Searching for a way to take your B2B online marketing up a notch in efficiency and efficacy? Instead of leaning into cold calls/emails or putting all of your eggs into trade shows or networking, consider leveraging the potential of authentic networking via LinkedIn groups.
Nowhere else on the internet can you find a better-qualified group of prospects to engage for B2B marketing. Previously we wrote about how to get business from LinkedIn in less than 25 minutes per day. Part of that strategy is getting involved in LinkedIn Groups. You can use participation in the right groups to feed the top of your sales funnel with the best possible fuel: those people most likely to engage with your content, appreciate your offerings, and develop into satisfied customers.
Let's dive in! We're going to use real estate as our example industry here, but know that there are groups for virtually any industry or vertical.
Step 1: Find active, relevant groups.
In your search bar, click on the "down" arrow on the left to select groups. Once selected, type in your industry or the topic you're interested in.
B2B online marketing with LinkedIn groups is only as effective as the quality of the groups you engage. Take as much time as necessary to find active groups discussing the right subjects for your message to offer value and substance. It’s not enough that a group is closely related to your business or industry, if there’s no room in the subjects being discussed for you to succeed.
By the same logic, groups which superficially aren’t tied in any meaningful way to what you’re looking to do can be excellent breeding grounds for a savvy marketer. It’s all about seeing a path to participation, a way to make your questions, answers, and musings truly valuable and relevant ones to the group. Knowing your market segments is immensely valuable in this stage.
Click through and look for groups that have more than a couple hundred members. Read through the "About this group" to get a good feel for the topics they prefer to discuss.
Step 2: Know the rules and follow them.
Once you find a few likely groups to work with, it’s time to dig a little deeper and figure out what limitations you’re to operate under. Some groups won’t allow you to post your own content, others will ban you immediately for even a hint of promotional intent, while others will allow such so long as you’re an active, authentic participant in the community.
Find this information in the "About This Group" section. Many groups have a link with "group rules" that pop up.
Learn the rules, and don’t try to get around them. Why? Because even if you successfully drive traffic to your site with underhanded methods, you’ve planted a time bomb within your own B2B online marketing. If anyone realizes that you’ve skirted the rules and compromised the community for your own profit, you’re going to lose immense amounts of brand equity overnight. Follow. The. Rules.
Step 3: Develop a strategy.
The existence of strict rules isn’t an impediment to success, if you leverage your participation wisely. Develop a workable strategy for the rules in front of you; if you can’t think of a good approach for a particular group immediately, shelve that group as a project for a later date and focus on the ones with a lower difficulty. It’s okay to prioritize a bit, even if it means engaging lower-value targets first.
Your strategy shouldn’t exist in a vacuum; there’s no perfect strategy to idealize, which you must then adapt to the rules holding you back within a given group. Instead, analyze the content which succeeds within each given group, and figure out how to make those successes into your own.
Use our social media editorial calendar to plan out your posts:
Some communities might enjoy fluffier stories with a fun twist; others might prefer detached, logical posts. Casual discussions might succeed, or the group might love long, well-crafted guides to different ideas. Even sentence length and grammar preferences can vary by demographic and industry. Do your homework, but don’t be afraid to jump in and test the waters without a documented plan. It's social media for a reason, right?
Step 4: Stay active and authentic.
The core of all social marketing endeavors lay in authenticity. You see a group that your target customer would be interested in, but you know nothing and care nothing about the topics being discussed? Go somewhere else, or find someone on your team who can handle that group for you. Authenticity alone won't do the job, and it can be faked by a skilled, diligent marketer, but remember who you’re talking to. You can expect your audience to see through nonsense far easier than a general audience would.
The authenticity of your posts only forms half the task, however. The other argument for favoring groups you’ll enjoy engaging with is in the importance of activity. It’s not enough to do the occasional drive-by post, no matter how great those posts may be; you need to become a known figure, someone the community knows and trusts. That’s what’s going to really drive high-value traffic, more than the specific content you post.
Step 5: Network!
Remember, you’re on LinkedIn -- connect with people you get along with, interesting figures in the community, individuals you could do business with. Get comfortable with the system and use it for what it’s meant for.
Even if traffic to your site’s the primary goal, approaching it obliquely by emphasizing networking can work wonders in B2B online marketing. Tie yourself to popular figures, and your own star will rise.