In the past few years, the importance of utilizing social networking sites for businesses has become increasingly apparent. Companies began using sites such as Facebook and Twitter to market to their customers because of the large user base they have. However, companies that operate with a B2B model were left wondering how to capitalize on the social media marketing wave that B2C companies have been able to dominate.
This is where LinkedIn has come in. Once seen as simply a place to list resumés online, LinkedIn has become the ultimate sales tool for B2B companies. LinkedIn has consciously made strides to shift the perception and purpose of its site. It has changed from being just a job seekers board, to becoming a tool that can be used for companies looking to do business with other companies. LinkedIn’s efforts have paid off and now 83% of B2B marketers are using the site for content marketing instead of Facebook and Twitter.
LinkedIn has been able to make this transformation by:
- Promoting the use of Groups
- Putting “LinkedIn Today” at the forefront
- Popularizing LinkedIn Ads
- Adding the Influencers feature
In essence, LinkedIn has become more B2B friendly.
In order to grasp how LinkedIn has grown as a B2B sales tool, it’s important to understand its user base. While Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest are seen primarily as social media sites for personal use, LinkedIn is all about business.
LinkedIn users consist of Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and professionals looking to network and build connections. This naturally makes it a perfect avenue for B2B marketers. People go on Facebook and Twitter to interact with their friends. People go to LinkedIn for business.
How to Take Advantage of LinkedIn for B2B Marketing
The most popular use of LinkedIn by B2B marketers right now is content marketing. In fact, the company’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, stated that allowing companies to engage in content marketing is one of LinkedIn’s primary focuses for 2013. Content marketing consists of sharing industry news, company events, and general information regarding your specific industry.
B2Bs that achieve the most success on LinkedIn contribute useful and helpful information. The site is no longer about simply trying to find connections, looking for employment, and making sales pitches. LinkedIn is now curating content provided by users via LinkedIn Today, which is the first screen users see when they sign in.
This new focus on content curation helps substantially with B2B sales. Users trust the information they receive on LinkedIn more than any other social networking site. One study revealed the following:
- 82% of users trust information from LinkedIn
- 28% of users trust information from Twitter
- 23% of users trust information from Facebook
By demonstrating expertise in a particular industry and being seen as a top Influencer on LinkedIn, companies can increase the likelihood of potential clients choosing them over a competitor.
Groups and Connections are Still Relevant
Although LinkedIn will be focusing on content marketing, building connections and joining groups are is still very important. Connections and members of your groups are able to see the content you post. Since users are encouraged to join groups related to their fields/industries, B2B companies are able to reach their ideal clients, as long as they stay connected.
Consistency is Key
Just like with any other marketing or sales technique, consistency and persistence is very important. Companies have to post new content regularly in order to increase the chance of gaining new prospects and sales through LinkedIn. The more helpful and insightful the information they contribute, the more credibility and trust companies will gain from potential clients.
With LinkedIn’s growing use among B2B companies, it is vital that businesses leverage the site as a strategic sales tool.
Kfir Bar-Levav started out as a sales rep in 1995 and since then has acquired extensive entrepreneurship skills and sales experience as a result of working in the field and managing the sales teams of leading international fashion and luxury brands. Kfir founded WRNTY Ltd. in 2006 and today serves as VP of Business Development.