August 11, 2016
Your corporate LinkedIn account may not seem like the best gateway to your customers. Compared to Facebook and Twitter, users post infrequently and reserve their LinkedIn accounts for professional purposes. That being said, LinkedIn can be an immensely valuable method of connecting with your audience if used correctly. If mishandled, LinkedIn can be a sure-fire way to alienate them. Worse yet, it can discourage future potential employees from applying for open positions.
Whether your account is administrated by your contact/call center, customer service, or marketing teams, it’s vital to both have a LinkedIn page and to use it well. The first step is to have an understanding of what the platform is for.
What is LinkedIn for?
LinkedIn differs from other social media sites in one key area. Other social sites are primarily for recreation and leisure. LinkedIn is strictly for business. This social media platform enables professionals to keep in touch with past colleagues or reach out to new ones.
As a result, the discourse on LinkedIn tends to have a more professional tone. The subject matter of discussions is usually centered around business, the users’ industries, or relevant news. Of course, some people are better at sticking to this than others. You will still see the occasional bit of personal news, funny memes, or
posts you’d expect to see on Facebook.
With an understanding of what LinkedIn is, the next step is to discuss how to use it.
Two Purposes of a Business LinkedIn Account
Unlike Facebook, the core functions of your LinkedIn page will vary depending upon your business model.
Business to Consumer (B2C)
When developing a strategy for your LinkedIn page, it is important to recognize that business professionals are not on LinkedIn to shop. If individuals follow you on LinkedIn, it will be most likely for business reasons. Therefore, your strategy must reflect this dynamic. You have to be a little more indirect. Instead of posting special offers, coupons, or humorous content, your goal should be to position your brand as thought leaders. For example, you might post a coupon for your bagel shop. On LinkedIn, however, you would post a case study on the best bagel preparation methods in the area. Then when a customer downloads the case study, it includes a coupon to the bagel shop. In this example, you aren’t pitching your product. You’re pitching your brand as the utmost authority on bagels.
However, LinkedIn can still serve as a very effective recruiting tool. You should try to attract professionals in your industry, share the posts of your industry’s influencers, and position yourself as a competent company in a competitive field.
Business to Business (B2B)
If you are part of a business that sells products or services to other businesses, LinkedIn is going to likely be your most effective social media account. On the one hand, it can serve as a powerful recruiting tool, as it does for B2C businesses. On the other hand, this is where your clients come to engage in discussions relevant to your business.
This brings us to the stark differences in buying cycles between B2C and B2B customers. In a B2C environment, your purchase is largely an emotional one. Quick, quirky ads can be really effective here, and you see these examples all over Facebook. In a B2B environment, purchases are far more calculated. There may be multiple people involved in the buying process, and some may require C-Level approval for the purchase. Your clients could be delivering detailed presentations to their boss to justify using your company. While this does create a longer buying cycle, what it really means is that your customer has to have extreme confidence in your brand. That confidence can be fostered by positioning your page as thought leaders in the industry.
Create and publish white papers, case studies, ebooks, and more to demonstrate to your clients your experience and excellence in the industry. If your existing clients regard you as experts and potential clients find your page valuable, they’ll be more likely to continue or begin to do business with you.
Dealing with Customer Complaints on LinkedIn
If you are a B2C organization and there are customers complaining on your LinkedIn page, you should respond exactly as you would on any other social media channel. Respond promptly, courteously, and publicly to any negative criticism you receive, and then follow up to resolve the issue.
However, if you’re are a B2B organization, you’re in a unique situation. Any customer or client you have should also have an account manager tied to them. The account manager should, in theory, be able to prevent these sorts of public outbursts, but if the client is posting publicly anyway, the account manager can still be invaluable in reaching a solution.
Still, the post needs to be dealt with, because even if the account manager calls and smooths the situation out, there is still a negative post about company lingering on the web. Make sure you reply publicly and promptly. This way, if another prospective or existing client stumbles upon the post, they’ll see that you were receptive to criticism and responded to the situation.
Where Do Customers Complain on LinkedIn?
On LinkedIn, a user cannot post directly on a company page. Therefore, if a customer wishes to air their criticisms to your social community, the negative post is going to be found elsewhere. Customers can comment on any post that you share, comment on an article you publish, or even publish negative articles themselves about your brand. On LinkedIn, you have to be more aware of your content and the content of your community.
A Valuable Tool for all Businesses
In broad strokes, LinkedIn is a lot like Facebook, and both can be powerful platforms in their own right. But LinkedIn has an explicit business and professional theme. If you can wield it correctly, it could become your most effective social platform.
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