Luxembourg Funds Intelligence Briefing, April 6, 2020

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CSSF demands notification of high levels of redemption requests, and other business-critical industry news

With markets experiencing continuing volatility as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of national lockdown measures on economic activity, the CSSF has instructed Luxembourg funds to notify it if they receive redemption requests amounting to 10% of assets in a day or 30% in a week. So far the main liquidity problems that have become public knowledge involve real estate funds that offer daily dealing but are struggling to value their assets accurately. A further issue for the sector may be the impact on income funds of the strong advice to banks by European regulators and governments not to pay out dividends for 2019, and dividends cuts by other companies.

— Simon Gray, Editor in Chief

Sustainable Finance

LuxFlag says assets under management of labelled funds now exceed €100bn

The assets under management of sustainable investment funds benefiting from a LuxFlag label reached €106.2bn at the end of March. Labels have been awarded to 196 investment products domiciled in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands from 84 asset managers. The largest share consists of funds investing according to environmental, social responsibility and governance criteria (123), along with 33 microfinance vehicles.

Best source: InFinance

Asset Management

Coronavirus to prompt increase in asset management consolidation: State Street

State Street’s country head for Luxembourg, Eduardo Gramuglia Pallavicino, expects that the coronavirus crisis will put greater pressure on asset managers’ ability to generate fee income, and this will result in increased consolidation of the asset management industry as well as greater use of outsourcing. Gramuglia also praises the CSSF for its swift action in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in streamlining procedures and authorising use of cloud services, private computers and other aspects of remote working. He says previous plans at State Street to make 101 employees redundant over the next two years may be put on hold.

Best source: Luxembourg Times (subscription required)

Fed move to inject liquidity into bond market throws lifeline to debt mutual funds

The US Federal Reserve’s pledge last week to buy investment-grade credit and exchange-traded funds has thrown a lifeline to debt mutual funds, curbing the slide in net asset values as a willing buyer has entered the market when funds are forced to sell. The US central bank is creating a Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility to add liquidity to the market in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Best source: Pensions and Investments

State pension fund to report on sustainability of investment portfolio

Luxembourg’s state pension fund, the €19bn Fonds de Compensation, has promised to publish a wide-ranging sustainability report on its investments, following last year’s court action by Greenpeace against social security minister Romain Schneider for failing to disclose the organisation’s financial risks from its investments in 27 fossil fuel companies including Exxon Mobil, Shell and BP. The court ruled that although Schneider should have responded to Greenpeace, there was no legal requirement for him to do so, and his ministry had no easy access to the information. However, the pension fund says it will provide a sustainability report incorporating risk assessment linked to climate change and the availability of natural resources, the fund’s carbon footprint and its adherence to environmental, social responsibility and governance standards.

Best source: Luxembourg Times (subscription required)

Luxempart reports €207m net income for 2019

Luxembourg investment company Luxempart has reported net income of €207m for last year, up from €16m the previous year. Investment for the year amounted to €149m, including in three German companies for the first time: IT network equipment provider Assmann, children’s audio equipment firm Boxine, an audio equipment firm; and physiotherapy group Novotergum. Disinvestment totalled €127m and included a significant reduction in Luxempart’s stake in satellite operator SES. Managing director Jacquot Schwertzer has stepped down from the role he has occupied since 2017 to become vice-chairman and is succeeded by John Penning, a member of the executive committee since 2017.

Best source: Paperjam (in French)


CSSF requires funds to report daily redemption requests exceeding 10% of assets

The CSSF is requiring investment funds to report whenever investors are seeking to redeem more than 10% of its asset in a day or more than 30% over a week, in response to concern about the impact of market volatility stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The CSSF says it initially contacted the 60 biggest asset managers with funds domiciled in Luxembourg on March 10, and issued a standard reporting template three days later. The regulator has not indicated how many funds, if any, have seen redemptions request levels requiring reporting. Xavier Parain, CEO of management company FundRock, says he believes a handful of funds in Luxembourg have been obliged to suspend trading temporarily over the past two weeks to ensure fair pricing.

Best source: Reuters

ESMA consults on leverage risks of alternative funds sector

The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a public consultation on how to address leverage risks in the alternative investment fund sector, as  part of its response to the European Systemic Risk Board’s April 2018 recommendations to address liquidity and leverage risk in investment funds. ESMA says its guidelines aim to promote convergence in the way national regulators assess how alternative funds’ use of leverage contributes to the build-up of systemic risk in the financial system, as well as how supervisors design, calibrate and implement leverage limits.

Best source: Global Custody

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Covid-19 Business Update

April 6, 2020: BIL: lockdown could trigger teleworking transformation, and other business-critical European and worldwide news

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Covid-19 Business Update
6th April 2020

Pandemic response could shake up workplace mobility, says BIL officer

Olivier Waltzing, an IT outsourcing and cloud officer at Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, says that the coronavirus lockdown has significant implications for workplace mobility and could represent a paradigm shift in working patterns. Waltzing, who is beginning his third week of teleworking from his home at Arlon in Belgium, says working can be more efficient in many ways, although it is less easy to communicate with managers and colleagues. He says the bank’s shift to widespread teleworking has only been made possible by the CSSF’s relaxation of restrictions on cross-border access to institutions’ core banking systems.

Best source: Paperjam
(in French)
SNCI to provide €400m in loans to businesses facing liquidity problems

Luxembourg’s National Credit and Investment Corporation is to provide up to a total of €400m in loans to businesses struggling with liquidity difficulties resulting from the coronavirus epidemic. Companies must apply to their commercial banks for approval of loans ranging from 12,500 to €10m, with the SNCI contributing up to 60% of the total amount, which will not have to be repaid for two years. The institution has already announced a moratorium on repayment of existing loans due in March and June. In 2018, it granted loans totalling €56m, meaning that the new lending facility is eight times larger than normal, according to assistant director Marco Goeler.

Best source: Luxembourg Times
(subscription required)
Coronavirus to prompt increase in asset management consolidation: State Street

State Street’s country head for Luxembourg, Eduardo Gramuglia Pallavicino, expects that the coronavirus crisis will put greater pressure on asset managers’ ability to generate fee income, and this will result in increased consolidation of the asset management industry as well as greater use of outsourcing. Gramuglia also praises the CSSF for its swift action in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in streamlining procedures and authorising use of cloud services, private computers and other aspects of remote working. He says plans at State Street Luxembourg to make 101 employees redundant over the next two years may be put on hold.

Best source: Luxembourg Times
(subscription required)
Services activity collapses in UK, Italy and France: IHS Markit

Services business activity is collapsing all over Europe, with the IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index for services, which account for 80% of the UK economy, falling from 53.2 in February to 34.5 last month, the lowest measure since records began in 1996. In Italy, the IHS Markit Business Activity Index for services slumped from 52.1 in February to 17.4 in March, a record low, while in France the purchasing managers index for services fell from 52.5 to to 27.4.

Best source: Financial Times
(subscription required)
See also: Reuters
See also: Reuters
See also: Reuters
Economic slump seen accelerating consolidation within Swiss wealth management sector

The economic slump precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic is set to accelerate consolidation within the Swiss wealth management industry and prompt a wave of acquisitions, according to Boston Consulting Group strategy consultant Anna Zakrzewski and Millenium Associates founder Ray Soudah. Zakrzewski says wealth managers are in worse shape than before the the global financial crisis in 2008, averaging barely half the pre-tax profit. They face substantial losses over the coming quarters, mainly due to a sharp drop in fees from assets under management, lower interest rates and less credit-financed purchases of securities. This will pose an existential threat for many smaller firms, as 43% of those with less than CHF10bn in client assets were already unprofitable in 2018. Soudah says M&A deals could start to materialise within six to 12 months, with valuations depressed due to the presence of more sellers than buyers in the market.

Best source: Reuters
(in German)
European Central Bank starts purchases of corporate commercial paper

The European Central Bank has made its first purchases of corporate commercial paper as part of its response to the economic disruption caused by Covid-19. Under its expanded asset purchasing programme, the ECB bought €1.5bn of non-financial commercial paper on its first day in the market. Vice-president Luis de Guindos and board member Isabel Schnabel say the ECB’s entry into the market is already encouraging new issuance.

Best source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
(subscription required, in German)
See also: Reuters
See also: ECB
US banks set to maintain dividends as European authorities push institutions to retain capital

US banks are likely to maintain dividend payments although European regulators and political authorities are pressuring institutions to suspend pay-outs in order to conserve capital for lending. Leading US banks, which are counting on approval from the Federal Reserve when they submit capital plans this week, argue that suspending dividends would destabilise investors and undermine confidence in the sector. They say the point of capital requirements set up after the global financial crisis was to ensure that dividends did not collapse in the event of a fresh crisis arising.

Best source: Financial Times
(subscription required)
See also: Wall Street Journal
(subscription required)
US regulators suggest that non-disclosure of weakness could forestall bank runs

Two US regulatory officials have suggested it is better to not release bank data that could provoke panic among customers during a crisis. Haelim Anderson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Adam Copeland of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York say that too much information could prompt runs on banks that have weaknesses but are still solvent. Their argument runs counter to the widespread assumption in the wake of the global financial crisis that banks would tend to avoid excessive risk if they feared it would become public as a result of enhanced transparency.

Best source: Wall Street Journal
(subscription required)
Junk bond funds attract record inflows as risk premium soars

Investors are regaining an appetite for high-yield corporate bond issues, with $7bn in inflows last week into mutual and exchange-traded funds that invest in junk bonds after five weeks of outflows, a new high for a single week. A record $5.9bn flowed into funds investing in US high-yield bonds, according to investment data provider EPFR Global. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed up the risk premium traditionally associated with high-yield offerings from recent lows to levels last seen around September 2011.

Best source: Financial Times
(subscription required)
See also: Neue Zürcher Zeitung
(subscription required, in German)
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Webinar – Create Engaging Content That Actually Converts

In this age of information overload, standing out from the competition is critical. As all organisations need to produce effective, cost-efficient marketing campaigns, knowing how to craft engaging content that yields leads and conversions literally provides a lifeline for survival and growth.

Join us on Thursday, 9 April, for the second in a series of webinars designed to help participants with every stage of the content production process.

Register here for next week’s session: Create Engaging Content That Actually Converts.

I Dare to Hope That the World After Covid-19 Will No Longer Be As It Was

Raymond Schadeck
Raymond Schadeck, Member, VitalBriefing International Advisory Board

An optimist by nature, I always have a tendency to try and imagine the manifold new opportunities that any situation, even a crisis of this magnitude, might reveal. This one is no exception. I am deeply convinced that the current health, economic, and financial crises offer plenty of such opportunities – it will be up to us to seize them once the crisis comes to an end. And I dare to believe that on an individual and collective basis we will seize at least some of them.

The partial or total confinement we currently experience helps us rediscover the innate and vital necessity of human contact; a basic need that, with all the technological evolution of the last decades, we might have neglected or even forgotten. 

The present situation further reanimates the importance of our most essential values which we are easily inclined to neglect or even forget altogether, such as:

  • The importance of our families: our yearning to love and be loved,
  • The undeniable effect of health on our personal welfare and happiness,
  • The value of solidarity over individualism and selfishness.

We are also awakening to the real value of some of our most basic needs, such as access to food, clean water, and medication; vital life supports we easily take for granted without reflecting on where they come from, how and where they are produced, what resources are required to produce them. At the same time, we realize that, as suggested by the famous Maslow pyramid, we might just be able to live and even enjoy life without an endless stream of many non-essential or luxury products. We’re returning, at least for the time being, to a simpler and less materialistic world.

As Bill Gates recently noted, we further realize that this health crisis affects all of us equally. It does not discriminate between culture, race, religion, gender, occupation, wealth, or popularity. As such it underlines the true connectedness of our planet: the virus does not stop at our made-up borders, nor does it need a passport to spread.

We are indeed in the midst of re-shaping our society: the crisis is teaching us to not take things for granted, it is re-orienting our relationships to each other and the outside world, it is helping us realize that it is only through joint efforts and concerted action that we can persist, that we can get through this.

And thus, in light of all this, I dare to hope that the biggest gains from this crisis will be:

The huge revival of solidarity, cooperation and discipline

Let’s be honest, many of us believed these values lost, and we’re so delighted to realize that maybe all this goodness was merely dormant inside all of us, waiting to be activated by the disruptive situation we are currently facing. However, let’s not forget that, as Yuval Noah Harari (author of Sapiens Homo Deus) recently observed, such solidarity requires trust; trust in science, trust in public authorities, trust in the media, and trust in each other.

Much like Harari, I am deeply convinced that the magnitude of the current disruption will contribute to an increased willingness to listen more closely to and appreciate the words, advice, and opinions of our scientists. It will help us to better distinguish between reckless policymakers who tend to ignore, or worse, publicly contradict science and hide crucial information from their citizens, and those who in total transparency and in partnership with leading scientists come up with well-structured and highly efficient protection and defense action plans. It will also allow us to pick out those media companies whose business plan is built entirely around instilling fear in their audience, from those who truly live up to their responsibility of covering the news as impartially as possible and who deliver factual information on bad, as well as good news. 

A much-needed revalorization of underappreciated labor

I am indeed pretty confident that the present turmoil allows us to truly grasp the real value of jobs like those of our health workers, but also our firemen, truckers, storekeepers, cashiers, delivery people and so many more. But I also hope that, in the future, we will seriously reconsider the actual added value, or lack thereof, of many other jobs, many of which suffer from a severe disconnect between their remuneration and the actual value they bring to communities. Just as the discussions on impact investing and sustainability are centered around measuring real impact, it might be worth re-assessing the actual impact of diverse jobs on our society and adjust their respective remuneration accordingly.

Nature and the fight against climate change

In the present quarantine situation, an increasing number of people are taking daily walks outside – on their own or as a family – getting the chance to reconnect with nature. Having the possibility to slow down and enjoy the outdoors, our appreciation for the world around us is revived and we are rediscovering the positive impact that nature has on our well-being. 

Furthermore, we are all currently witnessing how quickly nature can rebound if we humans give it the chance and time to breathe. A quick look at the comparative pollution maps of China and India allows all of us to assess the extraordinary speed at which nature can bounce back. Thus, I dare to hope that this will help our policy makers adequately assess not only the urgency of their actions, but also the rapid and unmistakable benefits their decisions might have on climate change. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the impact of the present health crisis is most severe in countries like the US or Brazil, where policymakers tend to ignore the alarm calls of climate scientists.

COVID-19, as we know, attacks our lungs, or more precisely the pulmonary alveoli, the exact point where the exchange between air and blood takes place. And we deeply appreciate that in just a few weeks political, economic and financial decisionmakers have, with our full support, developed and launched very concrete action plans and the required financing to fight this virus. And so, one last time, I dare to hope that these same leaders, with the full support of us citizens, will dedicate the same energy and power toward the development and deployment of a similar action plan to cure and save the lungs of our planet: our forests and trees, who have exactly the same  function for our planet as our lungs have for us – both being perfectly complementary to each other.

A CEO’s Long, Dark Nights of the Soul

So, here we are. In the most bizarre, unnerving, unsettling, frightening situation that most of us have ever experienced.

The kind of situation we’ve seen or heard in movies (Contagion) or TV (The Walking Dead) or radio (War of the Worlds) or streaming (Black Mirror), where the entire planet – nearly every single living human being — simultaneously faces the exact same mortal threat at the exact same moment.

Where entire countries, grappling with the inexorable spread of the coronavirus, grind to a halt, their residents virtually imprisoned, their economies frozen, their governments scrambling, their public services overwhelmed to the point of near-collapse.

Yes, it feels like fiction. Or science fiction. And every morning when I wake up, for a split-second I hope it was just a nightmare.

Of course, we’ve all suffered setbacks, personal tragedies, failures, loss and natural disasters from time to time. But most of us never struggled through wars or profound and massive economic depression.

We’ve never seen anything remotely of this scale, with uncertainty ahead of us as to the depth and duration, that we approach either with pessimism and despair, or optimism and hope.

Like a ping-pong ball

My confession: I bounce from one extreme to the other, often many times over the course of a day. Alone in my home office, wrestling with the issues that come with running a business under increasing pressure — like millions around the world — I find myself fighting the temptation to despair.

Even as a small company, people depend on me, and us, for their livelihoods. Dozens of our journalists give the best of themselves every day to create content of value to our clients in the private and public sectors.

Our core team, some with us since we started nine years ago, some more recent, have placed their faith and confidence in me to see the company through to continued success. Our small group of investors — and Luxembourg’s Economy Ministry — backed this unusual venture in the seed stage purely as a show of faith in the concept and in my ability to make it work.

All that keeps me awake at night. Those long, dark nights of the soul. I’m sure many of you have them yourselves — especially readers who are entrepreneurs. Those nights come with all new-business territory, even when their founders aren’t obsessively consumed by every coronavirus update.

I always tell young entrepreneurs they’ll need stomach of iron and nerves of steel. Never have I needed them myself more than now. But the nights…well, nights are long and dark.

Then there are the mornings, with the optimism and hope that comes first with opening the blinds to spectacularly and blessedly sunny days of late. It accelerates as I open my email to our various products and services — the daily, weekly and monthly intelligence briefings we produce for our clients to help keep them informed, and thought leadership stories to help our clients guide their own customers. and audiences. 

Several years ago, we changed our tag line from “the cure for information overload” to “content you can trust.” Both ideas have never been more important than now; both infuse everything we produce. I’ve never consumed what our team creates with more pride and faith that what we do has value and meaning, makes a small contribution to our subscribers and readers drowning in too much information, and too much of little value, meaning, reliability and accuracy.

Morning’s light

That nighttime despair dissipates still more starting at 10am, with our first team call of the day. When I hear our staff – most, happily, far younger – brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and, yes, optimism for what we can do next, how we can help our clients through the storm with crisis-related content and tools.

As they talk of the sacrifices they’re making in their personal and professional lives — as are our journalists around the world — to help keep our business afloat and on track…well, the strength and optimism I draw from that is immeasurable.

The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman recently reported an interview he had with Harvard political philosopher and author Michael Sandel, who has delivered lectures on justice to millions of students globally. I found one of his comments to reflect the potential for how we survive and overcome the current challenge we all face:

“The common good is about how we live together in community. It’s about the ethical ideals we strive for together, the benefits and burdens we share, the sacrifices we make for one another. It’s about the lessons we learn from one another about how to live a good and decent life.”

From that thought, I draw some of the optimism and hope I and we must rely on now to get us through these long, dark nights of uncertainty. I gather still more inspiration as I see so many other businesses, organisations and individuals stepping up with offers to help their clients, communities and entire countries with whatever it is they do best, from free products to volunteering. In that vein, next week we’ll launch a free daily Covid-19 Business Update with our curated summaries of top business and finance stories from Luxembourg, Europe and worldwide.

I invite you to subscribe here, and to follow us on our LinkedIn company page.

Meanwhile, stay home, healthy and safe…and sleep well.

Creating Content Marketing That Sells

The most important thing to remember about content marketing? It really isn’t about you at all.

OK, you might have lots to say about how cool your company is and how great your products and services are, but there’s not much of an audience for that.

Save the foghorn for your advertising.

Then, what’s content marketing about?

It’s actually about the consumers. More specifically, it’s about looking at things through their eyes to make absolutely sure they get something they want. As James O’Brien of Contently put it a few years ago in a much-cited quote: “The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return.”

This means using what you have of value and sharing it with the world.

The “it” is understanding and experience. You might deliver something as simple as how-to content. Could be delivered in a blog post or short video. It’s good old-fashioned education and if it’s useful, your customers will thank you for it.

And they’ll share.

Harness the power of thought

Be more ambitious and you can aim for thought leadership. If you have comprehensive knowledge of your sector and you’re able to convey it, then sharing your insight can make you a go-to when consumers are seeking more understanding.

Take The Garage, IT giant HP’s website, which serves up life tips for reducing gadget screen time, together with content on the arts and lifestyle, all aimed at helping visitors do just that.

The upside is that as an authority you earn status. Your customers may well trust you enough to make you the first stop when they’re looking for guidance.

And another thing: Rooting your content in the latest industry trends might feel like the thing to do. But they can be very short-lived and will age your posts quickly. Rather, think timeless:

  • Base your content on audience interests, not Google News
  • Identify problems, be helpful
  • Share your insights – wisdom has a long shelf life

Stay with the flow

Getting good results requires a strong dose of commitment. That can be a big issue. It’s easy for everyone to get all fired up with a brand new content marketing strategy. But it’s even easier for enthusiasm to wane a few months later when the ideas stop flowing.

Audiences are quick to notice when gaps between posts get longer. Credibility gets shot to pieces. The go-to brand becomes the forgotten one.

How do you make content king?

This might sound run-of-the-mill, but it’s about resources and planning. First, you need to assign people to the programme and define clearly and carefully their duties.

Second: Yes, you really do need an editorial calendar to bring rigour to the process. A tool such as Trello will do the job.

This means knowing the three w’s: What you need to do, when you need to do it and whose job it is.

So, now you know whom you’re posting for, what your content is about, and when you’re producing it. Get ready to slot it on the company blog, on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on YouTube, on Instagram — in fact, anywhere you can think of to get it out there.

Go ahead and call that scatter-gun marketing, if you like. It works.

Be on target

If you want to own an effective strategy, be picky. Do some research and find out where your customers go to consume their content. Profile your audience and target accordingly. If you’re providing a professional service, LinkedIn is definitely a good channel. But TikTok’s a better bet when you’re chasing youth with your products.

Now, like many people, your ambition might simply be to blog away and rack up those regular posts. But you could be missing a trick or two if you do.

Before you hit the keyboard with your latest notion, stop and ask these questions:

Video is a good way to go

It’s still hugely popular with online audiences and increasingly so with content marketers who have found that the format is the top engager of online audiences, HubSpot research finds.

It might well be the optimum way for you to get your message across. And with all the animation tools available, it’s not that difficult to do – two-thirds of marketers create their own videos, according to a Promo small-business study.

All you need to do is storyboard it, which can actually be quicker and easier than crafting a fully-fledged piece of writing.

Also, make sure you exploit what it is you’ve come up with. Write a blog post and riff on it by making a video, then screenshot the video and post it on Instagram, grab that same image and put it on Facebook as well, along with a summary of the blog post.

Measuring success

Now you’ve gone to the trouble of creating your content. You’ve posted it. Your messaging is out there. It must be time to move on and think about your next post, right?

Not so fast. You’ve done everything you should to this point and you might be feeling pretty happy with what you’ve produced. But what about your audience? You need to find what it is people are looking at.

It’s all about measurement, and there are key content marketing metrics and KPIs you must keep an eye on:

  • Page users
  • Page Views
  • Pages per session
  • Time spent per page
  • Social shares
  • Social comments
  • Social follower growth

Key takeaways

  • Know your audience – find out what interests them
  • Aim to produce timeless content rather following fashion
  • Post regularly
  • Ensure your content marketing strategy has all the resources it needs
  • Choose your channels
  • Repurpose your content
  • Analyse the analytics

Discover the most important tips and tricks that will help you create effective and engaging content marketing:

5 Ways to Keep Everyone’s Morale High While Working from Home

It’s a challenge to be upbeat in these stressful and uncertain times. 

As businesses around the world scramble to implement emergency remote-working plans for staff, keeping company morale high is still more critical.

While preventing virus transmission is priority #1, making sure your people are feeling positive, energised and reassured comes close behind.

The point to convey: We must work still smarter than ever before.

Learn the five things you should do to keep employee morale high while working from home, in this recent article we wrote for our client,

Build Engagement by Lining Up Your Content Marketing on LinkedIn 

We’ve learned over nearly a decade in business that the right content will have a huge impact on your success — boosting sales, generating leads, promoting your brand, showcasing your expertise and helping guide your clients and prospects into the right decisions. It differentiates you from your competitors and ensures your customers know exactly what you want them to know.

As a home for that content, though, it’s also clear that in a B2B context, LinkedIn has become the most important tool in your content marketing toolbox. 

While Facebook and Twitter have their place in social media marketing, LinkedIn is firmly established as the platform for business. An educated and affluent user base, built on curated networks, it’s growing quicker than other social media platforms and now claims a staggering 600 million users, two-fifths of whom log in every day.

We know that users approach LinkedIn with business specifically in mind, visiting the site to:

  • forge connections that can help their careers;
  • amass knowledge that can improve their performance (two-thirds of LinkedIn users consider themselves ‘news junkies’);
  • find new leads (and cultivate existing ones).

As a tool for business, it’s a far more compelling proposition than other social media networks. With 80% of B2B leads from social media coming direct via LinkedIn, the platform yields at least three times as many conversions than its biggest rivals.

And then you have to consider who is spending time on the platform: it is the most used public social network by CEOs, with 20% of LinkedIn’s userbase being senior-level influencers and decision-makers.

Now ask yourself this: Is the content you post on LinkedIn hitting its target? You need to answer or you risk squandering opportunities. Buyers now consume, on average, thirteen pieces of content before making a purchase (up from five pieces several years ago), and differentiating your content marketing is tough.

With this in mind, there are rules to follow when writing articles for LinkedIn and publishing or sharing on the platform: 

Know the difference between views and results 

It’s relatively straightforward to write sensationalist, deeply personal or highly controversial content and get plenty of “likes”. That’s not the same as generating customers, revenues and leads. The difference between what is for you and what is for your audience is a critical distinction.

Sharing success or pain is about you and likely to distract your audience for a moment. To achieve real results, you need to offer something for them – busy people who may visit LinkedIn for a few precious moments each day (CEOs and decision-makers).

Who are ‘they’? 

This is a key question. You can be indiscriminate about who joins your network but you cannot be casual regarding your content. Do you want to reach potential buyers and generate sales? Or showcase your expertise on specific subjects so people will come to you for advice?

Appealing to the wrong crowd may generate likes but it won’t generate business. The “right” people should follow you because they trust they’re going to find helpful content.  

Understand what your audience wants. Look at the type of content your intended audience has engaged with in the past: what has generated likes, comments, follow-up? Look at their network and organisations: which type of content has hit the spot?

Creating content marketing for LinkedIn audiences is a delicate balance between understanding what people want to take in while saying exactly what you want to say.  

Get it right, though, and you will succeed on what is hands down the most effective social network for B2B lead generation: LinkedIn makes up more than half of all social traffic to B2B websites & blogs.

How do busy people find your content? 

There are two main ways that people find your content. Either someone in their network engages with it or they’re scrolling down their feed and find it.

Either way, you haven’t got long to get them to stop and pay attention. Social media expert Tim Queen says that most people will only see the first three lines of your content before deciding whether to engage. That’s about the length of a Tweet. As such, it needs to tease, be seductive and simple, and carry a clear message.  

For some, that could be an open-ended question that piques curiosity, for others it could be showcasing eye-catching data that will entice somebody to read or engage with your content.

What are you trying to say? 

Your LinkedIn posts need to offer a payoff for the reader. That sounds self-evident, but it’s often the case that posts reflect what a company wants to say about itself, rather than what a reader wants to hear. 

Simply writing an article or filming a video and then posting it on LinkedIn is a waste of time and resources. For your content marketing to drive sales, you need to create highly engaging and visual material of value to your target audience, not simply post any content you’ve produced on LinkedIn. 

When to post? 

Social media is constantly evolving and so the right time to post may change over time. Equally, you need to bear in mind that others will have access to the same data.

In theory, 10-11am, Monday through Wednesday, is the best time to post on LinkedIn, but if everyone posts at the same time your content may get lost in a mass of other posts. While conventional wisdom dictates that the best time to send out emails is first thing in the morning, that can leave organisations vulnerable to the increasingly prevalent habit of members deleting all posts before their real work begins.   

Sprout Social has done extensive research on the right time to post on LinkedIn for different types of content. However, you should experiment posting at various times to measure when you get the best engagement. Don’t lose sight, though, of Tim Queen’s warning that posting regularly should be central in any social content marketing strategy.  

What’s the secret sauce? 

There’s no substitute for a consistent output of relevant content that demonstrates your expertise and that your target audience will like and share. Easy to say, but harder in practice.

Here’s some of the content we’ve created for our clients (and prospects) that we believe hits the mark. With that kind of specific content in hand, it is then possible to leverage hashtagging (#) and tagging (@) functions on the platform to help build a stronger network and maximise viewership (and therefor engagement) on your posts.

IBM has been one of LinkedIn’s big success stories. It’s grown its followers from 779,000 in 2012 to 3.2 million today by sharing articles from a wide variety of contributors on cutting-edge subjects such as artificial intelligence (AI).

Used right, this platform is a powerful tool. Forget the scatter-gun approach, to be focused and targeted in your LinkedIn content marketing strategy, remember: 

  • generating likes and followers is not the same as generating results; 
  • consider your audience and what they want to learn, not just what you want to say; 
  • ask how people will find your content and remember you have barely a few lines to force them to stop scrolling past you;
  • create high-quality, targeted content that your audience will appreciate. It doesn’t happen by accident so do your research ahead of time.  

Discover the most important tips and tricks that will help you create effective and engaging content marketing:

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As VitalBriefing’s Cormac Bracken explains in an article written for our client,, the situation represents a coming-of-age demand for ERP systems.

Want to know if your ERP platform is battle-ready and whether it can help you cope with a disruption? Read the full article here.