This post is the third in a series of primers on various platforms available for life science social media marketing (SMM). The first SMM primer, about the use of Twitter, is available here. The second, on using Facebook for life science SMM, is available here. Check back for more primers on the use of youtube, forums and other means of life science social media marketing.
LinkedIn is somewhat unique among social media platforms. It is a professional social network. That means that unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other “personal” social platforms, on LinkedIn people are looking to interact on a professional level. While 0.2% of all human-experienced time in the world isn’t spent on LinkedIn (only Facebook can make that claim), it still surpassed 100 million members in March and is a ranked the 13th most popular website (according to Alexa at the time of posting. Perhaps most importantly, LinkedIn provides a unique opportunity to interact with individuals who may otherwise be difficult to reach, influence key opinion leaders, and become a thought leader among a crowd of influential experts.
LinkedIn is also interesting because most of the interaction that your company does on LinkedIn has to be personal – there are very limited ways in which the company, detached from the employee that is performing your SMM, can interact with individuals. Most of your interaction must be done as a person. This in turn requires that LinkedIn be a highly personal endeavor and that employees performing SMM on LinkedIn take ownership of the content that they post. This has pros and cons. On the positive side, your customers will be more receptive to the messages that come from people (rather than companies) and will be more likely to engage with them. On the downside, much of the benefit of developing relationships will be lost if the individual managing your LinkedIn SMM effort changes. In most cases, however, the pros far outweigh the cons.
From a strictly corporate standpoint, LinkedIn does allow you to create a page that provides a brief overview of your company as well as provide a description of your products and / or services. While you should complete your company’s description (it looks more professional), your product and service page will likely be so infrequently viewed that it is unlikely to be worth maintaining unless you have a large amount of resources or your product / service offering is only changed very infrequently. You can also provide a feed of your Twitter and blog, and I recommend doing both since it is a good way to direct viewers to that content as well. These tools, however, are the far smaller component of where value can be realized on LinkedIn.
The overwhelming majority of the value that you can realize on LinkedIn is via groups. LinkedIn groups are places where you can connect and interact person-to-person with people who are very likely to be a) highly networked, b) thought leaders, c) highly targeted to your area of interest. In many cases, the demographic that you want to target will already be congregated into a LinkedIn group. Do you sell products or services to proteomics researchers, for example? There are two groups specifically focusing on proteomics with over 1000 members, and many others that are either somewhat more broadly focused or also highly focused but with memberships in the hundreds. Granted, some of those members probably do not receive group updates and visit the group page only infrequently, but a good portion likely check it occasionally, and perhaps 10% of the members of any given page view it regularly and / or receive daily or weekly e-mail updates. For groups with members in the 1000s, that’s a very good audience ripe for quality content marketing. (Think about it – how much would you love to have hundreds of people attend one of your webinars, etc). If a page for your company’s specialization doesn’t exist, and you think that there may be sufficient interest to sustain a group, then make one! You can gain as much if not more benefit from running your own group, and there are even ways to “brand” the group (via the logo, name, etc.).
Don’t forget that posting on LinkedIn groups, like other forms of SMM, should be approached as content marketing. The benefits to doing so on LinkedIn are even greater, as content that creates discussion is rewarded by placement in the highly visible “most popular discussions” section. Also, since LinkedIn groups all have a moderator, frequent promotional posts may result in censorship or removal from the group. To avoid this, be sure to build some goodwill within the group before you make any pitches.
LinkedIn, while not as popular for life science social media marketing, presents unique opportunities which are potentially higher value than those likely to be created via other social networking platforms. In large part due to the focused communities and personal nature of interaction via LinkedIn, high-value relationships can be built and prospective customers can be more effectively engaged by leveraging an effective social media strategy.