6 Ways B2B Companies Can Replace LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn has announced that they will be shutting down LinkedIn Answers on January 31. This under-utilized area lets anyone with a LinkedIn profile ask questions of the entire social network. The section shows questions from your network, top experts and categories to browse. Members demonstrate their expertise by answering questions. One of the biggest problems for B2B marketers who tried to use this feature for business was that there was no way to be alerted to relevant posts. You had to manually review every question in the appropriate sections.

If you were using Answers, here are 6 ways you can use LinkedIn to connect with prospects and customers and generate leads:

1. Start and Manage a LinkedIn Group

There are two ways to interact with Groups. The first, and most common for B2B companies, is to create your own Group and encourage customers, prospects, employees and partners to join it. Rather than using your company name, create a name that represents your industry or your target audience. Posting content with links back to your website, third party articles and asking questions to get people talking requires the dedicated time of a community manager. Even though members of the Group can be emailed with updates, and can be sent a weekly email from the Group moderator, there is no visibility of the Group posts to non-members.

2. Participate in LinkedIn Groups

The other way to create a presence in LinkedIn Group conversations is to participate. This is not just the job of one person at a B2B company, but can be handled by several people, including subject matter experts. Start with a point person who joins many Groups and receives updates via email or RSS so they are alerted to relevant discussions. They can let the most appropriate person at the company know about the discussion, and even offer suggestions of what to post. The best approach is a mix of your own companies content, third party articles and short and engaging answers. It is best to be consistent so people get used to seeing and engaging with people from your company. Most groups are dominated by a handful of individuals and by regularly providing valuable contributions to the group your company representatives can join that level.

3. Post Status Updates on Company Page

Build a following on your Company Page by promoting it on other platforms (including your website). Post updates and links to company content that followers will see in their feed. Engaging posts will be seen by your followers’ network and will drive traffic back to your website. These updates can also be targeted by company size, industry, function, seniority and geography. Over time you will learn the right mix of content and offers for your followers. LinkedIn will show you impressions and engagement percentage stats approximately 24 hours after the post.

4. Post Photos and Files on Company Page

Taking a page from Facebook’s playbook, LinkedIn gives companies the ability to post photos and other files directly on their Company Pages. This may create more engagement and extend the awareness of your LinkedIn Company Page, but you need to mix these sparingly into your posting schedule along with links that drive visitors, especially prospects, back to your website to get them into your lead funnel.

5. Encourage Employees to Post Status Updates

People can post status updates on their personal profiles. Most, if not all, of your employees have profiles on LinkedIn. Encourage employees to keep their profiles up to date and share company content in their status updates. Coordinated employee updates are an underutilized resource for spreading B2B company blog posts, ebooks, webinars and other educational content. An active profile includes updates from other sources besides the company blog, so it is helpful to provide suggestions to employees of other sources of great content.

6. Encourage Employees to Connect Slideshare to the Profile

Slideshare has always been easy to connect to a LinkedIn profile, even before LinkedIn bought the presentation sharing site. If employees don’t have their own Slideshare account, encourage them to connect the company Slideshare account to their LinkedIn profile. This means that whenever the company publishes a new deck or ebook to Slideshare, it automatically appears on employees’ profiles as an update. These decks should include their own calls to action, giving prospects another chance to learn more about the topic presented in the deck or PDF.

What is your B2B company doing on LinkedIn to connect with prospects and help them along their buying process?

Photo credit: Flickr