Small businesses often spend a majority of their social media efforts focusing on establishing their brands on the most popular social networks: Facebook and Twitter. While each of these networks can certainly fill specific small business marketing and branding goals when executed correctly, LinkedIn is often only seen as a personal network that benefits the individual or job seeker.
In reality, a comprehensive LinkedIn strategy can help small businesses analyze their competitors’ networks, increase sales opportunities, hire top talent and establish industry influence, along with many other benefits. Take a look at these four tactics your small business can establish today to better optimize your LinkedIn strategy moving forward.
Analyzing the competition (and admirable brands)
Building a strong understanding of what your competitors are up to on social media can be an important aspect when considering your own strategic marketing and social planning in the future. Differentiating your brand from your competition can be better informed by conducting thorough research of your competitor’s LinkedIn profiles.
To execute this tactic, start by finding your competition or brands that you admire on LinkedIn; generally, you can find their profile directly from their website, a Google search, the LinkedIn search box or through one of their employees’ profiles. From here, you can get in-depth information on how your competition is positioning themselves in the industry by researching the details they publish about themselves on their LinkedIn company page.
In this example from BioFlorida, you can determine how popular its brand is by the amount of followers it has, details about its employees and what other companies its audience is interested in under the “People Also Viewed” section.
Learning more about your competitor’s staffing composition from their company page can help guide the direction of your future hires and give you a better idea of much they are spending on their teams, as well.
Increasing sales opportunities
One common goal among B2B companies both big and small is to increase sales with social media, and LinkedIn provides a comprehensive feature set that helps sales professionals accomplish these goals.
Find and qualify target audience: Start by targeting ideal companies that would be interested in your products. Next, browse their current employees on LinkedIn and select the employees who are most likely to be interested in your B2B products or services.
Gather context before reaching out to leads: Once you’ve found the ideal candidate, study their profile information and create a pre-email or pre-call plan. Look for any mutual connections, shared work experiences, alma maters or any other areas that could provide talking points to guide your next sales correspondence to be more human.
Get introduced to leads through mutual connections: If you have mutual connections with a targeted lead and you have a strong relationship with those mutual connections, consider asking for an introduction. A proper introduction can change a cold call into a warm lead—which can increase your chances for success.
Send InMails to expand your sales outreach: Another way to reach your prospective leads and deliver your message into their email box is to experiment with sending InMails. This feature is only available to paying members of LinkedIn, but since its boasts a nearly three times higher open rate than the typical email, it may be worth exploring to get your pitch in front of the right people.
Use LinkedIn as a free customer-relationship manager: A smart way for small B2B companies to make the most out of LinkedIn is to use its free CRM capabilities after making a connection. This feature is labeled “Relationship,” and it is available under the profile image and headline section. In this section, you can see past conversations that you’ve had on LinkedIn, view when you connected, add detailed follow up notes and organize connections with the tag feature. While not as comprehensive as a high-end CRM, this LinkedIn feature can help small businesses enjoy many of the benefits of a CRM without the hefty price tag.
Hiring top talent
Using the search function on LinkedIn can help you more easily seek out professionals with skill sets that can help grow your small business—and you don’t necessarily need the pricey LinkedIn Recruiter package to accomplish this.
Sometimes the best talent options for your business are already working for other companies and may be passively interested in new careers. To find these professionals, perform a search for the position or skills that you are looking for in the LinkedIn search feature.
From there, you can select options to narrow down your search and only display professionals that are within your geographic location, first- or second-degree connections, have completed a certain education level or a variety of other factors.
For example, say that your company is interested in hiring a content manager to maintain your online marketing and digital content creation. By performing a search for content managers in your areas, you can have a list of professionals that are likely to have the skills that you’re interested in.
From here, you can browse and reach out to potential candidates. Take note of their job titles, listed skill sets and the content that they share on their profiles to better inform your hiring needs and required terms for later searches.
Additionally, by completing and publishing new content to your own company page, you can position your brand to appear more interesting for potential hires, which can increase the likelihood that they’d want to join your team.
Developing industry influence
Your company and employees can showcase their industry expertise and appeal to potential clients by using LinkedIn as a platform to publish content to build leadership. Yes, you should use LinkedIn to develop a well-branded company page and feature updates about your business, but you should also try using each of your employees’ profiles to promote your business.
Each of your employees’ LinkedIn profiles can help to tell the story of your company—the type of talent you hire, the personality of your people and the level of expertise on your team. Optimizing these networks is particularly important for small businesses to make their mark on their prospective industries since their branding is not yet as recognizable as the more established companies.
Encourage your employees to highlight the culture and experience of your company to their audiences and monitor the key performance indicators that indicate your brand’s growth through LinkedIn. For more tips on how small business can better utilize LinkedIn, refer to LinkedIn’s Small Business program or follow it on Twitter.