MAD Perspectives Blog

 3 BIG LinkedIn Benefits for Your Company

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The BIG social networking platforms that are mentioned in almost every social media conversation are: Facebook, Blog, Twitter and LinkedIn.  However, for B2B companies, Facebook is unproven.  In fact, the most effective social networking platform for B2B companies is LinkedIn Hubspot recently shared the following results from a survey of 600 professionals knowledgeable of their company's marketing strategy.

LinkedIn is the favored channel for customer acquisition. You may wonder why this is, as many professionals think they should only be using LinkedIn when they are seeking a new job. LinkedIn is working diligently to change this perception and if we consider the results of Hubspot's study - LinkedIn is succeeding. LinkedIn wants to be the destination for helping you, AND your company, maximize your economic opportunity. How do they do they do this? Let me share some insights.

Your profile on LinkedIn is your online professional identity. Your network is a reflection of who you are.  As an individual you have the opportunity to use LinkedIn to learn from your co-workers, your network and other industry professionals (via LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers). Now extend this thought process to your company. LinkedIn gives companies an opportunity to showcase their identity and that identity is influenced by its employees, its customers, its competitors and its products or services.

LinkedIn enables companies to promote themselves in a way that is completely complimentary to their website.  Companies can:

     1. Find & Hire THE smartest people. LinkedIn allows companies (and recruiters) to identify potential candidates (who may not be actively seeking a new opportunity). They can gain insight into these candidates by reviewing their profile, their recommendations, their experiences and their links. Conversely, candidates can get a better understanding of your company by studying employee and executive profiles.
Using Company Pages, companies can reflect new hires (don't you want to see what kind of people were recently hired and into what kind of jobs) and more importantly, job postings. Because the company can better understand who you are, they are eager to post their jobs here. Here is an example of the number of job postings by various high tech companies:  Dell = 1,113, HP = 207, Microsoft = 4,290, Google = 1,947, LinkedIn = 155. Not only can you apply for jobs via LinkedIn, you can see who in your network works at the target company. And, the company can see which employees you might know and seek recommendations.

     2. Market their products & services. Companies can create marketing campaigns using keywords, demographics, earnings, roles/title and more to target the right companies and individuals. Imagine a software company with a product that addresses supply chain issues in the jewelry manufacturing sector. LinkedIn has the data to help them place ads on the right pages for the right people at the right companies.

Again, using Company Pages, companies can promote their products, offer special deals and even better - get customer recommendations. In fact, it is possible to create a rotation of product images/ads that will rotate and enable links to the relevant company web page. Additionally, LinkedIn allows companies to customize their product presentation by audience demographics. We all know we like to buy products that are recommended by others. This idea is not new - heck, it helped Zappos become the online shoe buying destination. But, now this idea is expanded to B2B businesses.  Your products and services may be reviewed and recommended by your customers, publicly. This is powerful.

     3. Amplify Reputation.  LinkedIn enables companies to enter into a different kind of relationship with their customers or prospects. Through the use of LinkedIn Groups or LinkedIn Answers companies can bring like minded people together. LinkedIn Groups allows companies to participate in groups or to create their own groups.  The groups may be focused around topics, products, trends, industry standards - whatever makes the most sense for the company. An example of a well moderated group is Small Biz Nation (yes, I am a member of this group).  This group is hosted by HP and Intel. The primary focus of the group is to raise and discuss challenges faced by small business, be they about accounting, tax or legal issues to technology, offices supplies or hiring. HP and Intel benefit by showing their interest in the concerns of small business owners.

LinkedIn Answers provides the opportunity for any individual to post a question - about anything. Companies can search for questions of interest to them and provide answers - thus extending their reach and understanding of customer concerns. Alternatively, companies can post questions to guide improvements in customer service, product innovation or sales methodology.  Imagine you are seeking information regarding the best video streaming hosting technologies. You can certainly Google it.  However, you can also post the question on LInkedIn and see who within your network can assist. Now imagine, you are a video hosting provider....get it?

LinkedIn continues to broaden its suite of services that can help both professionals and their companies optimize their economic value.  In addition to the attributes of Company Pages previously noted, your company profile can also incorporate Blog feeds, Twitter feed and YouTube videos - expanding the reach of these social media tools.  The customization of the product & services page also applies to the main page, meaning a CEO might see a high level overview of your company emphasizng differentiated value while engineers see a more technology centric perspective. For more insight, check out Mashable's article on Optimizing your Company's LInkedIn Profile.
I'm a fan and a believer in the value of LinkedIn (and hopefully a shareholder after the IPO).  If LinkedIn isn't part of your B2B marketing strategy, it should be.

What's your perspective?