In the B2B manufacturing space, there’s a lot of confusion around social media. Some simply say, “That’s not for us,” while others argue their industry is too boring. Those that have used it often neglect to find the value, and their strategies end, pretty short-lived. They then shift to other marketing means and miss out on a pretty powerful platform - LinkedIn.
Before you dismiss using LinkedIn as a B2B manufacturer, consider this. When used the right way, LinkedIn has been seen to be the most effective social platform at generating B2B leads. It accounts for 64 percent of all visits from social media sites to B2B websites. Another staggering stat? Ninety-three percent of B2B marketers consider LinkedIn to be the most effective site for lead generation.
So how does a complex industry like industrial manufacturing tap into this value? The strategy might be a bit different than other industries, but the potential is there. Here are 6 ways to use LinkedIn as a B2B manufacturer.
1. Properly Brand Your LinkedIn Company Page
When an employee lists your company as their workplace, LinkedIn will automatically create a company page. As the employer, you’ll need to “claim” this page. Once you’ve got that under your belt, it’s time to make sure everything on your page properly reflects your company. Here’s what you’ll want to update.
Upload a cover image that is properly aligned with your company’s brand. It should contain your logo, a positioning statement, and be optimized for both desktop and mobile. Make sure it’s the right size (1,584 x 396 px) and reflects your company’s vision, mission, and culture. Take a look at GE’s for inspiration.
When potential clients land on your LinkedIn page the first place they typically go to learn more about your company is the description. It’s important to make sure this information is up to date, SEO optimized, and relevant to your personas. Think hard about important keywords that prospects might be using while searching for your services. Your description should clearly articulate your company’s purpose, while including these relevant search terms.
LinkedIn gives you the ability to feature different CTAs on your site. Typically, company pages direct users back to their website. You can edit this under “edit pages” -> “buttons”. Here you’ll have the choice of the following CTA’s:
- Contact Us
- Learn More
- Sign Up
- Visit Website
Again, the CTA you choose depends on what you want your page visitors to do next if they want to engage. But typically, as a B2B manufacturer, we recommend using “visit website” as your default.
When you first create your LinkedIn company page, you’re asked to create a custom URL. But if your page was already created, or if you just missed this step, you might have to double back. Custom URLs are important because it makes your page URL short, and memorable for followers or team members to share. Plus, it helps with SEO optimization, making your profile more searchable. Create a custom URL by navigating to “admin tools.” Select “edit public URL” and enter what you’d like to change it to. Be sure to follow LinkedIn’s best practices when creating your new URL.
As a B2B manufacturer, you probably have a few different ideal customer personas. LinkedIn’s Showcase pages allow you to silo your posts and target them towards each persona. A showcase page creates a targeted feed that can be followed directly but is also attached to your main company page. This is where you can get more granular with specific sections of your business. For example, say you manufacture two very different materials for two different types of business. You could create two showcase pages, each one targeted towards those two different personas.
2. Ask Your Employees to Properly Brand Their Profiles
Once you have your company page properly branded, it’s time to recruit some help. Employee profiles are valuable assets on LinkedIn that shouldn’t be overlooked. Why? Here’s what we know about employee networks on LinkedIn:
- On average, employee networks have 10x more connections than a company has followers.
- People are 3x more likely to trust company information share by an employee than shared by a CEO.
- Click-through-rate (CTR) on a piece of content is 2x higher when shared by an employee versus a company.
Behind B2B lead generation, employee networking can also help attract more talent to your manufacturing business. Valuable stuff. But how do you incentivize employees to be active on LinkedIn in the right way? Here are some ideas:
- Encourage all client-facing employees to have consistent, brand-focused profile pages.
- Have team members update their “headline.” This is what people see in their newsfeeds when any employees post. Encourage team members to write a headline that doubles as a positioning statement and will resonate with your businesses’ target personas.
- Client-facing employees should have a consistent and standardized “about me” section that tells their brand’s story and provides a mission statement for their services.
- Every team member should also have a customized section about their background and skills, which links back to your company.
- Have all client-facing employees use consistent-looking headshots as profile photos and branded cover images. Consider hiring a photographer to take professional pictures for all team members.
Be sure to educate your team members on the benefits of posting and sharing on LinkedIn. If they understand your LinkedIn strategy and the value behind it, they’ll be much more apt to share and promote your company across their newsfeeds.
3. Post the Right Type of Content with the Right Cadence
Content. What are you posting on your company’s LinkedIn page? And what should you be posting? These are the golden questions of any LinkedIn strategy. And quite honestly - this is where a lot of manufacturing businesses get it wrong.
Yes, your business is different from any other social media user. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using it. It just means you have to use it differently. Instead of posting the type of content you might see on your own personal LinkedIn page, you have to think about your company’s personas and what type of content they would want to see.
Be helpful. Share content that’s informative, relevant, and useful. If you already have a well-thought-out content strategy, this should be relatively simple. But here are a few LinkedIn specific things to keep in mind:
- The LinkedIn algorithm prefers content that keeps people on their platform vs. off-site links.
- LinkedIn prioritizes content seen as “more engaging” to viewers and ranks it higher.
Keeping this in mind, we suggest repurposing your content to LinkedIn-specific posts. Turn high-performing blog posts on your website into on-platform posts like videos or images. It’s also best practice to make your post descriptions long enough that users will be enticed to click the “see more” link. This counts as an “interaction” with your post. The more “interactions” you have, the higher your post will rank on your audience’s newsfeeds.
Frequency is also incredibly important when it comes to content rank. LinkedIn reports that companies that post weekly see a 2x lift in content engagement than those who post less frequently. Finding the right cadence for your own industry and individual audience is essential.
4. Target the Right Audience
Reaching your followers is just one part of the equation when leveraging LinkedIn as a B2B manufacturer. To fully utilize its potential, you also need to attract new prospects aligned with your target audience. Here are some ideas to help you target the right audience:
- Use LinkedIn’s targeted updates feature to tailor content to specific audience segments. When you use this feature, you can select if you want to share it with “all followers” or a “targeted audience.” When choosing a targeted audience you can send post updates to followers based on geography, job function, industry, company size, or seniority. One important thing to note is this feature is only available to company pages that have a minimum of 300 followers.
- Promote your content in relevant LinkedIn groups. One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn is the targeted groups that professionals use to network in. As a manufacturer, you can tap into these industry-specific groups to expand the reach and engagement of your content.
Publish LinkedIn articles. Once you’ve established a regular content marketing strategy on your website and you’re successfully promoting these on your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to take things to the next level. Consider writing and publishing unique, thought-provoking articles. This not only establishes yourself and your brand as a thought leader in your industry but has the potential to amplify your brand if any people in your network share it, like it, or engage with it in some way.
5. Start Using LinkedIn’s Sales Tools
One of the advantages of LinkedIn that sets it apart from any other social media platform is the sales tools it offers. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a social selling platform that has features specifically designed for business professionals looking to generate leads while engaging with new prospects. If you aren’t already leveraging these tools in your LinkedIn strategy as a B2B manufacturer, then it’s time to start. Here’s a brief look at two valuable features of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and how to use them to generate leads:
Advanced Prospecting Search - This tool allows for enhanced visibility into specific prospects’ profiles, plus more robust search capabilities. It’s especially useful for sales reps within the manufacturing industry who might be searching for a particular type of prospect. You can filter by all the following fields: keywords, industry, company, geography, seniority level, company size, relationship, and function.
LinkedIn InMail - Private messaging is an essential feature of LinkedIn that can boost your lead generation success rates as a B2B manufacturer. InMail allows you to send a message to any LinkedIn user, even if you aren’t connected to them. When used well, LinkedIn private messages usually have higher response rates than cold phone calls or emails.
6. Take Advantage of Advertising on LinkedIn
Finally, we can’t ignore the power of LinkedIn advertising. Like most social platforms, LinkedIn offers a variety of different ways to expand your message beyond the boundaries of organic reach. But there are a few advertising features unique to LinkedIn that can be especially helpful in generating B2B leads. Let’s take a look:
Sponsored Content - LinkedIn offers “sponsored content” to be created and targeted to specific audiences based on geographic location, company name, size, industry, job title, seniority, and other profile data. This can be especially helpful in the B2B manufacturing space, where there’s an extremely niche market you’re trying to target. Through a variety of different “sponsored” posts, you can ensure your getting your ads in front of the right type of audience, at the right time, with the right messages.
Sponsored InMail - This type of advertising delivers highly relevant messages to target audiences directly in their LinkedIn inboxes. The benefit? Your ads come across as highly personalized and genuine. Yet, you can still include CTAs, and target these ads based on profile criteria. Plus, all sponsored InMail messages can be tracked and provide highly detailed metrics to the success of your campaign efforts.
The key to advertising on LinkedIn is to keep in mind the buying process. As a B2B manufacturer, typically, you’re dealing with a long and drawn-out buying process that involves a number of different decision-makers. The goal of your ads is not to make a sale, per se - but more about establishing a long-term relationship that will eventually turn into a sale. Keep this in mind when writing the content and strategy behind your LinkedIn ads.
Using LinkedIn as a B2B Manufacturer: Key Takeaways
LinkedIn can be extremely powerful in the B2B space when used the right way. It’s important to remember the differences between your company and the next and what sets your business apart. As a manufacturer, your company’s LinkedIn strategy will (and should) look a bit different than other industries’ tactics. Dealing with longer buying processes and more technical and niche products or services means emphasizing the relationship aspect of LinkedIn. By prioritizing the people you connect with while still focusing on brand visibility and alignment, you’ll develop a solid LinkedIn strategy that attracts, converts, and delights your B2B manufacturing prospects.