LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet with more than 450 million members in over 200 countries and territories, including over 128 million members in the U.S. alone. With professionals joining at a rate of more than two members per second, and more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on the channel, LinkedIn remains an important tool for recruiting new talent.
Beyond its focus on professional networking, LinkedIn has emerged as an effective marketing tool for B2B brands. According to a recent report, LinkedIn is the most-used social media platform for distributing content among B2B marketers in North America, at 94 percent. That usage is well deserved, as the social platform is also ranked as the most effective social channel by B2B brands. B2B brands are clearly finding value in the channel, and we expect this to increase as LinkedIn continues to enhance its publishing tools and advertising products.
As LinkedIn continues to expand its capabilities, it’s important to think outside of the box ––beyond simply having a presence –– to effectively leveraging the right tools to reach your B2B target audience.
Here are six ways to use LinkedIn to engage your B2B audience:
1. Company updates
According to LinkedIn, six out of every 10 LinkedIn users are interested in industry insights –– making it the most demanded type of content among LinkedIn members. More than half of members are interested in company news from your brand, and 43 percent are interested in new products and services. The most common way for brands to share content on LinkedIn is through company updates via LinkedIn Company Pages.
Consider a content strategy for your brand’s Company Page that includes a mix of industry insights, company news and information about your products and services. And don’t forget to engage your employees. After all, your employees are your biggest advocates, and they can help boost your brand and recruit new talent. In fact, employees are 70 percent more likely to take action on your updates and spread your message to their networks by liking, sharing or commenting on your posts.
2. Long-form articles
In addition to using LinkedIn for content marketing, marketers can take advantage of LinkedIn’s long-form publishing tool to showcase their industry expertise and thought leadership. According to LinkedIn, more than 1 million members have published long form content on the channel. At this time, companies can’t publish long-form posts using their organization’s name or publish from their Company Page. However, members can use the publishing platform to communicate their organization’s industry expertise and thought leadership.
To take advantage of this unique publishing tool, consider identifying subject matter experts within your organization who can share their expertise and help reach your collective audience. When employees publish long-form content on LinkedIn, that content is displayed on their LinkedIn profile. It’s also shared with their connections and followers in the news feed and through notifications. Establish a content calendar and publishing schedule for your thought leaders to ensure that their content stays front and center in the news feed, and promote their articles from your Company Page.
3. LinkedIn SlideShare
One of the biggest challenges in B2B marketing is communicating complex information in a compelling way. LinkedIn SlideShare enables you to create interactive presentations to effectively communicate with your B2B audience. According to LinkedIn, 19.7 million SlideShares have been uploaded, and LinkedIn SlideShare reaches over 70 million users per month. Google indexes every presentation on the platform, and LinkedIn SlideShare gets more than 80 percent of its traffic through organic search, so your presentations can help you reach more people.
Use LinkedIn Slideshare to create interactive presentations that help you effectively communicate with your B2B audience. Consider repurposing existing text-heavy content in a more visual way to engage your audience. According to LinkedIn, the most popular presentations have an average of 37 or more images, and good visuals increase retention up to 42 percent. Slides can also be viewed on mobile, so create slides with minimal text and try to feature one idea on each slide to make your content more digestible.
With more than 2.1 million LinkedIn user groups, and 42 percent of LinkedIn users indicating that LinkedIn Groups are helpful, there’s a huge opportunity for B2B brands to leverage Groups to connect with and engage industry professionals. Identify active groups that your target audience is participating in, as well as groups centered around topics that are important to your brand. Currently brands cannot participate in Groups, but individuals who work for your company can.
Identify subject matter experts to join and share their expertise on behalf of your brand. Provide them with content to share that adds value to the conversations they’re participating in. While Group discussions are an effective tool for sharing, they’re also a great resource for gathering valuable insights about your target audience. It’s important to keep in mind that LinkedIn Groups are communities designed for two-way conversations. So make sure you’re listening and engaging –– not just broadcasting your own marketing messages.
5. Sponsored Content
According to a recent study, B2B buyers conduct 12 online searches, on average, prior to visiting a specific brand’s site, and 74 percent of buyers choose a company that is first in helping with useful content. B2B brands that provide valuable content early during the buyer journey are more likely to win mindshare, consideration and purchase. LinkedIn Sponsored Content can help your brand influence purchase decisions by publishing your content directly to the LinkedIn feed.
LinkedIn Sponsored Content and direct sponsored content are native ads that appear in the news feed for only the LinkedIn users you target. You can choose to sponsor organic updates that were recently published to your Company Page, or create direct sponsored content that only appears in the news feed. Targeting options include location, company, industry, title, skills, degree of study and more. Consider targeting decision-makers and influencers in your target audience with content that guides them along the purchase path to help build awareness and generate high-quality leads.
6. Sponsored InMail
While email remains an important channel for B2B marketers, reaching the right people at the right time has become a challenge. Email inboxes are often cluttered with marketing messages, and it’s impossible to ensure that your email lands at the top of the pile. LinkedIn Sponsored InMail can help you drive meaningful results by delivering personalized messages directly to LinkedIn members. In fact, Sponsored InMail is the most direct way to engage potential customers on LinkedIn across desktop and mobile. And because you’re targeting people who are at their jobs thinking about their jobs, Sponsored InMail is a great way to generate qualified leads.
Consider Sponsored InMail if you’re interested in reaching a targeted audience by location, company or even job title. Make sure to personalize your message with content that resonates with your audience and include a strong call-to-action (CTA). LinkedIn allows you to send Sponsored InMail from your company or someone within your company. We recommend sending the InMails from someone within your company to create a more instant connection. Note that Sponsored InMail currently requires a minimum budget, and marketers must work directly with LinkedIn. Interested in running an InMail campaign? Contact us, and we’ll help you get connected.
As you look ahead to 2017, think about how you can leverage these tools and tactics as part of your integrated marketing efforts to effectively engage B2B decision makers and achieve your business objectives. Need help? Two Rivers Marketing can help you evaluate which tool and tactics make the most sense for your unique needs. Contact us today to get started.