Things have changed immensely in the last decade for buyers of professional services. There was a time not so long ago when the phone book was it. Buyers had few ways to research service providers. Short of knowing someone at a firm (or knowing someone who knows someone), or asking for references from the firm, buyers were often in the dark. Today, purchasers of B2B services have the advantage of social media, particularly LinkedIn.
Research reveals that 70% of prospects prefer LinkedIn as their social media platform of choice when checking out professional services providers before purchasing. LinkedIn is growing — it’s up from 32 million users in 2009 to more than 300 million users as of May 2014. A recent study has shown that LinkedIn is the most used and most effective social media platform in the professional arena.
Point being, there are clients galore perusing LinkedIn and engaging with service providers on this business-centered social media platform. If you’re not participating, you’re likely losing prospects to more social media savvy firms. With its large and growing base of professionals—not to mention its broad demographic reach—LinkedIn is a firm foundation for your social media marketing efforts. As for how exactly to make this happen, here are 5 strategies for making LinkedIn an effective lead generation tool for your firm:
Put Your Best Face Forward. LinkedIn gives you a chance to connect as an individual and as a business. When prospects come virtually knocking, your profile and your company page must both impress. These are arguably as important as your firm’s website. Make your profile complete and specific. In your professional profile, mention your specific talents and contributions, as well as your company’s capabilities and the value it offers. You can tailor your Company page in a number of ways… showcasing different banner messages and images, and sharing content and updates with either all followers or a targeted audience.
Content Promotion. Social media is all about sharing. Your marketing department is likely creating some pretty impressive content marketing pieces. By sharing this content, you grow the reputation and visibility of your firm. If it’s of high quality, your content will likely get passed along by your followers, as well as theirs, increasing your exposure exponentially. Share others’ content as well. As you share industry info, you’ll be a part of the buzz being generated.
Become or Develop a Visible ExpertSM. Think of this as personal branding that has a range of benefits for the firm as well. With high profile experts on staff, you’ll attract prospects who follow industry trends and leaders. As your expert’s visibility and reputation grow, so will your firm’s.
Partnering Opportunities. You can’t be everything to everyone. If you want to get involved in specific trends or technology but don’t have the expertise or bandwidth, LinkedIn gives you a great way to reach out to those who do. Find ways you can join forces to provide more services over a wider audience. You’re both likely to gain followers and leads.
Industry Research. If you’re looking to get involved in another industry or specialty, keep an eye on the appropriate firms to gain insight. Follow trends, listen in on conversations, and read content provided by experts in virtually any field. You can also keep an eye on the buzz you’re generating, and see how your firm is perceived by other firms and LinkedIn members. If you’re not keen on how the conversation’s playing out, jump in—LinkedIn gives you direct access, helping you steer the discussion.
Logging in to LinkedIn once a week won’t work. Like all social media marketing efforts, LinkedIn requires daily interaction. Keep your profile updated, seek out new connections, and actively participate in groups with relevant audiences. In short, stay engaged. Consistent engagement will pay off—you’ll strengthen online relationships and generate leads without ever leaving your office—or opening a phonebook.
About the Author:
Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value. Lee can be reached at [email protected] or 703-391-8870.