Does LinkedIn work for businesses?: Putting LinkedIn to Work in the B2B World
Looking for a job? LinkedIn. Looking for a new client? LinkedIn. Looking for investors? LinkedIn. Looking for professional services to support your business? LinkedIn.
From its nascent days in 2002, LinkedIn has come a long way. It’s now the de facto job-networking-sales-recruiting platform across most industries. Sure, there are smaller networks and platforms for specific industries – Doximity is a social networking site just for clinicians, as an example – but nothing compares to LinkedIn for the size of its user base.
For a period, LinkedIn-naysayers would claim, “Well, our audience isn’t on LinkedIn.” As marketers that use LinkedIn religiously for our clients every day, we’d be hard-pressed to find a cohort – individuals grouped by profession, experience level, geographic region, skillset, or other demographic – that simply isn’t on LinkedIn.
Acknowledging that your current and prospective colleagues and clients are on LinkedIn, the question is: how can you utilize LinkedIn better to grow your business? Keep reading.
Fair warning, this blog is a little bit of a LinkedIn love letter. And no, they didn’t pay us.
Enhancing your online presence and SEO through LinkedIn’s Company Pages
Let’s start with your company page. First, if you don’t have one, go make one. Seriously, do it now. Even if you have a company page, have you updated the profile recently? Just a few months ago, LinkedIn added new features to company pages, allowing businesses to add a 120-character tagline, a call-to-action button, multiple business locations, and company hashtags that allow you to easily share related content to your company page. We strongly recommend taking advantage of these new features.
An additional benefit of having a company page on LinkedIn is for SEO value. If someone searches for your company on Google, you want all of the first-page search results to be positive references from and of you. LinkedIn profiles rank very highly in Google search results and provide another positive and controlled link for people to click on. Plus, having a company page means that your employees have a company to claim on their profile – eyes on them means more eyes on your business.
Spreading your gospel through LinkedIn posts
While having a company page is great, the next step is to actually use it. LinkedIn is one of the best ways to share your company’s story. Are you proud of that new blog, or a new page on your website, or want more signups for your company newsletter? Sure. But people won’t know if you don’t tell them. You have to shout it from the rooftops. And, LinkedIn is a pretty good rooftop to shout from – LinkedIn is the top social media platform for B2B lead generation. And, LinkedIn is by the far the most important social channel in the B2B environment as half of all web traffic generated by social comes from this business platform.
When you post on a company or personal page, no matter the number of followers you have, your posts have the opportunity to be seen organically by people that don’t follow your company, but are connected to people that do follow your company. Many businesses have fewer followers of their company page than many of its employees have in their own individual network.
Take, for example, a Boston-based health-tech company. The company, with more than 20 employees, is active on LinkedIn and has 560 followers. The company’s CEO has 1,774 connections. So, when the company shares an update, up to 560 people could see the post. When the CEO shares the company’s post, another 1,774 people could potentially see it too. It’s the classic snowball effect. And, it works for people too, not just pages.
So, you’re thinking, “What should our company post?”
That’s an easy and a hard answer. Easy because there are so many good options. Hard, because the list is nearly endless. Below are a few suggestions:
New hires and employee spotlights
Company coverage in media outlets
New clients or strategic partnerships
Product or service enhancements
Company or industry news
Charitable or community involvement
Blogs, whitepapers and articles
Images and videos
Acknowledgments of holidays and special days
Sure, it’s harder for some companies to think of things to post. But, we’ve never met a company that didn’t have anything worthy of sharing on LinkedIn.
Finding super-niche audiences via LinkedIn Search
LinkedIn’s search features are incredible for finding the people you care about. Think about all of the information on your personal LinkedIn profile – location, job title, company, industry, skills, years of experience, education and more. As a user, you enter all of that information. And, as a result, other users and businesses can also search, filter and target by any or all of those categories.
Give us a few minutes and we can find all of the chief medical officers in the Greater Boston area, for example:
Give us a few more minutes, and we can find financial advisors who graduated from The Wharton School, currently reside in Chicago, and currently work at Morgan Stanley. There are four people who fit this profile:
These powerful search tools can be deployed to find new employees, prospective clients, potential strategic partners or investors, among others.
LinkedIn’s search functions are particularly helpful for niche and B2B business trying to reach decision-makers; 45% of LinkedIn’s users are in upper-level positions, such as managers, VPs, directors, and C-level executives. With this in mind, you can use LinkedIn Search to find and send connection requests to the people who can decide to hire and collaborate with you.
It’s not a perfect science; companies that fit into multiple categories are still reduced to one. For example, is a healthcare tech company a tech company or a healthcare company? But, even with this challenge, LinkedIn search remains a useful tool to find and connect with the people that matter to your business. Recommendation: a LinkedIn Premium account will make these efforts easier and unlock more filters for you.
Targeting super-niche audiences through LinkedIn Advertising
Move over Google Ads. For B2B businesses, LinkedIn has proven itself to be a valuable digital advertising platform. Just as you can find and connect with people you want to reach, you can advertise to them too. As it is with LinkedIn Search, all of the information that is available on a typical LinkedIn profile can be used for precise, relevant advertising. These advertising tools are great for reaching people beyond your current followers.
Two LinkedIn Advertising tools in particular we find are easy and fairly inexpensive to use for businesses of any size are:
Sponsored Posts – LinkedIn sponsored posts are an easy way to promote your content and drive people to your website. A fintech company wants to get the word out about a new whitepaper for boutique wealth advisors. The company could post on its own company page (organic), linking to a landing page on its own website. And they should. And then, they could consider also putting some advertising dollars toward promoting it on LinkedIn. Using the audience targeting features, the company could push that post to the feeds of senior-level advisors and operations people at financial services companies, with at least eight years of experience, with 50 or fewer employees. Talk about targeted.
Lead Gen Forms – LinkedIn’s lead generation forms are fairly new, but very effective. With these forms, LinkedIn members submit a form (prepopulated with information from their profile) with just the click of a button to access a webinar, whitepaper, or another piece of content – all without leaving the platform. It’s seamless and simple. Thinking back to our fintech company and their whitepaper, if they want to reach even more senior wealth advisors, using Lead Gen Forms can increase interest in the whitepaper among busy LinkedIn users. The users click, submit their pre-filled info, and access the whitepaper immediately. And the fintech company gets an Excel file with all of those high-quality leads.
With both of these tools, you can even have the option to add a little “follow” button in the corner of your post/ad to help your page gain more followers and ensure the people you are targeting see more of your posts down the road.
Recruiting and Hiring through LinkedIn Jobs
While becoming a trusted platform for sales, LinkedIn has not abandoned its roots: helping employees find jobs, and employers find employees. In this day and age, using LinkedIn to find quality people is a no-brainer – 75% of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn in their decision. Giving LinkedIn attention – and ad dollars – in your hiring process can elevate your brand’s awareness among the people you want to hire.
There are three primary ways to use LinkedIn when looking for good people to hire:
LinkedIn Jobs – One of the first steps of a hiring search should be posting the job to LinkedIn’s jobs section; half of college-educated Americans have a LinkedIn profile.
Company Page Updates – Attract talent by showing them your company is active and cares about the industry you work in. Regular posting of industry news, original content, and other thought leadership efforts on LinkedIn legitimize your company in the eyes of candidates.
“Cold-Connects” – We recommend businesses actively hunt for candidates by searching on LinkedIn and making connections. Just because people are not actively searching for a job doesn’t mean they are not open – 87% of both active and passive job candidates would change jobs for the right opportunity.