If you haven’t heard by now, LinkedIn has quickly become the go-to social platform for business development and referral generation. Since going live in 2003, the networking site has become a big player in the social media game, boasting more than 145 million members worldwide and averaging over 100 million users per month.
But be warned, you won’t see many cat memes on LinkedIn; it’s strictly for professionals. The site is set-up as a hotspot for professionals and companies of all ranks and sizes to come together online and discuss industry insights, networking prospects and hosts of other topical subjects that may not be appropriate in the casual free-for-all that some social networks have become.
Because LinkedIn’s company pages place less emphasis on company/brand identities and more on developing personal networks, it’s critical to develop connections with users that allow your business to loop in high-value leads. This plays an important role in generating customer referrals as you’re essentially forming a friendship-based relationship with a potential lead right on the site. No offline interaction required.
As you’ll soon notice though, LinkedIn requires a certain degree of tactfulness when beginning to participate. Keep in mind that the platform is a heavily expert-driven community and to break into it you’re going to need to start some serious, professionally minded conversations.
The first way to do this is company status updates. Shoot for around 1-2 status updates per day that are relevant and interesting to your industry peers. As a result of your quality status updates, also be getting shares and likes that propel your brand to the farthest corners of LinkedIn’s network, driving more traffic to your site and presenting more opportunities to capture leads and potential referrals.
Remember: the idea of company updates is to create a dialog that establishes your business as an expert in the field, not to annoy your followers with banal status updates about your personal life.
Another opportunity to participate within the B2B community is LinkedIn Answers. LinkedIn members can use this platform to ask questions specific to a particular topic or industry in the hopes of getting an expert answer. People need help and guess what, you’re the expert that’s going to give it to them.
Answering questions regularly helps establish your business as a thought leader in your niche and gets people talking about your brand, two key markers of successful B2B referral generation. You can also share helpful resources or blog posts in forums, but make sure to include a solid call-to-action that optimizes them for lead generation and referrals. You never want to miss an opportunity to actively engage users in the sales funnel.
The combination of a professional audience with a focus on personal social influence creates a perfect storm for B2B marketers entering into social media sales. In fact, a recent Hubspot lead generation report found that over 60% of B2Bs have acquired a lead through LinkedIn vs. 52% from Facebook and 44% from Twitter.
But as LinkedIn grows, your prospects of getting found decline so now more than ever is the time to get your foot in the door and start generating B2B referrals with highly targeted efficiency.
Again, the goal on LinkedIn is not only to get people to view your page, but to become engaged enough with your brand’s community to become an expert capable of generating leads and referrals. Leveraging LinkedIn’s business-heavy network with targeted messaging can pay back dividends, and optimizing your company presence is the first step towards getting high-value referrals down the line.