Online editor Lorna Brett spent an hour with some LinkedIn heavyweights in Sydney this week. Here are some of the key lessons for small business she took away from the meeting.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a roundtable at LinkedIn’s Sydney headquarters this week, to talk with co-founder Allen Blue, South East Asia and Australia and New Zealand managing director Cliff Rosenberg and APAC senior director of marketing solutions Olivier Legrand about how the professional landscape is changing and what this means for marketers – both big and small alike – who are using LinkedIn.
Apart from discussing how some big businesses are using the platform effectively to connect with their audience, the roundtable delivered some valuable insights for small businesses on the importance of not just building a community on LinkedIn via the use of groups, but the need to be ‘always on’ in these groups.
In simple terms, this means that brands shouldn’t just be logging on sporadically to share marketing messages about their product or service. Instead, they should be continually active on the platform, sharing content that’s of value to their community, but which is separate to the product or service they deliver.
Being ‘always on’ requires a brand to think like a publisher; always assessing how the content they share will benefit group members, while considering how it will also create conversation and engagement.
Once a small business has built a community based on the delivery of high-value content, it will then have earned the right to push some (read, some) branded marketing messages. Group members will be far more accepting of and receptive to the odd promotion after a business has demonstrated it didn’t start the group simply to talk about itself.
According to Legrand, the key to building a successful LinkedIn Group boils down to five key points:
- Build a presence and populate it with information. This means populating the page with information about your business, but also some relevant content that will help draw potential followers to become part of the community in the first place.
- Attract followers. You need to invite the right people to your party and a great way to do this is for a member of your team with some online clout to send a personalised invitation to their community. LinkedIn’s viral nature will mean word of your group spreads through its third degree network as more and more users join it.
- Engage followers. Think like a publisher and deliver content that’s going to trigger conversation and deliver value. Remember, be ‘always on’.
- Amplify via the network. Build advocacy among your followers and foster brand champions, who will spread the good word about your group with their network.
- Analyse and review. Spend time looking at which posts worked and which didn’t. Get to know the people who are following your group, and consider tailoring your content based on their feedback and needs.
And for those small businesses that feel the platform is more the domain of the corporate professional than the soloist, consider that it was originally built for the benefit of entrepreneurs, and has simply evolved into a tool used by some clever big business marketers.
LinkedIn’s final word? Three million Australians are on the network, which equates to a massive 65 percent of the country’s professionals. Why wouldn’t you want to tap into the marketing potential of this well-populated and highly engaged network?