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LinkedIn: How Transparent Should Businesses Be?

Our social media agency blog recently explored the ways that LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for targeting specific segments of the consumer audience. To recap: When possible, businesses that want high earners to be their customers can and should connect with those people on LinkedIn. Here is the more in-depth explanation on why this should be done. But how do you connect with those users?

One of the best ways to make connections is to join LinkedIn groups. These have become very popular; a MarketingProfs study says that the majority of LinkedIn users are in 10 or more groups at a time (10% of users have even hit the maximum 50 groups limit). LinkedIn groups can be very helpful to business owners, because they can be great places to network with others in one’s industry. That is especially a plus for anyone who has a B2B operation.

Using Groups for Lead Generation and Conversion

In fact, there is data to certify the value of LinkedIn as a B2B lead generation and conversion optimization tool: The same study reports that nearly one in four visitors (24%) to B2B websites referred by LinkedIn are enterprise visitors, which means that they arrived at those B2B sites via corporate IP addresses. And they don’t merely visit sites; they convert. Another report, by LeadFormix, reveals that B2B leads referred by LinkedIn groups are the most likely visitors to fill out a contact form or make a purchase.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

However, LinkedIn groups are not without pitfalls. Just as there is a tendency for some users to “overshare” on Facebook (even older users), some have taken to the groups on LinkedIn to do the same. Here is an example: On one popular group for small business owners, a member posted what can only be described as a “cry for help,” revealing that she had maxed out credit cards and poured all her resources into self-funding without generating any income. Then, she asked for input and ideas. Fortunately, the post elicited responses of support, advice and encouragement. However, there is a chance that her post may have done more harm than good. Here is why.

Proceeding with Caution on LinkedIn Groups

It’s great that members feel they can support each other on LinkedIn, but remember: There is a chance that something you share in a group can be viewed by those in your targeted audience. That is why business owners, who have long been told that transparency is the key to success on social media, should reel it in when it comes to oversharing on LinkedIn.

Even if you are posting in a private group meant for others in your industry, a potential B2B client could see your post and be dissuaded from contacting you. You never know who is on the other end of your post, taking it in and sizing you up. The coveted mass affluent market – 36 percent of which admits to frequenting LinkedIn for discovery and consideration of service providers – needs to have the best possible impression before they will even consider doing business with you. So when it comes to groups, join away. But practice self-restraint, and ask members if you can send them a private message with your questions. That may be the best way to get the support you want, while preserving the leads you need.

Less Transparency, More Authority

Any good social media agency will tell you: Your updates on any social networking site should be as professional as you would be if you were speaking to the audience in person. When it comes to LinkedIn, businesses should focus less on transparency, and more on establishing themselves as authoritative experts in their fields.

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