The most-asked question about LinkedIn on my survey of South African executives is “Can I get business from Linked In?” This highlights the vital truth that social media marketing has to be about marketing; it’s not enough to be social.
In short, the answer is yes, you can definitely grow your business through social media. But that doesn’t mean it’s automatic!
Years ago, I was approached to place an ad in the Yellow Pages. It didn’t cost much and my attitude was very much of the “why not, let’s see how it goes” variety. I placed my ad, paid my bill and went off about my usual business. Which was just as well, because nothing much came of my ad!
The same will happen with LinkedIn, if all you do is upload a bland profile and walk away. There’s not much you can do to leverage an ad in the Yellow Pages, but one of the key advantages of digital marketing is that you have the choice. You can take a “why not” approach, put up a profile and leave it at that and hope for the best, or you can use social media and content marketing to build your visibility and your reputation.
What’s more, you can actively hunt for business, using LinkedIn to source leads, research decision-makers and even warm them up to eliminate the traditional cold call.
Marketing isn’t a passive endeavour
If you’re serious about marketing your business on LinkedIn, you have to take the same active approach as you do to the rest of marketing and sales. You can’t simply “join” the platform and expect clients to start queuing up outside your door and the sales to come rolling in.
Start at the beginning – with a plan
Set yourself some objectives and decide how best to go about achieving them. Your business development objectives could include:
- Being found online
- Create awareness of your corporate brand
- Create awareness of your personal expertise
- Gaining recognition as a leader in your industry
- Establishing a reputation for consistent good service
- Building traffic to your online shop
- Expanding into new regions
- Building a database of prospects
- Researching prospects
- Increasing sales by a set percentage
Needless to say, what you do depends on your priorities and your resources
There’s no such thing as free marketing
Like lunch, you’ll pay, one way of the other. Marketing, whether traditional or digital, needs resource. Whether it’s time, manpower or budget you’ll need to commit resource in some form if you want to see results.
You may choose to start small and build slowly, in which case you won’t need the same level of resource as if you decide to go all-out. But you’ll need to tailor your expectations accordingly.
Social media is not a megaphone
In fact, it’s more a telephone! The point of social media is that’s it’s social. And that means you can’t simply use it as a publishing platform for your press releases and announcements.
Part of the art of social media is recognizing that in order to build a relationship of trust, you need to listen and participating in others’ LinkedIn activity is one way to show that you’re listening.
Online stalking is good for business
Linkedin offers a wealth of information about potential business partners. If individuals have a detailed personal profile and the company page is well populated, you can get a good picture of who you need to talk to.
So feel free to “stalk” your prospects. But be open about it – LinkedIn is a business platform, so it’s good to know that someone wants to know more about us, particularly when they might add value.
How compelling is your profile?
LinkedIn gives members a regular Who’s viewed your profile update. And as soon as you get that update, you go and see who was interested in you; it’s just human nature. And you’ll probably go and look at their profile in return. Which is why you need a clear, professional profile, even if you top objective is to use LinkedIn to source leads, rather than to be found by others.
Growing your business with LInkedIn
If you’d like to know more about how you can use social media to grow your particular business, or if you’d like help with setting up your LinkedIn profile and strategy, give me a call.