IT channel businesses are being forced to adapt their traditional B2B marketing methods due to digitalization, and LinkedIn should form an integral part of their revised communications and networking efforts.
LinkedIn is one of those now-ubiquitous social networking platforms that everyone knows about, along with Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
And with 530 million members as of January 2018, the company has become a veritable hive of career, job and work-related activity befitting its business platform orientation.
As its user base has grown, the company has built out various features which have made it not only attractive from an individual standpoint, but from a business perspective too.
Consider the following:
- LinkedIn is the second-most important platform for B2B marketers with 37% of marketers selecting it as their first-choice social platform, just behind Facebook on 43%.
- LinkedIn has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate. 2012 research by Hubspot found that LinkedIn referral traffic had the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate among social networking sites; higher even than Facebook or Twitter. They found that LinkedIn had average conversion rates of 2.74%, compared to Facebook’s 0.77% and Twitter’s 0.69.
As Forbes notes , while these numbers are likely to have changed over the past few years, there’s no doubt that LinkedIn continues to drive a significant number of leads for business – particularly in the B2B space.
- LinkedIn is the most effective channel for content distribution. A 2014 study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs found that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content. The study also revealed that marketers cited LinkedIn as being the most effective channel for content distribution, ranking ahead of Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
In fact in a ranking of the Top 10 industries with the most users on LinkedIn, Computer Software was No. 4 and Internet came in at No.7 making it three IT-related industries in the Top 10 for users. This makes it an extremely useful social marketing tool for IT companies or businesses involved in information technology in some way.
LinkedIn's value drivers exist in four main spheres:
As a business-oriented social network, LinkedIn is, on an individual level, about networking with other individuals and creating connections which can lead to business and career opportunities. This creates an incentive to use the platform, which in turn grows the user-base and results in a feedback loop in terms of platform growth.
LinkedIn is a great platform for promotion, giving both individuals and organizations the ability to reach their followers with marketing messaging. Whilst users can reach their LinkedIn 'followers' for free, the platform also provides paid wider audience segmentation tools with a variety of metrics by which to filter a prospective audience and increase the potential of obtaining high-quality sales leads.
LinkedIn Groups is another aspect of the platform which can become a useful marketing tool for businesses. This feature allows users to freely form self-regulating groups based on a common theme or interest, such as IT Distribution Channel Executives or PHP Developers for example. This provides a pre-segmented target audience to businesses whose product or service offerings may overlap with the interests of the public group. Serving relevant content to members of these groups can become an important marketing communications channel for businesses on LinkedIn.
A natural extension and area of rapid growth for LinkedIn in recent times is that of recruiting. Using the platform for this purpose makes a great deal of sense as it effectively forms the world's biggest recruitment database! Individuals can increase their visibility to prospective employers, view jobs and apply via the platform, whilst businesses can advertise positions, draw from a wide pool of candidates and manage the hiring process.
In fact, LinkedIn has proved so popular and adept at recruitment, that one headhunter was forced to concede that LinkedIn was their biggest tool due to the research, networking and referrals which can be accomplished via the platform.
LinkedIn also acts as a fantastic conduit through which to learn, teach and exchange ideas. Both individuals and businesses can use the platform to follow thought-leaders in particular fields or industries, as well as act as thought-leaders themselves. Many people find the content aspect of LinkedIn as valuable as anything else on the platform, and this makes the platform 'sticky' ie. people return to the site repeatedly.
Given the power and scope of the LinkedIn platform, it's a good idea for businesses to take their LinkedIn profiles seriously.Given the power and scope of the LinkedIn platform, it's a good idea for businesses to take their LinkedIn profiles seriously and keep them updated accordingly. A professional and regularly updated LinkedIn business profile containing fresh, relevant content leaves a good impression on the public and serves as an excellent touchpoint when engaging with users during recruitment and thought-leadership activity.
This comes as IT channel businesses seek to find new ways of networking with their partners, and expanding their traditional B2B marketing and sales activities.
“The growing use of YouTube, Facebook and other social media marketing outlets, along with the rising importance of blogs, content marketing, case studies and webinars have joined the more traditional marketing approaches such as networking at trade shows, lunch and learns, telemarketing campaigns and direct mail outreach as formidable ways to reach new clients” writes Nicole Lewis for TechTarget.
And Stuart Crawford, CEO at marketing firm Ulistic LP, agrees: "Companies are using lunch and learns, virtual seminars, trade show and speaking engagements with executives in various vertical sectors, but they are also getting engaged on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to get their message across."
It's obvious that IT channel businesses need to utilize digital marketing and social media as new methods to effectively market to their partners and customers. LinkedIn should be thoroughly investigated as one of the most effective social marketing platforms for this purpose.