We already know that LinkedIn is more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter. 277% more effective, in fact. It also has over 100 million users, is a B2B marketing goldmine, and allows brands and individuals to build valuable industry connections that can lead to opportunities for new business, co-marketing and affiliate agreements, and even land you your next rock-star hire.
The companies that turn these possibilities into realities are those who leverage all the little hidden marketing gems LinkedIn has to offer -- and there are a lot of them. Here, we examine 11 features of LinkedIn functionality that many marketers either overlook, or just plain didn't know about, and explain how they can bolster your inbound marketing.
LinkedIn Answers is a forum for people to ask and answer questions. Aside from the obvious thought leadership credibility you can gain from providing clear answers to questions here, it is also a great opportunity to identify industry influencers with whom to network. LinkedIn Answers actually provides you with the ability to search through experts in the Top Experts section.
Search the top experts across all of LinkedIn Answers, or target by industry -- Business Development, Customer Service, Healthcare, etc. Not only are the experts answering these questions industry influencers (they've captured the attention of the LinkedIn Answers crowd, at least), but they are also clearly very adept at writing about your industry, or a complementary one.
Know what that means? Guest blogging, that's what it means. If you're having trouble keeping your blog fed, the top experts on LinkedIn Answers are the people to reach out to. Ask them to take some of the most common questions they answer, and write a post for your blog on that topic. Then whenever the question comes up again, they can refer people to the blog post they wrote for you on the subject. They save time and build their reputation, and you get the SEO and content creation benefits.
You can find more creative uses of LinkedIn Answers in Kipp Bodnar's blog post on the subject.
Found under 'More' in the navigation of your LinkedIn group, Group Statistics gives you insights about group members, whether you own the group or not. Use the data available in Group Statistics to help refine the targeting of your advertising and marketing campaigns.
For example, if you're running ads on LinkedIn, take a look at the activity levels of groups you're considering targeting in Group Statistics to ensure you're only targeting ads at the most active LinkedIn users.
If they're not spending time on LinkedIn, you're not going to see many impressions and clicks, and thus won't garner much return on your campaign. You can use Group Statistics to further refine your ads based on data like company, industry, and professional status. You can also use group statistics to target people based on city, professional status in the company, and industry.
You can also stalk other groups (remember, you don't have to own the group to look at their Group Statistics!) that represent good microcosms for your own marketing efforts. Think of it as an inside look on a focus group that can help you inform your marketing personas and campaigns. For example, if you're looking to sell to small business owners in the healthcare industry, find groups that are active and collect information like geographic location, topics of discussion, other industries they discuss, and seniority level.
You may also find, after looking at the statistics of certain groups, that they have an audience with whom you should be connected. Join that group! Remember, if you're both in the same group, you have the ability to message a member even if you're not a first degree connection -- just one more benefit to using data to scout out the right groups for you!
So there's LinkedIn groups, but did you know there were also subgroups of those groups? It's true; click 'More' on the tab of your LinkedIn group, and you'll see it there!
A subgroup is a space within your group where members can collaborate based on a function, project, topic, location, or anything else. As your group grows, you'll find that maintaining relevancy for everyone becomes more difficult, because there are naturally some topics, industries, or side projects that develop that don't pertain to everyone. Just like Google+ has Circles to combat this relevancy problem, you can use LinkedIn subgroups to filter out any content that isn't relevant for the entire group and keep your members engaged. These subgroups can have their own discussions, news, jobs, and digest emails as regular groups, too!
Targeted Product Tabs
You probably know about the product tab on your LinkedIn company page, but did you know you can do more than just blanket product information out there for the entire LinkedIn universe? You can actually create different variations of your product tab for each segment of your target audience.
Create a default version of your page, then iterate on it so the most appropriately messaged page appears based on the characteristics of your target audience -- like company size, job function, industry, seniority, and geographic location. If you'd like a step-by-step tutorial on this process, we've written a blog post that explains how to set up variations of your product tab.
Did you know there's a LinkedIn Application Directory? You can enhance your profile and better collaborate with your network with many of these apps. Here are some of the most useful ones:
- SlideShare Presentations: Sometimes marketers forget that the slideshows they develop also make for remarkable B2B content. This app lets you import presentations from your current SlideShare account, and continue to share that content with LinkedIn members as you add to it.
- WordPress: If your blog runs on WordPress, this app will let you sync the posts you publish to also appear on your LinkedIn profile to help you get more traffic to your site and more social shares.
- Box.net Files: You know that whitepaper you just published under the Resources section of your website? You know where else you should share it? The Box.net Files app lets you easily share that content.
- Company Buzz: Manage your reputation with this app, which lets you track what people are saying about your company, tailored to the trends and keywords you input.
There are a couple more great apps in there, but we'll cover their epic uses a little later in the post.
Skills & Expertise
This tool is currently in beta, and already we love it. Skills & Expertise lets you search for LinkedIn members, companies, and groups based on the skills and expertise they list.
What is this good for? When you search for a skill -- whether for business development deals, recruiting, personal networking, or to build LinkedIn group and page membership -- you can find the best people on LinkedIn to speak with related to that query, their locations, groups that are discussing the topic, and see the growth of that industry over time. If you're starting a new business or just starting to grow your social presence, it means you're choosing only the best people with whom to network and learn from on LinkedIn.
This is an easy one, which is why everyone with a LinkedIn Company Page should be using it. The News Module not only feeds mentions of your business to your LinkedIn company page, but it also shows news to those who have your name listed in their profile. That means news about you has a greater likelihood of showing up in someone else's news feed -- in other words, the News Module is marketing your company for you. Plus, it can help that third party content about your company get more social visibility when members see it and share it with their networks. To enable it, simply go to your page's 'Overview' tab while in edit mode, and check 'Share news about my company' under 'News Module.'
Another great LinkedIn app, LinkedIn Events is so useful for both event marketers and event attendees that it deserves a section of its own.
This app is so useful because it doesn't put the onus on you to search for events to attend in your industry. The app automatically delivers personalized recommendations for events you should attend based on your industry, location, and what events your connections are attending. That means you can be where your customers, vendors, and industry influencers are going. The app makes that even easier by including a feature called 'Attendees You May Want to Meet.' With this feature, LinkedIn surfaces important people attending the event with whom you may want to connect (or at least prepare for your run-in at the actual event), or you can take the reins and filter by company and industry to find other opportunities.
Groups now have the ability to poll people, and it's really, really easy to do. Just go to the group in which you want to publish a poll (it's up to group managers to decide whether everyone can publish polls regardless of group membership), hit 'Poll', enter your question, and schedule for how long you'd like your poll to run.
Polling a group not only lets you perform your own market research and collect interesting data for content creation, but doing it on LinkedIn also means it can be extremely targeted based on group demographics. And remember Group Statistics? Now you can use that information to get seriously targeted with the groups you poll. Or if you're trying to drum up membership for your own LinkedIn Group, make use of the Tweet feature that allows you to share your poll on Twitter and get your group more traffic, activity, and membership.
Company Status Updates
"Wait, this isn't an unknown LinkedIn feature!" It's not? Well then why aren't more companies using it?
Company pages now have the functionality (and have for several months) to post status updates, just like you can on personal profiles or your company Facebook page. If you haven't enabled it, check out this blog post to learn how to easily turn on the functionality.
Post content you've created, post questions to your page followers, and share other peoples' content to get more followers, drive more traffic to your website, and generate leads from LinkedIn. It's one of the easiest things you can do, and you can integrate with the day-to-day social media posting you already do on Twitter and Facebook.
Since you've been taking advantage of all these underused LinkedIn features, you've been building up quite the virtual rolodex. As such, it'd be helpful to import them into your CRM, no? Good thing LinkedIn makes it easy to export your LinkedIn contacts for just that purpose.
Under Contacts in the main navigation, click on 'My Connections,' then 'Export Connections' to download your .CSV or .VCF file. You can also filter out certain people in the left navigation -- like friends and family -- that aren't relevant to your business.
Just be sure not to opt them into any email communications or lead nurturing campaigns when you bring them into your CRM -- they haven't given you permission yet!
What other LinkedIn marketing gems can you share that people don't know about, or underutilize?
Image credit: Genista
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