Your coworkers are doing it. Your neighbors are doing it. Even your friend’s cat is doing it!
Everyone’s using LinkedIn!
Well, okay, not the cats, unfortunately.
But LinkedIn is the social media platform for professionals and businesses. It’s where the movers and shakers go to find dance partners, and if you’re in B2B digital marketing, then you definitely want in on this conga line.
Whether you’re already utilizing LinkedIn or just getting in, this ultimate guide will help you unlock the potential of a platform with over half a billion—with a ‘B’—members.
Ready? Cue the music!
Why Dance with LinkedIn
Maybe you’re not too hip with it and don’t know that LinkedIn is the coolest of all the tomcats, but even if you do, some of LinkedIn’s statistics are pretty mind blowing and are worth mentioning.
The Power User Shuffle
We mentioned earlier that there are over 500 million LinkedIn members, and of those, a whopping 260 million are actually active users, 40% of whom use LinkedIn daily. And these users aren’t your innocent grandmas, weird aunts, or distant cousins who share awful memes.
About 45% of the LinkedIn users who read articles on the platform are the shotcallers in their company—manager-, director-, and executive-types. An entire platform devoted to a B2B digital marketer’s target audience? Yes please!
To top things off, for all the benefits that LinkedIn provides to businesses and digital marketers, competition for content impressions isn’t all that difficult. Only 3 million of the 500 million LinkedIn users share content on at least a weekly basis.
That means that these 1%ers are enjoying more than their share of 9 billion impressions each week. Compare this to Facebook, where a whopping one third of their users share content weekly
Simply put, there’s far less competition on LinkedIn for content.
Other Marketers Are Doing It
“If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you do it?” Well, if they were all jumping off in order to catch a ride on the hype train, then heck yeah!
Studies show that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn and that “94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.”
So instead of saying, “Other marketers are doing it,” it’s probably better to say, “You’re already doing it. We’ll help you perfect it.”
And it makes sense why LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice. Due to LinkedIn’s professional atmosphere, it’s the place where messaging the CEO or head of marketing for a small company isn’t seen as taboo: it’s the norm. LinkedIn is basically the online equivalent of a business networking convention that goes on 24/7/365.
The key factor here is that LinkedIn profiles are professional profiles rather than personal ones. Try to message a CEO on their personal Facebook account and you’ve just stepped on their toes and ruined any chances of them doing the B2B tango with you.
Another important factor is that the content on LinkedIn is not memes and political gotcha clips and fail compilations. Due to the professional nature of the platform, content is primarily focused around the industries that various companies belong to. It’s the place where an executive in a company might share their insights on what makes an executive board function well or where an ad agency may share their list of the top 10 tips and tricks for catching the eye of someone online.
Your LinkedIn Daily Practice
If you want to digitally dance with the marketing stars, then practice is an absolute must. While you may not need to access LinkedIn on a daily basis, keeping a proper mindset and refreshing yourself on best practices can turn good B2B digital marketing on the platform into easy-as-pie muscle memory.
LinkedIn is a perpetual online networking convention where the best and brightest in the industry can work hard and connect with others in mutually beneficial interactions.
Act like it.
One big part of acting professional on LinkedIn is only connecting when it makes sense. As a B2B marketer, you know your role is to create value and solve problems—and you know your particular niche. Don’t offer a sommelier if someone wants a barista. This service mindset is incredibly important: ask not what your leads can do for you, but what you can do for your leads.
You don’t want to be Jim Carrey’s character in Dumb and Dumber saying, “Big Gulps huh? Welp, see ya later!” Everyone saves time—and money—when you focus your efforts and provide value that is relevant.
Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and your LinkedIn profile is no exception. Your profile is a visitor’s first stop in traveling down your marketing funnel, so it’s vital that you maintain a professional and polished appearance. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative, however.
Mirror Mirror on the Wall
It might be tempting to crib some profile content from your website or Facebook page, but the less your LinkedIn profile mirrors your other platforms, the better. Take advantage of the niche audience that is LinkedIn by curating your profile to attract the exact kind of user you want.
Think of your profile not as a mirror, but as a magic mirror that shows visitors everything their hearts desire. Your images draw their eye, intrigue them, and speak to them on some level. Your branding and content tone resonates (even if they differ slightly from your standard corporate branding!).
And above all else, your magic mirror of a profile has been polished to a brilliant shine. Uniformity among the various elements of your profile is a must, and when creating content for your profile, be sure it goes through several drafts before making it live.
The Digital World’s a Stage
If there’s one word to describe social media platforms, it’s this one: broadcasting. The digital world is a stage on which anyone can stand there and perform. A B2B digital marketing company is no different. When broadcasting out, whether you’re writing content (more on that in a sec!) or writing the description for your profile, you want to treat things like an actor treats a performance: it’s a show where the chief goal is audience satisfaction.
Along that same vein, if you have multiple lines of products or services, you can create showcase pages, which are essentially profile pages within your company page that “showcase” certain products or services. Microsoft Office, for example, does a showcase page for each of their programs in the suite. A showcase page is really just a big digital spotlight you can shine on the stars of the show, so if you have the ability to take advantage of this feature, do so!
The content you create for your LinkedIn feed can be diverse. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows articles, videos, images, and the ability to share others’ content. For all intents and purposes, anything you post on your feed counts as content.
But how often should you post? And what exactly should you post?
While things will differ based on your branding, industry, or niche, a good guideline is that you should create content at a bare minimum of once a week and create longform, high quality content whenever possible.
And when in doubt, LinkedIn Pulse is a strong tool for helping your content find its right audience.
One of the oldies but goodies, articles function as an incredible way to interact with an engaged niche audience, especially when focused around an industry. Due to LinkedIn attracting the movers and shakers of their respective industries, the platform is always itching to read the latest news, insights, and theories.
In fact, a study found that articles that landed around 2000 words received not only the most engagement but also the highest value engagement.
So whether you’re sharing an article you found or writing your own, don’t be afraid to “get into the weeds” and go into detail. Your potential audience is intelligent, professional, and always looking to learn a thing or two.
And don’t relegate yourself to simply sharing news or opinion pieces! Start up a series, do a Q&A or interview with someone in your industry, or write up a statistical analysis. You may be surprised at the results.
A Thousand Words
While you won’t be sharing many memes on LinkedIn, photos are another type of content that can perform well. Infographics are especially popular and receive good engagement, as do inspirational quotes and other statistics.
However, due to how fast an image can be viewed, engagement on these types of posts tend to be shallow. You can get around this downside a bit by posting images that are meant to start a discussion. Nothing controversial—this is a platform for professionals after all—but nothing fires up interaction like a strong opinion.
24,000 Words Per Second
Ah videos. While the production time and effort that goes into them can be astronomical compared to images, oftentimes you’ll be using the same video across several platforms. Like with images, it can be a very good idea to include something in your video post that generates discussion.
Keep track of your LinkedIn analytics and keep tweaking your LinkedIn marketing strategy to improve. Adapt. Overcome!
The main things to look for with your analytics is engagement and audience type. The value of the content you’re providing will be reflected in the engagement, and by looking at your audience type, you may be better able to hone your target audience: there could be an audience pool somewhere in your analytics that is engaging strongly with your content.
So make it a habit to check your analytics on a regular basis!
LinkedIn is great for following up with people you met online or offline. These can be easy, high-value connections because they’ve already connected with you in a more personal way.
When connecting in this way, it’s best to go the bespoke, handcrafted route and reach out to the person. Thank them for interacting with you in the past, show them that that interaction has had an impact, and suggest that there are other things you’d like to talk with them about.
The incredibly important thing here—and we’ll get into it more in the next section—is that you don’t “downgrade” this type of connection by shoving it into whatever automated funnel or feed you have. At least not yet.
Rubbing Elbows Without Stepping on Toes
One of the many tightrope walks that digital marketers perform is the delicate balance between reaching out and spamming. In other words, you want to rub as many elbows as you can without stepping on any toes.
One of the fastest ways to square dance across everyone’s feet is to load up a third party app and send a connection request to as many people as possible. It’s a great way to waste everyone’s time and dilute your own funnel population!
Automating SOME Aspects of Connecting
So the key here is to automate what you can but add your personal touch where it counts—and to do it all in moderation. You’re better off focusing on quality over quantity: better to reach out to 10 or 20 quality potential connections in a day rather than 200 that meet a more generic requirement.
People, especially the decision-makers in a company, have a keen nose and can smell low effort.
Honing in on the Right Audience
Low effort in marketing will usually come about when the target audience has not been clearly defined. This results in a marketer casting a wider net. While it may seem good to open up your potential client pool, as a general rule, quality is better than quantity.
Potential clients are looking for a specialist: they want someone who knows exactly where their business lives in its industry and what specific knowledge will give them an advantage. In other words, why would a real estate business hire a general digital marketer if there are digital marketers that specialize in digital marketing for real estate businesses?
So, it’s vital that you hone in on the right kind of client, and luckily, LinkedIn’s Advanced Search filters will help you do just that!
Even without a Premium account, the filters on an advanced search are robust enough to cut out a lot of the busy work for you (though those Premium filters are nothing to sneeze at). One of the most useful filters is going to be “Company Size,” which will not only help match your services to the right business but also clue you in to the kind of approach you can take with your opening messages and who in the company to reach out to in the first place.
Small company of 1-10 employees? Perhaps a more informal message to the owner would work well. Company with 100+ employees? Maybe the more formal route through their marketing department is the way to go. Context is key here: you want to be relevant.
You can also try searching for particular groups in your niche. Either by searching for the groups directly or seeing what groups your target audience is already participating in, you can save yourself a lot of time: LinkedIn users have already organized themselves for you!
And as a pro tip, you can save your search filter parameters to use next time you need to find a few more potential contacts for your curated list!
You can definitely automate your initial requests for connection, but the important thing here is to not treat these connection requests as cold emails. LinkedIn, while a professional space, also has a more personal feel to it, especially when compared to emailing people out of the blue.
So, if you’re going to automate your connection requests, you should seek to divide and conquer.
By that, we mean separating your curated list of potential contacts into even smaller, more laser-focused lists based on one concept: what kind of content they would find interesting.
Separating your list in this way gives you a very easy way to get your foot in the door, so to speak, by offering something of value to that particular person. Maybe there’s an article you wrote that they would be particularly interested. Maybe you have a book recommendation. Or maybe you want to hook them up with a free download to your own ebook. You could even offer some of your services for free.
The idea here is that if you’re going to automate the personal aspects of a connection request, you can increase the worth of that automation by providing something of value. Matching up this free content to the kind of audience who would enjoy it shows that even though the message is automated, some amount of personalization went into it. It’s a win-win!
When Automation Ends
Let’s say you’re getting connections thanks to your automatic messages. Great! Let’s plug their emails into your newsletter lists and drop their LinkedIn profile into a cold email style funnel.
Nope, nope, nope, nope!
Remember: LinkedIn is a perpetual digital networking convention. Don’t phone it in.
And do we even need to mention that newsletters should only ever be opt-in?
Once you’ve made that connection, you need to put in the time to personally connect with that user. After all, they’re interested in connecting with you, not the automated systems you set up.
While it can be tempting to make an automated funnel do all the work before you, your Business to Business strategy should always strive to be Human to Human. Crap in, crap out, right?
Once Humanity Begins
One of the best ways to create that Human to Human personal contact is to offer to connect in as real a way as possible. Whether it’s an audio call or video conference, it’s important that you transform yourself from a digital profile into a real live person. If you’re in the same city as the client, you could even offer to meet in person.
Once you’ve connected with someone, oftentimes you can also loosen up your formality. Your goal now should be to build rapport rather than to sell your services. Find common ground and figure out some interesting topics that you can talk about.
Approach things as equal professionals in a fascinating industry. From here on out, your marketing instincts can take over!
Step 3: Draw the Rest of the Owl
Your work as a digital marketer is never over, but the hard part definitely is. What happens next is entirely up to you and whether your business is a good fit for their business. It’s a lot like dancing in that way: it’s important to find the right dance partner.
How do you like to reach out to potential LinkedIn connections? What kind of content do you appreciate being shared with you on LinkedIn?
Let me know in the comments!