Recently author, speaker and Head of Strategy at King Content, Todd Wheatland (@ToddWheatland) gave a great presentation on LinkedIn and SlideShare hacks at the Content Marketing World Conference 2014. In it, he provided several smart tips for getting real business results from LinkedIn. Here is a recap of some of the things Todd discussed along with our recommendations on how you can use LinkedIn to support your content marketing program.
1. LinkedIn Publishing
In the not so distant past, LinkedIn Influencers were the only ones who were able to publish content on LinkedIn, but now, publishing content is an option for all users. Simply go to your profile homepage, click the small pencil icon at the top right of your screen and begin crafting your post.
For marketers, this offers a great opportunity to gain greater exposure to your target audience. When using the tool, as soon as you publish, all of your connections are notified. Plus, once you create your post, it will automatically be positioned at the top of your profile page. If you publish quality content regularly, you’ll have the ability to keep your brand and messaging fresh in your followers’ minds. Another great thing is that you have the option to include links for driving readers back to your website.
In his presentation, Todd warned that one unfortunate downside of publishing on LinkedIn is that so-called “comment trolls” can be quite outspoken, leaving ill-mannered remarks that may drag down your company’s image. To avoid this, you need to be vigilant about monitoring your profile page, weeding out comments that add no value.
Recently LinkedIn changed the way posts are viewed on their site to be more like Pulse. Now, when someone clicks a link to read your post, it sits at the top of a virtually endless list of other unrelated articles on Pulse. The left sidebar is full of thumbnails and article snippets. This shortens attention spans and virtually guarantees that your reader will be distracted. So include links and calls to action to encourage them to visit your site in the middle of the article, while you still have their attention. If you wait to the end, LinkedIn is already trying to lure them to the next article.
Now that publishing is open to all users, the amount of superfluous content floating around is undoubtedly going to rise exponentially. Keep this in mind when you publish on this platform. Make sure that your content is interesting and addresses real business needs or questions. Content that is thinly-veiled sales propaganda is likely to go ignored – or worse yet, it could irritate people.
2. LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are online forums where professionals in the same industry or with similar interests can engage in discussions, ask and answer questions, share content, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish themselves as industry experts.
Participating in a Group: Participating in groups is a great way to expand your reach and influence. When choosing a group to target for participation, be selective. Consider the topics being discussed, the group membership, and the activity.
You can determine how active a given group page is by checking its statistics. Disqualify groups with a high discussion to comment ratio. For example, in the image to the right, you can see that this group had 128 new discussions started in the week, but they got only 96 comments. That means that many discussions have no comments at all. This is an indication that the members of the group are simply posting links to their blog post, with the intention of advertising their content rather than engaging in discussions. It’s unlikely that your discussion will gain much traction in a group like this.
You can find out this information by clicking the italicized “i” at the top right of a group’s page. There, you’ll see a tab for “Activity,” which will quantify the number of discussions versus comments.
Running a Group: Creating your own group for sharing insightful content is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Click here for tips on starting a group.
If you do opt to start a group, you’ll be pleased to find that LinkedIn offers strong database management and controls, as well as the ability to manually choose the discussions you wish to promote each week. But bear in mind that you’ll need to be consistently active in your group by starting discussions, commenting on discussions from other members, sharing relevant content and moderating comments posted by your members.
Todd mentioned a little known fact about group management. Apparently, well-moderated groups trigger LinkedIn’s algorithm to start promoting that group. So there is direct incentive for group leaders to stay on top of their group activity.
Kapost created a group called “Content Marketing Academy“. This is a great example of a well-managed group. They have more than 14,500 group members and their comment to discussion ratio is very high. They’ve likely accomplished this through posting thought-provoking discussion points regularly and avoiding blatant advertising.
3. Company and Showcase Pages
Value of a Company Page: LinkedIn Company pages can help businesses build an online presence and drive engagement. A company page is essentially a general homepage where you can include an overview of your business, a brief description of what makes it unique, and important visual elements such as your logo and banner. On this page, you can share content through updates that include your blog posts and other content you think your target audience will value. Click here for information on creating a company page.
To quickly build up your fan-base, encourage your employees to start following your company on LinkedIn. They’ll be able to share your updates with all of their contacts, thereby increasing your marketing reach exponentially.
Keep in mind that company pages are most effective when you regularly share updates. On average, the most successful users on LinkedIn are those who are publishing content four times or more per day. This includes a mix of both original company and recycled or curated content.
In Todd’s presentation at Content Marketing World, he emphasized that every time you make a post on your company page, you should also share it in a group. This will help you increase your organic reach. However, while posting quality content often is commendable, be careful not to overdo it or you’ll run the risk of people tuning you out. Here are some useful best practices for creating company updates on your page.
Value of a Showcase Page: Showcase pages are an extension of your company page and are intended to spotlight a specific aspect of your business. This is perfect for users that only want to see updates from your company that are relevant to their direct area of interest. For example, some FinTech companies’ product suites are very broad. They might offer different products for various asset classes or type of industry participant under the same brand name. Setting up specific showcase pages for each of these niches is a good way to keep customers and prospects plugged into the aspect of your brand that is relevant to them. Microsoft is an example of a company with several well-managed showcases pages with good followings.
To be Continued…
Don’t miss part two of this special LinkedIn blog series coming soon. If you like what you’ve read, please subscribe to our blog. We publish articles weekly on marketing strategy, tactics, and financial services technology topics.