Full Frontal LinkedIn

For B2B firms, Freelance consultants and corporate or not-for-profit professionals, LinkedIn is the preferred social media platform because it is strictly business. Members create a profile that is essentially an expanded resume. There are opportunities to receive recommendations from colleagues with whom one has worked. One can create and upload a SlideShare presentation to provide an overview of company products and services and describe how they benefit customers.

A portfolio that showcases examples of one’s best work can be created and uploaded.  The company blog and/or newsletter can be added to the profile and all connections will receive notice of publishings. If that’s not enough, LinkedIn ProFinder helps to match prospective clients with Freelancers in search of project work (I’ve had a couple of almosts but no contract yet, after 6-8 months of sporadic follow-up to prospect inquiries).

There are those members who claim to make money directly from their LinkedIn connections (other than the ProFinder feature), but I don’t know anyone who’s done so. Still, LinkedIn seems to be a worthwhile investment.  I think presence on the site lends legitimacy and I suspect that prospective clients who are evaluating whether to hire a Freelancer (me!) for a project visit the LinkedIn profile as an element of due diligence.

LinkedIn users

According to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog, of the 500 million LinkedIn profile owners, 61 million are senior-level influencers and 24.5 million are in decision-making positions.  Millennials are also well-represented on LinkedIn. Globally, 87 million members are Millennial generation and 11 million are in decision-making positions.

Content Marketing

LinkedIn’s Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn  reports that LinkedIn is the top choice for B2B content marketing and that every week, LinkedIn content is viewed 9 billion times. While 94% of B2B marketers (including Freelancers) use LikedIn to distribute content, 89% use Twitter, 77% use Facebook, 77% use YouTube and 61% use Google + for B2B content distribution. Surprisingly, only 3 million LinkedIn members post content once a week or more.

When marketing executives (i.e., the Freelancer’s prospective clients) were asked their choice sites to search for relevant, high-quality B2B content, 91% voted for LinkedIn, blowing away Twitter (29%) and Facebook (27%). Decision-makers who have the authority to green-light projects and send billable hours your way trust LinkedIn.  How-to posts and lists receive the best reader response, according to OKDork.com.

About 45% of LinkedIn article readers are managers, directors, vice presidents and C-suite dwellers. Have you published articles in legitimate media outlets, or written white papers or case studies? If so, upload examples of your writing to your profile, since nearly half of LinkedIn article readers are senior level decision-makers. Furthermore, OKDork.com investigated LinkedIn viral posts and discovered that the sweet spot for content length is 1900 words. Don’t shy away from long-form content.

In your articles, be certain to include images (photos, graphs, charts); eight images emerged as the magic number.  Yet videos do not impress LinkedIn readers as they do visitors to other platforms and OKDork.com recommends that article writers avoid videos.

I’ve made this blog available to my LinkedIn connections for the 10 years of its existence and I’ve gained followers and regular readers as a result. Get busy, people! If you think about it, you’ll find that you have relevant content to share with your community every two or three weeks, at least.

As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn encourages members to take advantage of SlideShare as a storytelling and sales tool. According to TechCrunch, 70 million LinkedIn members visit SlideShare each month and 18 million pieces of content have been uploaded (does that mean there are 18 million SlideShare presentations on LinkedIn? I guess so.)

I have a SlideShare presentation that was uploaded some time ago and it’s a good way to tell the story of your company, or to detail why, when and how customers can benefit from using your products or services. But LinkedIn won’t allow edits to existing presentations and it’s aggravating.  I’d like to do an update.

Lead generation 

When tallying B2B leads generated by social media, LinkedIn outperforms all contenders, with 80% of B2B leads derived from LinkedIn and only 13% through Twitter and 7% through Facebook. Moreover, HubSpot reports that LinkedIn produces the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate of all platforms, 2.74%, almost three times higher than Facebook, which produces a 0.77% visitor-to-lead conversion rate, and Twitter, which clocks in with a 0.69% visitor-to-lead rate.

In short, LinkedIn delivers more prospects who are more willing to do business.  The ultimate validation is that 65% of B2B companies have acquired a customer through LinkedIn (I’m still waiting. I should go back to ProFinder ASAP, because I do receive bidding invitations).

So here is my call-to-action. You’ve read the post (thank you!) and I hope you are inspired to step up your LinkedIn activity. It’s OK to start small. Do you have a profile photo? Add a photo and attract 21 times more profile views and receive 36 times more messages. I added a new photo today.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Photograph: John Pilkington (2006) Loading salt at the Taoudenni salt mines in northern Mali, 400 miles north of Timbuktu and approaching the Algerian border. The mines have operated since at least the 1500s.

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Follow-Up Your Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing,  the strategy and practice of persuading prospective clients to contact a business by offering information on,  for example,  a website or social media platform that piques a prospect’s interest and leads that individual to contact the business,  stands in opposition to Outbound Marketing,  which encompasses traditional marketing practices such as advertising,  participation in trade shows,  sending out press releases and making cold calls as a strategy to appeal to prospective customers.

Either method can be effective and one is advised to implement both to a greater or lesser degree depending on one’s clientele.  Inbound Marketing is all the rage in some quarters,  as it has the potential to deliver self-selected prospects.   In 2009,  US companies spent $22.7 billion on internet based advertising designed to drive Inbound Marketing to both B2B and B2C customers.   Yet as with so much in life,  follow-up counts.   Time,  it turns out,  is the enemy of Inbound Marketing.

Do it now

Unless your product or service can be purchased online,  fast follow-up to Inbound Marketing inquiries is absolutely essential.   A 2010 study conducted by the Harvard Business Review revealed that the average response time to an Inbound Marketing lead is 42 hours.  Evidence has shown that waiting nearly two days to get back to a prospective client may very well cause you to lose your chance.   In 2006,  James B. Oldroyd,  professor at MIT Sloan School of Management,  teamed up with the sales technology firm Inside Sales to address the question of the ideal follow-up time-frame for web-generated leads.

Dr. Oldroyd analyzed three years of cold calling data across six companies: 15,000 sales leads generated from 100,000 + cold call attempts.  He found that Inbound Marketing leads have an extremely short shelf life.  His data showed that 5 minutes is the best time-frame and that any response made after 30 minutes was a waste of time.

If follow-up was made within five minutes,  the likelihood of a sale resulting was four times greater than if the call back occurred from five to ten minutes after the inquiry.  Freelancers can take that to mean our follow-up needs to occur within 24 hours; waiting even two days to call someone back could cost you.

Time it right

There are also many theories floating around about the best days and times to contact a customer.  Oldroyd studied that issue as well and discovered that 8:00 – 9:00 AM and 4:00 – 5:00 PM are the prime times to call.  1:00 – 2:00 PM is the worst time of day to attempt contact.

Popular wisdom has it that Monday is totally the worse day to call anyone and there is a school of thought that claims Friday is the best day,  since clients are allegedly in a good frame of mind as they wind down and head into the weekend.  Oldroyd’s study revealed that neither day is best or worst.

When it comes to cold calling or following up,  Thursday reigns supreme and Wednesday is a close second.   Friday emerged as the worst day to call and the other days are somewhere in the middle.   So if you’re unable to respond back within the ideal time-frame for your clients,  a reasonable Plan B is to call on a Thursday,  between 8:00 – 9:00 AM or 4:00 – 5:00 PM.

The moral to this story is pretty simple,  actually.   If you decide to direct valuable resources into an Inbound Marketing strategy,  then make sure that you or your team are prepared to respond to prospects in a timely fashion.

Thanks for reading,

Kim