Successful Social Media Marketing requires being where your audience is, frequenting appropriate social media channels such as LinkedIn, and engaging with platform users. These strategies give businesses and professionals the opportunity to gain the mindshare of potential clients if used correctly. Becoming the top-of-mind service provider for prospective customers makes your business the natural place to turn to when they need your particular product or service. Without a doubt, the current trend of spending more time online, particularly on social media websites, is partially the cause. Instead of viewing this as a loss of market share, savvy companies are turning to social media sites such as LinkedIn to gain mindshare … and they’re getting it for free simply by contributing and participating.
Social Media allows both creators and curators of content to gain mindshare and thought leadership simply by being active participants in conversations and contributors who share branded and relevant content. Though it is sometimes appropriate to share content from your corporate website, you also need to share content created by others so you appear to be an objective and trustworthy industry expert and thought leader. Social media is not about self promotion, and those that only promote themselves often see their acts backfire.
The value of curating third parties’ content and the importance of engaging in public forums on behalf of your company, but without the direct intent of leading them to your website at every chance, is a great way to efficiently gain mindshare in social media and potentially even achieve thought leadership status on behalf of your company.
In order to capture the best audience for gaining mindshare with third-party content, the sales, marketing, and business development professionals in your company should focus the majority of their efforts on the public facing areas of LinkedIn. It is in those areas that obtaining mindshare and eventual thought leadership are most likely to help generate future businesses, both directly and indirectly, simply because the exposure of potential customer engagement reached many more people.
Status Updates: Just as tweets on Twitter can be a powerful way of sharing information, so can the LinkedIn Status Update. Though only your LinkedIn connections will see your status updates in their network updates, you can display your status update for public visibility so those who view your profile but are not connections can see what you are saying as well. Try to aim at providing one update per day that contains information you find compelling or noteworthy about your company or industry that is of interest to your target market. And tell your marketing department that Company Pages can post LinkedIn Status Updates, too.
Groups: LinkedIn Groups contain the largest public audience to engage with on LinkedIn in order to gain mindshare. You do this not only by submitting your own content but also by sharing resourceful content in which related industry professionals might be interested and by providing your own interpretation or asking a question to spark a new conversation beyond the content shared. Providing third-party content oven an extended period of time in relevant groups helps you build trustworthy relationships with group members. Just as on Twitter, utilizing other functionalities on the site allows for better opportunities to do so. In order to maximize your LinkedIn Groups mindshare, join 50 groups and then start your own conversations as well as participate in those discussions started by others. To gain mindshare once you’ve joined a new group, check out the conversations and corresponding comments in the section highlighting the most popular discussions.
Answers: LinkedIn Answers is another public forum on which to share your expertise. Compared to the nearly one million LinkedIn Groups that exists, LinkedIn Answers is divided into only tens of categories and sub-categories. This mere classification of subject matter makes it easy to hone in on your target audience by constantly participating on the answer boards and responding to any or all questions that pertain to your area of expertise. Engagement on LinkedIn Answers could also lead to direct business, but the immediate and ongoing goal should be to establish your company’s mindshare and thought leadership by insuring that you and your employees are actively providing solutions or engaging thoughtfully with the questions posed by others.
Polls: Asking a question relevant to your industry using a poll is another great way to spark engagement from LinkedIn users who might not be active in groups or answers but might respond to a poll. In doing so, they may be inclined to look at the profile or company name of the user who submitted the poll. The subject matter of the poll may spark engagement on an issue that speaks to a pain point of your target market. Using polls is the easiest and one of the most enjoyable ways to engage your target LinkedIn professionals because public comments aren’t necessary. When people take the poll, you will be able to see some demographic detail on who provided which answers. If engagement is lacking, send the poll to your industry partners for feedback or promote the poll on other social media channels.
Needless to say, it requires time and effort to create and foster relationships online, just as it does in person. Constant interaction on discussions that provide educational, resourceful, and helpful information to others and posting links to third-party content shows that you want to add value as an industry expert to the conversation, not just dominate it with your own material. When everyone in your company engages in this practice, your business is more likely to be found on LinkedIn.
How have you and your company established thought leadership on LinkedIn? What other recommendations do you have?
The above is a summary of selected content from my critically acclaimed new LinkedIn for business book “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing,” available at Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or iTunes.