5 B2B Social Media Questions to Ask about LinkedIn Answers

B2B companies have been successful growing their business and driving leads from LinkedIn, and many still continue to wonder how they do this. It is usually through a combination of optimized profiles, company updates and providing value in Groups. Another component of their success is the mastery of the LinkedIn Answers feature. Let’s look at ways to gather information, demonstrate expertise and build connections by providing value with this function of LinkedIn.

1. How Do I Ask a Question?

The Answers landing page has a box to ask your question. LinkedIn will walk you through the process of asking the question, adding more details and even properly categorizing the question. They also provide some helpful hints about the kinds of questions that receive the most answers. Those are ones that are seeking knowledge, based on answerers expertise. Don’t ask for introductions to people or other ways to connect to others. This is a way to find answers from people beyond your network.

2. How Do I Answer a Question?

The Answers landing page displays new questions from your network. It is always a good idea to start by answering questions from people you know. There is less risk in putting yourself out there. Make sure you are providing value to person asking the question. If you are answering a question that relates specifically to your product or service, provide a supporting link to your answer. This could be to a blog post, product page, or even a third-party review or article about your product. You can also browse the categories to find questions to answer. Remember to only answer questions based on your own experience and knowledge. If someone in your B2B company is a better source for the answer, someone like a subject matter expert, refer the question to them to answer. Note that you can subscribe (via RSS) to all the questions in a category, but you cannot do a similar thing based on keywords.

3. How Do I Become an Expert?

People who answers lots of questions can become experts. The person asking the question has the opportunity to choose the best answer. If your answer is chosen, that affects your expertise score. There is a leaderboard of experts showing who has answered the most questions this week. It also shows what categories they are experts in. As you start answering questions, you will gain more awareness among those looking for answers. Providing valuable expertise leads people back to you when they need what you have to offer.

4. Are There Any Limits?

  • You can ask up to 10 questions a month
  • Questions can be up to 256 characters long, and you can provide a maximum of 1,996 characters of additional detail
  • You can answer up to 50 questions in a 24 hour period
  • Answers can be up to 4,000 characters long

5. What Do I Do if Nobody Answers My Question?

If nobody asks your question, and it is information that you need, you have three options. The first is to close the question and re-ask it in a different manner, using different keywords to attract other people to answer it. If the question is sound and you don’t feel the need to revise it, you can direct the question to specific people in your network. If you are not connected to someone who you think can answer the question, you can reach out to someone, and let them know that you are interested in their expertise on a question you asked. The final thing you can do is share the question outside of LinkedIn. Each question has a unique URL, which means you can ask the same question to your Twitter followers, and have them respond on LinkedIn.

How have you used LinkedIn Answers for your B2B company?

5 Power Tips for B2B Company LinkedIn Profiles

In the B2B space, LinkedIn may be the best social media site to take stock in. Recently while gathering some data for my company’s website, I was surprised to see how many website conversions viewed our LinkedIn profile. Of course Twitter and Facebook are great for awareness, getting traffic to your site and generally for getting people to like your B2B company, but LinkedIn still seems to take the cake for decision makers and actual purchasers.

So as we come into a new year, take a few minutes to spruce up your business LinkedIn profile so when people come to check your company out, they get the best impression.

1. Remove any employees who don’t work with you
Recently LinkedIn added this feature to Company Page Admins. From your company’s Overview page you can see a list of all current employees. Review this list and make sure it is accurate. If someone has mislabeled themselves or no longer works at your company, go to their personal profile and hover over the warning triangle. The Company Page Admin can now remove them from the company listings.

2. Refresh your company LinkedIn information
Take a few minutes to update your Company Description, Company Specialties, Blog or any other information in these form fields. LinkedIn and search engines get along very well. The more content you have here, the more opportunities you have for showing up in search results for the services you offer (LinkedIn searches and on search engines).

3. Start using status updates
Like most other social networks, LinkedIn has recently added status updates to personal and Company LinkedIn pages. Each time you update your status, anyone who is subscribed to your updates will see it in their newsfeed. Add value to their experience of following you by sharing links and information here. Offer relevant information about your business or industry and show that you are on top of what is happening in your area of expertise.

4. Add your most popular products or services
Under Services, add a few of your most popular services and encourage your network to recommend them. Instead of adding every product or service you have, try only adding the most popular.

5. Make a note to update your profile again
After this quick clean-up, pick a date on your calendar a few months down the road to update it again. Keep your content as fresh and up to date as possible.

LinkedIn’s company pages are slowly adding more functionality but in our busy days we may forget about one of our most qualifying online presences. Keep your company profile page updated so when your next customers are doing their due diligence, you are making sure your business is being accurately portrayed.

What are some other tips for keeping your B2B company LinkedIn profile fresh and up to date?

Use LinkedIn Group Statistics for B2B Social Media Success

LinkedIn added statistics to their groups, and these are visibile to everyone, whether they are a member of the group or not. These are promoted as a way for people to know what the makeup or activity is of a group before joining, but B2B marketers running groups can now track relevant data related to their groups. LinkedIn is focused on visually presenting these statistics rather than making the data available so you will need to manually track your data by entering it into a spreadsheet.

6 Data Points to Track In LinkedIn Group Statistics

Tracking each one of these metrics will give you a clearer picture of your group and will make you a better community manager of the group. They are not definitive measures of success but they can help you refine your messaging to the group and find more of the right kinds of people to join. If your goal with social media is to generate leads, and LinkedIn is part of that, a well-run group with lots of relevant discussions by your target audience can result in an increase in leads.

1. Member Growth
This one is the most obvious, and you have always known how many members are in your group. As you work to expand the reach of your content, it is worth growing relevant members of your group. While groups grow organically, use your other social media profiles to promote and grow your LinkedIn group.

2. Number of Discussions
As the manager of a group, you should start at least one discussion per day. In active groups members also begin their own discussions. Tracking this shows how comfortable other members are within the group. As your group grows and the number of discussions increases, you can add a quality measure to this by viewing what kinds of discussions are started. Is it just a blog post link or is there additional insight added?

3. Number of Comments
This is driven by the number of discussions and the quality of them. Make sure your discussions are generating comments by asking engaging questions and even sharing discussions with certain members of the group. These can also be broken down by discussion and added the quality measure mentioned above.

4. Percent of Senior Titles
These next three statistics are harder to track because they are percentages, and LinkedIn doesn’t provide the underlying numbers. If your group is large, these percentages don’t change much. Track this to better understand the group, rather than trying to increase the number of senior members. Knowing where someone is in the decision making process can be more important than having all decision makers. A group of recommenders can take the time to understand where your product or service fits into the larger picture of the organization and how it compares to your competitors.

5. Percent of Functions
Tracking this and how it changes can show you if your group is attracting the right people. If the make-up of your group doesn’t match your target audience, change the content and focus of the group and consider a LinkedIn advertising campaign promoting the group to the correct individuals.

6. Percent in Top Locations
It is good to understand where your group members are located because you can connect this to regional events or a regional focus of your business. This may not change much, but by tracking it on a regular basis it will remind you address the regional nature of your group.

Do you have other takeaways from the LinkedIn statistics? How will you use them to better manage your group?

Approach Your B2B Social Media Strategy from Many Sides

Many B2B marketers approach their social media programs from a tactic entry point. There is pressure to get started. Sometimes that pressure is from above. Sometimes it’s from below. There can even be pressure from the industry and competitors. This is why so many blog posts about social media focus on the tactics. They answer “how to” questions. They help solve marketers’ biggest challenges. And the small ones too.

Social media succeeds for B2B companies when it starts from a strategic level where goals and metrics are tied to higher level business objectives. I feel like I say this all the time. Not just here on this site, but in my day job, in presentations and in our book. But it is still worth reminding marketers of this. The following articles all get you thinking about higher level strategies that you need to put in place. Even the LinkedIn article about new demographic data available in the platform, which seems very tactical, should make you think about your target audience and how to reach them. Those are strategic thoughts, or at least they should be.

Have you seen any other posts recently that have inspired your strategy approach? Share them in the comments below.

The Evolution of B2B Marketing: Why Generating Leads Isn’t Enough Anymore
from MarketingProfs
If you’re like most B2B marketers, you diligently plan and execute campaigns to drive new opportunities and, ultimately, increase revenue. But unless you’re ready to rethink marketing’s role, you may be throwing precious budget dollars out the window and missing opportunities to drive real customer value.
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Social, Content & Selling – a Chief Revenue Officer’s take
from Inside Sales Experts Blog
I recently participated in a conversation over at Focus.com: How can you create a culture where your employees feel comfortable creating content? The idea being, that the creation of content is now an organizational responsibility as opposed to just being Marketing’s. At one point in the dialogue, I was sick of hearing what all the pundits think (myself included) so I threw down the glove and asked a Sales Exec to chime in. Well, Alex Shootman the Chief Revenue Officer of Eloqua did.
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Lessons from a B2B Summit Coach: Five Steps to Cut through the Noise, Turn off the Hype and Create a B2B Social Media Program that Works
from B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
I am further convinced social media is one of the most challenging channels for B2B marketers to manage. It’s so unpredictable, yet there’s so much pressure surrounding it – everyone feels like they need to be on every social media channel or else. And there’s so many people claiming to be social media experts, but don’t just blindly follow their advice. You see, I don’t believe anyone can be a true social media guru because there are constantly new ideas, platforms and methodologies.
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ZMOT, and what it means to B2B marketers
from Velocity B2B Marketing Blog
What is Zero Moment of Truth and what do buyers do during ZMOT?
They google, of course. They learn about their choices online, read reviews, watch videos, etc., etc., etc. To big brands like Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola and General Electric, the new mental model defined by ZMOT has attracted a tremendous amount of attention. Research undertaken by Shopper Science indicated that ZMOT was even more influential on purchases than the original stimulus that starts a purchase decision, and the first moment of truth. Arguably, ZMOT carries more importance for B2B markets than it does for B2C markets, as the larger the purchase the more time for pre-purchase research.
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LinkedIn Becomes More Relevant for B2B Communicators
from B2B Voices
LinkedIn continues to be enhance its platform for B2B communicators. Last month the company announced that companies could stream news and information from its corporate page. That was a small change and a much needed addition. But a much bigger change has just happened.
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6 Ways That Facebook is Better Than LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

We work with many B2B clients who want to engage with their audience via social media. We often get the question about investment in LinkedIn vs. Facebook. You would think LinkedIn would be better for marketing to B2B customers. It’s designed for business. People use it only for business. They want you to use it for business. 120 million business people use it.

The only problem is that it’s not as good as Facebook for B2B marketing.

That doesn’t sound right, now does it?

After all, we know Facebook is for posting pictures of the kids’ soccer games, for saying happy birthday, for following consumer products, for keeping in touch with your friends. I mean, it’s aimed at consumers, isn’t it?

On the surface, yes. Below the surface, the business audience is there because consumers are business people too. Ultimately, the overriding reason to consider Facebook over LinkedIn is that business people spend more time on it. Please pay attention: they spend more time on it, so you – the B2B marketer – need to take advantage of that one overriding fact. It will help make you successful in social media.

So, tell me, how could Facebook be better for B2B social media marketing?

6 Ways That Facebook is Better Than LinkedIn

1. Facebook has created a development platform that makes it easier to create custom web pages. It’s really hard to do the same thing, with the same ease, with the same nicely designed results on LinkedIn.

2. All those business people are already on Facebook. They may not have joined with business in mind, but they are there. The majority of the 800+ million are involved in business.

3. You can find them. Just like on LinkedIn, you can customize your search to find the people you want to reach.

4. You can find their friends too. Facebook is much more effective than LinkedIn at exponential reach through friends of friends, and it is likely that your business audience is connected with their professional peers on Facebook.

5. You can protect them, if you need to. You can create closed, invitation only communities and protect the information about individuals within that community. We’ve done that for very security-sensitive executive users (CIOs and CTOs)! Here’s a link to the VMware CxO Corner on Facebook.

6. People spend more time on Facebook. It turns out that this last point is a big deal when comparing Facebook to LinkedIn.
People log onto LinkedIn for a few key reasons:

  • To update their resume
  • To post a job
  • To look for a job
  • To make a connection, often associated with posting or looking for a job

People go onto Facebook for many, many other reasons, and as a result, they go onto Facebook a lot more often, and spend a lot more time on it. Businesses that take advantage of business people who are spending time on Facebook will engage with those business users.

I have seen studies showing that business people spend more time on LinkedIn. Hmmm. The studies are flawed. They typically ask where do business people go today for business information. Well, if we B2B marketers aren’t using Facebook for business, then of course, they get their information today from LinkedIn. Duh. The results of these studies will change only when you change your approach.

While LinkedIn is not to be ignored (it has many good qualities), if you’re going to focus your efforts toward B2B audiences, invest more in Facebook. How have your results compared between Facebook and LinkedIn?

5 Ways to Get More LinkedIn Company Followers

B2B companies now have the ability to share updates with their followers on LinkedIn. This is the first company page functionality that LinkedIn added that would be more effective with additional followers. Based on executive remarks, more functions are coming to company pages. To make sure you are ready, here are five ways to increase the number of followers of your company on LinkedIn.

1. Write a blog post
The best way to draw attention to your LinkedIn company page and increase your followers is to write a blog post about LinkedIn in your industry and include a link to your company page. The post is not just a follow my company post, but one that provides some value. It could be the 10 top Groups in your industry or a how-to article about growing your business using LinkedIn.

2. Add a Widget to Your Website
LinkedIn-Company-Profile-WidgetLinkedIn provides an easy way to create a company profile widget that you can put on your website or blog. This should go in a sidebar, or another part of your site that is always visible.

3. Add Company Page Link to Your Email Signature
Email is still the preferred communication medium for most businesses, so don’t miss the opportunity to include a link to your LinkedIn company page at the end of each message. Encourage other employees to do the same.

4. Add Company Page Link to Your Group Post Signature
LinkedIn power users know that their interaction in LinkedIn Groups facilitate connections that lead to business on the social network. Rather than sign your Group messages with a link to your website, try a link to your company page instead. People in LinkedIn are more likely to view a page in LinkedIn than to leave to go look at your website.

5. Promote on Other Social Media Profiles
You should promote your presence on one social media site on other social media sites. Tweet a link to your LinkedIn company page. Post it on Facebook too. You need to make sure everyone in your universe is aware of this page. There is certainly more value to come from these company pages.

What are other ways you are planning to share your LinkedIn company page to get more followers?

B2B Companies Can Update Status on LinkedIn

LinkedIn remains B2B companies’ favorite social network. Recently LinkedIn added a new feature that makes using LinkedIn for your B2B business even better: Company Status Updates.

Having company profiles was nice to gather some data, for SEO benefit and to follow companies that were of interest to you. Previously following a company just meant you knew when someone new joined a company, if someone left, if someone was promoted or if there were job openings.

Now when you follow a company you can also receive status updates from them, much like the updates you see from your connections on LinkedIn. This means companies can create status updates and share them with the people that are most interested in the company.

If you are an administrator of your company page, when you go to your company page now you can see the same status update box that you have seen on your personal profile. You can add text or share a link. The updates can be up to 500 characters long. The status update function is only available if the company page is set to be managed by designated admins only, not anyone at the company.

Benefits of the new company status updates:

  • Get news out to the people that are most interested in your company
  • Generate inbound traffic to your site with links to events, news and blog posts
  • All status updates can be shared by anyone, so you can let your network spread your message

Suggestions on Company Status Updates

  • Promote upcoming events
  • Remind people of your other company social networks
  • Share interesting and relevant articles
  • Link to the latest blog posts
  • Announce new features or services
  • Crowdsource new ideas to a group of professionals

How do you plan on using this new Company Updates feature?

Editor’s Note: Please see Jeff’s prediction of Company Status Updates last week.

Several B2B Perspectives on LinkedIn’s IPO

With this week’s IPO of LinkedIn, which happens to be social network site that seems to be most synonymous with B2B social media, we could not ignore it. While I did not write a post myself, here are three perspectives about it. We round out this week’s posts with a couple perspectives on why social media matters to business and how it fits into your life. If you have other suggestions for posts that gave you a new perspective this week, please let us know in the comments below.

What the LinkedIn IPO could mean for B2B communicators
from B2B Voices
Tomorrow marks another milestone for social media with LinkedIn’s IPO. You can catch up on the latest news here: Forbes, Fortune, Deal Journal, TRB, Term Sheet, Mashable. But as this story in Bloomberg details, LinkedIn gets “70 percent of revenue from business subscriptions, a model that’s similar to Salesforce.com.” So perhaps instead of treating LinkedIn like social media perhaps its future is more like the CRM model. With that in mind I wanted to offer my thoughts on how it can make improvements as a better resource for marketing and sales.
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LinkedIn IPO… The Day B2B Social Media Goes Public
from B2B Marketing Blog
Today LinkedIn, one of the first social media sites goes public. Although not the biggest social media site (Facebook dwarfs it several times over) LinkedIn has a long history (at least in cyber years) and a respectable brand. Within the B2B world some can argue that its size, brand, and value are the same, if not more than Facebook and Twitter.
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Blowing Bubbles? What the LinkedIn IPO Means for You
from Social Media Today
The Mountain View, California-based company sold 7.84 million shares priced at $45 each, according to a statement released yesterday, and the stock has already more than doubled in today’s trading. LinkedIn has been a tremendous godsend to the investment banking community – which has been waiting patiently for the social media industry to finally start raining.
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Is Social Media a Waste of Time and Money for B2B?
from MarketingProfs
Janet, a senior executive at one of our B2B clients, recently said to me, “Social media just doesn’t feel like an important area of investment for us. We’re not selling to consumers, we’re selling to hardcore businesspeople. I think we’d be wasting our time and money.”
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How to explain social media to your spouse
from Grow Blog
I loved Amber Naslund’s recent post about the always-on, world of digital media. As she correctly said, The New World of Work Includes Social Media. But here’s the problem. That’s easy for ME to say. It’s easy for Amber to say. But is it easy for you to explain to your spouse? How do you explain why you always need to be tethered to the Internet?
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Study: 93% of B2B Marketers Use Social Media Marketing

According to a recent study by BtoB Magazine, 93% of all B2B marketers are engaged in some form of social media marketing, with most putting their focus on the most popular channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter).

The Big Three

B2B marketers overwhelmingly favor “the big 3″ social media channels, with LinkedIn being the most-used channel (72%). Facebook (71%) and Twitter (67%) are close behind, with those three channels forming the core of most B2B social media marketing efforts. Other channels used by B2B marketers include YouTube (48%), blogging (44%) and online communities (22%).

When asked to cite their single most important channel, LinkedIn again rose to the top with 26% favoring it. Most respondents identified lead-generation as the most valuable result of LinkedIn marketing. Facebook was the most important channel for 20%, while blogging (19%), online communities (14%) and Twitter (13%) rounded out the top tools. Facebook was cited as being a channel where users “pay attention”, while blogs and communities were cited for their customer feedback and engagement.

Despite being used by 67% of B2B marketers, Twitter was only the top channel for 13%, perhaps showing that Twitter is an important piece of the overall social marketing picture but not the best channel for B2B marketers to find value. According to survey participants, many marketers only see Twitter as a way to support website traffic and product/event promotions.

Challenges:

When B2B marketers were asked to identify their top three obstacles to adopting social media marketing, 70% identified a lack of resources as being the biggest obstacle. Other challenges faced by marketers include: poorly defined success metrics and key performance indicators (57%), lack of knowledge about social media (44%) and management resistance (22%).

Measurement:

One of the most interesting statistic to come out of the report is the lack of measurement by B2B marketers. About 75% of B2B marketers who conduct social marketing say they do not measure the ROI of their social marketing programs.

The Study:

This results of BtoB’s exclusive research study Emerging Trends in B-to-B Social Media Marketing: Insights From the Field focuses on how B2B marketers are leveraging social media. Conducted in March 2011 and based on the responses of 577 B2B marketers, this study not only looks at the demand for LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter but how marketers are using the unique applications to their best advantage across all marketing functions.

Does this data match your social media experience for your B2B company?

5 B2B Social Media Ideas to Get You Thinking

This week’s list of recent B2B social media posts are not linked by a theme, but they should all make you think. A good blog post should have an a-ha moment where an idea crystallizes in your head or it inspires you to do something new with an increased level of understanding. These posts all did that for me. I hope they do it for you. And if you have come across any a-ha moments in recent posts, share them in the comments below.

B2B Social Media Lead Generation Explained
Guest post by Eric Schwartzman and Paul Gillin
B2B social media marketing is particularly well suited for business-to-business lead generation. Business purchasing decisions are made by stakeholder committees with diverse priorities and a voracious appetite for details. Social media is the most efficient channel for committees of engineers, product developers, purchasing managers and marketers to self-educate, and a way for marketers to abbreviate sales cycles.
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5 Ways that PR is Evolving In Spite of Itself
from Bliss PR
Sometimes I wish the PR profession would get out of its own way. Last week, I was asked to give a speech explaining what “Modern PR” is, and I shared five ways that PR is evolving. But as I began to speak, I found myself thinking of how many PR firms might disagree with me.
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Social customer care: QR codes and self serve
from being guy1067
I hadn’t thought much about how QR codes could be used for customer service until recently. I was at a conference and the ever erudite Richard Sedley (@richardsedley) almost in passing talked about imprinting a QR code onto an object, but I can’t quite remember what the object was. Although for some reason a pipe sticks in mind. Perhaps a pipe that has frozen during a cold snap and instead of ringing up your supplier about what to do, you could simply scan the QR code imprinted into the pipe which would have a set of instructions about what to do, and also an idea of how to escalate the issue if the problem continued.
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LinkedIn Reaches 100 Million Users
Below are links to two different blog posts from LinkedIn. The size of this professional network should inspire you to make sure everyone at your company and your clients’ companies have complete personal profiles, company profiles and are leveraging Groups and Answers to develop and strengthen business connections. A new professional is joining LinkedIn faster than every second. And you may not be interested that there are 74 Elvis impersonators listed, but you might be interested that 100% of the Fortune 500 have executives with profiles on LinkedIn. That may be the only social media stat you have ever seen, and will ever see, that is 100%.
100 million members and counting…
100 million gumballs

B2B Marketers, Analyze This: How Do Prospects Score YOU on Their Experience?
Guest post by Bob Thompson, CEO of CustomerThink Corp
Last year I was looking for forms software to support CustomerThink. As I reported in my “Customer 2.0″ buying experience post, I searched for solutions, interacted with various web sites and engaged with some of the vendor reps, by email or phone. I eventually found the right solution, but that’s not where the story ends. To most of the vendors that I engaged with, I was just another not-very-valuable small business buyer. And I was treated accordingly, no doubt thanks to some nifty lead scoring algorithms that have become de rigueur for B2B marketers.
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