LinkedIn as a Marketing Tool

posted in: Business, Social Media | 0

First and foremost, LinkedIn can be a valuable part of an overall marketing strategy.  It is one of many tools that, when used effectively, can generate buzz about your knowledge and capabilities.  But to start with any one tool, whether it’s blogging, attending networking meetings, or designing a killer brochure, lets you run the risk of losing sight of your overall marketing strategy.  Get your marketing strategy and business goals figured out, then you can select what tools will be most effective in reaching your goals… go ahead, I’ll wait. :)

LinkedIn vs other social media:
The advantage that LinkedIn has over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools is that it is all business.  Nobody is on there talking about how their team won the game on Sunday – unless they actually own the team!  There is an expectation of developing professional relationships.  However, just like with any tool that an owner uses for marketing, you have to learn how to use it effectively.

What LinkedIn isn’t:
LinkedIn is not about how many connections you can make.  LinkedIn isn’t even about making connections with others in your same industry.  LinkedIn isn’t about keeping in touch with other people you’ve worked with over the years.

What LinkedIn is:
LinkedIn is about establishing yourself as a helpful source of information regarding your specialty.  LinkedIn is about freely offering your advice and wisdom to those who need it.  LinkedIn is about engaging other business professionals on topics that concern them and of which you have an intimate knowledge.

Pros:
- It’s all about business so people don’t mind if you plug yourself as long as it is relevant to the conversation.
- There is a huge wealth of information to be gleaned from already answered questions.
- Asking questions is a great way to gauge interest in a product or service.
- Asking questions lets other people engage you and if they are interesting enough could become a nice relationship.
- Each one of your team members can have an account and they can be empowered to answer questions, thus building your overall brand.  You, as the owner, don’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, the only representative on LinkedIn.

Cons:
- It isn’t necessarily local so you could be helping somebody in another community that has no real way of benefiting you locally.  It’s not bad to help people but you aren’t a charity, you are helping people in order for them to talk about you.
- Takes a significant amount of time to get rolling and building up your credibility.
- You must be committed to it and use it daily.  You won’t ‘find’ time for it so you will have to make a conscious decision to schedule time for it (10-15min daily would probably be fine).

Personal reflections:
Out of the ‘Big 4′ (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Blogging), LinkedIn is the least used in our organization.  In my opinion, it takes the most amount of time to get accustomed to and to use effectively.  It is also the most difficult to tie a direct link between becoming an expert on LinkedIn who people can come to for answers and being able to increase the profitability of my business.  All marketing should have as its end goal, an increase in profit for your business.  I really like the concept of LinkedIn and I can see how a certain type of marketing plan could benefit enormously from a well-laid out approach to effectively using LinkedIn.

Recommendations:
Roughly half of our team members have a LinkedIn account.  I would say that at the very least, all of the salespeople need a LinkedIn profile.  Upload a picture, put in your job description, and include a link to your website.  The link alone is worth it to have a LinkedIn profile.  Now, how you continue to use LinkedIn will depend on what your marketing plan dictates.

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