Whether you are new to LinkedIn or a seasoned pro, if you are using it to try and get new customers you would do well to remember that it is still marketing. That means the same principles apply and the most sure-fire, unbreakable rule (MMM) around ensures that you do the right things in the right order.
Everything comes down to three simple M’s… Market Message Media
Identify Your Market
What does your ideal customer look like?
Understanding your customer avatar is extremely important. You can’t expect to market to the world and just hope someone takes notice of your message. Selling by yelling just doesn’t work. To be really effective you have to market directly to your ideal customers.To get you started use this avatar creation template.
Craft Your Message
What are you going to say to make your prospects take action?
The great thing about LinkedIn, as opposed to one-directional marketing, is that your message is not confined to the information that you want to put out there. Having developed an in-depth understanding of your ideal customer you can make all of your comments, shares and responses strategic too. It sounds simple, but believe me, this approach and understanding is powerful.
It is the difference between having an end goal and a plan and simply hoping someone finds you.
Choosing Your Media
With a target market and a compelling message, you can choose your media.
In this case, it is LinkedIn, but you can repurpose your content across any type of media – once it has been created in the right order. See other Implementation Plans in this series for more information on the MMM philosophy and other marketing pillars that can support your LinkedIn plan.
It All Starts With You
Your Personal Profile
Setting up your profile is a fairly straight-forward process in that you enter edit mode and simply fill out the boxes.
Setting up your profile 'WELL', however, is a bit more involved.
These tips are some ‘must do’ elements of setting up your profile.
Use A Good Quality ‘Headshot’ Picture
Make it a clear photo of yourself, friendly, but keep it professional.
You are allowed 120 characters for your LinkedIn professional headline and you had better make them count.
The two elements that you need to employ when crafting yours are ‘searchable’ and ‘eye-catching’. People will either find you because they have searched for what you do or they will read the headline first because they arrived at your profile via some other means.
Remember who your ideal customer is and simply talk about the solution to their need. Don’t make it too long, don’t try and sell everything that you do, and keep in mind that all you are doing here is STARTING the relationship.
If you want your customers to continue building their relationship with you (outside of LinkedIn) give them the right information. If you want them to phone you – leave a number. If you want them to email – share your email.
Skills And Endorsements
These have gained a notorious reputation in the LinkedIn world, in the past, but the key is to realise that they are under your control.
My advice is to only list the key skills you actually want to be recognised for!
Your Company Page
As with your personal profile, your LinkedIn business page should be set up with your ideal customer in mind. Make sure you share clear contact details that direct a potential contact to get in touch with you in a way that is convenient for them and works for you. Ensure that it looks professional, with a clear background picture and a concise description of what you company does.
It is very important that you and all of your employees are connected to you company page as this will ensure that you create traction from as many places as possible. You can also share, like, comment and post ‘as a company’ in the same way that you can in person.
There is ample room within the company page section to describe the products and services that your businesses provides. Once again – remember to flavour it to the things that you know your perfect customer will be looking for: Market – Message – Media.
A well designed and described LinkedIn company page can be as effective as you full website.
Now you need to find those people and start making some connections. The easiest way to start is with the people who you already know. Consider the contacts you already know from existing contact list and networking events. They're a good place to start.
Within your LinkedIn contacts, there will be those who you actually know and those that you are just connected to on LinkedIn. Treat these two sets of contacts separately. Those that you actually know will be perfect for asking for introductions to their contacts or starting a ‘stealth connection’ campaign (more details on that in the ‘engagement’ chapter). Those who are ‘just connections’ you should be trying to engage with more – this is a perfect opportunity because they have already accepted your request or have asked you to connect with them.
By going to the profile of any of your connections and clicking on the number of connections that they have you will be able to view all of their connections. You can then see the connections that you already have in common (shared) and any that might fit your perfect customer avatar. If you already have recommendations on your profile, asking for introductions to the connections of those who have recommended you is very powerful.
As a ‘people finding’ tool for business, nothing compares to the search power of LinkedIn.
Go to the search bar at the top of the screen and hit the advanced search button. This will bring up an abundance of search options that you can try out and experiment with. There is everything from job titles, companies, locations, industry, age, experience, seniority level, groups they a part of and interests. You can also save specific searches for future use.
Do not underestimate the power of LinkedIn’s search facility, especially if you have worked out the identity of your perfect customer avatar. When it comes to the engagement section of this plan, the people who you are connected to and would like to be connected to are vital.
Remember to hit the ‘follow’ button for anyone that you are interested in… even if you are not yet connected. That way you will be able to keep track of everything they say and do on LinkedIn. I’ll come back to that later.
LinkedIn Groups are a great place to find people who have similar interests to you, your avatars and your existing customers.
You should certainly be joining them, contributing to the discussions and engaging with the people in them. You may even want to start your own and start to establish yourself as the absolute authority in your area of expertise.
Each person’s profile lists the groups they are a part of and investigating their membership a great way of finding similar people to connect with. I will come back to Groups in the engagement chapter.
Posting Original Content
It is easy to just hit a few ‘like’ buttons and someone that only ever shares by ‘button pressing’ could be misconstrued as lazy. Likewise, if your ‘liking’ is lazy, haphazard or unread you might find that you are sharing poor content from others.
It doesn’t have to be a full-blown blog post or a self-directed video masterpiece, but a regular update, insight or standalone comment is sufficient to start to get you noticed. More on content creating in the next chapter.
Probably the easiest and most effective way of getting noticed, having an impact and creating a conversation is to comment on other people’s posts and shares.
By pressing the share button below an article or update written by someone else you have the opportunity to let your connections see this content. You can also make your own comment on it while sharing and recommending. The originator of the content will be notified that you have shown an interest in their thoughts and, once again, you will be edging your way onto their radar.
To keep track of people whose content you are looking to share or comment on, simply follow them by pressing the ‘follow’ button on their profile.
There are few things with more feel-good power in business than a heartfelt, unsolicited recommendation or testimonial.
So, if someone has done a good job for you, don’t wait to be asked to write the recommendation. Go to their profile and write them a few lines that tell how valuable they were to your business.
Two things will happen as a result.
The connections of the person you wrote the testimonial for will see that you are a person who appreciates good work – and will assume that you are diligent in the work that you do too. LinkedIn will automatically suggest that the person concerned returns the compliment. How cool is that?
Groups are a great place to find your ideal customer avatar, especially if they already have your customers among their membership. You can comment on, share information and connect with people via groups.
Types Of Content
Updates are short snapshots of information that tell your contact what you are doing. They can have links to previous articles you have written (on LinkedIn or elsewhere), include photos or simply relay a short message to the LinkedIn world. Asking questions is a really good engagement strategy for updates.
Posts are articles that you have written (like blog posts) and sent out to your connections. They should always be accompanied with a picture and an attention-grabbing, informative headline. You should make these interesting, informative, and useful. Remember to write to your avatar, not to the whole wide world. If you have created a really specific ideal customer avatar (with a name and a personality) then actually write it to them (without naming the name of course – that would be odd).
LinkedIn has made it possible to add more images within the post, format the layout, highlight with font changes, add videos, insert hyperlinks and create specific search tags within each post. It really is a powerful tool.
LinkedIn is not Facebook, Twitter or any or the other more ‘social’ networks, but people buy into people. Keep it professional, but talk to people like people, not a sales opportunity.
Responding To Potential Customers
Whenever you get a comment on a post you must respond. There is no point in trying to generate engagement by posting original content, sharing others and making comments yourself if you ignore those that respond to you.
If you go to the ‘profile’ tab and under ‘who’s viewed your profile’ you will be able to see the last few people who had a nose. This tab also shows you the activity around any posts that you have published.
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