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Social Media for B2B Marketers: LinkedIn

Over the next four weeks, we’ll be running a series to introduce B2B marketers to the basics of social media marketing. We’ll cover the four major social media platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and we’ll address how to set up an optimized profile for each and begin building a social presence. Join us for our webinar on Wednesday, April 10 to learn how to develop a social media plan for your B2B business!

LinkedIn is a natural starting point for many B2B companies to begin using social media. Unlike other social networks that focus on users’ personal lives, LinkedIn is designed for business networking, and it’s a powerful tool to promote your company and generate leads online. Here’s how to get started and leverage LinkedIn to promote your B2B business:

Setting Up Your Company Page

You need to have a personal profile to set up a company page, so if you don’t have one you’ll need to do that first. LinkedIn makes it fairly straightforward, walking you through the setup process with step-by-step prompts.

Beyond your name, company, and email address, you can include as much or as little information as you want. But, keep in mind that your personal profile is your introduction to the people you meet on the site, so you might want to let them know a little about your skills and qualifications if you want them to do business with you. Also keep in mind that LinkedIn is a business network, so you’ll want to include photos, language, and details that reflect on you in a professional light.

Once you have a personal profile, you can create your company page. Click on “Companies” in the top menu bar, and then click “Add a Company” in the top right to get started. It’s important to note that you cannot use a generic email address (such as Gmail or Hotmail) to create a company page, your business must have its own domain.

Click “Edit” in the top right corner to begin adding content to your company page:

  1. Overview Tab

    Add the basic information about your company and designate employees as admins, who have the ability to make changes to the page. Use relevant keywords in your company description so that visitors know what your company does, and also so that your page turns up when people search LinkedIn for businesses like yours.

    It’s important to provide as much information as possible about your company so that prospective customers get a clear idea of who you are and what you do. Be sure to include an image that reflects your brand as well as your company logo and specialties.

  2. Products & Services Tab

    If your company caters to multiple target markets, you have the ability to create different versions of your Products & Services page to appeal to each type of buyer. If not, you can simply create one default page that will be visible to everybody. Include a description with keywords, branded images, and even a promotional YouTube video on this page. Once you hit “Publish” in the top right corner, you can add the products and services your company has to offer.

    Mouse over the “Edit” button in the top right corner to add a new segment for each product or service you provide. Be sure to add an image to promote your offering and a description that includes keywords, along with the key features or benefits for each one.

    You can include a link to the product page on your website, videos and promotions, and specific contacts such as salespeople or customer service specialists for your customers to get in touch with directly. Note that you have to be connected to a person on LinkedIn in order to add them to your company page.

    Once you have added all of your products and services, click the “Edit” button on your Products & Services page and scroll to the bottom to set the order you want them to appear in. The top product or service will be promoted on your main page.

Promoting Your Company on LinkedIn

Now that you’ve built your company page, you can begin to build brand awareness, gather industry information, and generate leads.

  1. Connect to People

    Use your personal profile to connect to others in your industry and potential new clients, and encourage your team to create their own profiles and be active in this network. LinkedIn is a great place to keep up with contacts and stay abreast of what’s going on in your industry.

    Your team members can also connect their profiles to your company page, so that prospects can get a sneak peek at who’d be working for them and get to know your company a little better.

  2. Status Updates

    Keep customers and prospects up-to-date with what’s going on at your company by posting regular status updates. You can post news, links to content such as blog posts or reports, or run LinkedIn polls to conduct a little market research.

    As with your Products & Services page, you can target status updates to specific audiences based on industry, location, role, seniority, and company size. Everyone who visits your company page will be able to see all your updates, but they will only appear in the news feeds of followers in your target audience, meaning you don’t spam prospects with content that isn’t appropriate to them.

  3. LinkedIn Groups

    The real lead generation potential of LinkedIn is in LinkedIn Groups. Your company page cannot join groups, but each member of your team can, so this is a place you want to encourage them to participate and add value. Your product specialists can respond to technical questions, your marketing, accounting, HR, and other support people can have discussions related to their work, and your salespeople can interact with prospective customers. And all of them will be connected back to your company page, so that when their contacts need your products or services, your business is where they’ll turn.

    Join groups to have conversations about industry issues, answer questions, and get to know your audience better. If there isn’t a group related to the topics you want to discuss, you can create one! Just make sure that you offer useful information and promote discussion – nobody wants to talk to the person who just posts sales pitches all day.

  4. LinkedIn Today

    Many people who use LinkedIn aren’t aware that it also provides a great news aggregation service, called LinkedIn Today, which can be found by clicking the “News” tab in the top menu. The gear-shaped icon in the top left corner allows you to customize your news by industry and sources, and you can set up email alerts to receive a daily or weekly digest if you want.

    Once you’ve set up your news page, LinkedIn will compile the top news from around the web and deliver it to your Today page, letting you review what’s going on in your industry up-to-the-minute and all in one place.

  5. Insights

    Once your company page is up and running and you begin making connections and posting information, you can use Insights to find out what content is working for you and which of your followers are interacting with your company page. Mouse over the “Tools” button in the top left to view your Page and Followers Insights.

    You can also review the stats for each of your status updates beneath each post (these are only visible to page admins) to find out which updates are getting a response from your target audience. Use this information to tailor future updates, and reach out to people who interacted with your content.

    LinkedIn is specifically designed for business, and these days businesspeople expect to find companies and contacts on this networking site. It’s an excellent way for B2B companies to promote themselves to their target market and make connections to prospective clients and industry insiders. So, set up your page and encourage your team to be active on the site to build the reputation of your people and your brand.

Next week we’ll discuss how B2B marketers can get started on Twitter. In the meantime, feel free to contact us for more information about social media, or leave your questions in the comments.