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By Christopher Smith, Sha-Izwe Communications, in an interview with Strategic Marketing Magazine (November 2016 issue)

Are you finding your clients becoming more interested in your services on LinkedIn in terms of marketing their products and services? For how long has this trend been ticking over?

Yes, we’ve noticed (particularly this year) that the LinkedIn pages we manage are receiving much higher interaction than before. Years ago we dubbed LinkedIn the “HR manager & recruitment company social network” as it seemed to only be used for headhunters. Now we see that it has transitioned to do what it intended, to be a social network for professionals. We recently ran a survey for South African business professionals and the majority came back saying that they receive the most value out of LinkedIn than any other social network. We see a significant number of professionals interacting in interest groups and sharing knowledge and personal experiences.

Internet Marketing Inc did a study which revealed that:

  • LinkedIn redirects four times as many users to company home pages as Facebook and Twitter
  • LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate, which is about three times that of Facebook and Twitter

 

How are they using the platform? Eg What type of marketing is finding traction?

For starters, LinkedIn interest groups are gaining traction. For example, doctors taking part in a group about anesthesia and discussing issues and advances in this medical field. When logging into Facebook, your timeline is mostly bombarded with friends and family leisure activities from the previous weekend, but LinkedIn’s newsfeed is mostly populated with company updates and people you follow.

These people generally share interesting business and professional-related stories. Our role is to facilitate the discussion within those groups or to assist our clients and encourage them to take part in those groups to build their personal profiles. Company pages, sharing quality content about the company as well as interesting articles relating to the industry, get decent interaction. We try to add a call-to-action to most posts. For example: If we post about a new feature relating to a product we will have a call to action to lead users to a web link.  

Do you think South African marketers are unsure of how to use LinkedIn effectively? And how does this compare with the global approach?

A lot of people say South Africans are late adopters and take a long time to adapt to trends in the US. But South Africans watch trends, in the US for example, and only join once we can see that the trend is sustainable and worthwhile pursuing.  We look at case studies of how other companies have evolved this new product/software/website technology into their strategy and adapt it to our industry and country. That said, I don’t believe South Africans are using LinkedIn that effectively yet. You never hear of companies driving people to follow their LinkedIn page. Often, no matter how much you try to convince them that a new platform is worth using they prefer not to be innovative. It can be very frustrating.

 Can you share some top tips for marketers looking to use LinkedIn to promote their businesses, and some No-Nos too!

LinkedIn recruitment is certainly one of their most powerful products. I recommend that companies look into using LinkedIn’s recruitment products when employing. It’s really handy that it includes job titles, the companies they work for and that the majority of this information is up to date. Although a lot more expensive than Facebook advertising, this makes LinkedIn advertising very powerful but it guarantees you are showing your adverts to the correct audience. Organic growth on LinkedIn takes a long time and I would recommend setting an advertising budget and sticking to it for roughly six months. We find that our clients’ LinkedIn pages do better with simple text updates rather than posting to a link. This is surprising. Posting videos still remains slightly tricky as LinkedIn does not have a native in-page viewing option.

LinkedIn Publisher is a fantastic tool for posting opinion pieces and industry-related news. This is a tool to help gain more visibility on LinkedIn. The content becomes searchable on Google and as well as in LinkedIn searches. If your piece is shared and viewed enough times, it may make it onto LinkedIn’s newsletter or LinkedIn Pulse – articles about issues in the industry.

Interest Groups are a great platform for connecting with people in the same industry as yours and for sharing knowledge with one another. It’s interesting to see how other companies around the world are dealing with and solving issues that organisations currently face or may face.

Sales Navigator is a tool to target prospects. Basically it is a social selling tool. It provides in-depth search and filtering options into possible leads and for gaining valuable insights. This tool will import leads and prospects from SalesForce etc.

LinkedIn should also form as part of your SEO strategy. Google seems to index the company description and “about the company”, So be sure to target SEO keywords at the top of your linked company page.

Another tip is to add a follow-us button on your website. This code can be downloaded off LinkedIn’s website and makes it handy for people to easily follow your LinkedIn company page from your website.

Monitor Stats is an interesting and important part of having a LinkedIn page. The stats give insights into the type of people who view your content, i.e job title, industry, etc.

Would you like to highlight some companies and individuals you feel are doing very well in using LinkedIn as a marketing tool – both locally and globally?

One that stands out to me is HubSpot. They have a simple strategy to use a company page, updates and create an interest group. But it is the quality of their content and how they use their interest group that is potentially successful on LinkedIn. It always comes down to quality content!