As LinkedIn marks its 20th birthday, we look at what the site means for today’s B2B marketing and sales, and how to use it to maximum effect.
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for driving commercial success especially for B2B business. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is uniquely placed as the only true B2B-focused social media platform, providing access to people across business hierarchies from junior executives through to senior leaders.
The site has undergone immense change since it first launched, but remains a go-to for creating and nurturing high quality business networks and engaging and educational content for both corporations and individuals. But are you using it to supercharge your company and career?
Why build a LinkedIn strategy?
A LinkedIn engagement strategy not only allows you to build the profile of your business and yourself, it also communicates on a more profound level your value proposition, mission, vision, values, and culture in a way that no other advertising medium can.
After all, social media is less about the business - it’s about the people.
Are you connecting with the people behind the business decisions?
How do you recognise their intrinsic motivations?
How do you celebrate the achievements of your people?
At Haynes MarComs, we work closely with our clients to create a customised Influencer Matrix that considers your customers, employees, industry influencers, business partners, and the media to build a profile and gain momentum for your business objectives.
Company social media policy
It’s important to factor in more than just the content on your corporate LinkedIn page or the potential risks of employees commenting on their workplace experience when crafting a policy around LinkedIn use for your team.
Define a social media policy that both encourages employees, whilst also includes frameworks and safeguards for any trade secrets or confidential information. Your company’s social media policy needs to extend to how your senior stakeholders are leveraging their profile to help your business, encouraging - or even benchmarking - them to share corporate information.
Having these policies and procedures in place ensures that your business is fairly and accurately represented. While 15 years ago, your marketing and communications team may have been able to control your reputation through media outreach, today’s social media landscape dominates as a news source and opinion shaper. It’s important to have clear policies for people to follow, and actions you can take to help your business narrative make a positive impact.
We’ve looked at the performance of our strategies across our own accounts, as well as those we manage on behalf of clients, and share the key initiatives which have a direct impact on social media success.
What works on LinkedIn
Tagging and #
Tagging is a great way to tap into a wider audience. Don’t spam with too many; LinkedIn recommends 2-5 hashtags per post. Consider trending topics to reach a wide audience – but ensure it’s relevant both to the subject matter of the post and your business.
Tagging (or ‘mentioning’ in LI speak) encourages engagement. The people or companies you mention are notified about your post; this not only helps them view it (and hopefully engage), it can also drive shareability which further raises awareness of your company and its actions to their followers and connections.
Consider who you’re tagging – and be sure to check you have the right company as there’s many with similar names! Some have regional variations, others one giant global page.
Sharing reputable third party links can help you display your credibility – for example an article review of your product or a thought leadership piece you've published on a media site.
Remember to tag the publication or journalist to help increase views. But the golden rule: Be selective about what you share. Like all social channels, LinkedIn values content that keeps people on its site. It won’t prioritise outbound links (HootSuite did an experiment on this).
The best way to share is to post the link in the comments – so craft a commentary piece in the first/main post, then once it’s live, comment on your own post with the link.
We recommend testing different types of posts and ways of sharing non-LinkedIn content based on your objectives (what you are trying to achieve), because it will be different if you want ‘impressions/views’ vs ‘shares’ or ‘comments’.
LinkedIn articles Sharing your own content on LinkedIn is a great way to position yourself as an expert and stimulate wider industry/sector engagement.
Don’t take our word for it - this article has a good summary of main reasons why you should use LinkedIn articles. We have been testing this on our own profiles and with our customers for some time - with great success.
Remember to publish original content – if reproducing content verbatim from your own site, you could be hurting your own site’s SEO ranking, since LinkedIn content performs especially well.
As it’s an article, it’s a different type of content to social posts. Long-form pieces give you the opportunity to share your expertise via greater in depth insights, and educate your connections further. Consider wider trends in your industry, case studies/learnings, etc.
Using your team and partners
People buy from people. You could have the BEST corporate page but you still need to leverage your team’s personal brands to help generate leads through genuine relationships.
People are eight times more likely to engage with content shared by employees than content shared by brands
Leads generated by employees convert seven times more frequently than any other kind of lead.
However, making employees advocates isn’t easy, it requires a Social Media Policy (see above) and often training and support. Employees benefit by building their personal brand. But it’s important to:
Be flexible – allow your team to put their own voice into posts rather than forcing them to share posts in the company tone
Don’t expect every single post your corporate page posts to be shared or commented on by each employee
Encourage and make it easy for them – supplying draft copy they can either use as is or tweak themselves increases their uptake
Finally, have guidelines. Ensure you have a clear Social Media Policy but be conscious of how you restrict its use - especially during work time. LinkedIn can benefit employees through free training resources, as well as build your company reputation, so there should be specific guidelines around its use.
Real photos, real places and people
The posts that drive the most engagement, recognition and comments are personal stories featuring real people - especially with photos or short-form video, be it:
A team get together
Meeting with a customer
Attendance at events
Activities with key partners
Think how you can bring your stories to life through images and people, tagging them in where appropriate.
We at Haynes MarComs can work with you to create a LinkedIn social media policy, provide team training for utilising LinkedIn as an outreach channel, as well as build a bespoke content strategy to maximise the performance of LinkedIn, improving its efficiency as a channel that drives business leads. Drop us a line to arrange a time to find out more.