By Annabel Mulliner, content writer, Little Seed Group
There is a common misconception that LinkedIn is only for job-hunters and that it can’t be used to grow your business. But this certainly isn’t the case – LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for building relationships with potential customers.
Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is strictly for ‘professionals’. Because the platform is focused on connection-building, you can reach customers in a more personal, targeted manner than on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. This makes it an ideal platform if you are a small business that is looking to stand out in your industry.
But because LinkedIn works so differently from its social media siblings, it’s essential that you know how to use it effectively, and that you create a marketing strategy specific to the platform.
Customise your business profile
Anyone who visits your LinkedIn profile should be able to immediately recognise your brand. Ensure that your profile’s name, headline and images are on-brand with your other marketing content, including your website and other social media channels.
You can use LinkedIn Showcase Pages to draw attention to any projects or campaigns that you are working on. Showcase Pages are a great way to extend your main LinkedIn profile to promote specific products or cater to different parts of your audience, creating a more personal experience for your profile visitors. This can help expand your network as users can follow Showcase Pages without following your main page.
Build professional connections
LinkedIn is based on connections, and these should come before any sales pitches. It’s about building a relationship with your connections to build trust in your brand, which will eventually lead to sales.
Using your existing business contacts is a great place to start. You can use the ‘My Network’ tab to import your email contacts, and then select those that you would like to send connection requests to.
You will also get suggestions of ‘People you may know’. Make sure you aren’t sending out connections indiscriminately and that those you’re connecting with share an interest in your industry. Sending a personalised note will increase your chances of being accepted.
Joining relevant LinkedIn Groups is another great way to connect with people in your industry. You can demonstrate your industry thought-leadership by taking part in discussions, helping to establish your business’ reputation and grow your contact list. You can find groups to join by searching for relevant keywords – select ‘Groups’ from the dropdown menu.
Expand your email marketing list
LinkedIn allows you to export your contacts and directly input them into your email marketing list. However, do not be tempted to add connections to your email marketing list without their permission. This will lead to spam complaints and isn’t good for your business’ reputation.
Instead, you can directly message contacts to see if they would be interested in being added to your mailing list. Once again, personalised messages are much more likely to be opened.
Create engaging status updates
Showcase your industry expertise by sharing relevant news, blog posts and industry articles. To ensure these posts lead to website engagement, include a call-to-action to inspire your connections to visit your website, like ‘register now’ or ‘find out more’. Otherwise, why not pose a call-and-response question? These could prompt users to comment, or hook them into reading a longer post.
Using visually appealing media like photos and videos can help engage your LinkedIn audience more effectively. Videos automatically play when users view them on their feed, so they are especially effective at capturing attention. In fact, using video can drive up your engagement by five times. Posting custom images rather than stock images can also bring up to twice as many comments on your posts, hugely increasing your reach and engagement rate.
Build your reputation as an industry expert by sharing helpful articles, or by sharing your own content. LinkedIn has a publishing platform where you can post original content. This is great for sharing your expertise if you don’t yet have your own blog, or to boost engagement with your existing blog.
Analyse your performance
LinkedIn Analytics provides you with a detailed look at how your posts are performing. Check how you are performing regularly, to see which types of posts are the most successful, and where there is room for improvement. Otherwise, you could be putting all of your efforts into creating dozens of posts, without making progress towards your marketing goals.