In the B2B world, LinkedIn offers marketers a wide array of different resources that they can use to enhance their social media efforts. A vast majority of people use LinkedIn as a viable platform for uncovering business information. Due to the nature of the site, on LinkedIn people are more inclined to provide detailed professional information than on Facebook or Twitter. You, as the marketer, have the advantage of leveraging this very rich profile data to target your messages to people on a very specific basis! Essentially, LinkedIn allows you to engage with a very particular target niche population that is strictly relevant to your core business needs.
Did you know that LinkedIn Groups is one of the most widely used activities on LinkedIn with over one million different groups (Source: LinkedIn Groups Directory)? Specifically for B2B companies, people may use professional interest groups to share knowledge and find answers to tough questions. A regular LinkedIn user, David Deans, Digital Marketing Manager in Cisco’s Service Provider organization, shared some of his experiences to make the most of LinkedIn Groups participation. These best practices will surely take your own social media efforts to the next level, so read on to learn more.
1. Spend roughly 8-10 hours per week on LinkedIn.
The average weekly time you spend on LinkedIn really depends on how active your team is with the content assets that you’re trying to propagate at the moment, so for the most part, activity levels tend to go in ebbs and flows. For a measure of comparison, David Deans reports spending an estimated 8-10 hours on LinkedIn weekly dispersed throughout the week. He notes that this can include weekends as well since it’s beneficial to be prompt in responding to others and continue rapid interactions whenever the opportunity arises.
2. Bigger is not necessarily better.
While David initially gravitated towards groups based on the largest number of members, he quickly discovered that groups with the most members aren’t necessarily the most relevant or even the most active ones. This means that the most productive groups for you with the highest amounts of engagement might have far fewer members than the largest ones out there.
3. Constantly evaluate your LinkedIn Groups.
Since you’re limited to a membership of 50 LinkedIn Groups, it’s important to keep your list of groups updated and refined. In evaluating your current groups, pay attention to the following two criteria:
1. The amount of meaningful engagement (less spam) there is within the group and
2. How relevant the group discussions are to your topics of interest
Be selective and periodically replace less relevant groups with ones that have more engagement opportunities even if this means that these higher quality groups are much smaller in size.
4. Use email alerts to manage your time efficiency.
Whenever someone posts a comment or answers a question that you’ve asked, an email alert should automatically be pushed into your mail inbox as the default setting. This email alert makes it that much easier to keep up with all of the conversations going on in LinkedIn since you don’t need to be constantly monitoring any updated activities on the website itself. It shouldn’t be too much out of your way to respond to this alert. You may even create a special folder for your LinkedIn alerts.
5. Be familiar with content or create a work flow.
It’s best to be familiar with the subject matter of the content you’re posting, but if this isn’t the case, at least have a work flow in place to route comments to the appropriate subject matter experts (SMEs) for responding. Follow up with the SMEs to make sure a response has been posted if necessary. Fans will appreciate your responsiveness and willingness to go out of your way to help them with their business needs. An added bonus tip is to have your SMEs become group members themselves which will automatically make them more active in interacting with others.
6. Comment on group topics, and utilize the LinkedIn news platform.
In order to further increase interactions on LinkedIn Groups, make it a habit to log in to LinkedIn during down time at work. Peruse through topics within your groups and find a few you think are compelling and comment on them. Also, you can use LinkedIn’s news platform, which is essentially a go-to/landing page related to their own news curation, to identify trendy topics that are being discussed across the various different groups.
7. Use the “2-sentence snippet” test.
Don’t ponder too much on what you’re going to post (you should spend 3-5 minutes on the posting process). Try putting yourself in the shoes of the viewer to find the top few sentences that might be most engaging. Then plug the best snippet into the posting tool on LinkedIn with the actual blog title. If the title is unnecessarily long and uninteresting, you can refine it to be more descriptive and relevant to the blog post. David also recommends shying away from using graphic images on LinkedIn which might pose more distraction than good for the viewer.
8. Extend conversations by being naturally inquisitive and genuine.
How can you truly maintain two-way engagements with your fans? The key is to find the right person to be interacting with your audience. What exactly is meant by “the right person,” you might ask. This entails one who is not only familiar with the particular content but is also personally passionate about the subject matter. When you involve yourself in conversations where you have a point of view (without any corporate marketing messages associated with it), then you’ll stimulate further discussions with other people in an authentic way. It’s important to find your voice and find what’s interesting to you. In terms of the selection criteria for the so-called “right person,” ask the following:
1. Does this interaction really appeal to you?
2. Do you enjoy having conversations with people on this topic?
3. Do you think this is a good use of your time?
If the answer to any of the aforementioned questions is “no,” you haven’t picked the best person for this job.
9. When in doubt, take a chance and experiment.
How do you distinguish between posts that may or may not “work?” There’s actually no such thing as “really good” or “really bad” content. When it comes down to it, it only takes a couple people who gravitate towards either extreme on the opinion scale (either strongly agree with or disagree with your content) to ignite a meaningful debate and really get the conversation moving. If you yourself don’t find the content truly interesting, then don’t bother posting it.
10. LinkedIn is not only open for business from 9 to 5.
On LinkedIn, you’re dealing with a global audience which means your viewers are located all over the world. Contrary to popular belief, there may not be much significance in posting or commenting at a particular time of day and day of the week when you consider that your followers likely have such vast time differences.
On LinkedIn as with any other social media site, you get what you put into it in terms of both quantity and quality of work. You can spend the same amount of time on LinkedIn and make minimal changes such as those suggested above to receive phenomenal improvements while interacting with your stakeholders. What’s your tip for optimally using LinkedIn?
To learn more about David’s other social media practices, check out the following resources:
- “Explore Social Bookmarking in 11 Questions and Answers” blog post
- “Content Marketing: How to Create a Self-Publishing Practice” blog post
- “Case Study: Our Social Bookmarking Journey” PPT
A special thank you to David Deans for his contributions to this blog post.