Social media was once perceived as a fad with no real business value. But A/E/C firms that continue to resist buying in to social media risk falling behind. Let’s face it: your prospects and competitors are already there.
Today, let’s talk about LinkedIn, the definitive social network for professionals. Earlier this year, LinkedIn hit a milestone: it now has over 300 million members. How are you reaching these professionals?
Your firm might have a Company Page set up, using it to share your content and discuss industry trends and news. These fundamentals are great—you’re expanding reach, growing visibility, and establishing expertise.
Now, how are you leveraging employees as part of your LinkedIn marketing strategy? This is often where the head scratching begins. Some firms encourage employees to share its content to their personal LinkedIn networks. But consider this: are their friends and colleagues in your target audiences?
Sharing firm content in LinkedIn groups provides a much greater return on effort. It allows you to move past immediate networks to reach the right professionals in the right industries. Posting your content in the LinkedIn groups achieves a few goals: more eyes on your content, more LinkedIn shares of your posts, and an increase in website traffic.
Here are 5 steps for how we’ve made it work here at Hinge:
1. Designate a social media manager(s).
Someone needs to lead the charge and be your firm’s LinkedIn champion. Whether it’s a single individual or small team, this will provide both organization and accountability.
2. Educate employees.
Some employees will undoubtedly be cynical. Share your social media strategy with them and discuss the importance of their participation. Provide tangible goals that your firm has set and how their LinkedIn engagement can help you get there.
Then train staff on how to post in groups and tips for effective LinkedIn engagement. Think about:
Building familiarity and credibility in groups by commenting on existing
Sharing others’ content instead of just your firm’s to avoid being too self-
Starting discussions with short and thoughtful questions.
Being sure to follow-up on any discussion comments.
3. Research LinkedIn Groups.
It’s time to find LinkedIn Groups for everyone to engage in. When researching and assessing groups, keep these in mind:
Members: Do the demographics of this group’s members align with whom I’m
trying to reach?
Size: Is this group big enough to be worth our time? Or, is this group too big for
us to stand out?
Activity level: How often are group members starting discussions and engaging
Caliber of posts: Is the group’s content high quality or just spam?
4. Assign Groups.
Assign the identified LinkedIn Groups to participating employees. A couple ways to distribute groups are based on industry or job function. For example, your business development team might join groups like:
A/E/C Industry Networking Group
Professional Services Executive Forum
And your marketers might join groups like:
Construction Marketing Ideas
Digital Marketing for Engineers
Construction Marketing Association
5. Share, engage, and repeat.
Find a process that works for your firm and start sharing. For example, your social media manager can send out an email to employees when it’s time to share a blog post. They can include a link to the post, the list of Groups each person should share in, and a reminder of best practices.
This kind of social engagement can be daunting for many employees, but once they’re trained properly and get comfortable with the process, the benefits will be well worth it.
About the Author: Kathy Dam is a marketing coordinator at Hinge, a branding and marketing firm for professional services. At Hinge, Kathy spearheads internal marketing efforts. She can be reached at email@example.com and on LinkedIn.