Despite boasting almost 400 million users now, LinkedIn is still massively underused as a content marketing platform.
While it started out as little more than a convenient recruiting tool, the site has grown into one of the most powerful social media channels on the Web. And most marketers have no idea what to do with it.
To help you see what you’ve been missing, here’s our foolproof guide to starting out with content marketing on LinkedIn:
1. Fine-tune your pitch
Most marketers choose to overlook LinkedIn simply because the barriers to entry seem too big. With a bit of work, you can essentially rehash and repackage the same content to work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Youtube. LinkedIn, however, is a whole different ball game.
If you want to make it on the platform, the first thing to do is forget everything you know about ‘traditional’ social media marketing. This is the one channel where piggybacking your brand message on the latest internet memes and photos of puppies just isn’t going to cut it.
Despite having almost 400M users, LinkedIn is still very much a niche social media platform. Most people are either trying to find a job, form business partnerships or network with industry influencers. Nobody cares what you had for breakfast. As such, the conversational tone is a lot more professional and the majority of interactions are geared towards career development and furthering your business goals.
Another thing that makes LinkedIn unappealing to marketers is the fact that hard-selling on the platform is generally frowned upon. Most users have grown accustomed to brands using Facebook and Twitter to sell products. LinkedIn, on the other hand, never developed the same reputation.
With all this in mind, it’s clear that anyone looking to win on LinkedIn has to seriously refine their outreach efforts. Whether you’re trying to build leads, find customers or just amplify your online presence, you’re forced to create a brand new, corporate brand avatar and exercise supreme patience and subtlety in your marketing.
To most companies out there this is too big of an investment to make. That’s also why there’s less competition on the platform and brands that actually take the time to do LinkedIn right find themselves reaching a much wider (and more relevant) audience than on any other channel.
2. Harness the power of LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are basically niche social networks centered around sharing content and promoting discussions relevant to the group’s specific interests. They are one of LinkedIn’s most powerful marketing features, allowing you to spread your brand message, find qualified leads and monitor leading industry trends.
Whenever something gets posted within a group, LinkedIn sends a ‘new content’ notification to all of the group’s members. This alone is a major discerning factor compared to its Facebook counterpart.
What that essentially means is that unlike most other social platforms, you don’t actually need to establish a major brand following to get your message in front of the right people. Instead, LinkedIn effectively lets you leverage its own email list that you can pitch to, completely free of charge! In other words, you can join LinkedIn today and instantly have a major impact on your target audience, as long as the content you distribute is uniquely valuable to them (more on that in a sec).
Superusers also recommend creating your own LinkedIn Group to demonstrate expertise and establish yourself as an industry leader. Of course, building a community around your group takes time and effort, but if you’re able to get away with it, you’ll never have to worry about lead generation again.
You should certainly try and join as many related industry groups as possible and send personalized group invitations to relevant members and influencers. Other than that, providing your existing members with actionable advice and exclusive industry insights is the best way to grow an audience. Which leads us to:
3. Distribute high-quality content
Many bloggers find their LinkedIn posts frequently outperforming the same content on their own website, with no additional marketing efforts. If you’re looking to raise brand awareness and maximize your content’s reach, there’s no place you’d rather be.
There are two main ways you can use LinkedIn in terms of simple content distribution. Your profile’s Status/Network Updates are a great medium for sharing bite-sized articles and staying in touch with your existing connections. Besides, whenever somebody within your network ‘likes’ what you posted, it gets re-shared with their own respective networks as well, further amplifying your content’s exposure.
On the other hand, LinkedIn’s publishing platform is ideal for in-depth long-form articles. Up to about a year ago only a selected few had the ability to publish blog posts on the site, including the likes of Richard Branson, Barack Obama and Bill Gates. Nowadays, LinkedIn is ripe with entrepreneurial advice from brands both big and small, all trying to find the best way to leverage the website’s massive corporate audience.
Data shows B2B marketers publish more content on LinkedIn than anywhere else on the web. That being said, most of what’s being shared on the platform remains shamelessly self-promotional, lacking the unique value proposition with which to entice readers. Remember, this is a professional network. Articles that work best are usually based on the author’s original perspective and carry some genuine insight about the relevant industry. Writing for LinkedIn should be approached with no less scrutiny and effort than writing for your own personal or company blog.
Finally, if your post does provide value to its readers and starts gaining momentum, there’s a chance that LinkedIn will put a spotlight on it and feature it in one of its categories. It’s not uncommon for featured articles to reach tens if not hundreds of thousands of readers, all highly targeted traffic and directly pertaining to your own niche. And that’s the kind of exposure money just can’t buy.