH Bury St Edmunds now on Tel: 01284 334099. You can also follow him on LinkedIn @https://www.linkedin.com/in/businesscoachburystedmunds/ and on Facebook @ActionCOACHBuryStEdmunds.