This article was originally written for and published by Marketing Gizmo.
Once the somewhat dull dark horse of the social media realm, LinkedIn is fast becoming a content marketer’s ideal home for content of all kinds.
A recent survey of 2,701 LinkedIn members revealed a growing trend: people are becoming increasingly reliant on LinkedIn for professionally relevant content. For marketers looking to reach readers with this type of content, there couldn’t be a better spot.
According to LinkedIn, over 300 million professionals (half of the total number on the planet) are LinkedIn members. They are a concentrated market of influential, affluent, educated people.
If your content marketing is targeted toward any segment of this group, you need to be active on LinkedIn.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it, and do it well.
Reaching “Content Revolutionaries” With Your LinkedIn Content
LinkedIn has recently identified a new class of online reader made up of people who are ready, willing, and eager to consume content marketing. They call them “Content Revolutionaries,” and they should be your primary target audience for LinkedIn content.
According to The 2014 Professional Content Consumption Report, Content Revolutionaries represent a growing presence on LinkedIn across all professional disciplines. With two new members signing up for LinkedIn every second, the number of content revolutionaries can only continue to grow.1
For these readers, time spent on LinkedIn is not time wasted. If their boss walked up and saw them browsing Pulse or reading a group discussion, they would not be ashamed.
Instead, they see time spent on LinkedIn as professional development.
As Jason Miller, Senior Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn puts it:
“members are thinking about how to achieve their ambitions and further their careers. As a result, our members are highly receptive to advertising, content, and experiences that can help make them more knowledgeable and, ultimately, more successful.”2
Note that last part carefully. These readers aren’t interested in any old type of content. They want pieces that will actually help them further their career goals.
We’ll go into the kinds of content you need to create for them shortly, but for now here’s an overview of how the consume the products of content marketing via LinkedIn:
- They spend an average of 8 hours per week consuming professionally relevant content on the social network (this is across all devices).
- 61% of these content revolutionaries consider professional content necessary for success.
- 91% of them use LinkedIn weekly for professionally relevant content. That’s compared to 64% for online news sites, 29% for Twitter, and 27% for Facebook.
- Content revolutionaries demand content at their fingertips 24/7, because they read on desktops, phones, and tablets throughout their day.
On LinkedIn your motto should be “always be helping” instead of “always be selling.”
6 Goals of Your LinkedIn Content Marketing Strategy
To effectively reach this highly receptive audience, you need to craft a content marketing approach driven by six key goals.
- Be Helpful. Produce content that presents new knowledge or assists in professional decision making.
- Be Interesting. Spark conversation around a news event, cover the latest insights from an industry influencer, or just create some funny graphics about work life. Just don’t put out dull white papers all day everyday.
- Help Them Help Others. Content revolutionaries want to benefit their professional network by sharing your content marketing products, so make sure you’re considering the shareability of everything you distribute on LinkedIn.
- Help Them Help Themselves. Sharing your content should make a content revolutionary seem smart, well-informed, clever, etc. They’re looking to enhance their personal brand, so make that easier for them.
- Focus on Achievement. Content marketers should remember that these readers are consuming and sharing content to further their careers. Feed their desire for professional accomplishment with your content.
- Be Everywhere. Consider how your graphics will look on a phone or tablet, because if it’s not formatted well you’ll lose trust and readers. In the first quarter of 2014, 43% of traffic from LinkedIn members came through mobile, and that number will only climb.3
Specific Types of Content Marketing That Succeeds on LinkedIn
LinkedIn’s survey of 2,701 of content consumers showed them that the most successful content did one of three things:
“members are more likely to share professional content that builds their professional brands, strengthens their professional networks, or helps them sell to their networks. Marketing content will be shared more if it fulfills these needs.”
Content marketers should be keeping the needs of our readers at the forefront of our strategies in general, but these guiding principles will help us choose topics and formats.
Per LinkedIn’s own in depth research, your content marketing on LinkedIn should be designed as either knowledge-driven content or decision-driven content.
Content marketing centered around increasing a reader’s knowledge could include new research (your own or coverage of someone else’s), breaking industry news, case studies, or best practices.
Decision-driven content should make it easier for a content revolutionary to make some sort of professional decision. This might be a choice about career advancement, professional software, handling workplace politics, or generally succeeding as a professional.
Ideally this type of content marketing will be brief and concise. Bonus points if it’s produced by a business leader, industry luminary, or influencer.
Whether you’re focusing on education or decision making, make sure that your content is helping a LinkedIn reader achieve at least one of these goals, which are at the heart of why people read and share content via LinkedIn.
Goals of LinkedIn Content Marketing:
- Enhance their own knowledge. Help them keep up with industry news or discover new ideas within their industry.
- Strengthen their network. Sharing your content should facilitate building relationships with colleagues, clients, and/or influencers. Remember that you want to spark discussion whenever possible.
- Boost their personal brand. As mentioned above, you’re helping them build their professional reputation by making them look good. This also applies to content that’s aimed at improving current job skills.
Vital Pieces of a LinkedIn Content Strategy
Now that we’ve covered the general topics your content marketing should include, let’s get specific about exactly where on LinkedIn you need to be sharing that content.
LinkedIn is making great strides toward becoming a major content hub, which means there are lots places you can leverage your content.
Company Page: Showcase Your Brand
This is essentially a profile page for your company. Here you can put in details about what your company does, add a header image, and otherwise create a branded presence on LinkedIn.
Your company page is will be a primary hub for your content marketing distribution, so make sure it’s well done. Make sure you consider keywords when writing your company description, as this can affect the page’s appearance in organic search as well as searches within LinkedIn itself.
Here are the major components of your profile:
Company Updates: Share Your Helpful Content
Once you have your company page up and optimized, you can begin to share the fruits of your content marketing labors, also known as “Company Updates.”
At the top of your company page you’ll see a beige box, and all you have to do is type in the box and hit “Share.”
Once you have a legion of followers you can target your updates to particular segments based on the industry they’re in, the company size, job function, seniority, geographic location, or language preference.
Keep in mind that you need at least 100 followers within a segment, so this will be a tool for more advanced content marketing efforts rather than those just starting out.
Regardless of if you have 10,000 followers or 10, all of your company updates should follow these guidelines:
- Incorporate visuals. Make sure you include an image or video with every update. They are far more appealing, make your company page look much more polished, and will enhance the chances your update will get shared. The thumbnail version is 180×110 pixels, so keep those dimensions in mind when sharing. LinkedIn will pull an image from a URL if you paste one in.
- Keep it Short. You want an update that’s short and snackable, giving people enough information that they will be enticed to read the entirety of your content without overwhelming them with text. Remember that lots of these updates will appear on mobile devices; you don’t have a lot of real estate to work with. LinkedIn will cut you off after 595 characters.
- Channel Your Inner Journalist. You want a journalistic headline that will be accurate yet compelling. The trick is to do that without sounding like you’re fishing with click bait. Value is the name of the LinkedIn game. Make it clear that you’re offering that.
- Be Consistent. Don’t neglect your company page for a month and then flood it with updates. Try to maintain a regular posting schedule so you show your genuine and regular presence on the page.
- Be Timely. Share breaking industry news within your updates, comment on new trends, or illustrate your company’s role in leading the way. Just don’t do it a week after the buzz has died down.
- Engage With Comments. If any of your followers comments on an update, make sure you reply. Even something as simply as, “That’s a great observation. Thanks for reading” moves you from “just another content marketer” to “a real person who cares what I think.”
Sponsored Updates: Reach Beyond Your Followers
When you’re just starting out with content marketing on LinkedIn, posting company updates is a bit like presenting to an empty room. One way to get over the initial struggle to reach an audience is through sponsored updates.
This paid service lets you create a regular company update, but then pay to have it appear in LinkedIn users’ feeds. This can drive engagement with your content, and may net you some followers as well.
LinkedIn advertising is generally very cost effective, so for a few hundred dollars you can get reasonably high engagement, provided you’re following the above company update guidelines religiously.
Paying for Followers on LinkedIn
In addition to sponsored updates you can run a paid campaign designed to get more LinkedIn followers.
For these campaigns you only pay when a click results in a new follower, so it can be a very cost-effective way to jumpstart your content marketing efforts on LinkedIn.
SlideShare: A Visual Content Marketing Strategy
When good ol’ blog posts and ebooks just aren’t enough, you can incorporate Slideshare into your content marketing repertoire. This huge site was purchased by LinkedIn, giving content marketers a visual content channel as well as a written one.
You can create a company page on Slideshare and connect it to your company’s page on LinkedIn so that any presentations you create will appear as an update.
A single successful Slideshare can mean a big leap forward in getting engagement with your content, so make sure you take the time to do them right. Select a topic that you know has a good chance of success by mining old blog posts for popular content that can have a strong visual component.
Get a nice presentation template, and choose good keywords for your title and description.
For the deck itself, it should:
- Include 10-30 slides
- Approximately 19 images
- An average of 24 words per slide
For a detailed guide on getting started with Slideshare, check out our walkthrough.
Do LinkedIn Groups Belong in Your Content Marketing Strategy?
Particularly when you’re new to content marketing on LinkedIn, using groups can be a good way to reach more content revolutionaries than your company updates can command. You can market your content within existing groups or start a new one.
General Guidelines for Content Marketing in Groups
A simple search will likely reveal several solid groups that you can join, but keep in mind that as of now only individuals can post in groups, not companies. That means you need at least one trusted content marketer to engage from their own profile and share your content.
One of the most important rules of content marketing in groups is to balance sharing your own content with being a good group member.
Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute coined the 4-1-1 rule for Twitter, and it applies here as well. The rule states that for every self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and share four pieces of content written by others.
For groups you can restate the rule like this: for every piece of your own content that you share you should comment on one other person’s post and share four pieces of content written by someone else.
Content Marketing Strategy 1: Engaging With Existing LinkedIn Groups
It can be tempting to flood groups with content all day everyday and hope something sticks, but remember why content revolutionaries are engaging with content on LinkedIn. They want to find content that will help their careers.
The primary goal is not to market your content. “The primary goal of a LinkedIn group is to build a hub for quality discussions and feedback,” as Joshua Rodriguez puts it so well in his post on Content Marketing Institute.
To do this effectively, you’re going to have to devote a reasonable amount of time (ideally several hours a week) to posting, managing, and monitoring your content marketing work via LinkedIn groups.
Joshua’s 5 step guide to using LinkedIn groups is an excellent guide to this content channel; it’s a great primer for getting started.
Content Marketing Strategy 2: Creating Your Own LinkedIn Group
If you don’t find the group that you want, or if you want to create discussion around a very particular topic, creating your own LinkedIn group may be a good choice.
This can also be a good avenue for content marketing if the groups you’d like to post in are saturated with spam.
But, even more so than engaging in existing LinkedIn groups, starting your own will require serious commitments of time and energy. It’s possible, and maybe even likely, that starting a group from scratch won’t pay off.
I recommend reviewing Monina Wagner’s good insights in her article Are LinkedIn Groups Worth The Trouble?
Structuring Your Content Marketing Strategy on LinkedIn
When you’re ready to start incorporating LinkedIn into your overall content marketing strategy, this order of operations will be your best bet.
- Setup and optimize your company page.
- Begin sharing company updates regularly.
- Find a handful of existing groups and start commenting on other people’s posts, sharing curated content, and occasionally injecting your own content.
- Get your content marketing team into Slideshare, and begin regularly adding presentations to your company page.
- If you need a boost and have the budget, begin sponsoring updates and/or running a campaign to gain followers.
- Once you have these down, you can investigate publishing content via Pulse and/or creating your own LinkedIn group.
Don’t Be the Last Content Marketer to the LinkedIn Party
Content revolutionaries are engaging for hours at a time on LinkedIn right now, and more and more content marketing teams are taking advantage of their potential.
Don’t wait so long that you’re trying to combat a saturated landscape; get in while the eyes are there and not bombarded with too much noise.
1. ExpandedRamblings.com: LinkedIn Stats