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How B2B firms can use LinkedIn to drive leads

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What’s the one outcry we continue to hear from B2B businesses when it comes to social media marketing: How can we use these tools to drive real leads for our organization?

And, it’s a fair question.

When it comes to time spent on platforms like blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it can get tough (but possible) to draw the line from point of contact to actual lead.

But, LinkedIn continues to be a hugely unsung tool when it comes to B2B organizations and leads. Actually, I shouldn’t say it’s unsung–plenty of B2B organizations are using the tool. But, my question is this: Are these companies galvanizing ALL their employees as representatives of the organization to drive leads instead of relying on the “new business” team.

You see, lead generation now extends well beyond the new biz team. Every employee can be a source of new business–from the CEO all the way down to the person who answers the phones at the front desk. And, it’s that concept I want to talk a bit more about today. How can B2B firms really leverage LinkedIn–and the power of ALL their employee relationships–to drive business for their firms? Let’s look at a process I think would work pretty well for many B2B companies.

Step one: Complete your profile

There’s still a sizable percentage of LinkedIn profiles that aren’t 100 percent complete. So, first thing’s first. Ask your employees to complete their profiles. Be sure to extoll the benefit around WHY they should complete their profile, too.

Step two: Build your network

Challenge each employee to grow their LinkedIn circle by 50 connections in the next three months. Build personal networks incrementally–don’t scare people off by throwing out huge numbers. Encourage employees to reconnect with former colleagues. College friends. And vendors. Start small. Build momentum. Then, get ready to act.

Step three: Participate.

Encourage employees to regularly engage within the LinkedIn platform. This could mean as little as 10 minutes a week or as much as an hour or two, depending on which employee group you’re talking to. Potential ways to participate on LinkedIn: Post questions within LinkedIn industry groups; post questions–and answers–within LinkedIn Answers; and share industry links regularly using the status update on your profile page.

Step four: Share YOUR content

See the last point in step three: But make sure to share YOUR content here from time to time, too. Posts from your company blog. Industry articles penned by staff members and executives. Whatever the case, by sharing relevant content via LinkedIn you’ll not only be seen as someone who’s looking out for the greater good–you’ll also be seen as a thought leader.

Step five: Advanced features

Once you have the basics down, take one particular employee group who really seems to be taking to LinkedIn and take it up a notch. For example, coach them on how to use the LinkedIn messages as a potential e-newsletter to potential prospects and purchase influencers. Or, talk about how they can solicit recommendations from former clients to create digital “proof points” for potential clients when they come looking for prospective vendors.

Those are some quick ideas. What others have you seen that work well?

Note: Photo courtesy of SocialMediamx via FlickR Creative Commons.

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How B2B firms can use LinkedIn to drive leads

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