As the Web giants focus their sales efforts on Enterprise companies, SMBs often get lost in the mix. In this regard, LinkedIn’s independent agency head Ryan Wilson says his company provides a crucial value add for SMBs.
LinkedIn has been working to provide a specific focus on SMBs – perhaps revving it up more in 2014 with its purchase of Bizo, which provided SMB lead nurturing.
“There is a huge market of smaller companies, and it is a fast-growing segment. There is definitely momentum,” says Wilson. “But they are often made to feel like second-class citizens. Enterprise companies have been getting all the love.”
Wilson’s current team at LinkedIn has been set up to make it easier for agency partners to run successful campaigns on LinkedIn that are targeted to the B2SMB market.
“We are mixing SMB insights, actionable tips, content marketing and website analytics for SMBs,” he says. “The LinkedIn platform offers a unique opportunity for brands to engage, add value and build trust with these SMB customers. The brands that do the best job of building trust and adding value early in that relationship will ultimately win in the SMB segment.”
That makes total sense. For professional SMBs, LinkedIn definitely has a place, alongside consumer-facing social media such as websites, email and consumer-facing social media such as Facebook. BIA/Kelsey surveys of professionally-oriented SMBs — lawyers, accountants, etc. — have shown that LinkedIn is the most important social channel and a vital part of modern social selling, cited by 47.3% of all SMBs, compared to 43.7% for Facebook.
What does a professionally-oriented SMB typically do on LinkedIn? Find professionals to staff up with; research competitors; and find professionals and companies to partner with. The ability to target individuals effectively within an organization is a major part of it all. LinkedIn says there are, on average, 5.6 decision makers in larger organizations.
Targeting has proved especially important for sales roles. Salespeople are generally more effective when they use social media to position themselves as experts, and their companies as blue chip or high quality.
SMBs also share information and stimulate discussion among fellow SMB professionals via LinkedIn groups, forums and posts. Besides LinkedIn Groups, other groups and forums are hosted by the likes of AmEx OPEN forum and Bloomberg Current. Each help SMBs build up their online persona and establish their expertise.
Peter Krasilovsky, principal at LocalOnliner and contributor to Street Fight, is a longtime local industry analyst and strategist. He is co-chairing The B2SMB Summit, which takes place Oct. 3-4 in Chicago. LinkedIn’s Wilson is one of 30+ featured speakers at The Summit.