There are certain go-to experts when it comes to LinkedIn strategies for b2b marketing professionals and Neal Schaffer is always at the top of that list. A Forbes Top 30 Social Media Power Influencer and creator of the AdAge Top 100 Global Marketing Blog Windmill Networking, Neal is a popular social media conference speaker who is also known for his award-winning and critically acclaimed social media books: ”Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing” and “Windmill Networking: Maximizing LinkedIn.” Recently I caught up with Neal and he answered some of the top questions facing businesses who are looking to optimize their presence on LinkedIn.
Marketo: What are your top tips for a company to build an engaging and well optimized LinkedIn business page?
Neal Schaffer: I have three tips for building a successful company page. Number one, attract followers and leverage company page status updates. Building company followers adds social proof and lends credibility to your company profile. These followers then see your updates and have the option to engage and amplify your messaging.
Number two, set up your page for success with SEO. For search engine optimization within LinkedIn, it really comes down to including keyword rich descriptions on your company page, product and services tabs, and representing your company everywhere you have operations. All of these elements are an essential part of the SEO approach.
Number three, break out each one of your products and services and get recommendations for each. Within each of those product and services tabs is another exercise in SEO. Whether you add a link to a landing page or embed a Youtube video, your company page needs to fully develop all of the real estate that LinkedIn provides.
Marketo: In your book you discuss the importance of utilizing LinkedIn groups versus Facebook fan pages, can you touch on this?
Neal Schaffer: I think that a lot of companies still don’t understand the presence and the power of LinkedIn groups. These groups don’t exist on Twitter, Facebook or anywhere else, they are basically communities. If you turn the clock back ten to fifteen years, where were the bigger communities on the internet? They were in forums. I consider every LinkedIn group a public forum for professionals. With over one million groups on LinkedIn, it really is the largest place for public forums of professionals on the internet. Companies can leverage these groups in a number of ways and I think the most critical way is to build up your own community. This ultimately comes down to a content strategy.
The content that your company uses is critical. In my experience with B2B marketing, I’ve noticed that people don’t call for answers; instead, they search the internet for them. This means that you need to make sure your content is showing up in these search results. Your content will define the community and the users that you invite into that community. Then you can establish yourself as a thought leader. It’s a completely different concept than anything else out there in social media. It has far more potential when compared to a Facebook page. LinkedIn groups allow you to connect with new people and generate new leads as a result of the creation and fostering of that group.
Marketo: What are the top tips that you give businesses to get new followers on their company page?
Neal Schaffer: You know it’s funny, I think it’s just like any other social media presence you have. What did you do when you started a Twitter account? What did you do when you created a Facebook page? It all starts with integrating social media into everything you do. Do you also have a “follow us on LinkedIn” button on your website? Are you mentioning your company page in your blog? If you have outward facing staff such as sales and marketing people, are they promoting this through their personal status updates? If you have an e-mail newsletter, you should add that to the context in your next email and make sure you continue to include a link to your LinkedIn page on all of your newsletters going forward. It’s not rocket science, you just need to make sure that you are using all the marketing resources that you have available along with the virality of the network updates from your employees and brand advocates.
Marketo: How can a business best take advantage of using LinkedIn for lead generation?
Neal Schaffer: Well that leads into the general question; is LinkedIn for lead nurturing, lead generation or both? I consider it equally good for both and there are several ways a company can use LinkedIn for demand generation overall. The first thing to do is make sure every outward facing employee is active on LinkedIn. They should have a profile that is optimized because when people are looking at a company’s products and services, employee profiles are going to pop up in searches. Ideally each employee should have status updates about the company.
When it comes down to your prospective buyers and decision makers, it all depends on how they are using LinkedIn. These could be your present customers or brand advocates, and they can be people that forgot about you but are now suddenly searching for your brand because you popped up in their network updates. They’ll go to your page and that leads to conversations, which could generate new leads. I think it’s equally good for nurturing as it is for lead generation. Or it could be companies that you have never done business with before that discover you through search results or from the status updates of others in their networks. LinkedIn groups are great for demand generation as well. From a marketing perspective you can drive brand awareness and lead generation in groups. Moreover, groups are also a great place to have your sales and marketing people look for conversations that they can take offline.