LinkedIn is the largest social network focusing on business professionals with over 175 million users. It has grown to reach up to 28 million unique visitors a month, which is a 60.7% rise from last year’s 17.5 million.

This not only makes it faster growing than Twitter and Facebook, but also makes it the most important social networking site for B2B companies.

Using business focused social networking sites begs the question of how best to optimise it for lead generation. Fortunately the team over at LinkedIn have done most of the hard work for you. They provide an easy step by step process in which your profile can look its best right from the start. Although they don’t always give you the extra tips needed to ensure the right LinkedIn decisions are being made, that’s where this blog will come in handy.

Business vs. Personal profiles. From experience, it is vital to have a clear and interesting company page on LinkedIn; however the largest impact happens within a personal account. LinkedIn allows potential clients to not only see the company, but more importantly profiles those individuals working for the organisation, their position, responsibilities, past employment history and endorsements.. If the company’s individuals’ profiles are professional, appealing and genuine, the likelihood of new business prospects getting in touch is increased. Don’t underestimate the importance of a display picture.

Showcase yourself with a professional picture. LinkedIn is a business environment and this will be strongly highlighted with the user’s choice of an impactful profile picture. Opt for a professional, smart and business photo instead of the typical personal Facebook style webcam shot. Possibly the biggest influence to whether someone looks at your full profile will be down to whether your picture is well suited for business.

120 character limit for LinkedIn business headline….but not like twitter. After choosing a smart image, the next step is to create a compelling and interesting business headline. LinkedIn however, is a completely different setting in comparison to Twitter, so don’t be tempted to ‘tweet’ your business headline. It needs to be your 30 second elevator speech, a brief but concise explanation of who you are and what you do.

Past experiences. Further into your profile, it’s not enough to simply state your past experience. Try to think like the audience reading your profile, what would you want to see from someone you would potentially do business with or employ? Start with your past employers, job title and then bullet point your main roles and responsibilities and importantly achievements. Keep it thorough but simple, whilst making sure to showcase a few examples of your best work to showcase your capabilities and ability to get results.

Fill in all the sections as best as you can. LinkedIn claim that by simply ensuring that your profile is filled to 100% will lead to a 40% increased chance for successful networking. This may sound a daunting task, but LinkedIn provide constant reminders about what else needs to be done and even show a handy bar visualising how far from completion you currently are.

Whether using LinkedIn to generate leads or for recruitment purposes, the rules largely remain the same. If a new business prospects are interested in engaging with your business, impress them and foster credibility and trust by clearly presenting the key facts of you and your business, the services you offer and the benefits of doing business with you. Beginning with a complete LinkedIn profile is essential to building trust and credibility.

Ensure your business page is on brand. After you have established a complete and business orientated personal profile, you can move onto your company page. Again completing every section, keeping it professional and on brand with your website and other forums for your business is vital. Once you’ve created the base for your Linked In business page, here’s how to ensure your business page within Linked in is kept fresh and optimised for lead generation and search engine marketing.

Populate your LinkedIn company page with your business' content, via your blog's RSS feed.

Facilitate manual news updating. Pull together any news mentions of your company on the web and feature it on LinkedIn

Utilise company status updates. Just as marketers can post updates to their Google+ page and Facebook page timeline, they can also do so on LinkedIn. If relevant and genuine this can be received very positively by your target audience.

Businesses can also highlight their products, services and/or marketing offerings on a separate 'Products & Services' tab. There is also the opportunity to upload videos as well.

Take advantage of the products tab feature with the 'Product and Service Spotlight,' which enables businesses to feature three scrolling, clickable banner images (640x220 pixels) near the top of the products tab – a great way to highlight key or new products and services.

With something like 60 odd percent of consumers buying from websites featuring recommendations, LinkedIn provides users with the opportunity to recommend your business' products and services. Don’t miss this powerful opportunity to have your products and services recommended.

LinkedIn Unsurpassed

Although Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are seeing incredible rates of growth, LinkedIn is still proving to be a business’s greatest (but seriously underutilised) social media tool. With a 2.60% visitor-to-lead conversion rate, LinkedIn is producing four times as much as Twitter and seven times as much as Facebook.

Additionally, while other social networking sites are gathering much interest from a social and personal environment, LinkedIn remains a business focused atmosphere. Due to this, statistics have shown 61% of B2B users have been able to acquire customers through LinkedIn, compared to the 39% of B2C users. LinkedIn really is the place to connect with the business world and continues to be the strongest B2B social networking website and a powerful lead generator for businesses who are taking advantage of the serious opportunities LinkedIn presents.

References

Marketing Profs. (2012). LinkedIn Beats Twitter and Facebook in B2B Conversions Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2012/7803/linkedin-beats-twitter-and-facebook-in-b2b-conversions#ixzz2Cs3REspk. Available: http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2012/7803/linkedin-beats-twitter-and-facebook-in-b2b-conversions. Last accessed 20/11/2012.

Miller, M. (2012). Study: LinkedIn Is More Effective for B2B Companies Read more: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10437/Study-LinkedIn-Is-More-Effective-for-B2B-Companies.aspx#ixzz2Cs3uEwkx.Available: http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/10437/Study-LinkedIn-Is-More-Effective-for-B2B-Companies.aspx. Last accessed 20/11/2012.

Foulger, M. (2012). Sales is Social – Webinar with LinkedIn’s Ralf Van Sosen Now Available on Demand. Available: http://blog.hootsuite.com/sales-is-social-webinar-with-linkedin-archive/. Last accessed 20/11/2012.

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