What social media sites are you using right now? The chances are you’re using what can be called “The Big Three” – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This is typical for many businesses because they’re B2C companies. This means they’re businesses that interact directly with individual customers, rather than other businesses.
However, B2B type businesses need to approach social media differently, and typically can’t find the same success using these The Big Three. These are businesses whose clients are other businesses; entities that can’t be reached out to, influenced or marketed to in the same way as individual consumers. Most of you already know this, but if you need further clarification on the main differences of marketing to B2B and B2C companies, here is a great piece from HubSpot.
When you are looking towards B2B marketing, this is where LinkedIn comes in. LinkedIn is all about networking and where businesses and brands tend to interact with each other the most, compared to any other social network. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn will likely get you more activity and leads than any other social platform.
In fact, it’s more than likely – it’s really happening. B2B marketers consider LinkedIn their most important and successful social media network. While B2C marketers find more success on Facebook and Twitter, or Instagram. B2B companies tend to use LinkedIn and Facebook in that order when looking for leads.
HubSpot also published a study that looked at the customer acquisition numbers for every single type of inbound marketing channel. The big four categories were Twitter, Facebook, a company Blog and LinkedIn. You may assume Twitter would win, but not in B2B channels. There, LinkedIn came first with a company blog trailing 10% behind. Twitter came in dead last.
The long story short is that B2B business professionals can’t waste more time than absolutely necessary on social sites that won’t work for them, namely those big three everyone usually thinks of when they think of social marketing. If you’re a B2B professional and you haven’t started utilizing LinkedIn, let’s discuss why these connections are so important to your success.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STRONG CONNECTIONS
Before we worry about how to get connections on LinkedIn, first you must understand why connections are so important. Having a large and engaged social audience is one of the first things you need to grow before you have an opportunity to start generating leads. You should be looking to grow your connections on LinkedIn as quickly as possible but with the right people of course.
More connections on LinkedIn specifically will help rank your profile higher in LinkedIn search results.
Be aware this isn’t how Google ranks you, but how the actual site itself ranks your profile when it comes to search results. LinkedIn search traffic is known to have the highest conversion ratio of any search engine – including Google. Just like how you work on your SEO to rank higher on Google in order to get more leads, the same applies to LinkedIn’s algorithm. Different strategy but same principle.
They allow for your status updates to be more visible and sharable.
No matter what social network you’re using, the idea is to gain more followers and have your posts seen to the largest audience possible. LinkedIn status visibility is greatly affected by your connections based on simple logic – the more connected you are, the more people who will see your posts. The more people that see your posts, the more likely you will get noticed by other people.
Connecting means direct messaging.
Once you connect with someone on LinkedIn and they accept your connections request, you now have the ability to send them a private message to get a conversation started. LinkedIn private messaging is a lot more useful than Instagram or Twitter direct messaging. These social networks require you to DM someone through their platform, while LinkedIn DMs are can be done through your email account if you like. We have assisted dozens of B2B companies in the use of LinkedIn private messaging for lead generation and they all report great results.
UNDERSTAND CONNECTIONS – 1ST, 2ND AND 3RD DEGREES
All connections aren’t the same and don’t exist on the same level of connectivity. This isn’t a difficult system either; it’s what LinkedIn puts in place in order to establish your level of connection and to organize your connections for you.
- 1st degree connections are LinkedIn users that have connected with you. You’ve accepted their invitation to connect, or they accepted your own invitation. Next to their profiles, a “1st” graphic will be displayed. These users will receive your feed updates and see you at the top of their search results. You’ll also the ability to DM these users, as discussed above.
- 2nd degree connections are the people who are connected to your own 1st degree connections. Say that you know Mary and Mary knows Tom. Because you know Mary, she is your 1st degree connection and because you don’t know Tom directly, he would be your 2nd degree connection. These users have a “2nd” graphic on their profile and you can request to connect with them, bumping them up to a 1st degree connection. You can also send InMail to these users, as well as your 1st degree connections.
- 3rd degree connections are just another link in the chain. You know Mary, Mary knows Tom, Tom knows Brad but Brad doesn’t know Mary. This means he is Mary’s 2nd degree connection, which in turn makes him your 3rd degree connection.
How to Start Making Connections Through Friends and Subscribers
You know why you need connections and a little about the LinkedIn connection system. Now it’s time to take the next step and learn how to actually make your own connections using the social site.
First, start working on home territory.
If you start trying to connect with random people, you’re going to swing and miss quite frequently. Making connections isn’t as simple as inviting every person you see to connect with you. The best place to start is with those you know, friends and other professionals directly in your network. These people are likely already using LinkedIn and have tons of connections of their own, which means they’re a great starting point for a new LinkedIn user.
There’s actually a relatively simple way to start generating connections through these friends is to first create a list of all of their email addresses. Either copy and paste, or directly upload, the list to LinkedIn’s connection finder prompt.
Next, send a message out to your email subscription lists.
You’re a B2B business professional, so chances are you have an email subscription list, or at least a list of clients you connect with. If someone knows you, they’re incredibly likely to want to connect with you on LinkedIn because it’s a mutually beneficial action.
Asking is as simple as sending a BCC email to your list with an email that contains the subject header “Connecting With You On LinkedIn” or “Want to Connect on LinkedIn?” These are both headlines that will work well and get straight to the point. From there, add a short message about your LinkedIn page and why you should connect.
You could say something like this:
“I recently set up my own LinkedIn account and am currently looking for professional colleagues and clients to connect with. I’ve attached my URL and would love to connect. Please take a second to reach out to me through LinkedIn or reply to this email if you’d like.”
USE LIONS TO BECOME KING OF THE JUNGLE
If you are not sure what a LION is outside of a furry jungle cat? LinkedIn experts know of another definition for this term. In this context, a LION is a LinkedIn Open Networker. This seems like some prestigious title – especially if you just started LinkedIn…
The reality is much simpler. Anyone can become a LION whenever they’d like as long as two criteria are met.
- Add “LION” to your LinkedIn profile headline or summary.
- Make the email address you used for your LinkedIn account readily available, like putting it in your blurb.
A LION isn’t a true official title LinkedIn hands out, but instead it’s more like a maverick renegade term. Why? LinkedIn LIONS are people who will readily become connected with anyone that sends a request. These connection farmers can have anywhere from 10-30K 1st degree connections after they’ve been networking for awhile.
You don’t need to become a LION to become king of the jungle, you just have to connect with a few – say around 1,000. If you connect with 1,000 LIONs who all know 10,000 people, you officially have 10,000,000 2nd degree connections. This is how you start harvesting lots of connections through InMailing 2nd degree network members and also gives you a great search boost. Connecting with LIONs is also a great way to generate leads and sales, so there’s no losing in this situation.
Now all you have to do is figure out how to find and connect with LIONs.
- Become a LION yourself. While it’s unnecessary to become a LION, LIONs do love networking amongst each other. Becoming a LION gives you almost immediate access to other LIONs.
- Look up “Open Networker” using LinkedIn’s search. This will be the easiest way to find LIONs on LinkedIn without being a LION yourself. Look for those who are in your 2nd degree connection family for instant access.
- Join LION LinkedIn groups. After you join a LION group, most will send you a text document. This contains the email addresses of hundreds or even thousands of LIONs you can connect with through copy-pasting or uploading them. Some of these groups are a little wary of sending out this document without making you work for it, and they have good reason. You wouldn’t want your email in unsavory hands, would you? For an easy access group, however, try one titled “LION Worn with Pride!”
GET CONNECTED AND STAY CONNECTED
Just because you become connected with someone doesn’t mean that connection will last. A connection, at the end of the day, is simply a bond that only works on social media. It’s great to get the privileges that come with being a LinkedIn top dog, but what good are these connections if you don’t work to maintain them?
The most effective method of relationship maintenance on LinkedIn is through updates. Much like other social networking sites, LinkedIn allows for status updates or content posts. These updates you post show up on the feeds of those you’re connected to. The more you update your feed, the more your connections will see you.
Also like other social media platforms, it’s important to know how to correctly utilize these updates through different criteria. You can’t just post 10 updates in a row at 9 PM and expect to maintain beneficial relationships. There’s a method you can follow……….
DATE AND TIME
Most users who frequent LinkedIn regularly log in before they sit down to work, during their lunch breaks and right after work. This gives you three separate windows – 7/8 AM, 12/1 PM and 5/6 PM. The evening window is the one that receives the most engagement. We also find that Saturday and Sundays are great days since people have time away from the office and tend to review their LinkedIn feeds.
Where weeks days are concerned, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the weekdays that see the most traffic.
TYPES OF UPDATES
The best way to utilize your updates is through using them to further pull someone into your sales funnel, which is one of the big reasons you’ve made all of those connections. Let’s break the different types of updates you can post to LinkedIn down into three separate areas: blog posts, infographics and published posts.
- Blog post updates aren’t actually you writing blogs on LinkedIn, but instead sharing links to your own content from outside of your site. When you copy and paste the link to LinkedIn, the system pulls a blurb, title and image in order to give your feed an added touch of description. While you can share blogs about anything, blogs about LinkedIn itself are actually the most successful. As a LinkedIn newbie, these will be the easiest and most valuable kinds of updates you can utilize. Another tip is to take this same content and post it to several different groups as long as the content is a good fit for that group. We find that by posting content from your website to the correct LinkedIn groups you can generate hundreds of visitors per day if you do it correctly. Be careful not to spam groups and just post content that is useful to the group members.
- Infographics are images you can share on LinkedIn that offer valuable information in graphic format. The best way to go about this is to create Instagram-sized visuals using free online services like Canva, or your own graphic design program, and share a helpful tip using them. These can feature CTAs and other ad mechanisms you’d like to use. As a note, you may be familiar with the phrase “infographic” as a long-form image containing lot of information. These won’t be as successful on LinkedIn. An Instagram-sized image with only a few lines of text works best.
- Published posts are done through LinkedIn’s own blog, Pulse. This blog is where many LinkedIn users share their long-form thoughts, tips, experiences and advice about their industry, best practices and other business related information. Anyone can publish their work on LinkedIn, and we suggest if you have the time, you will want to try and publish at least once per week. These posts sit on your profile and help build your personal brand as an industry expert for the content that you have written, and also help you to get more reach and exposure overall.
MORE LINKEDIN SUCCESS TIPS
The info above can help you improve LinkedIn success in regards to connections, but that’s not the only ingredient you need to have a successful LinkedIn experience. Connections are important, but don’t forget about other elements of LinkedIn just to focus on your connections.
- Don’t leave your LinkedIn profile hanging. This is an extremely important area of the site that often gets neglected. Your profile is the first thing people see when visiting you on LinkedIn, so it has to be detailed and professional. Consider these 16 tips for making the perfect LinkedIn profile.
- Just the same, pay special attention to your LinkedIn summary. This is a very important area of your profile because it’s essentially your sales pitch to the rest of the LinkedIn community. If your credentials and work experience are your resume on LinkedIn, your profile summary is your in-person interview.
- Stay active with your content posting in the form of updates. These help build your connections and also get you more visibility on LinkedIn in general.
- LinkedIn is a site worth investing in. You don’t need to invest in their advertising platform, but buying a premium LinkedIn profile is definitely worth the money. With a premium profile, you’ll have access to special data and marketing statistics that will help you heighten your LinkedIn experience. You can also use better filters to find the correct people to connect with, and we also find that people tend to accept connection requests more frequently from premium users, than non premium users. A premium account shows that you are serious about your business and willing to invest a little money in making good connections.
- Always keep researching. There are hundreds of blogs that discuss the topic of LinkedIn success, which typically post multiple articles on LinkedIn lead generation hacks. If you keep researching and creating content that is up to date and makes sense for your connections and groups, they will pay closer attention to what you are doing.