There’s a social network that helps customers learn about your business and helps you find new customers. It drives more traffic than all other social networks combined, and it’s responsible for 80 percent of the leads B2B companies generate through social media.
It’s nothing new: It’s LinkedIn. Yet only half of small business owners surveyed in the Infusionsoft Small Business Market Research Sales & Marketing Report said they use LinkedIn—perhaps because they don’t realize how much the network has grown since its debut in 2003, when it essentially offered an online version of your resume.
Not convinced you need to use LinkedIn? Here, we debunk five myths about using the network for your business.
1. People only use LinkedIn when looking for a new job.
That may have been the case when the network launched in 2003, but these days, LinkedIn has more than 400 million members worldwide. They’re not all trying to schmooze with potential employers. They’re also using LinkedIn to build relationships with like-minded professionals, stay up-to-date with industry trends and uncover new leads who could become customers. More and more, LinkedIn is becoming a sales and marketing platform in addition to a hiring tool. In 2013, more than half of B2C marketers and 65 percent of B2B marketers used the network to acquire a customer, according to the company.
2. I listed my past work positions, so my profile is complete.
Less is not more when it comes to profiles. For one, LinkedIn rewards users with completed profiles by ranking them at the top of search results. Filling every section of your profile can also help you make connections: You might break the ice with a prospective customer someday by mentioning how you both volunteer for the same organization. To make an even better impression, add work examples like links, presentations and videos to showcase your work (and make your profile prettier).
3. My business is small, so I don’t need a Company Page.
Because Company Pages rank highly in search results, simply having one that lists basic information about your business is useful. But the real value of a Company Page is using it as a publishing tool. Posting articles, updates, and other types of content from your Company Page helps your business earn exposure and credibility. And by using Targeted Updates or paid Sponsored Updates, you can ensure that your posts reach the exact type of customer you’re aiming to attract.
As a bonus, LinkedIn provides data on Company Pages—like demographic information about your followers and metrics on each update you post—that can help you better understand your customers.
4. My company puts a lot of content on Facebook, so we don’t need to post on LinkedIn.
It’s hard for company content to compete on Facebook, where users are logging in to see photos of babies and vacations, not necessarily updates from your business. On LinkedIn, people mean business, all the time.
Moreover, company content has a better chance of being seen on LinkedIn. According to the company, a status update typically reaches 20 percent of your followers. On Facebook, whose algorithm favors content from users over that from companies, that reach is more like 6 percent, according to research by the agency social@Ogilvy. That’s why B2B marketers rely on LinkedIn for content than any other channel, with 94 percent distributing content on the network.
5. No one wants to hear a sales pitch on LinkedIn.
OK, that’s true. But LinkedIn members do want to make connections, which can eventually lead to sales. Salespeople are using LinkedIn to find new leads and identify commonalities, allowing them to contact “warm” leads instead of making cold calls. A salesperson might message a prospect, mentioning shared connections or interests as he shows interest in her company and offers his help. It’s called “social selling” and, according to LinkedIn, it’s working. Social selling leaders have 45 percent more sales opportunities per quarter, and 78 percent of salespeople who use social media outperform their peers.
Want more advice on using LinkedIn for your business? Check out our free e-book, “Finding Links to Leads: How Small Business Owners Can Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation.”