Social media tops the list in many modern-day marketing plans. With so many platforms available that provide direct access to so many different groups of people, it’s hard to ignore the opportunities that social media avails. For businesses in the steel industry, one of the best platforms is LinkedIn. Originally a virtual place to post and find jobs, LinkedIn had evolved to a truly professional social media platform that’s focused on fostering business-to-business relationships.
Share Your Brand on a Company Page
LinkedIn provides an easy-to-use template to create your company page. Remember that the fields on the template are designed to help prospects and other interested LinkedIn members find you. Think about how people would be searching for what your company has to offer and complete these fields accordingly.
Be sure your page is consistent with your overall brand, using the same graphics, colors and style as you use on your website and other marketing materials. Be sure to have one individual that’s responsible for keeping your LinkedIn page up-to-date and active, always looking for ways to post useful information and respond to inquiries and opportunities that come in.
Highlight Real People
Although some companies may not want to provide easy access to their top talent, the reality is that in today’s transparent, online world, people who want to be accessible are. You might as well use that fact to your advantage by showcasing your best and brightest.
Make it a priority to link individual employee profiles with appropriate pictures and current job responsibilities to your company page. Everyone likes to work with real people, and sharing the strengths of your team can only make your organization look more appealing. In addition, have your employees solicit positive recommendations from supervisors, peers and other professionals in the steel industry. Showcasing staff members who are individually praised by others in the industry sends a powerful message about your overall company. Be sure each member of your team claims a custom URL that includes their name so they can be easily found on LinkedIn.
Ideally, your company has done some behind-the-scenes work to foster a positive, engaging and attractive culture, allowing your LinkedIn page to reflect that ethos. You don’t want to try to control what your employees post and share; however, you can encourage them to highlight the ways they support your company’s overall mission through their own professional identities, especially in the summary section of their profiles.
Post Stellar Content, Not Shameless Promotion
LinkedIn is designed to be a marketplace where professionals can share problems, solutions, information, and trends related to business. Often, that will include new hires, fresh business relationships, great investment opportunities, and more customers. However, as a company, you want to focus on providing excellent content that addresses your potential clients’ pain points and position you and your employees as experts and thought leaders in the field. It’s a big mistake to be constantly selling on a platform like LinkedIn; no one likes blatant advertising.
LinkedIn is designed to help boost the best content. If you post something that gets some initial traction, LinkedIn will spotlight that content in an appropriate category, which can lead to thousands more seeing your information. In addition, you can use the “sponsored updates” feature, which allows you to pay to post useful content onto an individual's LinkedIn feed. Although this feature is similar to other "pay-per-click" advertising tools, you can drill down to particular companies, job titles or skills.
This feature helps reduce the irrelevant advertising noise, connecting companies and people that will be interested in one other professionally. Remember to promote useful content as part of your sponsored update, not pure advertising.
Find Target Audiences Easily
LinkedIn provides users with extremely specific categories to sort, and many dedicated users provide accurate professional demographics to help the process along. For example, you can target purchasing executives at manufacturing companies of a particular size simply by checking the appropriate boxes. LinkedIn will deliver the prospect list easily into your hands.
Once you have a prospect list, LinkedIn makes it easy to introduce your company and nurture relationships with those who are interested in staying in touch. The platform allows you to easily provide things like email updates, share customer problem/solution stories, or make offers for webinars or white papers. LinkedIn is designed to help you lead prospects down your marketing funnel in an organized and intentional manner.
In our growing digital world, it’s easy to get away from real relationships. However, there’s always going to be a real human need to connect with others who share areas of interest. On LinkedIn, those shared areas of interest will be business-related, and the platform offers tools to help foster conversations and gather ideas.
Most professionals are happy to share a perspective or answer a question, which makes LinkedIn a great place to discuss industry news, gauge current needs, or test product or service ideas. Be sure to engage your customers, prospects, and shareholders intentionally — you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Create and Join Groups
LinkedIn groups are an excellent way to bring together smaller groups of people from a diverse background focused on a single topic or area. Take some time to find groups that are relevant to your industry, company, service, or product, and ask to join. First, read conversations to get a feel for what people are saying and doing in regards to that particular topic. Second, add your own helpful thoughts and perspective to the conversation. Remember that it’s about building real relationships. And, third, if you can create your own group that meets a related need or addresses a similar topic; then, invite your new-found virtual colleagues to join your group as well.
LinkedIn is a powerful social media platform for steel industry professionals to make business-to-business connections that can lead to additional business, new relationships, and ongoing growth. Understanding how to use the features of this tool can help you add a great deal of value to your overall marketing program.