Three simple ways B2B marketers can get value from LinkedIn

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When thinking about social media and how to use it for your brand, our initial reaction is often to think about the channels we can use and the conversations we can have. But using social media does not necessarily mean having a channel or joining a conversation. There can often be as much value (and sometimes even more) from listening to what others are saying. For B2B brands LinkedIn is a great example of where social media can be used as much to listen and learn as to talk and engage.

From ambassadors, to market information and even competitor research, here are three ways that LinkedIn can be a useful source for any B2B marketer.

1. Finding ambassadors for your brand

Within LinkedIn Groups and in the Questions and Answers section of the site you will find, if you look carefully, brand champions, ambassadors. People talking about your brand and recommending your product. The Questions section in particular is full of people asking for advice and information - about products and solutions. A quick search for some of your product names will uncover people who recommend you to others. A quick search for names of competitor products will uncover those who don’t recommend you but could.

Identifying these people is a first and useful step. Think next about what you can do with them and how you can build them into real Ambassadors for your brand.

2. Understanding how people talk about market issues

One useful insight for any marketer is to understand how people talk about the issues they face. Whilst they can be mixed in quality, some LinkedIn groups provide vibrant communities of people sharing links and talking about issues. Joining groups about your market and for your customers lets you see the kind of conversations they start, the language they use and how they talk to each other in a professional environment.

3. Learning about what you competitors are doing

Social media is a great way of sharing what you are doing but it is always important to think carefully about who you are sharing with. LinkedIn allows you to control who sees your connections and who you are connecting with but many people leave this as public information. This can be useful - learning who your competitors have been meeting and connecting with on LinkedIn may provide you with insight into who they are talking to and potentially even into who in the market is looking to buy similar products to the ones you have.

Of course, it’s important to think about your own privacy settings on LinkedIn as well!

Three tips for resourcing social media in B2B businesses

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Guest blog post by Matthew Schwartz, editor of Follow the Lead, a blog on b-to-b search engine ZoomInfo
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As the use of social media grows within B2B businesses, there is increased demand for companies to hire in-house social media resource. In fact, the phrase “social media director” has even started to creep into the conversation, especially in the US.

A search on indeed.com for “social media director” returns more than 7,100 results from companies, ranging from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to Fairmont & Hotels Resorts.

Unlike in the States, it’s still early days here in UK for B2B businesses when it comes to resourcing social media in-house. However, developing and then implementing a well-researched social media strategy will show your customers that you mean business.

In order to stay viable, B2B companies need to start thinking about how to integrate social media into their workforce. For many B2B organisations, this will mean creating an entirely new position.

Here are 3 tips to get the ball rolling:

  1. B2B managers need to find candidates who have spent adequate time in both sales and marketing positions and can present a clear understanding of how he or she will help to impact the bottom line using social channels. Being able to demonstrate ROI is of vital importance to any social media strategy and should be a key concern of any social media manager in a firm.
  2. With apologies to ex-NFL head coach Herman Edwards, you have to play to “win the game.” Companies will need to create a budget item for “social media resource” and offer competitive rates. Depending on the size of the company, the sector and, most importantly, the use of social media channels among the audience being targeted, companies may need to employ “tiers” of social media jobs/programmers akin to other disciplines.
  3. Social media staff shouldn’t sit in an isolated office - they must be integrated into the whole sales system. Akin to sales reps, your social media resource must be close to the customer and should develop a social media strategy depending on where the  customer sits within the sales cycle.