Social media can help small businesses expand their reach exponentially, but it’s not intrinsically effective. To get the full benefit of social, you have to use it like a pro.
You probably set up a Facebook page within days of launching your business — maybe even beforehand to build hype. You might have a Twitter account for your company, but did you create a LinkedIn profile?
Many small businesses overlook LinkedIn when developing a social media presence, but it can be an effective tool that impacts every area of your business, from recruitment to sales.
What Makes LinkedIn Different?
Believe it or not, LinkedIn is the third most popular social network with 238 million active users. Sixty-five percent of companies have reported using it to acquire customers. Those numbers sound good, but how exactly can LinkedIn benefit your business?
- Lead generation: Since it’s professional by nature, LinkedIn makes networking with possible leads easier than any other social site. All the elements you need for market-qualified leads are already in users’ profiles. Supplying ample content to engage users in your target market builds a pool of marketable leads.
- Hiring opportunities: Top talent is looking for jobs on social media, and you need to keep up. Maintaining an active list of open positions on your company page and posting updates helps reputable job seekers find your company.
- B2C networking: LinkedIn is wonderful for building your brand. It helps you identify your customers, keep them happy, and engage with them consistently.
- B2B networking: LinkedIn can also help you build relationships with vendors and partners. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking to sell in the B2B sphere because you can accumulate references and endorsements.
How Do I Start?
Once you have a personal LinkedIn profile, create your LinkedIn company page. This is the best way to showcase your business in the professional sphere. Here’s how to do it well:
- Fill it out completely. Take time to fill out all the details you can. The more information you provide, the better you inform clients, prospects, and industry leaders who may be interested in connecting with your business.
- Showcase your offerings. Utilize the products and services page to describe everything your company offers. Link back to your website or an informative blog post for more information.
- Engage with your audience. Use company updates and all of the space on the page to engage with your users. Answer their questions the same way you would on any other social network.
- Engage with your industry. Post unique, relevant content often, and engage in other people’s conversations. The more insight you provide, the more likely you are to assert yourself as an industry leader and expert.
How Do I Expand My Reach?
Once your profile and company pages are up and running, there are many ways to build on that foundation, engage followers, and create momentum:
- Share your LinkedIn page on your other social network bios.
- Add a link to your email signature.
- Utilize sponsored updates. These are similar to sponsored posts on Facebook — you set a budget and pay based on the number of clicks or the number of users who see the update. If you’re unsure about content, test messages on other social networks before you pay for advertising.
- Incorporate a way for users to comment on your blog posts using their social media networks. Disqus is a perfect tool for this.
The idea behind all these strategies is to engage with followers as much as possible. With close to 160,000 followers, Mashable has the most engaged following on LinkedIn. It has reached this status by sharing all the content it generates on its page.
Like any other social network, you can’t just create the page and hope people will come. You must work constantly to interact with your connections and start conversations that will resonate with them. If you dedicate some time and effort to building up your LinkedIn profile, you’ll have a useful platform that’s constantly working for your business.
About the Author: John Boudreau is the CEO and co-founder of Astonish, an insurance marketing and sales platform for local insurance agencies. Astonish collaborates with insurance agencies to provide an optimized online Marketing presence, automate tasks with technology, and create an effective sales culture through hands-on coaching. Their platform drives growth in round-outs, retention, referrals, new opportunities, lead conversion, and team performance.
Photo credit: TheSeafarer