I was recently in a position where a client told me, “I need to get more connections on LinkedIn”. My response to this was, “Ok, what is the goal of increasing your connections?” The reply – “I don’t know, I’ve just been told I need more connections”. After further discussion it emerged that driving traffic to company content and the website was the real aim of the LinkedIn strategy. My client believed an increase in connections would help reach this goal and justify that social media activity as being successful. What this highlights, is that those responsible for B2B marketing and business growth are misunderstanding how to effectively utilise LinkedIn for content distribution. As quoted by CMI and MarketingProfs in their 2013 B2B Content Marketing report, “83% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content’. What this statistic doesn’t answer though, is whether that content is being distributed effectively and to the right people, ultimately achieving ROI.
Firstly, it needs to be recognised that while the number of connections or followers you have across any social media network can be used as a KPI; the success of your social media strategy should always be measured using tangible metrics that are directly in line with the overall goal. For example, in my client’s case, an increase in LinkedIn connections would not be positive if none of the new connections then visited the website or accessed and engaged with content. To accurately measure whether the LinkedIn content strategy was effective, we needed to look at:
- Trends in traffic from LinkedIn - were visits increasing?
- The conversion rate of traffic from this channel - once visitors reached the content were they converting to leads?
- The percentage of the leads sourced from LinkedIn that then converted to customers
When it comes to connections, what matters here is not simply the quantity but the quality, as this is what will truly determine how effective your content marketing is. Connections made need to be people to which the content is of use and that may one day do business with your company.
So, how do you ensure your content is reaching the right people? You don’t just increase your LinkedIn connections, you increase your number of quality connections. To do this there are three main aspects to focus on; your personal profile, the company page and LinkedIn groups:
The Company Page should:
- Be posted to consistently and frequently (see our blog post on the recommended B2B social media posting frequency)
- Follow the 80:20 rule; post 80% shared content from other sources and 20% of your own original content
- Be analysed regularly to determine follower demographics and which content is getting the most engagement
- Utilise the services page to show all of your products or services
Your Personal Profile should:
- Give a detailed but short summary of your role in the company
- Clearly detail your company offering
- Contain links to company content in the ‘Publications’ section
- Be used to regularly share and offer opinion on content posted to the company page
LinkedIn Groups should:
- Be joined after researching which groups your prospects are using
- Be used for their primary purpose; to have a conversation
- Be participated in regularly
- Be used to comment on discussions in which your personal expertise can be of help to other people; not to sell your own company
- Be used to start discussions about your prospects’ pain points and challenges
- Be used to share your own content only where it’s highly relevant to the group members
From experience, how to use LinkedIn groups for content distribution appears to be the biggest misunderstanding of many in B2B marketing. So, to compliment the above list, here are a few golden rules of ‘what not to do’:
- Don’t comment on a discussion by directly plugging your company as the answer
- Don’t post links to your own content unless you have had an on-going discussion with the member, if appropriate move the conversation to an Inmail and connection request
- Don’t post your entire blog as a comment (I’ve seen it done!)
By following these guidelines, you will be effectively networking with those in your target market on LinkedIn. Focusing your efforts on being an active and valued group participant with a motive to help prospects, not sell to them, will earn you a reputation of trust. In turn, this will open the door for those that have an interest in what you have to say, to extend an invitation to connect with you. When this happens, those connections are already in a position whereby they value your opinion, so when exposed to the content your company produces as you share it, they will be more likely to view/download/subscribe and enter the sales funnel as a genuine lead. These leads are much more likely to convert to customers and your content marketing activity on LinkedIn to result in positive ROI.