LinkedIn has well over 259 million users. Sure, that might pale in comparison to the numbers of Facebook, Twitter, or Google+; but LinkedIn might just make the most sense for your business to build relationships and cultivate B2B lead generation initiatives. In fact, you might already know the best way to increase Twitter followers for your business.
While most people use LinkedIn for growing their personal network, I feel many small businesses should also explore LinkedIn lead generation through the use of LinkedIn groups.
If your business is ignoring LinkedIn groups, chances are it is killing your B2B LinkedIn lead generation strategy. Let’s take a look at a few ways your business can use groups to your advantage.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
Before we jump into strategy, let’s first recap what exactly are LinkedIn groups. With this, your business can create essentially a community within LinkedIn that focuses on a particular topic or interest. As the group creator (moderator), you will have a pulse on who joins your community and the conversations going on within the community. Additionally, you and your company will be viewed as a leader in the topic/field of the group.
While you do have the option of creating your own group, it is not required in order to use LinkedIn groups for B2B lead generation.
Creating Your Own LinkedIn Group
Should your business decide it wants to create its own group, you can get setup in a few steps. I won’t go into too much detail here, as there are only a few steps involved. I think the biggest decision will be to decide whether or not you want to allow users to automatically join or request access to the group. While there are pros and cons of each, your business will need to decide which option makes the most sense.
What Should My Group Be About?
Your LinkedIn group should be focused around something that relates to the products and services your business offers. For example, if your business sells cloud storage services then you could create a group around cloud storage best practices or why cloud storage is important for business owners. You could even do something broad like “business owners of Houston” and focus on business owners who live within that region.
Joining LinkedIn Groups
If creating your own LinkedIn group is something you are not interested in, you can always join existing groups. Joining an existing group does have benefits. One such benefit is that they have an established user base. Someone has already done the legwork for you and created a community of users who have a common interest.
Instead of blindly joining a group, did you know that you can get key insights before joining a group?
When on the group page, you will see an italicized “i” to the right of the member count. Click on this “i” and you will instantly get insight into the demographics of the community. Each tab on these insights will give you detailed information on many different aspects of the community. Armed with this data, you can determine if the group is a fit for your business goals.
6 Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups For B2B Lead Generation
Now that we have covered groups and the basics of them, let’s dig a bit deeper and see what ways we can utilize them to cultivate relationships and ultimately generate some leads.
1. Become a “Thought Leader” of LinkedIn Group(s)
When you create your own group, you sort of become the “go-to” person by default (unless you get out hustled by another member). However, there are many LinkedIn groups that can be targeted by your business to cultivate leads through positioning yourself as a “thought leader”.
Most users get this approach wrong, when it is so easy to get right.
Positioning yourself as a leader is pretty simple, actually. In the end it takes time and consistency. This is not always the problem. The problem often comes from users who are constantly looking for the instant gratification of making a sale. Therefore, their messaging is typically a hard-sell approach. Today’s B2B consumer is typically not open to this approach.
Instead, the potential customer (depending on their position in the company) is looking to build a case to present to their superiors on which business to use to solve their problem. In most groups, they ask questions about their issues looking for insight on the best way to solve them. When you are only pushing interaction that says “buy me”, it makes it hard for the potential customer to acquire information on why they should buy from your business. A more strategic approach is to provide information/content that ultimately can explain the benefits that come with using a product or service you offer.
By offering information instead of a link to “buy now”, over time, group members will associate your name/business with the source that provides relevant information and insights into issues that they are experiencing. Then, when the time is right your business will be top of mind when the are ready to buy a solution to their issues.
What it really comes down to is being there to serve the community. If someone asks a question, answer it to the best of your knowledge (don’t simply just link to your own blog posts). Be genuine. Be honest. Build credibility.
2. Create a Poll
Creating a poll for a LinkedIn group is rather simple. Please note that depending on the group settings set by the moderator, you may or may not be able to create a poll in a particular group.
There are numerous ways to use LinkedIn polls to generate leads. However, I am going to focus on one approach that will allow your business key insights into your customer’s pain points. This approach is simply where you create a poll that asks group members what their problems are. Luckily for you, your business product or service takes care of their problems.
In my opinion, it is important to word the questions so that the group member is not immediately associating the poll question with your business offerings (don’t push the sale of your products). You should be rather broad/generic with the poll questions that will ultimately allow the member to come to the conclusion on their own that your business can solve their problem.
Once the poll has enough votes to where you can see trends, you can identify a topic to post in the community around this. You could opt for a simple explanation of the common issue most had within the poll and offer up a link to additional information on your site on how to handle this problem. This additional information could be a free consultation, a guide/ebook, a blog post, or webinar. The goal here is to have these users get into your funnel outside of LinkedIn. Once in your funnel you can further nurture and score them based on their actions. Ultimately lead them to become a customer.
3. Message Group Members
If you created the group, then you have have the ability to send a message to all group members. Please note that it is VERY important that you do not abuse this feature. You have no doubt worked hard to build your group, so don’t mess it up when you message group members.
Luckily for you, at the publishing of my blog post LinkedIn only allows you to email your members once a week.
By messaging your members often (but not too often), you can build rapport with them in a few ways. These messages could be about:
- What’s happening in the community (not a digest, but real insights to what other members are dealing with in business)
- Asking users what their business pain points are
- Offering free consultations
- Invitations to a “special” webinar you are running
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Again, it is very important that you do not abuse this feature. Similar to newsletters, LinkedIn group members can opt out of receiving these messages.
4. Create In-depth Content to Answer a Question
LinkedIn groups no doubt allow members to ask all sorts of questions. Often, these questions will provide your company with excellent ideas for content. For example, if you come across a question that can’t be answered in a few sentences you might want to consider creating an in depth piece of content.
Be sure to “follow” the discussion so that you don’t lose it when your content is ready.
In-depth content can be something as simple as a blog post, or something more complex like an infographic. No matter what media you decide to respond with, it needs to be something you can create relatively quickly. If your content takes too long to create, chances are the the person who was asking the question has moved on elsewhere to get answers. It is key that you move fast when creating content to answer a question.
5. Connect With Other Group Members
Whether you created your own group or joined others, you need to connect with other members in order to begin cultivating relationships. Simply visit their profile and send them an invite. As a member of the same community, you can connect with them easily (no email address required).
When connecting with other members, do not use the default message that LinkedIn sends on your behalf. This is lazy.
Instead, send them a personalized message outlining the same interests you have based on the community you are in. Additionally, look through their profile and see what other talking points there are. Be sure to ask questions, as this will open the door for a response back to you and start building engagement.
Throughout your conversations, you will be able to decide where to steer the discussion should they be a good candidate for your business services.
6. Run a Free Webinar
While I have alluded to webinars before, targeting groups that have members who fit your buyer persona are ideal for pitching your webinar. Assuming you have established yourself as a “thought leader” within the communities your are active in, it will make your invitation to the webinar much more effective among the group members.
If you manage a large LinkedIn group, as explained above, you can easily message all members about the upcoming webinar. As the group owner, you already have credibility with the users and chances are you will get a great response rate.
Keep in mind the webinar should not simply be a sales pitch. Instead, it should be about common issues or problems the members all face and struggle to manage. At the beginning of the webinar, you can set expectations for your pitch by stating that you will be covering particular issues, offering a product or solution to the problems at the conclusion of the discussion, and then have an open questions and answers.
By setting expectations, you don’t come across as strictly selling and at the same time it allows members to know exactly how the webinar will flow. They will be much more open to a soft pitch at the end if they know what to expect.
Get the Most of B2B LinkedIn Lead Generation
Every business will have different needs for their B2B LinkedIn lead generation efforts. While I have outlined 6 different ways to utilized LinkedIn groups, it is important to understand which methods are right for your business.
It might mean using one or two methods, or possibly using multiple methods in conjunction with each other to really maximize your efforts.
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