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: