LinkedIn can be an especially powerful tool for building your business or brand in the B2B space. When you look at the statistics, 96% of Americans are on Facebook so it's no wonder that many people are focusing efforts there. But the second highest percentage of people are networking on LinkedIn and the types of transactions that are being conducted on LinkedIn are different than on Facebook.
Most people are on Facebook to update their photos, checking-in to see what their friends are doing - they're using it more for personal and social purposes (and a recent poll suggests that less than 20% of people have ever made a purchase based on something that they saw on Facebook). LinkedIn on the other hand is primarily a business networking site, so if you're looking to network with potential customers (yes, MDs are on LinkedIn too!), recruit talent or otherwise engage in industry-wide discussion, LinkedIn is a great place to go.
LinkedIn is also a place where the playing field is somewhat leveled between the 'big boys' and the smaller start-ups. Regardless of whether you have a $100M or a $100 marketing budget, everyone kind of looks the same on LinkedIn. So it's a great place where as a smaller med device start-up, you can start to build some credibility. So then the question becomes, how can you build credibility and portray yourself as an expert on LinkedIn?
Set up your company profile on LinkedIn. You can increase your exposure on LinkedIn by creating a company profile which can include your location, related companies, employees, products and services, etc... Just as people can add your personal profile to their LinkedIn Network, they can also follow your company. This is also a great way to keep stealthy tabs on your competition and what they're doing (!)
Join and Participate in Industry Groups on LinkedIn. It's your job to be an expert in your field. That’s why people buy your products and hire your company because you provide a unique product, service or expertise that they need. The beauty of LinkedIn Groups is that they're a ‘safe place’ where people can talk, hang-out and meet others in the industry. By participating in these groups and sharing good, salient, VALUE-ADDED information, you'll generate the interest and respect of your group members. Just like in any social-networking forum, opinion leaders and experts start to rise and bubble to the top, so join some groups and participate in the conversation.
Ask for recommendations on LinkedIn. Recommendations are something that you can use on your website, in your marketing materials and even in your internal communications to your team. Nothing motivates a sales team more than a physician or patient success story. Plus, recommendations show up on your profile and are a great way to quickly demonstrate both the types of products that you develop and the types of customers who appreciate your work.
Post Your White Papers, Poster Presentations and Clinical Papers in a Group: LinkedIn is a B2B communication zone. People in groups want to talk and learn more. If you publish new content, post it in relevant groups on LinkedIn, and pick up new exposure, comments, and potentially new customers.
One note of caution: Keep in mind that most of the content on LinkedIn will be publicly available so do make sure that you're mindful of what you are posting as it will be read by physicians and consumers alike as well as by friends - and potential foes.