LinkedIn Groups and the Missing ROI

In recent years, businesses of all sizes have made concerted efforts to build communities on Social Media. Most have succeeded in creating vibrant online communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. Amazon Web Services Community on LinkedIn, for example, has close to 50,000 members. Microsoft, has 20,000 followers of Microsoft Azure & Microsoft Cloud community. These communities can be quite effective in building brand or product awareness, but do very little to drive top-line sales growth. Why is that? And what can be done to help drive revenues from this presence?

Almost all B2B businesses have presence in LinkedIn in the form of a LinkedIn Group, a Company Page or a Showcase Page. Social Media Marketing managers work diligently to grow this community of followers on LinkedIn. This is done by posting content on LinkedIn – sometimes new often repurposed, diligently tracking engagement, and promoting engagement by responding to comments. Most companies have succeeded with this effort and have created large, growing, vibrant communities on LinkedIn. Often these communities are larger than the offline communities of customers or prospects in company’s CRM or B2B databases.

But almost none of the companies we have spoken to can point to top-line revenue growth that can be directly attributable to this large and growing LinkedIn social community.

For sure, with LinkedIn Pages, you have another channel to communicate with your customers and prospects. LinkedIn B2B communities can be an effective way to build awareness amongst customers, prospects, and industry influencers. LinkedIn communities can also be a cost-effective way to provide after-sales customer support and service. Or even help businesses get valuable feedback on new product or service introduction. Through LinkedIn Pages, you can extend the business networks, connect with new customers and position your company as a thought leader. You can broadcast posts to the group, and if you have something truly distinctive or interesting to say, you may even garner some views, generate a few likes, and some comments. You could also drive some traffic from the LinkedIn pages to your company’s website.

But that’s about it. If your goal is to generate sales, from presence on LinkedIn then by itself these communities are of not much use.

To generate high-quality leads from LinkedIn communities’ marketers need a deeper understanding of the LinkedIn followers than what is available from the data in LinkedIn Profiles. So that marketers can develop deeper understanding of the needs and requirements of the prospects. And then craft sales pitches tailored to those needs. And finally one needs to be able to deliver these messages with a mix of LinkedIn and traditional B2B communication channels.

This is not possible with LinkedIn. LinkedIn (and other social media platforms) provide no non-social and offline contact information (e.g. phone, address, email) for your online social communities. The only way to communicate with followers on social media is by using the Social Media communication channels. In the case of LinkedIn it is either a broad-cast post or an expensive InMail message. In other words, LinkedIn Social Communities live and operate and communicate in their own silo.

But what if you want to send a high-quality direct mailer to a sub-set of your LinkedIn Group’s followers that meet certain industry demographic criteria. Or simply send out an old-fashioned email to your LinkedIn Followers announcing the launch of a new product. Or perhaps initiate an inside sales telemarketing campaign to reach a promising set of LinkedIn prospects.

That’s how the real marketing and sales world operates. One needs a mix of different channels to connect with prospects and nudge them towards a sale. To do so, you need to break the communication silos created by LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms. The good news is that there are a few innovative companies that have found ways to overcome this barrier.

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