If you still think LinkedIn is only useful to job-seekers and employers looking to hire, consider these eye-opening statistics the network recently reported:
While you may have been using other social networks like Facebook and Twitter longer, the power of LinkedIn in the healthcare profession is undeniable.
Our own clients in healthcare know it works—the proof is in the number of visitors who come to their website through LinkedIn referrals. If you’re on HubSpot’s marketing automation platform, it’s easy to track that data with the sources report.
You can see the results one of our clients experienced after steadily posting and advertising on LinkedIn over the past three years. The company’s referrals to its website from LinkedIn peaked at 2,378, and 48 of those visitors became new contacts. It continued to devote similar resources to LinkedIn and maintained about the same level of activity until about the first few months of last year, when it shifted attention away from LinkedIn to focus on other activities. We all have limited time and resources, so we all have to make those decisions sometimes.
It’s important to understand the trade-off, however.
In this case, LinkedIn referrals fell to an all-time low of fewer than 200 visitors in June 2014. As a result, it gained only four new contacts, although one of them ultimately became a customer.
I should acknowledge this is a company with a long, complicated sales cycle where each customer typically represents a high dollar value, so it doesn’t need a large number of new customers to be successful. It just needs a few of the right ones.
I also want to make it clear this one chart certainly doesn’t define the company’s marketing strategy. It doesn’t show other areas where it allocated resources or the fact that it’s had overall growth in the past year. However, it’s a good illustration of the power LinkedIn can have as one element of your healthcare marketing strategy.
Here are five ways healthcare marketers can use LinkedIn to gain credibility and customers.
Joining industry-specific groups allows you to interact with potential clients and take part in discussions by posting to group forums. It allows you to get your name out there in a way that’s more natural and less self-promotional. Forums are not just an extension of LinkedIn updates, so don’t use them to post your own content or talk all about yourself. It’s like walking up to someone at a party and handing them your business card before you have a conversation. You’ll just annoy everyone, and you could even get thrown out of the group. Be human; ask questions within the group and weigh in on discussions where appropriate.
Here’s an example of a recent discussion that took place in a group for medical device engineers and consultants.
These types of pages allow for better targeting since audiences can subscribe to and follow pages then receive updates in their news feeds only on the information they want.
This is great for large healthcare companies with multiple brands, products and services. It also allows marketers to reach a more specific group, such as physicians assistants. Marketers can use follower ads to increase the number of followers on their page.
For a step-by-step guide to creating a showcase page and frequently asked questions, check out this LinkedIn tutorial.
If you’ve been on LinkedIn for awhile, you might not be aware you can now use it to post professional blogs. LinkedIn announced its new blogging feature last year, allowing anyone to become an influencer. The catch, again, is you have to publish as a person, so these posts should be your own original views, not something copied and pasted from your company blog.
Consider how crowded your own news feed has become on LinkedIn. If you check it once a day, you’re likely only seeing a small portion of updates from those you follow. Likewise, those who follow you are less likely to notice your updates. Sponsoring an update, or putting some advertising money behind a post to increase its visibility, ensures more of your followers notice you and allows you to gain exposure from those who don’t already know you. With LinkedIn sponsored updates, you can target a specific audience based on location, company, industry, role and even seniority. You can opt to reach just your followers, those who don’t already follow you, or both.
You can choose to pay per click, or per thousand impressions. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to create sponsored updates, check out this LinkedIn guide.
People often forget this step or hesitate to ask, but it’s important. These recommendations show up on your home profile page. Start by asking clients you’ve worked with recently, those you feel confident will give you a solid recommendation. You can also start the conversation by offering to write one for a client, as long as there’s genuine and mutual respect for each other’s work.
LinkedIn is a dynamic tool for engaging with others in the healthcare profession. It’s not a stand-alone marketing strategy, but it should be part of your strategy that’s integrated well with your other marketing efforts.
Think about it—you can only physically attend so many healthcare conferences and expos each year. When you’re active on LinkedIn, the opportunities to be seen and heard and interact with other healthcare professionals are virtually limitless.
How have you used LinkedIn as part of your healthcare marketing strategy? Share with us in the comments below!