How do you increase inbound traffic through social media? There are hundreds of articles online that will tell you how to use Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to push traffic towards your site. We already know Twitter is great for creating inbound traffic. There’s no shortage of articles that outline how to Tweet multiple times per day, use images, and take advantage of hashtags, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. But since when does following the crowd get you anywhere?
It’s time to supplement the more obvious social media strategies by breaking ground on some underutilized social channels. LinkedIn is often referred to as a “professional network” and many fail to realize its potential in social media marketing. Though most people have a LinkedIn profile, few use the channel as anything more than a glorified digital resume. Actually, many people forget it’s a social channel at all.
According to Maximize Social Business, LinkedIn traffic is overtaking Facebook and is quickly catching up to Twitter. “But more importantly we are seeing that the traffic that comes from LinkedIn has a lower bounce rate and longer time on our site,” explains Lilach Bullock, “therefore the quality of the traffic from LinkedIn is higher.” With 380 million users worldwide, an average of 2 new members per second, and 187 million unique monthly visitors, it’s time that brands starting thinking more carefully about how LinkedIn can drive inbound traffic.
So how do you use LinkedIn as more than a place to advertise your brand or create an online resume? How do you drive inbound traffic to your website or blog through this social channel? Below we’ve created a quick step-by-step guide to help you get started on this underused resource.
Step 1: Take It Seriously
Add LinkedIn To Your Editorial Calendar
In addition to writing weekly blog posts, writing Tweets, and keeping Facebook up to date, MOZ recommends blocking some time into your editorial calendar for LinkedIn. Treat this social channel just like your Twitter, Instagram, Google+, or any other channel within your social media strategy. LinkedIn is a unique space where you can cultivate important relationships with the top influencers in your field, and a great platform to showcase your long-form content outside of your brand’s blog. If you still need convincing, consider that status updates on LinkedIn reach about 20% of your network, while Tweets only reach about 10% of followers (some claim even fewer).
Tip: As you prepare to leverage this resource make sure that your brand’s profile (and your own) is polished and up to date.
Step 2. Become A Keener
Ask Questions and Provide Meaningful Answers
In his epic “Noob Guide to Online Marketing,” Oli Gardner explains that in many ways LinkedIn is a mixture of inbound marketing and lead gen. According to Gardner, “by answering people’s questions you can change someone with a question into someone who you have established a dialogue with.” This lets you begin a conversation that will foster future communication.
Though the site formally retired ‘LinkedIn Answers’ you can still ask questions in several different ways across the platform. Use LinkedIn groups to ask questions outside of your immediate network, comment on updates and company pages, or reach out to thought leaders or potential customers directly through LinkedIn messages. These spaces all provide plenty of opportunities to make inquiries and become engaged.
Asking questions is also a great way to establish trust with your audience. Open communication and responsiveness establishes a relationship, a key component of today’s customer lifecycle. Cultivating a reputation for providing original, meaningful, and valuable responses will help you become a thought leader and expert in your field.
However, good leaders don’t just spout wisdom, but also ask insightful questions. Using LinkedIn to ask questions will not only help you gain access to larger networks of people, but will also help associate your brand with a certain type of content, explains Gardner. Most accounts will allow you to ask 10 Questions per month so take advantage of this resource and generate conversation.
Tip: Stephanie Sammons recommends linking to relevant articles on your blog when answering questions on LinkedIn Answers. Remember to make sure the link adds real value to the answer and never let your responses become blatant spam for your blog.
Step 3. Get In Through The Backdoor
LinkedIn requires you to have a mutual connection with someone before you are able to message them directly. To get closer to the thought leaders in your field, start joining the same groups as them. This give you the ability to directly communicate with the very people you’re trying to get noticed by on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Remember, trust is formed over time so make sure that your communication is organic and not ‘spammy.’ The best rule of thumb is to offer a potential connection something of value on first contact. For example, you can share an interesting article, link them to an informative blog or Twitter account (not your own), or simply let them know something they published was valuable to you. Once you’ve given your connection something of purpose or relevance, you can then ask for something in return (a phone chat, interview, a few minutes to look over your article, advice, etc).
This strategy helps you build your reputation, foster relationships, and establish a network. Now it’s time to think about starting your own LinkedIn group. Creating a group, keeping it active, and using it as a space to share credible and meaningful information will only further cement your status as a leader in your field or niche.
Tip: As you grow your network you can also gain visibility by updating your status regularly. These updates will appear on the homepages of your connections and can boost LinkedIn profile views.
Step 4. Be Active
Start Liking, Publishing, And Sharing
Just like any other social media channel, you need to be active to attract some attention. Start liking and sharing high-quality articles published by thought leaders in your field, and keep distributing your own content. Unlike Twitter, LinkedIn is a great place to share long-form posts. This platform allows you to really flesh out your ideas and give your network quality content. As you become active in groups and post questions, people will begin to notice your own posts and are more likely to share them with their networks.
Users are much more likely to click on an article that someone in their network has ‘liked’ since they already have a relationship with that individual and trust their opinion. By getting thought leaders to read and share your content through LinkedIn, your content is more likely to be seen by people in your contacts’ networks.
The key here is no to spam. Being too active on any social media channel will quickly earn you unfollows and people will likely learn to ignore you. Use your LinkedIn analytics to determine how many times a week you should post, and make the most of each post by finding out what days and times people are most likely to engage with content (typically mornings and weekdays). It may take awhile, but spend time finding a good balance between publishing original content and sharing content from your peers.
Always remember that every post should either solve a problem, educate, or inspire your audience. If it doesn’t add value to the conversation, don’t publish it.
Tip: Add a bio or call to action to both the end of your posts and profile with embedded links to your site or specific landing pages.
At the end of the day “Twitter and Facebook may reign when it comes to social sharing of stories, blog posts, and visual media, but when it comes to direct traffic to your main site, LinkedIn is far and away the No. 1 social referral source,” says blogger Kevin Lee.