LinkedIn, unlike any other social platform, isn’t really “social media.” It is the most extensive professional network you could find with social features built into it. Today the professional network has more than 500 million users with more than 26 million companies. It has been the most popular social network for top executives since 2014 with about 63 Million Senior-level influencers today.
It’s no wonder LinkedIn ranks number one in B2B Marketers’ digital marketing matrix. 80% of all B2B marketing leads from social media come through LinkedIn, with a conversion rate of nearly 85%. Not only is LinkedIn one of the most vaunted platforms to make most of your digital marketing efforts, but given the nature of the platform, it is also the best platform to capture value from your content marketing efforts.
The first step of any marketing campaign is to define the end goals.
This is especially true for B2B content marketing where it is difficult to define metrics to measure the performance of your marketing campaigns. After all, what really matters at the end of the day is what the scoreline says after the match, not your percentage of possession or how fast your players were.
B2B Content marketing can help you achieve the following goals:
- Brand awareness: As a new company in a niche market, content marketing gives them a good opportunity to make their brand visible to knowledgeable customers.
- Brand authority: A brand is said to possess brand authority when they have a deep understanding of the needs of their customers and have established their expertise in the industry. Creating content, whether white papers, ebooks, videos or blogs, that showcases their expertise while answering the most burning questions that customers have, allows them to consolidate a brand authority among them
- Customer engagement: Creating relevant content also helps brands drive up customer engagement. This can help in generating new traffic which can ultimately generate new leads too while also retaining existing customers. Engaging customers and providing valuable content to them is the magic recipe to build brand loyalty as well.
Comparison with Other Platforms
LinkedIn, in spite of being the oldest of the lot, has often been perceived to be an underdog compared to some of the other social media giants that emerged in the last 15 years. There are about 2.3 billion users on Facebook, 1 billion users on Instagram and 321 Million on twitter. LinkedIn slots 3rd on the list with 500 million users. While the numbers may compel executives to flock to the big 2 to promote their businesses, it’s important for businesses to know the 5 Ws of the platform to make the most out of these platforms.
The following table shows an overview of comparison between the four platforms
Comparison with Major Platforms for Content Marketing
While this comparison might be very simplistic, it does let us make some important inferences.
Now consider LinkedIn. It’s the oldest of the lot launched back in 2002. It features most of the content formats that Facebook offers along with other unique offerings such as Company Showcase Pages, SlideShare and InMail etc. Given its wide but business-focused user base of 500 Million, it is best suited to companies looking to market to other businesses. The platform generates a multitude of business opportunities for its users. This is supported by the fact that the best time to post on LinkedIn is on weekdays during work hours. This suggests people are not escaping their work in their offices on LinkedIn but rather LinkedIn is work.
Every social media platform has similar media formats but a different way of presenting them which makes most of the difference between them. For example all social media platforms can do video gifs, photos audio status updates, text, etc but Twitter only allows 280 characters, Instagram doesn’t allow videos longer than a minute to be directly visible in the feed (it directs you to open it up an Instagramtv window instead) Facebook autoplays video in the feed in order to engage people more directly. The decision to whether or not have a format be presented in a particular way depend a lot on the DNA of the social platform and the social behavior they want to encourage. LinkedIn also possesses all of the aforementioned formats. The following table shows the way LinkedIn presents these media formats and what they can be used for.
LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Features
Social Behaviour on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is not a social networking platform but a professional networking platform. But what really makes LinkedIn unique is the social behaviour of the users on the platform driven by a culture of its own. That is the biggest differentiator between LinkedIn and its competitors.
A Filtered, Professional Audience Network
Think about the last time you used Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Maybe you use it right before you sleep to get an update on what’s happening around the world. Maybe it was at work where you fire up the app on your phone to get a dose of entertainment to escape the daily stresses at the office. That’s exactly where LinkedIn is different. You’d never think of using LinkedIn in these situations. It’s just not an escape. Every person who is active on the platform is consciously looking for content that would help their career or businesses. The audience is already filtered so you don’t have to compete with entertainment content. They are ready to spend more time and attention on reading articles already, so you don’t have to compete with memes, tweets or vines like you do on the others either. It’s no surprise that long-form content on LinkedIn in continues to be the most popular, and that’s where most of your opportunities come in.
To understand social behaviour we need to identify who the users and what they use it for.
Use Cases of Linkedin B2B Content Marketing
The main USP of LinkedIn is the social interaction it facilitates between companies, influencers, professionals and students. Several business professionals, companies, decision makers at companies, freelancers, influencers join LinkedIn for this reason. It gives companies an opportunity to showcase, build and position their brand to their stakeholders which can range from their investors to their customers/clients, business partners or even news organizations and journalists. It also helps businesses pull in traffic to their own websites and blogs, providing them an already filtered audience that’s ready to listen to what they have to offer.
LinkedIn is also one of the most popular channels for B2B sales. In fact, 40% of all B2B sales are made through LinkedIn today. B2B companies make use of LinkedIn’s company pages, native ads, long-form posting, LinkedIn groups to establish awareness and thought leadership in their industry ultimately driving leads. On the other side, LinkedIn also boasts of more than 40 Million senior decision makers. These are top management executives, including C-suite executives who use the platform as their primary platform to interact with people in their industry and establish their influence.
LinkedIn is super-useful for freelancers. They requirements are similar to B2B business who need to pitch their services to their prospects. Like companies, freelancers also try to establish their expertise in order to attract customers. Some of them even rise to the status of an influencer in their domain. Linkedin is hands down the best platform to achieve these end goals.
Recruiters & Head Hunters scout on Linkedin
Whether you are on LinkedIn or not, If you’ve at least come across LinkedIn ads, you would know that they are in the business of building a professional network that could help people land a job. This is one of the main reasons why people are attracted to LinkedIn. Once they are on it they find several reasons to stay on and LinkedIn banks on this.
On the other hand, if someone is to get hired using the platform, there has to be someone recruiting them. The recruitment process is a big pain point for companies, and LinkedIn tries to solve this for them by providing them a huge selection pool to choose from, with an online resume easy to access with a click of a button. With a showcase of job opportunities and their nature, buttressed by testimonial videos by existing employees it can attract a large number of applications too. The very same also works as a self-filtering process, as people who are better aware of job requirements and what it offers.
Here are a few examples of company and influencers on Linkedin who “got it right.” These case studies will help illustrate how LinkedIn can be intelligently leveraged as a platform for B2B content marketing.
Number of followers: 7 Million.
Category: Tech company
Microsoft is a good example of how a tech company can leverage its presence on LinkedIn.
Microsoft is a large company with a broad range of products that have an impact across different various industries. You can imagine they have a broad category of stakeholders from customers to business partners which vary from one industry to another. It makes marketing to all of them a challenge. Microsoft doesn’t try and solve this by trying to cater to all their needs together, but rather it establishes its expertise in the domain by posting articles written by experts at the company.
One of the main goals of Microsoft is to establish its thought leadership in the tech space. It uses its page to regularly put out stories and articles about their proprietary technology. More importantly, Microsoft highlights how its technology is being used to solve some of the biggest challenges in the world, ranging from using AI to find a cure for cancer to using AI to clean up world’s oceans.
Another major goal Microsoft has is recruitment. Microsoft leverages LinkedIn’s content formats such as Company Showcase pages and feed posting links to blogs and videos to establish their footing as one of the best employers in the world. It frequently posts videos of existing employees that describe their roles and experiences of working at Microsoft. It also serves as a way for Microsoft to show that they care about their employees.
World Economic Forum
Number of followers: 1.5 Million
Category: Nonprofit Organisation
World Economic Forum is a nonprofit organization that’s most popular for organizing an annual meeting at Davos that brings together more than 2500 leaders of the world together. Their mission statement is “WEF is committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”. It’s clear from their mission statement that the organization is targeting a large audience on a wide range of topics and issues.
People generally have short attention spans and even more so when it comes to a topic that they might not consider something of their direct interest. In order to reach out to most of their audience, WEF knows the importance of creating content that piques interest, provides information but is also consumable for most people as well. A quick glance over their LinkedIn page would tell you how they do it. WEF creates bite-sized videos of not more than a couple of minutes to raise awareness about issues ranging from the mental health of university students to economic issues plaguing the world. WEF also posts infographics and quotes that can easily be consumed by viewers when on the road.
However, at the same time, WEF also has an active blog where the go into the depth of the issues they discuss on LinkedIn. They also post these on the LinkedIn feed and makes use of the large user base to attract traffic to their blog.
Number of followers: 900k
Category: Investor and Influencer
Vani Kola is the managing director of the venture capital firm Kalaari Capital. Her presence and activity on LinkedIn is a good example for executives to emulate within their industries. Vani, being a part of an investment firm, writes about topics ranging entrepreneurship, leadership, management lessons to lifestyle and work-life balance. She writes advice for start-ups on how to pitch and deal with investors, in a way making her expectations and values as an investor clear.
Here, unlike the previous examples, Vani isn’t trying to increase traffic to any blog. She makes good use of LinkedIn’s native article posting instead of posting links to another blog which might require the audience to leave the site. This enables users to post comments on the posts right after the read them. This increases the interaction between the audience, who also happen to be experienced executives, contribute their perspectives on the story and make the overall experience much more valuable. Vani also often interacts with her audience answering questions and asking them too. This opens a two-way communication channel that mutually benefits both parties while also giving Vani an approachable perception.
Vani also often puts out content as status updates on LinkedIn, or share something she might have found interesting with her followers through the status update feature.
Writing on LinkedIn is not the same as writing for your blog
However, even on LinkedIn, don’t expect your content to take off on its own. It’s easy to assume writing on LinkedIn is the same as writing for your company blog. So often companies would put the same content that they have on their own blog. Don’t forget that if you’re not competing with entertainment, doesn’t mean you have no competition. You are still competing with other companies for your potential customers. Most likely your direct competitors too.
Don’t talk just about your company
Another common mistake that companies make is only talking about themselves. This makes their content appear like ads than actual content that has value for the audience. People come to LinkedIn to learn, interact and contribute valuable content. If you only talk about yourself, you take away these opportunities from them. It’s likely they will gravitate towards content that enables them to do that. In the end, building trust and relationship is what matters.
It’s a two way street
LinkedIn is a professional platform with social features. Often people forget the social part and assume the interaction is one way only. The interaction part is what makes the platform unique. You may not engage people in the comments section of your blog, but you have the opportunity to do so here. It gives you a platform for asking pertinent questions, brainstorm find new ways and build new perspectives. Plus the interaction doesn’t have to be strictly limited to that if you go out of your way to share your thoughts about issues relating to your industry or other events that might affect it, can go a long way. It’ll grab your audience’s attention and give them a peek into your values and thinking. This could potentially bring you better quality leads that are in line with your style of business.
LinkedIn is the most lucrative professional networking platform for professionals and businesses alike. Yet, ironically, its value is most realized only when you think of it as a social platform than a professional networking platform.