How are you using LinkedIn? Do you sometimes ask yourself “what is social media” in the context of where LinkedIn meets sites like Facebook and Snapchat? Are you looking for people, searching for your next job, or have you explored marketing your business on it?
If you’re a marketer like me with a well-established LinkedIn personal profile, the changes over the last two years have been welcome as they’ve been enormously powerful in helping us to get our message to the masses, one at a time. Given that LinkedIn has more than 360 million members globally, of a pool of 600 million business professionals – 1.2 million members in Ireland – if you’re talking to professionals in either a B2B or B2C capacity, the platform should be a core content distribution channel for you.
Many brands continue to view content and advertising as an either-or proposition when in reality, modern digital marketing is all about targeted advertising and extremely high quality content, whatever its nature and whoever your target audience. Of course, as a traditional agency it’s nice to pick up that hefty commission for a sexy, six-week offline campaign but where there’s a digital component to the campaign, ‘spray and pray’ offline leaves a lot to be desired from an ROI perspective. LinkedIn copped onto this a while ago and all its recent system changes are geared towards turning it into the go-to premier content distribution platform for a well-heeled, professional audience.
If you don’t want to talk to certain demographics on LinkedIn (office staff, working mothers, guys interested in DIY etc.), that’s fine, but bear in mind that other companies are figuring out the best angles to reach them. The three types of content that interest people most on LinkedIn are: industry insights (60%), company news (53%) and new products and services (43%). A quick look at one of my favourite tools, BuzzSumo, reveals that the most popular content items shared by Irish LinkedIn users over the last year includes:
Apart from large publishers such as Independent.ie, the main organisations whose content features frequently include Sherryfitz.ie, Deloitte, and UCD, which means there’s huge scope for Irish B2B and B2C advertisers to actively push their content to achieve visibility and thus, increase brand engagement. Last year, the company opened up its platform allowing everyone to publish content. This was done in response to LinkedIn’s growing awareness of the valuable insights, guidance, and expertise professionals have to share with their target audience.
While brands are now able to maximise their exposure on LinkedIn’s publishing platform, they’re also able to better educate their audiences with content that leads to conversions. A recent HubSpot study showed that 0.98% of general social media traffic converted into leads, compared with 2.74% for LinkedIn.
If you still think LinkedIn is just for job hunting, you might be interested in the recent Oktopost figures which show that content pages on LinkedIn get seven times more views, and six times more engagement, than job-related ones.
Brands need to focus on content and storytelling through a combination of owned, earned, paid, and shared media that attract, engage, and motivate prospects to convert. Ultimately, our objective should be to focus on each content item’s goal and be aware where in the sales funnel it lies. When you’re able to reach more than 60% of your unique audience with 20 free posts or updates per month (as per LinkedIn stats), isn’t that something you should do on an ongoing basis rather than just using LinkedIn on a ‘per campaign’ basis? This is especially true since digital marketing activity typically fails to generate the best ROI results over a short campaign period, compared with a longer-term, ongoing approach.
Three major benefits of publishing content on LinkedIn are targeted audience, better personal and brand exposure, and an increased following. Considering that many personal connections will be like-minded professionals – especially in the B2B space – it’s easy to pick topics that resonate with your target audience. When you display your personal expertise, it inevitably generates credibility for the products and services your company offers. When you post an article or even a short one-line ‘update’, you’re clearly demonstrating authority on a specific topic, which keeps you and your brand top-of-mind when a prospect is ready to engage.
I love hearing good news stories from IDA Ireland about multinationals opening or expanding here. Despite the abuse directed at many in the public sector in recent years, the IDA is a superb marketing machine, and a look at its LinkedIn company page – as well as the profile of its CEO Martin Shanahan – clearly demonstrates why it’s been so successful. With 45,000 company followers and high quality, relevant content constantly being published and shared on LinkedIn, I’d imagine there are few well-connected Irish business professionals abroad who don’t have the IDA’s content top of mind during relevant boardroom conversations. A glance at their October output on LinkedIn shows more than 25 content items, created and actively promoted during the month. If one of their content marketing goals is increased exposure to and following by key influencers, they’re doing a good job.
In the B2C space, take a look at what companies such as Starbucks, 20th Century Fox, and Sony are doing on LinkedIn. B2C brand engagement on the platform requires easily digested content that focuses on customer concerns, and entertains and educates. If you have the budget to spend €10,000-plus with LinkedIn – their minimum Irish threshold for lots of cool stuff – you can access your brand’s content marketing score and find out what content is trending. These can help drive the strategic direction of your LinkedIn publishing efforts to deliver that all-important improved ROI via better brand exposure and an increase in conversions. Just don’t look at your LinkedIn efforts as a six-week venture. It’s a journey, not a sprint.
John Ring, Managing Director, TinderPoint