It is not uncommon to hear marketing professionals use the terms "demand generation" and "lead generation" interchangeably. After all, both of these share the same goal, which is to increase revenue. As the conversation progresses, however, it becomes obvious that it concerns two very different processes. Thus, when some marketers state that they are using LinkedIn for lead generation, they may mean precisely that — or they may mean that they are using it for demand generation. Fortunately, LinkedIn is a versatile site that allows you to do both, but you need to keep the differences between the two in mind when planning your social media strategy.
Know Your Audience
You need to know as much about your audience as possible to see if there is an alignment between the LinkedIn members and your target audience. Ask yourself whether the decision makers for the types of businesses you plan to target are likely to be active on LinkedIn. Here are some facts to help you determine if LinkedIn is the right platform for you to find you target audience:
- As of Q2 2015, LinkedIn had almost 380 million members in more than 200 different countries.
- According to data released by Pew Research Center, LinkedIn members tend to be older, better educated and better paid than members of other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
- The average household income for 38 percent of LinkedIn members exceeds $75,000, indicating that many have the authority to make at least some of the decisions for their companies.
- Only 8 percent of LinkedIn users are located in rural areas.
Acquaint Yourself with the Various LinkedIn Features
LinkedIn offers a number of ways to promote your brand. Familiarize yourself with the different options to decide which of these options are more suitable for your demand generation vs lead generation strategies.
- As of February 2014, all LinkedIn users can publish content to the LinkedIn Pulse platform and promote it on their company page. This can be an effective tool for B2B content marketing for demand generation if you supply "ungated" content. However, tie it to a call-to-action link, such as an option to subscribe to your complete blog or download a related whitepaper, and you can use the same content to help generate leads.
- The news feed provides fresh updates to every LinkedIn member based on their field of interest. Stay active on LinkedIn by posting regular updates, especially those that are linked to fresh, relevant content and get noticed in your network and on various LinkedIn groups.
- Consider premium features, such as sponsored updates or paid ads. Both compare favorably in overall customer acquisition cost than many other options as LinkedIn provides unique targeting options that no other platform does today.
- Join relevant groups and be active in them. If you want to optimize your potential for lead generation, manage your own group; this gives you an option to email weekly updates to all group members who have not disabled the option in the settings on their LinkedIn profiles.
Leverage Both Your Relationships and Your Connections
Above all, LinkedIn is a networking site. Its primary purpose is to connect professionals who have similar goals, interests and needs. Use it to build new relationships, but be sure to nurture existing connections as well.
- Watch for opportunities to leverage existing relationships, such as an acquaintance who announces his moving to a new role that could now make him be a part of your target audience.
- Ask people in your circle for introductions to those who have decision-making authority for businesses you would like to reach, particularly those that have been difficult for you to "get a foot in the door" in previous attempts.
- Read content published by potential customers to identify any "pain points" they mention that you might be able to help eliminate.
Keep Everything Professional
LinkedIn offers so many options that it can be easy to forget that it is primarily devoted to white-collar, high-income professionals. Everything you post and every interaction you have needs to reflect your professionalism.
- Make sure that all your status updates, articles and communications on LinkedIn are free from spelling or grammatical errors. If necessary, you might consider outsourcing some or all of your communications, such as your articles.
- If you have an open slot on your marketing team, consider hiring an individual who has a proven record with LinkedIn marketing techniques. You might want to use LinkedIn to collect resumes from candidates as well.
Whether you need leads or want to create a buzz, LinkedIn can be an effective platform for your B2B content marketing efforts. The key is to use it wisely.