Remember when LinkedIn was just a hangout for job seekers and a few of your super-keen coworkers? Well, those days are long gone.
LinkedIn has come up from behind to become the most trusted social network and the go-to for B2B and B2C marketers alike. With well over half a billion users (and growing by 2 new members per second), it’s the largest professional community on the planet. Put simply: LinkedIn is the place both you and your content need to be.
How can you make sure you’re bringing your best game to LinkedIn? Here are seven tips for boosting your LinkedIn content, increasing audience engagement, and improving your ROI.
- Be intentional
- Take advantage of LinkedIn’s new post ranking function
- Build your community
- Leverage your team’s connections
- Start real conversations
- Mix it Up
- To Buy or not to buy
LinkedIn is now too important to be an afterthought in your content marketing plan. Take some inspiration from LinkedIn itself: their meteoric rise in recent years is no accident.
In 2018 LinkedIn made some very intentional changes to their feed ranking function and the user experience that yielded serious gains. The changes created more visibility for posts from smaller content creators while maintaining reach for bigtime players (with 50% year over year engagement rate growth, nobody’s really hurting on LinkedIn). So, now that your posts have a better chance of being seen, it’s time to step up your LinkedIn presence!
Start with the basics
First off, revisit your company pages. Are you making each field work for you? Does the heading contain industry-specific keywords optimized for search engines? Does your description tell a story about your organization? Does it have a hook and an actionable click-through?
LinkedIn still works best as a person-to-person network, so freshen up your personal profile too and encourage your employees and team members to do the same. Revise your headline, summary, skills, and endorsements. Make sure you’ve posted some recent updates.
Create custom content and use native publishing tools
Instead of just recycling content from other platforms, use LinkedIn’s native video and built-in article publishing. It’s old news that LinkedIn’s algorithms favor native content, but it’s still true.
And if you really want to get in on the authentic and high-quality audience engagement that LinkedIn offers, native long-form is a great way to go.
Tip: In articles you can include external links to your website etc. without being punished by the algorithms like you are when you link away in a regular post. And when you and your team share the article on your personal profiles, the algorithms will be kinder still because it will be an internal link.
Take advantage of LinkedIn’s new post ranking function
LinkedIn recommends frequent and consistent posting – 1-2 posts per day and 3-4 shares per day. But since the 2018 update, LinkedIn’s algorithms prioritize relevance above all. What you post is more important than how often or when you post.
Time is relative
Advice abounds on what time of day is best for posting (10 am on Tuesdays or 3 pm on Wednesdays remain popular timeslots), but the truth is that it all depends on your audience.
Start by posting during peak traffic times, but be ready to experiment to find out what works best for your connections and your particular target audience.
Value over volume
Remember, LinkedIn favors relevance over the most recent posts. So, conversations that are gaining traction in your community will appear at the top of your feed. If the people, pages, hashtags, or groups you follow are engaging with something, you’ll likely see it too. And that’s a good principle to reverse engineer for your own content creation.
As Pete Davies, Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn says: “The more valuable the conversation, the higher in your feed the post will be.” The most engaging content for your network might perform poorly on someone else’s page, but what matters is that you reach your target audience. Consistent, quality content that speaks directly to your niche wins every time.
Build your community
To connect with the right community, you need to become an active community member yourself. LinkedIn ranks content based on the interests of you and your connections.
Find your target audience
Use the advanced search tools and connect with people working in your industry or adjacent ones. Join groups to narrow down your target audience and find people who need the kind of content you’re posting.
Use hashtags strategically
Use hashtags to find and join ongoing conversations relevant to your content (you can search and follow hashtags on LinkedIn). Use up to five hashtags in your posts to connect your content to that broader conversation. Be sure to research and test new hashtags before using them.
Remember, you want to make your posts relevant and valuable to a specific audience, so don’t be haphazard with your hashtags. Use them to pinpoint your reach.
Tip: Can’t find the niche you’re looking for? Start your own group or create a Showcase Page to target a specific audience with a specific message or product.
Leverage your team’s connections
Tap into the networks of your team members by using the new employee notification feature for your LinkedIn page or try out the new custom content format to spotlight an outstanding employee or welcome a new team member.
Employee engagement with your content builds authentic brand visibility outside your organization. People trust content from other people more than they trust it directly from companies, so content shared by your people has a much greater chance of garnering genuine engagement than posts straight from your company page.
This is also a great way to gauge the quality and relevance of your content. If your own team isn’t responding to what you post, chances are people from other organizations won’t either and you’ll find out quickly where you need to make adjustments.
Start real conversations
No matter how good your content is, you can’t just post and leave.
Actively engage with people who engage with you
Reciprocal engagement creates the conditions for a real conversation, and that increases the value of your content both to LinkedIn’s algorithms (those robots love relevance!) and the real humans reading it.
Be the first to comment
You can initiate engagement yourself by being the first to comment on your own post. Put external links into a comment instead of the post itself. Comments with links are a great way to outsmart the algorithms and get conversations started.
Mix it Up
Okay, you found your audience, started a conversation, and are consistently posting high-quality content just for them. Great! But as any content marketer worth her salt will tell you (probably with a bit of a sigh), good content marketing is 20% creation and 80% promotion.
Create eye-catching content
Although the user base is growing at lightning speed, people still spend far less time on LinkedIn than on other social platforms (anywhere from an average of 6.55 minutes per visit to an estimated 17 minutes per month versus 1,400 minutes per month on Facebook). That means that, no matter how great your content is, you have a very short window to catch people’s attention.
Text-only posts are still in style
Posts with images and video still have the highest engagement rates. But to stand out, try adding in some text-only posts. It might sound counter-intuitive, but text-based posts actually work great on LinkedIn and will make an impact among the stream of images and videos on people’s feeds.
But be sure to use short, clear sentences and tell a story. Use lists, ask questions, or request feedback. A genuine text-only conversation-starter is more valuable than a fancy video that is purely self-promotional or sales-oriented. That said, video still has exponential engagement rates, so definitely keep it in the mix.
To Buy or not to buy
So, let’s say you’re looking at last quarter’s analytics and you’re still not happy with the results. Should you buy followers or connections on LinkedIn?
If you’ve stuck with us this far, I’m guessing you already know what we’re about to say: No. Don’t waste your time or money buying LinkedIn connections. Seriously. Just don’t. It won’t solve your problems.
Even in markets where there has been a recent surge in people buying fake followers, the results aren’t worth it. Remember what our pal Pete Davies said? LinkedIn’s feed ranking methodology is based on this important principle: “People You Know, Talking About Things You Care About.” Obviously, that can’t work if you aren’t building a base of real-life human followers.
So where should you spend your budget on LinkedIn? Promoted posts and custom ads are a much better investment.
LinkedIn is the #1 ranked B2B marketing platform for a reason. Over half of all social traffic to B2B sites and blogs comes from LinkedIn. Users have 2x more buying power than the average web audience and 4 out of 5 are decision-makers in their organizations.
Take advantage of the latest Campaign Manager updates
LinkedIn’s latest update introduced Campaign Manager which helps you take a no-nonsense approach to ad options. With even more emphasis on audience targeting and the new objective-based pricing, you can now focus your efforts, pay for what you really want, and clearly measure what you’ve achieved.
Target, target, target
There are some pretty great guides out there to help you get started with LinkedIn ads. But ultimately, it all comes back to finding your target audience and providing real value to them. You won’t see meaningful traction on your ads until you truly understand who you are talking to and why they need to hear from you.
LinkedIn recommends measuring both ROI and KPI over a longer period of time to get reliable results. This makes sense, given that LinkedIn is all about building authentic connections and (sorry, we have to say it again) delivering real value to your target market.
To sum up, LinkedIn is a fast-growing and highly-effective marketplace. Recent updates to their algorithms continue to trend toward favoring relevance over frequency and authentic connections over faceless media blasts.
To really make an impact, optimize your pages and profiles, leverage your personal networks and your team’s connections, and focus your content and promotions toward you target audience.