Have you taken a look at LinkedIn lately? The social platform for business connections has a modern and stunning new look, bringing it more in line with the user-friendly visual standards of Facebook or Twitter than the clunky green and white interface of yesteryear.
Of course, while your inner graphic designer may have balked at LinkedIn every now and then, it’s hard to find fault with the platform itself, which has long been one of the best sources for B2B marketing and lead generation online.
The statistics just don’t lie. LinkedIn boasts 467 million total users, 106 million of whom actively use the site every single month. And those users? They’re a highly influential bunch – CEOS, marketers, brand ambassadors, salespeople for Fortune 500 companies, and other senior level influencers and decision makers – who are all ready to make connections with businesses like yours. Perhaps this is why, of the 93% of B2B companies who use social media marketing, 92% leverage LinkedIn over all other social platforms.
Ready to make connections with this group of eager professionals? Looking for a social media strategy that will net real results? Here’s our guide to creating a highly effective content marketing strategy for LinkedIn:
1.) Maximize Your Business Page
How important is it to make sure your page is up to snuff? According to some studies, a bit of work can go a long way: For instance, LinkedIn profiles that feature a picture get 21x more views and 36x more messages than those without. That’s huge! Here are a few ways to make sure your company LinkedIn page is ready for business:
Upload a profile picture
If your business is more personal – say, if one name is on the door, or if you’re self-employed in design, real estate, or architecture – then be sure that your profile picture is a professionally taken headshot. If you’re a larger company, instead use a compelling logo that lines up with the rest of your digital branding, including in its use of colors and fonts.
Add a header image
In addition to your profile picture, you can make your page stand out with a striking header image (the long rectangular image behind your profile). Use this space to highlight your team, to include a striking image of your product or service at work, or to unify your use of color or design.
Invite employees, vendors, clients, and customers to follow your page
Reaching out to the core base of individuals who already care about your content is a great way to bolster your following in the early days, allowing you to reach a wider audience down the line as your core audience likes, shares, and otherwise amplifies your messaging and content.
If applicable, you should also encourage customers and past clients to “recommend” your page on LinkedIn; this little step offers the sort of social proof that noticeably improves your reputation, making you appear more trustworthy to new audiences.
2.) Create and Share Compelling Content
Social media is one of the best methods for sharing your unique blog and multimedia posts, fostering engagement with your community and driving valuable referral traffic straight to your page and through your conversion funnel. LinkedIn is no exception; in fact, its built-in publishing tools actually make it one of the most effective social channels for creating both conversation and conversions for your brand.
Ready to put it to work? In our experience, there are three particularly effective ways to share content on LinkedIn:
Posts on LinkedIn work a bit like status updates on Facebook; on your LinkedIn homepage, just click “Share an article, photo, or update” at the top of the screen, then fill in the box with a link to the content of your choice, along with some brief copy. Your update, including text and images, will automatically appear in the feeds of your followers. It’s that simple! If you don’t want to log on to LinkedIn every time you want to post (which should probably be as often as two to three times a day), you can build a schedule of updates using a social scheduler, like Buffer or SocialPilot.
In addition to posting regular updates, you can share your written articles right on LinkedIn itself. On your homepage, simply select “Write an Article;” this will lead you to LinkedIn’s publisher tool, which allows you to add and edit longform text pieces, choose your images, and even stylize with block quotes, formatting tools, and hypertext. In our experience, it helps to use your LinkedIn articles as long previews for your blog content; publish enough information to LinkedIn to be valuable, but encourage readers to follow through to your blog to read the remainder.
SlideShare is one of our favorite tools here at Geek; this fun publishing tool allows you to upload a slideshow or infographic from your hard drive or the cloud, using a variety of formats (PDF, Power Point, and others are all accepted). Provide valuable information in the substance of the presentation, and include a call to action to encourage interested visitors to follow through with your site. For an example of how we’ve used SlideShare recently, check out our presentation, “How Creating Content Drives Customers to Your Website.”
3.) Connect With Individuals and Groups
Though we sometimes think of it as more buttoned-up than Twitter or Facebook, the fact remains that LinkedIn is a social network. With that in mind: Be social!
In addition to posting regularly, be sure to respond to any comments that other users post on your articles or updates. More importantly, be sure to take advantage of LinkedIn’s popular “Groups” feature.
Groups act as sharing and discussion forums for a variety of topics. There are intra-company groups, industry-wide groups, alumni groups, and others. We encourage you to make use of the groups that could benefit you and your business by searching them out using keywords and requesting to join; if none seem to fit your interests, you can even start a new group.
Once you’re participating in a few groups, you can use them as new channels for sharing your content. You may occasionally share your relevant content with this targeted group of brands and individuals, foster conversation by passing along links to other sources, or message members individually or collectively for some one-on-one discussion. In all, groups are a highly effective way to make connections, establish your thought leadership, and create new sources for referral traffic.
4.) Use LinkedIn’s “Premium” and “Ads” Features
Like other social platforms, LinkedIn offers its own in-house paid advertising platform; however, LinkedIn Marketing’s singular features and substantial track record of success set it apart from the pack.
First, let’s talk about those numbers: According to some metrics, paying to promote content over LinkedIn can generate as much as 6x the ROI of Google AdWords, with a 75% lower cost per lead (CPL).
Want to snap up some of those hot leads yourself? LinkedIn offers a variety of methods for expanding your reach and connecting interested audiences with your unique content. First, you’ll want to decide between a “self-service” campaign or a “managed one;” the primary distinction is that you’re entirely responsible for your own strategy with self-service, whereas upgrading to a managed campaign allows you to partner with “a dedicated LinkedIn team,” helping you fine tune and place your marketing with the help of a knowledgeable eye. Managed campaigns also offer some additional functionality, including dynamic ads.
For both types of campaigns, you’ll need to set up a campaign manager account, which is fairly straightforward. Using campaign manager, you’ll be able to monitor and track the results of your marketing efforts with visual analytics tools, and launch any new ads.
As for those ads? There are three primary types of advertising available to LinkedIn advertisers: Sponsored Content refers to posts that are essentially updates, promoted directly into the feeds of the pros and businesses you want to reach. Sponsored InMail allows you to reach your ideal audience through LinkedIn Messenger, delivering personalized, actionable content straight to their inboxes. Finally, there are Text Ads, which operate as PPC ads that appear on the sides of your users’ main LinkedIn feed, encouraging clickthrough.
Once you’ve set up your ads, remember to put LinkedIn’s powerful targeting tools to work; choose from a wide array of criteria (including age, education level, industry type, and more) to select your perfect audience, then use LinkedIn’s “expansion” tool to reach “lookalike” audiences similar to the one you’ve created, ensuring that you won’t miss out on any potential engagement.
If you’re not ready to spend on individual marketing materials or advertising campaigns, you can also pay to upgrade to “Premium,” which unlocks a number of other features that the savvy LinkedIn user can put to work securing leads, including Lead Builder (which allows you to automatically filter contacts by company size or seniority and target keywords correspondingly) and Sales Navigator (which allows you to hone in on ideal prospects by filtering through criteria like company size and relationship level, then saving your search results and parameters).
Looking for some more guidance when it comes to putting LinkedIn – or any other social platform – to work for your brand? Be sure to drop us a line with any questions or concerns. Our team is always ready to share our passion for social media and digital marketing with you!