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EDMONTON, AB Jul 23, 2015/ Troy Media/ – “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. 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 220,000 members and 121,000 people joined Next Dimension Careers. LinkedIn caps group membership at one million.
I’ll get to the question up front that business people regularly ask me about LinkedIn: Is growing LinkedIn worth your time and can it become 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 Olivier, a 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.
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.
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.
Here’s eight 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 30,000 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.
- 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, “Teach your employees how to use those networks properly.”
Communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a print business magazine for 21 years. She now works to assist clients in digital marketing.