Social Media can be a great tool for not only connecting with existing customers, but for finding leads as well. LinkedIn, as a social media platform, is focused on business. When utilized effectively, LinkedIn is an excellent tool to spur leads and, in turn, revenue growth for any type of business including manufacturing.
In a recent USA Manufacturing Hour Chat on Twitter, Pavel Stepanov & Jerica Fornis of VirtuDesk led a discussion about how to best utilize LinkedIn to benefit lead flow generation and revenue growth strategies.
Making Use of the Platform
The discussion kicked off by asking participants if they felt they could use LinkedIn for business and how they are making use of the platform currently.
Dan Bigger from Custom Profile in Michigan said, “Absolutely. I use it a variety of ways. I promote myself on my own page. I promote our company page for Custom Profile. I also help friends and companies along with reading and networking with many groups.”
JD from Cleveland Deburring in Ohio said, “We use it for brand awareness by posting our blog articles and sharing other relevant manufacturing news.”
Beth Bigelow from Home Building Solutions in Michigan said, “I like to use it for B2B networking as well as showcasing our latest projects.”
Dana Engelbert in Mississippi said, “Absolutely! Be sure to maximize your company page and regularly post content on the page. Use a blend of product info and wider industry stuff along with content that highlights your company culture. BE AUTHENTIC.”
She added, “You also can develop and facilitate groups. These offer all kinds of possibilities- user groups, industry groups - that can position your company as a thought leader.”
Gina Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “We use it for prospecting with Premium, LinkedIn Live talks, SEO, branding, thought leadership, creating an engaged community, education, and more.”
Paul Kiesche from Aviate Creative in New Jersey said, “Absolutely! We use LinkedIn for a myriad of purposes. 1. Relationship building 2. PR and sharing 3. News & education 4. Lead generation 5. Research 6. Recruiting 7. Communication”
Sue Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois said, “Networking, sales leads, marketing.”
Jeanette Stevens from GenEdge Alliance in Virginia said, “Yes, for sharing updates about the company share initiatives we are working on. Also for research learning about our audience, engaging with other accounts, general relationship building.”
Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic in Wisconsin said, “Yes! We have a company page on LinkedIn where we share business news, info. about what we do, and historical tidbits, among other things.”
Ben Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois said, “We use it for branding and marketing our goods/services, current jobs we're doing, and we encourage our sales team to use it to find new leads. We also use to post new job openings.”
Jill Farr from Graphic Products in Oregon said, “We do use LinkedIn, and it's especially important for communication with some of our international clients. We primarily use it to showcase industry knowledge and drive traffic to our content library.”
Go Hourly Insurance and Payroll in California said, “Yes! We post educational content, branded content, and human interest stories from our company LinkedIn is a great way to build company culture and connect with potential future customers and employees!”
Dave Meyer from BizzyWeb in Minnesota said, “We use LinkedIn a TON for our business, and for our clients. We just wrote a blog post about it https://bizzyweb.com/news/how-to-get-leads-from-linkedin/”
Manufacturers' News in Illinois said, “Yes! We use LinkedIn to publish our content & to keep in touch with our customers, prospects & of course our #USAMfgHour friends.”
Gail Robertson of Gail Now in Canada said, “LinkedIn is a place to meet like-minded people. A place to learn/share information. It’s useful for corporate pages and personal pages - when the content is created for the audience you want to attract. And it is definitely a place to network!”
FreightPOP in California said, “You sure can! We use LinkedIn to share content from our website and provide potential clients with information about our company, while also connecting with other industry professionals!”
Chase Bodor from Plastics Plus Technology in California said, “5 ways we use Linkedin: 1) Connect with customers, industry leaders, organizations, etc 2) Grow our email list 3) Promote new content 4) Highlight company activities 5) Market research, prospecting, engagement. It's a great tool for gathering data.”
Mike Womack from NJMEP in New Jersey said, “Absolutely! Networking, media sharing, advertising, and direct lead generation are just a few ways we used LinkedIn. The platform is a critically important business tool and we're excited to learn about more ways it can be utilized.”
Hosts Stepanov and Fornis answered, “Yes. We use LinkedIn primarily for Lead Generation because the users of the platform are mostly professionals and can provide high-quality leads for us.”
Why LinkedIn is Great for Generating Leads
The discussion segued to what makes LinkedIn a great social media platform to generate leads. Participants weighed in.
Kiesche said, “1. Linkedin is more up-to-date with information than most lead lists are. 2. They make it easy to search and narrow down. 3. Many people want to connect and grow their network. 4. They have tools that make it easier. 5. It can be free if you don't use Navigator.”
Prox said, “I'm thinking connections. The more connections you make, the better chance you have of finding someone who might need your product or service. Am I thinking too simplistically?”
Meyer said, “LinkedIn is a great platform for manufacturing businesses because it's where the decision-makers hang out. It's where people go to get business done without all the noise. It's way more than jobs and resumes now.”
Ben Nordman said, “It provides tools that other sites do not and combines the people that are looking to generate leads and further their business and networking goals.”
Stevens said, “If your target audience is active there and engages with your content its a great place to grow your reach within your intended audience. Also provides a vehicle to drive traffic other places, like marketing materials, websites, webinars etc.”
Engelbert said, “Knowing if your audience is there is key to building a presence on any social, networking platform.”
Nigel T Packer from PelaTis Online in Wales said, “Yes, know your customer. Which platform are they on? I think that is why LinkedIn is so good. It has a better search facility than many of the other platforms.”
JD said, “To be honest, I'm not convinced that it's a great source for leads per se. However, it's THE social platform for B2B interactions.”
John Buglino from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “The platform has (mostly) updated information about individuals in their roles. I use their advanced search to narrow my targets rather than casting too wide a net.”
Womack said, “The advanced search really is a spectacular and powerful feature. Huge fan of utilizing the different variables to find the right connections relevant to the initiative at hand.”
Robertson said, “Yes! So much yes. The power of LinkedIn for Manufacturing.”
Womack added, “Connecting is KEY! Without making real connections, social media, regardless of the platform, provides very little value.
Tabasso said, “Because it is where businesses live and is a great tool for B2B marketing. It is professional rather than personal.”
FreightPOP said, “LinkedIn gives you a great opportunity to make connections with people relevant to your business, and you can see fairly easily if your product is a good match for someone based on the information provided on their (and their company's) page.”
Manufacturers' News said, “LinkedIn is a platform for professionals so there's more opportunity to engage directly with professionals and businesses that are serious about partnering with you.”
Bigger said, “Research- you can do a lot of it there and find the people that you need to connect, network, and talk to. You can also learn a lot if you pay attention and read.”
Go Hourly in California said, “LinkedIn lets you cast a wide net and still make intimate professional connections, it's such a great resource!”
David Crysler from The Crysler Club said, “It's mostly B2B and people are generally consuming content to learn and/or expand their networks.”
Sue Nordman said, “It is a social media outlet for professionals and business. Not the same as personal social media.”
Womack said, “LinkedIn is a business-minded social media platform. This lends itself well to connecting with professionals that relate to your business. There are few other platforms where people may actually be looking for a service provider with a B2B focus.”
Hosts Stepanov and Fornis answered, “LinkedIn is great for generating leads because it can easily narrow down targeted leads to a very specific audience group. LinkedIn allows you to filter by industry, location, and other useful categories to find prospects that match your target market’s profile.”
How to Find Leads Using LinkedIn
The next part of the discussion centered on how to find leads using LinkedIn. Chat participants had some thoughts.
Meyer said, “Well, it starts with an effective Bio.” He added, “Sales Navigator is fantastic if you're ready to go all-in on targeting leads in LinkedIn. We use LeadJet to integrate all our Sales Navigator leads into Hubspot Works a treat - and even takes the interactions you've had with any given lead and puts it into the CRM.”
Stevens said, “In groups, hashtag research, premium tools like sales navigator, responding on relevant posts to name a few ways.”
Tabasso said, “Premium or Sales Navigator and paid Sponsored Content.”
Prox said, “We tried Sales Navigator, but it wasn't exactly what we needed. Maybe it's a good place for others to generate leads.”
Go Hourly said, “Sending a short, personal message from your account is a good place to start!”
Buglino said, “Search relevant hashtags, join groups, and via advanced search.”
Kiesche said, “You can find leads on LI through researching & connecting. Sales Navigator is a good tool to help, but you can certainly use the free search and tools. You can also find leads by providing thought leadership content in your feed and building your credibility.”
Prox said, “Question: Once you have the lead (i.e., a design engineer in our case), how do you pitch them on LI? Coming from a marketing person doesn't seem to make sense. I feel it would be better received coming from the sales department.”
Meyer said, “Agreed - you need a considered process to handoff leads from LI to your sales team. It's dangerous to try to automate responses - it can be done, but you need to spend a ton of time on it to not get spammy. Back to what I call "lazy linking" - add value, get personal.”
Buglino said, “Keep providing content & adding value - does not matter if it comes from marketing or sales. I am the marketing guy and leverage my content and 'listening' skills to tailor the convo/pitch.”
Packer said, “It is the listening that identifies the need.”
Bodor said, “It takes a bit of noodling, but I use LinkedIn to figure out a companies web of influence. For ex: if I need to talk to an engineer then I'll look a look at a company's "People" page. From there it's about doing discovery on that engineering team.”
Bigger said, “There are many ways to find leads using LinkedIn- Engagement, networking for referrals, reviewing company pages/websites, joining groups, and using navigator to narrow down ideal companies and finding the right contacts.”
Ben Nordman said, “You can find leads through sales navigator and you can also do it organically.”
Crysler said, “1. Engage with other people and their content 2. Use Sales Navigator to refine and increase your available searches 3. Follow and use hashtags (best to only use 3 hashtags per post) 4. Don't be spammy :)"
Meyer said, “Dave, that last item on your list (no spam) is INCREDIBLY important. I call it "lazy linking" and it makes you look terrible with an incredibly important audience. Do your homework and "always be helping."
Crysler said, “Thanks and you're so correct Dave! I honestly can't believe people still thank that it works. I started to remove people who connect and then spam me with a sales message.”
Manufacturers’ News said, “There is a lot of great content being shared on LinkedIn & keeping engaged with this content is a great way to not only find leads but also to understand them, what their needs are. One of the main reasons our manufacturer profiles include LinkedIn exec info.”
They added, “If you're looking for industrial leads, you might want to take a look at Industry Select. You can really drill down to the leads you need.”
Hosts Stepanov and Fornis answered, “You can manually find leads on LinkedIn by simply searching for keywords related to your industry or target market, or make this task easier through LinkedIn ads.”
LinkedIn's Most Useful Lead Generation Tools
Next, participants were asked their thoughts on what the tools are in LinkedIn that are useful for Lead Generation. Participants had thoughts on the topic.
Buglino said, “InMail + Connection requests WITH A NOTE - take advantage of that 300 character limit.”
Meyer said, “Tools we use on LinkedIn include Sales Navigator, Leadjet and of course, good 'ol fashioned Strategy. I created a free strategy guide here:
Go Hourly said, “Sales Nav!”
Prox said, “I'd like to know more. I only know about Sales Navigator.”
Crysler said, “Sales Navigator, Hashtag Search, Engaging Content.”
Bigger, “The best is Sales Nav.”
Tabasso, “Anyone using Lusha? You can get five free contacts per month. It was a tool I shared with my salespeople in my last role and two of them started to use it.”
Hosts Stepanov and Fornis answered, “Matched Audiences, Sponsored Content, Linkedin Ads, Linkedin Campaign Manager, and Lead Generation forms are all great tools and useful for lead generation.”
Why LinkedIn is a Powerful Tool for Increasing Revenue
The discussion wrapped up with asking participants what they thought made LinkedIn a powerful tool to increase business revenue. There were many thoughts on the topic.
Buglino said, “You can reach top prospects, target accounts, etc. for FREE. You can get a conversation going, nurture, or close a deal using the platform.”
Prox added, “Based on what's been said, if we can generate more leads, we can potentially gain more sales/increases more revenue.”
Meyer contributed, “Less noise, audience is there to "do business," and you're connecting with the decision makers (if you do it right). Do NOT try to treat LinkedIn like any other network. People are not there to talk about their kittens, politics or anything other than biz.”
The hosts from VirtuDesk said, “Totally agree with that, Dave. It is not like Facebook where you can socialize and talk about other stuff.”
Bigger said, “You can narrow down your search quickly and find ideal customers quicker. Time is money.”
FreightPOP said, “It is a great place to find and connect with qualified leads that are actually interested in your product, which ends up saving you a bunch of time. And like
Dan Bigger said, time is money!”
Womack answered, “The increase in leads is our first thought, but LinkedIn also helps establish trust. Trust helps make customers feel more confident in purchasing products/services. LinkedIn can help in both areas.”
Manufacturers' News, Inc.said, “LinkedIn is kind of like a virtual mega business conference. Everyone you want to know is there. This makes it a powerful platform for finding new business.”
Hosts Stepanov and Fornis answered, “Since LinkedIn provides high-quality leads, these leads are also the most likely to convert and purchase your products and services.
They continued, “With industry leaders and entrepreneurs, the audience on LinkedIn has twice the purchasing power of the average user on other platforms.”
They also added, “For growing businesses, lead generation outsourcing can be a great way to expand operations so you can focus on what’s important for your business.”
LinkedIn, when utilized effectively, can be a very important tool for lead generation and revenue growth. When it comes to growing business revenue, making use of tools like LinkedIn can be critical to business success.
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