The social media networking tool is a great way to find leads, not just jobs
By Michelle L. Cramer
In the world of social media marketing, LinkedIn may get nothing more than a passing glance from your company. After all, LinkedIn is about finding a job, and you already have one, right? That was the LinkedIn of years past. These days, the platform is a melting pot of professionals sharing content and establishing credibility in their area of expertise.
If you’re not actively using LinkedIn, you may be missing an opportunity to generate leads from a higher income bracket. “Do we think it’s where we need to occupy most of our time? Absolutely not,” says Michael Moore, II, president of Morehead Pools in Shreveport, Louisiana. “But it is a space we need to be in because we’re geared toward the more upper, high-end and affluent [customer], and LinkedIn is the professional realm of that.”
When comparing LinkedIn to other social media platforms, Moore breaks it down: Twitter is like having lunch with someone; Facebook is a birthday party; and LinkedIn is getting drinks after business hours with other professionals.
Morehead Pools has four LinkedIn accounts: one for the business and one for each of three designers. They have someone separate manage the accounts, including connections and posts, and that person draws the attention of the account holders to things they need to respond to.
The management-level staff at Platinum Poolcare in Wheeling, Illinois, all have LinkedIn profiles with professionally written bios. “Not all the managers are active on the network,” says James Atlas, principal, “but we feel that the more professional-looking facets that we can present to a curious potential customer or partner, the better. Customers may want to research a salesperson prior to meeting with them, and we wouldn’t want a perfunctory search of LinkedIn to leave that potential customer with questions about credibility.”
For Platinum Poolcare, LinkedIn has surpassed Facebook in lead generation, but trails Houzz in volume of quality leads, according to Atlas, who reports a good mix of residential and commercial leads for new construction or renovation through LinkedIn. “The leads for business partners are typically hard to discern, because there are so many incoming sales pitches that need to be vetted,” Atlas says. The Platinum Poolcare LinkedIn network exceeds 20,000 professionals, so they generally ignore B2B proposals through that network because of the sheer number they receive daily.
Moore recommends those starting on LinkedIn avoid soliciting as many others on the platform do. Rather than seeking out that prominent doctor you know is building a new house and sending him a message as soon as he connects with you, Moore recommends a less direct strategy. “Just provide valuable content and it’ll come to you,” Moore says.
“I believe the pictures and links to our other social outlets pique the interest of business owners and decision makers more than any other type of interaction,” Atlas says. “Those decision makers who are in the process of thinking about, designing, building or renovating a swimming pool and are also on LinkedIn and spurred on by our content being in front of them at that time.”
This strategy of maintaining consistent, expert-driven posts on LinkedIn brought in two leads for Morehead Pools so far, as Moore recalls. One was a wife who, on a hot summer day, decided she’d look into a pool. She compiled literature from several locations and presented it to her husband. Her husband was connected to one of the Morehead designers, Randy, on LinkedIn. The customer later mentioned that neighbors had a terrible experience with a random builder and it was the professionalism and expertise Randy conveyed that convinced him Morehead Pools was their best option. Another customer told Moore that, when they decided to build a pool, he didn’t look anywhere other than Morehead because of the quality of content on LinkedIn.
But Moore advises patience. Both leads came nearly two years after the company started using LinkedIn for content marketing. “You can’t establish yourself as the go-to professional within three months because you’re still fresh and new,” Moore says. “You have to establish long term that you’re the trusted professional in the industry for that specific need.”
Atlas agrees that it is worth the effort. “We have always felt that using social media outlets like LinkedIn provides the ability to reach the right kind of customer, with the only expenditure being time,” Atlas says. “Traditionally, the only free marketing was happy customers, but the social media landscape provides the same opportunity for those who are savvy enough to take advantage of it.”
- Start with a well-crafted description, company story, logo and nice cover photo.
- Have employees link their profiles to the business page to show company pride and open conversations with potential leads.
- Follow business pages and connect with professionals in complementary industries.
- Use the People You May Know function to find more connections.
- Don’t be a hustler. Draw in leads through consistent, quality content that establishes you as the professional.
- Keep your connections local to avoid pitches from wannabe business partners.