5 Ways to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Attract Inbound B2B Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I are at it again and this time we talked about how anyone, but especially B2B sales pros, can use their LinkedIn profile to attract inbound leads. Tom calls this inbound social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but there is more to it than just that.

1. Re-Think the Purpose of Your Profile

Rather than just create a profile that shows your job history and qualifications, create a profile that shows how you can solve your target audience’s problems and serve their needs. Think of your profile as a piece content that reflects your company’s capabilities, rather than your resume.

2. Use the Right Keywords

Throughout your LinkedIn profile you should use keywords that are related to your products and services. Not just any keywords, but ones that your prospects commonly use. One way to determine those keywords is by using Google’s Keyword Ad Planner Tool. It is designed to help determine keywords for Google ads, so you need an AdWords account (connected to a regular Google account), but you don’t need to place any ads to use the tool.

3. View Your LinkedIn Profile as a Web Page to be Indexed

As you are re-thinking about your LinkedIn profile and using the appropriate keywords, remember that this is a web page that is indexed by Google and other search engines. LinkedIn is a high-ranking domain and can show up as a top result in searches for your keywords.

4. Don’t Forget About LinkedIn Search

Active LinkedIn users use the search functions within LinkedIn to find what they are looking for, beyond people’s names and companies.

5. Optimize These 9 Fields in Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you have your keywords to attract your prospects, what do you do with them? There are several fields in your LinkedIn profile that Tom identified as the most relevant.

  • Headline: The default is your current job at your current company. This is the most important thing to change to appeal to prospects.
  • Contact Information: This should include the best ways to contact you, plus a website or landing page that includes information to your target prospects
  • Summary: This is where you can really speak to the prospect about how you and your company can solve their business problems, using a good selection of keywords.
  • Experience: What you do in your job is another opportunity to tell the story of your success helping customers solve problems.
  • Marketing Assets: Work with your marketing team to get Powerpoints and PDFs to add to your LinkedIn profile and use your keywords in the title of the pieces.
  • Skills & Endorsements: Have others endorse you for skills that are most relevant to your target prospects. You have the ability to edit your list of skils.
  • Publications: Relevant blog posts, ebooks or articles quoting you can be listed here. If you don’t have any, this is a good time see if you can collaborate with someone to create some things to list.
  • Recommendations: Ask your customers for recommendations. They will use the terms that others in your industry use, and they will also validate your position as someone who is helpful.
  • Groups Joined: The Groups you join show on your profile, so make sure you join relevant Groups with names that look and sound good.

What have you done on your LinkedIn profile to attract B2B prospects?

Do B2B Companies Really Need to Be on Facebook?

b2b-facebookMany B2B companies start their social media efforts by gravitating to the large, common platforms and setting up profiles. Step 1: Twitter. Step 2: Facebook. Step 3: LinkedIn. And once these boxes are checked, they struggle to find the right content to post to each of these platforms. And marketers wonder if they should even be on all these platforms, especially Facebook, as organic reach has deteriorated.

This approach ignores several important marketing questions that B2B marketers should be asking about Facebook.

1. What are you trying to accomplish with social media?

B2B companies need to use these social media platforms to achieve higher level business goals that others in the organization are tracking and supporting. Note that I said business goals, not social media goals. Getting more followers is not a business goal. Increasing sales is a business goal. Increasing the number of leads from online sources, especially social media, is a way to track success against that goal. Make sure you have properly framed social media in a business context to evaluate Facebook as an appropriate platform.

2. Are your customers on Facebook?

This is a critical question in evaluating the platform, but you have to do so in a business context. Even though 71% of online adults are on Facebook, many B2B buyers may not use Facebook during the day or like Business Pages. While there are B2B companies that have large followings on Facebook and have generated traffic and leads, if you are struggling to build an audience there, you may be chasing shadows. And even if you do get people to like your Page, if they don’t engage with your content, Facebook is less likely to display it in their newsfeed.

3. Are you able to provide value to customers and prospects through your content?

If you are creating content to educate, inform and entertain customers and prospects, that is the first step. If you see that your content is being downloaded and shared on any platform, then you know that the content is appropriate for your audience. At any point during this evaluation process, you can ask select customers or prospects about the value of your content. It is easy to make a list of the topics you think would connect with your audience and would drive action, but without direct feedback, it’s possible to miss the mark. And don’t survey them, ask them.

4. How do you reach them without advertising?

Facebook only shows the most interesting posts in the newsfeed, as determined by its algorithm. Interesting is defined as posts that people will interact with (like, comment, share, click). You need to use as many off-Facebook techniques to get people to interact with your content so Facebook will show them more of it. If you get good engagement on Twitter, then post exclusive content on Facebook and use Twitter to drive traffic to it. People need to know what’s there and to like it so they will see future posts. And don’t forget email signatures, newsletters and phone conversations. “We just posted this really fun picture of the sales team on our Facebook Page. You should like it.”

5. Can a B2B company quit Facebook?

And now the biggest question of all. What if your customers really are not on Facebook in a business context, those that are don’t engage with your content, Facebook doesn’t show your updates to many people who like your Page, and you just can’t justify advertising to increase reach, can you really delete your Page and leave Facebook altogether? Do your customers expect you to be on Facebook? Is there a stigma attached to not being on Facebook? If Twitter or LinkedIn are working for you, driving traffic and leads, and otherwise serving your business and its goals, and Facebook is not, it is time to leave. If you have tried everything and it’s only getting worse, you can go. There is more of an expectation for B2B companies to be on Twitter than Facebook. And when you leave Facebook, write a blog post about all your efforts and share the numbers of your lack of success. Nobody will fault you for dedicating your resources to platforms that have business value. One final thing to consider before leaving: It makes some sense to keep the Page alive, but not active, to keep the custom Facebook URL. If you do this, post a note on the Page where people can find you and your current content.

If you have Facebook success stories about your B2B company, please share it in the comments below, especially if you have turned around a low-performing page.

I Went to a B2B Trade Show, Was Underwhelmed by Your Presence and Kept Walking

b2b-social-media-trade-showB2B companies make products to solve problems and make their customers’ lives better or easier. B2B service organizations help customers run their businesses more efficiently or more cost effectively. These are noble causes. Sure, if we are successful at it, we make money, but a business product that doesn’t add value to the business is not worth considering.

And social media doesn’t help this problem.

If you have a bad product or service, social media provides both an outlet for frustrated customers and the means to amplify the message further.

So let’s assume that you have an awesome product that solves problems, a great team to provide services, and even a great sales staff to explain the value proposition and close deals. With all that awesomeness in mind, take a look at your trade show presence.

Really take a look at it.

Are you telling a compelling story? Are you enticing prospects to stop by and chat about your great products and services?

Or are you giving away pens and hard candy? Maybe you have progressed to give away squeeze balls in the shape of the world. Maybe you made enough of them that it is in the shape of your logo. These are perfect for the conference attendees who need a gift for their children. I know it has always worked for me. Even as a teenager my daughter still loves kitschy trade show giveaways.

And don’t even get me started on collecting business cards, scanning badges and any other means of gathering leads. “I just need a business card to give you one of those squeeze balls.” What’s the follow-up plan for those leads? Gathering dust on the sales manager’s desk?

Are you building awareness at the top of the funnel? Are you qualifying prospects or are you just trying to hit a metric that someone else imposed on the marketing team?

How about sending them an email newsletter or your latest ebook? It’s better than many of the emails I get. “Thanks for stopping by our booth. Did we tell you how awesome we are while you were there? Can we schedule a phone call with our junior level inside sales person to remind you how awesome we are?” This is not a follow-up plan. This is spam. And nobody will respond.

This is what happens when your only trade show metric is gathering leads rather that acquiring qualified prospects. And it is obvious to everyone who walks by your booth.

Here are 5 tips to change the outcome of your next trade show:

1. Adapt your personas for the trade show audience to make sure you present the correct message to the onsite audience.

2. Focus on qualified prospects as a metric of success, not raw lead numbers.

3. Don’t bother giving away something with no connection to your business that provides no value.

4. Create a true follow-up plan with a timeline, prepared emails and phone scripts and areas of responsibility.

5. Enhance your trade show presence with social media by posting and sharing content resources before, during and after the event to provide value to all attendees, but especially your targeted prospects.

Photo credit: Flickr

B2B Social Media Success Starts with Measurable Objectives

B2B Marketers are always comparing their company social media efforts to other B2B companies. What are other companies trying to achieve? What is working? What are their biggest challenges? In a recent survey Ascend2 asked 687 business leaders, marketing executives and practitioners from around the world just those questions. And good for us they separated out the answers for B2B companies.

Some of these results were featured on eMarketer, but you can download the full Social Media Marketing Strategy Report for free from Ascend2 (registration required). Below are a selection of the results.

B2B Social Media Marketing Objectives

Top objectives for B2B marketers were improving customer engagement, increasing web site traffic and increasing their content reach. While the first could be a high level goal, if other parts of the business are focused on that objective, the other top objectives are more tactical. While they can certainly be measured, they are really a means to an end. And lead generation is not a large priority of B2B marketers using social media. But it probably is a priority objective of other marketing efforts. This is one reason B2B marketers are still failing with social media.

  • 43% of B2B Marketers say improve customer engagement is their most important objective
  • 37% of B2B Marketers say increase web site traffic is their most important objective
  • 34% of B2B Marketers say increase content reach is their most important objective
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quality is their most important objective
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say increase lead quantity is their most important objective

B2B Social Media Marketing Tactics

Creating content are the top activities for social media marketing for those surveyed. Content is what drives lead generation and other top of the funnel activities, so these tactics are on track. But if lead generation is not a stated goal (above), it means that B2B marketers are not capitalizing on these tactics and including calls to action with every piece of content.

  • 40% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is their most effective tactic
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is their most effective tactic
  • 29% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is their most effective tactic

B2B Social Media Marketing Execution

While those B2B marketers surveyed indicated that various content types were their top activities in social media marketing, it turns out those same activities are the most challenging for them to complete. It is a different mindset to create content at the top of the funnel, or even to serve customers, that solves prospects’ and customers’ problems, rather than promoting the features and benefits of your products and services. Here are some B2B blogging ideas to help you to execute these activities.

  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating audio/video content is the most difficult to execute
  • 32% of B2B Marketers say creating research/whitepapers is the most difficult to execute
  • 31% of B2B Marketers say creating articles/blog post content is the most difficult to execute

B2B Social Media Marketing Obstacles

And finally here are the main obstacles to success for B2B social media marketing. These are common problems at B2B companies. Who is going to do it? How do we measure the value and does the rest of the organization understand what you are doing with social media?

  • 37% of B2B Marketers say staff limitations is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 36% of B2B Marketers say inability to measure social ROI is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives
  • 27% of B2B Marketers say lack of organizational committment is the biggest obstacle to achieving objectives

Do these survey results match what you see in your B2B company or those you work with? What are some of the ways you have dealt with some of these challenges and obstacles?

Top 10 B2B Social Media Posts of 2012

As each year passes the growth of social media for B2B companies continues. Looking at the top posts of the year is a good way to see what resonates with B2B marketers. How to more effectively use Facebook and LinkedIn, especially for generating leads and sales seems to be a running theme. Practical versus theoretical definitely rules the day (or year). Check out the top 10 below. If you have any other favorite B2B social media articles from this year, let us know in the comments below. Posts from other sites are okay too.

1. 10 of the Best B2B Facebook Timeline Cover Photos
Hope you didn’t oversleep this morning, because if you manage a Facebook Business or Brand Page for your B2B company today is the day that the timeline goes live, whether you are ready or not. One month ago, Facebook announced the Page changes, and you had the whole month to get your Page in line. And you were able to launch the update any time during the past month.

2. 12 Revealing Stats About B2B Social Media Marketing
Articles about B2B social media marketing adoption often paint a rosy picture of the current landscape, but when you dig in deeper, there are many challenges in effectiveness and understanding the results. In a recent survey of 5,000 B2B marketers from all industries, Penton Marketing Services found some pretty revealing statistics.

3. 20 LinkedIn Tips for B2B Social Media Success
B2B marketers are looking for ways to improve their social media marketing results, and one of the platforms that helps with that is LinkedIn. Many B2B companies have seen success on the professional social network by getting employees to represent the company in addition to their own experiences, managing company pages and even running industry groups.

4. 5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page
Many B2B companies have been successful at generating leads from LinkedIn, but there are features of a company page that B2B marketers are just not aware of. Most B2B companies have company pages on LinkedIn where they include a keyword-stuffed paragraph or two of marketing-speak. It also shows the employees who work at the company. This is the most basic option for LinkedIn.

5. Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media
Our friends at Inside View created this awesome infographic that gathers together many statistics, ideas and examples about using social media to help drive leads and sales for B2B companies. You can look through the stats yourself, but here are some to consider

6. 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Timeline
Facebook rolled out its new timeline for B2B Business Pages, so these Pages now have a similar look to personal profiles where content is organized and viewable by date. It is becoming a more visual platform and they continue to promote the idea that photos and videos create stronger connections with customers, prospects, fans and likers. B2B companies who want to succeed on Facebook must now develop and share content that doesn’t just provide value, but that catches peoples’ eyes. A recent study has already shown that many large brands don’t get that much fan engagement on Facebook, so this can be even more challenging for many B2B companies.

7. 10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media
Too many B2B companies are flat out failing at social media marketing. It isn’t their fault. This isn’t an attack on the companies. Heck, they are at least brave enough to give it a shot. Instead this is an explanation for why a new marketing channel has been slow to grow in the B2B space. This shouldn’t be news to anyone though. Email marketing has been around for decades and many companies still don’t have that mystery figured out yet.

8. 4 Reasons For B2B Marketers To Explore Pinterest
Pinterest has made a big splash on the social media scene, by quickly earning passionate users who log multiple hours per day on the site. Pinterest saw a 4,000% increase in site traffic from June to December of last year, and many consumer-facing and female-centric brands are already using it well. While Nordstrom pins its latest shoes and fashions by boards organized by department, Whole Foods uses the site to pin kitchen design inspiration and recycling projects in addition to recipes using its foods.

9. 4 Ways to Use Storytelling for B2B Social Media
B2B companies who embrace social media to connect with prospects and customers need to understand storytelling as a means for communication. No one wants to hear about your products. They want to hear about solutions to their problems. One way to get there is by sharing compelling stories. As many B2B marketers still struggle with this change in marketing focus to a customer-centric model, we offer the following suggestions for storytelling ideas. Keep in mind that each of these story types can be told in words, images, audio and video, depending on their use.

10. 5 Ridiculous B2B Social Media Marketing Myths
B2B social media is gaining wider adoption. We are past arguing if B2B companies can use social media like we did in the early days of this blog. With the gradual adoption of social media marketing for B2B companies, some misconceptions and myths about B2B social media have been born. That’s okay, because myths are a part of change in any aspect of life. Heck, when people started using microwaves one of the big myths was that they leaked electromagnetic radiation. Change and myths go hand-in-hand. Let’s squash some of the most ridiculous B2B social myths now before they spread any further!

10 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2013

It is that time of year again where we look forward and try to predict the future of social media for B2B companies. This is not a shot-in-the-dark exercise, but one based on observing how B2B companies have adopted social media over the past year. When we look back at 2013, we will not see a banner year with explosive growth in B2B social media. In many areas there will be continued gradual growth started in 2012 or earlier. If you have your own predictions or you disagree with ours, please let us know in the comments below.

1. There will be incremental growth in using social media for lead generation

Social media provides new and lower cost opportunities for B2B companies to generate leads, and the adoption of this continues to be slower than social media advocates would have you believe. Many B2B marketers still struggle to get the mechanics, tools and resources in place to build a robust social media lead generation program. More B2B companies will see success in generating leads with social media, but it will still not be the norm.

2. B2B CEOs will remain skeptical about social media

The disconnect between B2B marketers and their CEO about the value and application of social media will remain. Just like with the adoption of social media lead generation, there will be slight improvement, but it will not be a banner year. Many CMOs have seen the light, but there is not enough evidence from inside and outside the organization to convince the CEO. They will need another year of the pain of higher cost and inefficient lead programs before shifting to more cost effective social media marketing.

3. The chasm between B2B companies creating content and those who don’t will widen

Remarkable content will continue to distinguish B2B companies from their peers and competitors. Marketers who have mastered the art of blogging, ebooks, visual content and video storytelling will forge stronger relationships with prospects, customers and advocates, while those who don’t will get left behind. Customer expectations will drive this disparity even more in 2013.

4. The skills of B2B marketers will expand as content gets more visual

It starts with storytelling and interpreting data, but the new world marketers who will write their own tickets in 2013 are those who have a graphic design or photography background. The smaller explosive platforms like Pinterest and Instagram have driven up the importance of visual content, but Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all continued to incorporate rich media into their platforms. Marketing communication is no longer just about great writing. Look for fewer words from top B2B marketers and eye-catching visuals that promote compelling offers.

5. Data becomes more than a buzzword

Look for more B2B marketers to really understand the data components of their social media efforts in 2013. This is not about better measurement, but about compiling data to gain better insight into customers and prospects. This kind of data mining and interpretation gives marketers a more holistic view of social media profiles and activities, which lead to smarter and more informed actions.

6. The role of marketing automation becomes clearer

Sometimes B2B marketers need to say the name of their tools out loud to understand what they do. “Marketing Automation.” Say it again. “Marketing Automation.” You didn’t just say, “Sent spammy emails.” Expect to see better use of marketing tools in 2013 as B2B marketers do more than set up email drip campaigns, but unleash the full power of these tools to automate repetitive activities or other things that computers do better than people.

7. Mobile Strategies Catch Up to Reality (Again)

Repeat of 2012 Prediction: As each mobile device is released, it sells more than its predecessor. This will continue in [2013] and we will get closer and closer to the day the mobile web dominates B2B site traffic. B2B companies are on course to develop their mobile strategies so they can move forward with their customers. If every B2B marketer took their smart phone out of their pocket and suffered through their own website, this really would drive the creation of mobile-friendly sites.

8. B2B Marketers will determine relevant social media metrics

This is one prediction that I hope exceeds my expectations of how far it goes. Overall social media adoption hinges on better and more appropriate metrics. Lots of B2B marketers are still measuring vanity metrics or optimization metrics and reporting them as results. While the tactics of increasing reach will help you drive more leads, it is the leads themselves that are an indicator of your success, not the increased reach. Without the proper reporting in place that is connected to company business goals, there will be a social media backlash due to soft reporting.

9. B2B Marketers will get addicted to social media ads

B2B marketers will explore additional ways to build their audience and drive traffic to their lead-generation landing pages. Not only do social media ads fit this bill as a new tactic, but these ads will be less competitive and more cost-effective than pay-per-click (PPC) ads throughout 2013. That will change as more marketers start using them, but they will be regular part of the tool set before that happens.

10. Email usage will grow as B2B marketers struggle to generate leads with social media

As customers and prospects continue to click on email offers, B2B marketers will keep sending them, but with diminishing returns. This is still interruptive marketing, while social media acknowledges that the customer or prospect is in charge of the relationship. A tipping point is coming, but it won’t be in 2013.

There is still a tremendous amount of work for B2B marketers to do in 2013, but we know you can do it with planning, remarkable content, marketing and sales alignment and executive buy-in.

Photo Credit: One Way Stock

10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media

Too many B2B companies are flat out failing at social media marketing. It isn’t their fault. This isn’t an attack on the companies. Heck, they are at least brave enough to give it a shot. Instead this is an explanation for why a new marketing channel has been slow to grow in the B2B space. This shouldn’t be news to anyone though. Email marketing has been around for decades and many companies still don’t have that mystery figured out yet.

Instead of placing blame, let’s diagnose the reasons B2B companies aren’t seeing success with social media.

10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media

1. Massively Under Investments In Content
In the old days of B2B marketing, space was the core limiting factor. Marketers needed to work in the size constraints of a direct mail piece to get their message across. On the social web, space is unlimited. Instead, attention is now scarce. To grab the attention of leads online, marketers need more content than ever before. One blog post a month isn’t going to cut it. With the need for multiple blog posts per week and daily social media messages many marketing teams find themselves under-equipped to keep up with the content demands. If you are a B2B executive shift some of your paid advertising budget to content creation resources ASAP.

2. Haven’t Used Paid Social To Bolster Organic Efforts
Advertising shouldn’t be a dirty word in social media marketing. Instead paid social media marketing efforts on platforms like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook should be used to bolster your organic marketing investment. Use advertising to attract new connections on social networks. They will see the content you are sharing and engage with it to increase your lead generation.

3. Aren’t Focused on Lead Generation
Stop counting followers as your primary metric of social media success. Engagement is not a goal, it is a metric. Put a lead generation and revenue goal on your social media marketing efforts so that you can demonstrate the value in order to get additional budget consideration. Heck, we though this was so important, that we wrote The B2B Social Media Book.

4. Management Support Doesn’t Exist
Social media doesn’t succeed as a rogue one-man or one-woman project. Instead take our advice from #3 and build a model that projects social media lead generation growth over the next year. Share this with your executive team to get the funding and support you need to be successful.

5. Aren’t Looking At The Right Data
Social media is nothing more than another marketing channel. Stop looking at weak metrics like followers and engagement. Instead look at social media as you would any other marketing channel and look at key metrics like visitor-to-lead conversion rate by social channel, as well as visitor-to-customer conversion rates.

6. Customer Personas Aren’t Clear Enough
To win in the world of B2B social media you must clearly understand the daily pain that your target audience is facing. Your customer personas are critical to understanding this important information. If your social media efforts are missing the mark it is likely because you are failing to address your targets’ core pain. Revisit your customer personas with a new round of customer interviews to better understand the challenges they are facing.

7. Failure To Make The Boring Exciting
Your business is exciting. I don’t care what you do, someone in the world thinks it is important and awesome. Brainstorm with your team about some of the awesome, yet unexpected applications of your product. You never know, you might end up like BlendTec.

8. A Terrible Website
You could be rocking social media and sending tons of traffic back to your website but if your website sucks, it won’t do you much good. Conduct user testing on your website to make sure that it properly communicates your company’s products and services. Examine the conversion paths of your website to make sure that when someone arrives from social media, that they actually have a chance to become a lead.

9. The Belief That It Can Replace Everything
Social media isn’t a cure all. Don’t think that it can replace your other marketing channels. Instead, work with your team to get tighter alignment between social media and your other marketing activities.

10. Still Making Too Many Excuses
“Well social media doesn’t work for my industry.” “My business is different.” “We are boring.” “We have a different model. It doesn’t apply to us.” “We tried, but after a few weeks it just wasn’t working for us.” STOP IT!!!!! Quit making excuses. I hear these statements all the time from countless businesses. Never have I said “Wow, you are totally right.” Instead, I simply nod my head and then walk away thinking that this is another business who is condemned to failure because of a “can’t do” attitude. Don’t let this be you. Open your mind and attack big and bold ideas. You just might be inspired by the success you find.

Don’t fall victim to these mistakes and situations. Instead learn from them and crush your competition.

Photo: Flickr

20 LinkedIn Tips for B2B Social Media Success

B2B marketers are looking for ways to improve their social media marketing results, and one of the platforms that helps with that is LinkedIn. Many B2B companies have seen success on the professional social network by getting employees to represent the company in addition to their own experiences, managing company pages and even running industry groups.

Below are 20 tips that will help with many aspects of LinkedIn, both personal and for your company. Each one of the tips has a link to the original source, so many more tips can be found by clicking through and reading more. If you have other great tips for B2B companies, please share them in the comments below.

Personal Profiles

1. Use a professional-looking photo that is tight and well-lit with limited background distractions. (Source)

2. Customize your website listings. (Source)

3. Use LinkedIn to follow up after other communications. (Source)

4. Teach LinkedIn strategy and tactics to your employees. (Source)

5. Endorse others first and endorse fairly. (Source)

Company Pages

6. Choose keywords in your company description that your potential customers might look for. (Source)

7. Target your posts by Industry or Location. (Source)

8. Build followers for your LinkedIn company page. (Source)

9. Amplify through your network. (Source)

10. Monitor and focus your efforts. (Source)

Networking

11. Use “Tags” to categorize your connections. (Source)

12. When you think it could benefit your business, ask your contacts for introductions to their contacts. (Source)

13. Understand the psychological needs of people on LinkedIn when connecting with them. (Source)

Groups

14. Have sales reps join industry and local LinkedIn Groups. (Source)

15. The best groups have discussion topics that do not always begin with blog article links. (Source)

16. Send messages to a large number of people for free. (Source)

Lead Generation

17. Target searches for keywords you’ve identified as central to your business. (Source)

18. Create free banners on your products/services page. (Source)

LinkedIn Advertising

19. Each element must attract the audience you’re targeting and inspire people to click on the ad. (Source)

20. Create a special landing page just for LinkedIn ads. (Source)

What are some things you have done to grow your B2B network or expand your company’s presence on LinkedIn?

5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page

Many B2B companies have been successful at generating leads from LinkedIn, but there are features of a company page that B2B marketers are just not aware of. Most B2B companies have company pages on LinkedIn where they include a keyword-stuffed paragraph or two of marketing-speak. It also shows the employees who work at the company. This is the most basic option for LinkedIn.

1. Products and Services

The first thing that you need to do is enable the Products and Services function of the company page and begin adding products and services. This is where the action happens on the company page. Recommendations aren’t given for companies. They are given for products. Several of the follow lead generating suggestions are based on areas in the product and services tab. Note that you can be flexible with the definition of what a product is. If you have a compelling ebook that is appropriate for a LinkedIn audience, add that as a product. You can direct visitors to a download page with a lead form to receive the ebook.

2. Free Banners

Want to test some new creative ideas? Want to test some landing pages? LinkedIn gives you three free banner ads at the top of the products and services page. Create images that are 640×220 pixels, upload them to your page and add a unique URL, preferably to a landing page, and you have free ads. All you need to do now is make sure you are directing traffic to your LinkedIn products and services page.

3. Personal Contacts

Prospects don’t always like filling out contact forms because they never know who is going to contact them, but what if you could show them real people, with pictures and everything, that they could connect to for more information. This personalization of contact can be set by product, so consider adding people who have a high enough profile in your business or who have a title that makes sense for the contact. This can be viewed by some prospects as a purely “for more information” request about the product or service, so product managers can be a good fit, but these are leads. Clicking on this link is someone raising their hand and expressing interest.

4. Video with Call to Action

Each product and service entry has a space to link to a YouTube video, which appears embedded on the page. Video is another way to tell the story of your products. There are many ways to include calls-to-action in a YouTube video, which should be considered for the ones on your LinkedIn page. Everything you do on this page should provide enough information for prospects to decide that your products and services should be in the consideration phase of their buying process. You need to make it easy for them to take the next step and become a lead.

5. Status Updates

Companies can share status updates with those following the company. This is different than sharing information on your personal profile. You should have a content plan for sharing on your company profile. Share a mix of third party articles, company blog posts, links to ebooks and webinars, employee information and other content appropriate for your LinkedIn audience. Cross promote LinkedIn groups and events to continue to build your audience across LinkedIn. The main thing to do for lead gen is to make sure you are providing compelling offers with calls-to-action so prospects can become leads for your B2B company.

Have you taken advantage of all the lead gen levers that LinkedIn offers on your B2B company page?

5 Ways to Measure Results of B2B Social Media

B2B marketers like to measure things. This is not measurement for its own sake, but to determine the results of their marketing efforts. Social media, since it occurs online, is filled with measurable elements, but it can sometimes be a challenge to know which ones are worth measuring.

Start by establishing a set of goals and objectives for your social media efforts. If these goals are realistic, and measurable, you can determine how you doing in social media by examining how you are hitting your goals. And it is super-awesome if these social media goals relate to your higher level business objectives. This is easier if your company has clear marching orders, but you should at least have some idea how your company is looking to grow its business.

1. Growth of Following

Every B2B company that starts in social media begins focused on increasing followers and fans across their social profiles. While this is a tactic that should be pursued to increase the reach of your following, it is not a metric that should be obsessively measured and reported to your management. This is better understood if and when you understand how your number of followers relates to conversions. If you know that for every 1000 followers or fans, you get five leads, that is useful information. If you are trying to get to 1000 followers just to show your boss that “social is working,” you have not demonstrated anything.

2. Conversions

Measuring conversions is the best place to start because these are actions your visitors and followers can take that have some connection to your business. You may have already determined that there is some value in these activities. This could be signing up for an email newsletter or subscribing to your company blog, but it could also be participating in a survey or leaving a blog comment. These are the things that take a visitor and get them closer to the top of the funnel. They may not be a lead yet (which we will look at next), but they have done something that shows they may have interest in you product or service in the future.

3. Leads and Sales

As many B2B companies have long sales cycles, leads are used as a proxy for sales. Generating leads through social media and tracking those efforts through your buying cycle should be one of main components of your social media efforts. If you are creating content on a blog, and you should be, to drive traffic to landing page offers for ebooks, webinars and other deeper educational content, the reporting depends on both your volume and the sophistication of your systems.

A raw number of leads generated from social media is a good start, but you should endeavor to push this further. Can you break it down by platform, offer and types of content? That’s the front end, but what about the back end? If you can measure how these leads convert to sales, then you have a better understanding of what types of content and activities appeal to your customers and prospects. This will allow you to further optimize your B2B social media efforts.

4. Cost Savings

Social media can reduce costs but you need to be realistic about measuring the real cost savings. Companies often cut outside expenses (traditional advertising and marketing) and replace them with internal costs (employee time), and the public perception of social media being free drives this approach. This does not take into account the employees’ time to create content content, manage social profiles, or even the other jobs functions that now get short-changed because they have added social media to their daily activities.

A better way to look at cost savings is to isolate it to a given activity, like customer service. Using social media to reduce the call volume of a call center is measurable if you know what an average call costs. Determine the average cost of resolving customer service issues via social media and the difference is your cost savings. Tracking this over time to meet a goal in call deflection is a measurable result. There may be upfront costs developing the process, training and materials for response, but over time, this can be more efficient for many companies.

5. Return on Investment

And finally, the last piece of measuring your results is determining the return on investment (ROI) of your efforts. This is simply determined by taking the return, or revenue, and subtracting the investment, or cost, and divide it by the cost. The hard part of determining ROI is to figure out what to include in the return and the cost. While you need to put some timeframe around these measurements, for example conduct a 90 day campaign to contain both the return and the investment, there are other ways to think of return. In The B2B Social Media Book, we suggest using a Lifetime Value of a Customer as a better return value than an individual sale. This really shows the true value of your activities to the business. The numbers are measured in dollars and the ROI is frequently expressed in a percentage. If you can accurately calculate the ROI of your social media efforts, you can compare them to other marketing activities to determine their cost-effectiveness.

Measuring B2B social media serves two main purposes. The first, and more important, is about determining success in meeting your social media goals, but the second is reporting on those results in a way that show the value of social media to your management. Ideally, there is no difference between the two. What has your experience been in developing measurable goals for social media, meeting them and reporting on them?

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