How Small Businesses Can Get More Out of Their LinkedIn Accounts

For a small business without a big marketing budget, it can be tough to find economical marketing outlets. Paid advertisements on television and radio can get expensive fast, as can hiring a quality web designer and paying for regular content. Fortunately, there are a number of low-cost/no-cost tools that small businesses can leverage to achieve marketing success.

LinkedIn is one of them and, particularly for those in the business-to-business (B2B) space, it can be a very effective way to maintain awareness and connect with key audiences. Maybe you’re an insurance agent and want to connect with potential small-business clients in a particular industry. Maybe you’re a business consultant and want to establish yourself as a thought leader with a particular audience. Your target audience, goals, and objectives will determine how you can best use LinkedIn to grow your audience through a personal profile, posts, a company page, groups, managing your own group and, most recently, long-form posts.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool for lead generation. Establishing and developing a strong profile (which contains key words and phrases designed to draw leads to your profile) and building up your list of connections and followers are the primary ways LinkedIn can be used for lead generation. In an article for Entrepreneur.com titled “How You Should Be Using LinkedIn – But Probably Aren’t,” Toddi Gutner writes, “Much of your ability to be found through searches will rest in the keywords you use in your profile and company pages. To ensure you’re using the right search terms, make sure you include some of the recommended LinkedIn skills that automatically populate when you indicate your professional category. The benefit of using these particular words is that LinkedIn actually changes them based on what’s trending in the industry.”

It takes time and focus to develop a strong profile, which is why clearly establishing your audience and goals is so important. Everything you do, then, needs to be directed at attracting that audience to your profile. You might think of LinkedIn almost as an online Chamber meeting. You’re out there networking with potential leads, so you want to convey a strong, professional image that is supportive of your desired brand identity. You want to be helpful, supportive and responsive and, while you obviously want to let others know about what you have to offer, you definitely don’t want to come across as overtly self-promotional.

Finally, LinkedIn is a great tool to engage in qualitative market research. The groups are probably one of the best tools for this. There are more than 2.2 million groups on LinkedIn, representing a variety of professional interests. Engaging in those groups that include your target audience can be a great way to gather input and insights from those you wish to better understand. You can do this both by reading through the posts and threads that are already out there and by asking your own questions of the group members. Starting your own group also can be a good way to build an online research panel. And, in addition to the market research value, having your own group can be a good brand-building tool.

If you’re a B2B marketer, and you’re not on LinkedIn, what are you waiting for?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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