Why and how to use LinkedIn for business marketing
LinkedIn is a unique social media platform that was built for aspiring students, keen professionals, and businesses of all industries and sizes. From a user’s perspective, it is a space to grow their network, gather or provide information, and expand their career. For businesses, LinkedIn is a platform to connect with customers, nurture leads, and express industry knowledge. It maintains a higher level of professionalism compared to other social media platforms, therefore encouraging more business-emphasized topics and conversations. LinkedIn is especially influential for B2B marketing because of the abundance of business owners who engage in conversations on LinkedIn.
Yet even though LinkedIn is more business-heavy, it is still a social media platform, meaning it relies on engagement and connections; and building those connections as a brand cannot be accomplished through sales-oriented posts. A user’s LinkedIn news feed should not be filled with posts on why your service or product is the best, but instead with content that is relatable and develops a personal connection. To understand how to create your business LinkedIn strategy, the first step is to understand what the LinkedIn algorithm is then how to use LinkedIn for business marketing.
What is the LinkedIn algorithm?
In the past, the LinkedIn news feed would be compressed with posts from mega-users whose popularity on the platform was assumed as viral content. This left regular users and businesses with little engagement, a trend that discouraged users and businesses from posting. The new algorithm, introduced about two years ago, took a stance to level the playing field by prioritizing relatable content. Since the new LinkedIn algorithm update, there has been a 50% increase in viral activity.
LinkedIn’s mantra explains it well; “People you know, talking about the things you care about.” The LinkedIn algorithm focuses on two things to prioritize relevant content and promote engagement. To accomplish these goals, there are 4 main factors to the LinkedIn ranking algorithm
1. Emphasis on personal connections
Personal connections are determined by who you have interacted with based on comments, shares, or reactions. If a user commonly shares another user’s posts or comments on a business’s updates, those connections will be ranked higher on the LinkedIn news feed. This factor also takes into consideration the information on the user’s LinkedIn profile, for example who they work with, and hypothesizes that connection on the user’s network is more personal.
2. Directed by interests
The Linkedin algorithm prioritizes content that relates to the user’s interests which are determined by the people, pages, or hashtags they follow, the groups they are in, or the content they have previously engaged with. By analyzing this information and patterns, the Linkedin algorithm can determine which type of content based on its hashtags, keywords, or people mentioned aligns with similar interests as the user.
3. Concentrated on engagement probability
Since the new algorithm focuses on interactions, it gauges previous actions and behaviors a user takes to monitor what content the user typically interacts with (likes, shares, etc.). The LinkedIn algorithm breaks it down into two measurements:
3A. How likely people are to share, comment, or react to content based on its type and how frequently you were interested in similar content in the past
3B. How quickly a post has gained attraction once it is posted. When a post is quickly commented on or shared, the algorithm views it as inspiring conversations, therefore ranking it higher.
4. Recognition of quality and credibility
Initially, the LinkedIn algorithm will scan content to determine its quality and credibility. Quality is judged as spam, low quality, or high quality. When it is determined as spam or low quality, it significantly limits its rank. As for credibility, this is determined by the account’s history and if their content regularly inspires interaction and engagement. The best way to combat these is to post authentic content, as outlined in the next section.
Each of these factors contributes to LinkedIn’s goal to deliver content to the user that they are interested in. In order to maximize your LinkedIn strategy for business, understanding these LinkedIn algorithm factors will guide which steps are needed to optimize organic ranking. See below for how to market on LinkedIn.
How to optimize your LinkedIn marketing strategy
The following 8 steps for optimizing your LinkedIn marketing strategy are in accordance with LinkedIn’s objective to personalize and engage the LinkedIn news feed for the user.
1. Complete LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn business page acts as a landing page for your business, providing information about your company and actionable next steps. A visitor can learn what your business offers, who works there, job opportunities, and more. When a company’s LinkedIn account is complete, it makes your brand seem trustworthy and prominent; in fact, a comprehensive page receives twice as much traffic as an incomplete page. The following steps walk through how to make a LinkedIn business page.
1. Complete your personal profile
The first step is to complete your personal page because it provides more authenticity and dependability to the business when the accounts associated with it are well managed.
2. Build your business page
Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows businesses to create a business page that can be managed by multiple LinkedIn users. To start, add your business name and the custom URL, which should easily be associated with your business.
3. Add the company description
The description should include what your company does and relay why the visitor should care. When brainstorming how to make your LinkedIn business profile stand out, the description provides a significant enhancement. Furthermore, the first 156 characters of the description are very important because they appear in Google search as the meta description.
4. Add company details
Add information regarding your business’ location, industry, contact information, size, etc.
5. Publish the page
After reviewing the page’s information and details, click publish! Before moving on, select the option to “View as a Member” to show how visitors will see your page in order to review and correct accordingly.
6. Add page administrators
As mentioned, multiple people can edit and manage the site. To add members, you must first be connected to the user.
7. Optimize for search
A LinkedIn business page can rank on search results pages, further emphasizing the need for a complete profile. To optimize your LinkedIn page, insert keywords and increase links by linking to other marketing material (website, blog, etc.) and have employees add your company to their work experience.
2. Stay relevant
There are multiple aspects to staying relevant. One is posting in a frequent and consistent manner. While posting should not be as frequent as Instagram or Twitter, you should still remain consistent in providing content for users to engage with. Second is knowing who your audience is and what their interests are. In order to stay relevant to your targeted audience, you must know what they consider to be relevant. This coordinates with the third point which is to add content that is trending, especially among your audience. Adding content that is helpful to followers, such as tips for career advancement, changes in the industry, or answering common questions, is a way to stay relevant both on LinkedIn and to the individual, which leads to the next point.
Last is the type of content, such as images, videos, articles, etc. Adding a variety of content while also emphasizing popular formats will demonstrate that your business is modern and advanced. For example, videos on LinkedIn earn 3 times more engagement than posts that are just text.
3. Stay personal
While LinkedIn marketing is extremely beneficial for lead generation, the approach still relies upon being personal and growing connections. Yes, the platform is beneficial for sales but it is still not the space for just sales-talk. Instead, the brand voice should be approachable and friendly to make your business seem relatable therefore encouraging visitors to follow, engage, or reach out. Being personal is more than just having a friendly voice but also providing users the opportunity to gain something from the relationship. By publishing authentic content that will benefit the user, it shows that your brand is genuine and wants a connection, not just your purchase.
4. Inspire engagement
As a platform dedicated to building a network of connections, the need for conversations is necessary. Posting content that encourages engagement, such as comments or shares, will increase ranking. A way to inspire conversations includes asking questions that the audience would be interested in and willing to answer. Certain questions or posts can position your company as a thought leader on the subject, thus increasing the probability that users will engage with the conversation because it is content that evokes inquiry. This, of course, relates back to the earlier point, the content must be relevant to the audience for questions or comments to be of interest.
Other ways to inspire engagement includes tagging mentioned brands or members so they are notified but also those following that brand will be more likely to interact. And of course, it is not a one-way street, if you expect users to interact with your business, then you must interact with them by commenting, reacting, or sharing their content.
5. Focus on the niche
As previously mentioned, it is important to focus on the interests of a very specific audience. When you understand and share content that relates to a distinct appeal, it will have more influence rather than competing on a broad scale. Enhancing content for the specific engagement of an audience’s questions, concerns, and needs makes the intention of the content clear for those targeted users.
Another way to focus on a niche is to narrow the scope of your hashtags. While it can be easy to include common hashtags like #marketing or #technology, by researching and clarifying the hashtag, it has more focus and meaning. For example, instead of #marketing, you might use #b2bcontentmarketing or for #technology you could use #designtechnology so that the objective is clearly defined and reaches those interested in the topic. Other ways to narrow hashtags is to create a branded hashtag, use a location-based hashtag, or an event hashtag. Overall, the number of hashtags should be limited to about 1-3 per post to still have a professional and clean demeanor.
6. Build the network
A larger network means more reach and engagement, as long as the network is comprised of relatable users. A few ways to build your network of followers is through:
Actively advertising your LinkedIn profile by including social links on marketing materials or highlighting it among your connections, it makes the account visible and accessible to users.
Your team is the most interested and dedicated group of followers for your business and through their network, they can promote the brand with authenticity and personal connection.
7. Post at the right time
While the LinkedIn news feed is not chronologically ordered but instead ranks on the explained LinkedIn algorithm factors, timing influences how quickly a post gains engagement. Since the ranking algorithm prioritizes content that quickly sparks interaction, posting at times that your audience is online will increase speedy engagement.
8. Analyze and improve
In order to implement these steps, it requires research, analysis, and measurement. You must research your audience, analyze your competitors, measure your progress, and much more. These steps are what makes a LinkedIn strategy for business successful, otherwise using LinkedIn for marketing will not reach the potential it is capable of. Monitoring and analyzing LinkedIn insights is an ongoing task to track changes or improve strategies to maximize your efforts.
There are different ways to use LinkedIn for business depending on your business’ objectives and goals, yet regardless, LinkedIn marketing is a powerful tool for connecting with users across the sales funnel in a professionally-oriented manner.
How to create LinkedIn sponsored ads
Developing an organic LinkedIn marketing strategy is the foundation of using the platform for your business, although another way to effectively promote and expand your reach is using paid strategies. The following will walk through setting up LinkedIn ads for your business.
1. Select the LinkedIn ad format
Using the LinkedIn ad manager, the space to create and optimize your advertisement, you first choose between three LinkedIn advertising options, which are:
Sponsored content appears in the user’s LinkedIn news feed and can be optimized for the duration of the ad.
Sponsored InMail are personalized messages that are sent directly users through LinkedIn Messenger.
Text ads are simple ads that operate as pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) so you only pay for the ads that work.
2. Develop the LinkedIn ad
Creating sponsored content
In order to create a sponsored content ad, you must select what content to use: a post from your LinkedIn page, an update from your LinkedIn showcase page, or creating a new post. You can create multiple types of LinkedIn sponsored content in order to gauge which one performs better based on different messages, visuals, or topics.
Creating sponsored in-mail
Since LinkedIn sponsored in-mail is sent directly to the user through the messaging tool, the content is more personal and conversational. First, you must choose who is sending the message by selecting the first and last name and image of the sender. Second, you must decide on the subject line and summary which is the information the recipient will see before opening the message. The last step is to create the actual message using personalization features.
Creating text ads
The process of creating a text ad is relatively simple; determine where the ad will direct the user (e.g. website, blog, LinkedIn page, etc.), choose the image, and write a headline and description. You can develop up to 15 different variations of a text ad to test which LinkedIn ad campaign is more successful.
3. Determine the audience
LinkedIn offers an extensive list of audience criteria in order to target the desired audience, including data on job function, skills, the field of study, etc. While designing the targeted audience, LinkedIn will estimate the relative audience size.
4. Define the budget
Next, LinkedIn will guide you to select and define the budge from 3 options:
1. Cost per Click (CPC)
CPC is determined by how many clicks the LinkedIn ad campaign receives. This is beneficial for advertisement with an actionable intent, such as signing up for newsletters or registering for an event.
2. Cost per Impression (CPI)
CPI is determined by how many impressions the LinkedIn ad campaign receives. This option is often used to reach more people and raise brand awareness.
3. Cost per Send (CPS)
CPS is determined by how many successful LinkedIn sponsored in-mails are delivered.
5. Track, analyze, and optimize
From comparing the different text ad variations or A/B testing the different sponsored in-mail messages, the LinkedIn ad manager provides insights into the various measurements. This information can be tracked in order to view which best resonates with the audience or what format performs better for different goals. Using this data, you can constantly optimize your LinkedIn ad campaign strategies and gain more awareness, engagement, and leads.
Learning how to market on LinkedIn is an effective resource to reach and engage with users on a social platform that is distinctly different from other popular sites. It encourages conversations on business-related subjects categorizing it as a top-rated network for lead generation.