Are SMEs and other businesses using LinkedIn effectively to market themselves? While LinkedIn has enormous potential as a platform on which to build business, many fail to take full advantage of it.
David Lomas (DL), CEO of M3 Media Publishing, talks with Nigel Cliffe (NC) of Value Exchange about the benefits of using LinkedIn, and what it takes for any business to generate opportunities using it.
DL: I think part of the issue is that people feel LinkedIn is simply there all the time, like part of the scenery, so they just casually dip in and out of it. In fact they should be approaching it, as part of their content strategy.
NC: Yes, there is a sense that LinkedIn is taken for granted. And also, because its original focus was on career development, some people haven’t grasped how much it has changed. What it now provides is an excellent B2B marketing platform.
Using Content on LinkedIn
DL: What do you understand as the value of LinkedIn when it comes to content?
NC: You’ve got to look at who uses it, who’s on it. While it’s not the biggest social media network, its membership and users are made up of business leaders and entrepreneurs, professionals and, crucially, decision-makers. LinkedIn provides an excellent opportunity to connect and build relationships with these kinds of people, and offers access to a certain level of expertise.
DL: And you build relationships with these people by engaging with them. The thing that will help you do this, your key asset and tool, is content.
NC: Exactly. And the great thing is, if you use it properly, you can develop a targeted reach. Yes, LinkedIn has a huge membership, but these members have profiles and CVs. You can be specific in your search parameters about who you want to reach. And, of course, you can respond to their content and develop dialogues.
DL: That is if you get your content right. You can position yourself as an expert in your field. Address the issues and pains your target audience are interested in and attract them to you.
Developing a Content Strategy
DL: Your content should be useful to people. Business and work-related issues are the main reasons why they’re on LinkedIn. This should give you a heads-up about how you shape and distribute it. At the same time, as a social media platform LinkedIn has a powerful social element. You’re talking to individuals who respond emotionally to certain things.
NC: How should this come out in your content?
DL: Be approachable. Being knowledgeable and thoughtful shouldn’t make you some sort of remote, authority figure. Make your audience feel something and stimulate their thoughts. That’s the kind of content that engages successfully.
NC: At the same time, be active. Creating content can give you greater visibility to attract people to you, but you must be consistent. This is what increases the chances of people finding you.
DL: So, you must make sure your voice is heard regularly. Inform and inspire, and develop insights you can share with others.
NC: That’s right. LinkedIn is a tactical channel for an effective content strategy. This means having specific objectives from the start, whether these are to do with raising brand awareness, driving sales, or simply building useful relationships to help grow and develop your business.
A Question of Trust
NC: The driver behind success through LinkedIn is trust. Business Insider reported that more users trust LinkedIn than either Facebook or Twitter. They trust the information and advice given to them on LinkedIn.
DL: And trust is so powerful when it comes to building business and winning new customers.
NC: Sure. And LinkedIn offers opportunities for you to build your reputation and build relationships by harnessing the power of trust. This is a cumulative effect. LinkedIn isn’t a fast route to success, but it allows you to develop a trustworthy presence that enables you to make strong, useful connections.
DL: Which goes back to content strategy. Treat it as a long-term business investment, which will eventually reap rewards. Targeted content can, in time, lead to sales conversions, built on solid relationships.
NC: Be persistent, be thoughtful, and you’ll begin to see significant returns.
David Lomas is the founder, CEO of M3 Media Publishing. M3 publishes a stable of specialist digital magazines to help raise issues, and promote businesses, experts and entrepreneurs across a broad range of sectors.
Nigel Cliffe is the director of Value Exchange, specialising in advising, supporting and training others to harness the power of LinkedIn for business growth and development. Discover more about his regular LinkedIn bootcamps here.
Marketing Aspects Magazine thanks them for their time and contribution to this issue.
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