By Sharon A.M. MacLean who invites your comments following this blog. You can also find more modern marketing strategies for business here. http://bit.ly/1cKPcjn
“Social media is perfect for small and medium-sized business,” says the man connected with more than 1.4 million people through groups he created on LinkedIn. “The key for them is to build local.”
Seattle resident Olivier Taupin is on the phone with me from Paris. It’s been five years since last we chatted, at length, and, today, we’re catching up on how business is conducted using modern sales and marketing. We met again on Twitter.
Olivier is the founder of 100+ LinkedIn groups and subgroups including Linked:HR, the largest professional group in the network with more than 975,000,000 members; Linked:Energy has 220K members and 121k people joined Next Dimension Careers. LinkedIn caps group membership at 1 million.
Is growing LinkedIn worth your time?
I’ll get to the question up front that business people regularly ask me about LinkedIn: Is it possible to be profitable? Yes, says Olivier. The key is to grow your groups, though. Yet, many thousands of group owners don’t have enough members to attract the interest of potential sponsors which is how business often is conducted on LinkedIn. He offers these ideas to monetize your efforts:
- Weekly announcements sponsored by large companies;
- Market research;
- Sponsorship of sub groups;
- Organization of free events including webinars;
- Hosting of live events;
- Promotion of social media content such as white papers podcasts and webcasts.
This doesn’t even touch the individual relationships you can build over time.
Small business typically doesn’t deal on a global scale says the partner in Next Dimension Media with offices in the U.S. and Europe. He also knows that smaller companies don’t have the budgets to hire marketers; sales people build relationships to grow the business. Except, now it’s understood that today’s new social sellers also need lots of content to publish online.
Social selling needs content
The challenge is that sales people often dislike taking the time to write copy; they want to spend their time selling. On the other hand notes Olivier, “The problem with writers is they’re not always good at building business relationships.” It’s the reason that sales and marketing departments need to work more closely together.
It’s also the reason he partnered with Dave Sumner Smith and Mike Briercliffe in Next Dimension Media. Sumner Smith ran The Sunday Times Enterprise Network in the UK & Ireland and The Daily Telegraph Business Club while Briercliffe won the B2B Prize in the 2011 International Golden Twitter Awards.
It’s a great partnership, says Olivier. “They didn’t know how to grow communities (on LinkedIn). I didn’t know about content…and content is key.”
Who should you reach with your message? “Target, target, target,” says the renowned expert in social media management. “Start with finding influencers in your region and your industry and then look for the job function that’s important for your business.” He recommends using the Boolean search method which allows you to combine keywords with AND, OR, NOT to find relevant results.
Social networking changed the game
Oil sands industry consultant Ken Chapman was most prescient in 2010 when he introduced Olivier and social media to my magazine’s readers. He said, “The Internet culture hates broadcasting and spam but it loves authentic virtual relationships and those generate word-of-mouth messaging from friends and influentials.”
Ken, no slouch in the online world, added this observation at the time: “The principles of engagement are just as they are in the traditional golf clubs, professional lunches, and industry conferences and conventions.”
Olivier started his group for human resources professionals in 2007 when he needed a job. He had a car accident and was out of work for two years, a lifetime in high-tech where he worked with disc drives and modems. He used the group to network with potential recruiters. “LinkedIn was already the best engine to find the job I was looking for and managing large groups helped demonstrate my social media expertise.”
Here’s 8 more tips on social selling from Olivier
- Expect to build relationships slowly. Getting people to know and trust you doesn’t happen over-night in personal dealings. The same is true for developing online business networks.
- Keep widening your circle of contacts. The more relevant connections, the better. Even though you don’t know them on an individual basis, the better chance you have reaching the people you’re targeting. It will take you a while to reach 30K contacts, the limit set by LinkedIn.
- Stop joining groups that reflect your own profession. LinkedIn allows you to join 50 groups, so it’s a good idea to sign up where your prospects are doing business.
- Be consistent with your content. Publish on a regular basis and approach your contacts with content that answers their questions. For example, Pulse is LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform generally related to ad tech marketing, finance, career development and professional growth. Expect longer blogs and a higher quality of writing on this platform.
- An hour a day. Invite people to your group every day and then look after them with information, advice, and ideas to help with their challenges.
- Think of social media managers as the “farmers of the Internet”. Their job is to find the best prospects for sales people who need to be regarded as the expert.
- The new VP Sales is somebody who can jump on the data. This person analyzes data to find influencers and helps sales people to connect with them.
- Your current customers are your champions. Look after your existing clients by finding them on such networks as Twitter and Facebook and support their efforts.
Final thoughts for business people who want to achieve more success using modern marketing?
“Train your top management in the world of social enterprise,” says Olivier. Next, develop your social media policies and “don’t be afraid to find people within your organization” to build a social media culture.
Finally, choose your best networks wisely, develop policies and, “Teach your employees how to use those networks properly” for the success of everyone involved with the company.
Next up for Oliver? Well, the social media evangelist tells me he’s aiming for 50K followers on Twitter by the end of the year.
Lifelong communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for over 21 years for business people. She is certified in Integrated Online Strategies from the University of San Francisco and the Instant Customer Mastery Certified Professional Program.