For B2B companies, LinkedIn is an important marketing platform. Here’s how to make it work for you.
For years, LinkedIn has been the neglected social media platform for many of our clients. There’s a reason for this. LinkedIn is a professional network first, with a focus on networking and careers rather than consumer interests. But this business focus is exactly what makes it a valuable asset for B2B clients whose businesses thrive on personal connections.
However, because LinkedIn is oriented toward professional networking, its social norms and user behaviors are also different. This means your LinkedIn strategy will also need to be different from your strategies on other platforms if you plan to truly build it up as a key marketing platform for your brand. Here’s where to start.
1. Take the time to know your audience and create a brand perspective.
Every platform has its own nuances in how it can best be used. For LinkedIn, the key to a successful strategy is to understand your audience well enough to engage them professionally. LinkedIn is a place where you’re more likely to be encountering peers who will be educated and experienced in what you’re saying. You will get farther if you state your positions strongly.
Writing from your brand perspective is a great way to communicate your core values more clearly to your audience. For instance, many of our own core values are recurring themes on our blog—ideas like putting the user at the center of the design experience, following marketing practices that are in consumer interests, and keeping ownership in the hands of our clients. Your brand probably has similar ideas that are central to your company philosophy. Talk about those things. Choose which hills you want to die on, and go do battle.
2. Think of LinkedIn as its own mini search engine platform and optimize your page.
Beyond a social media platform, LinkedIn is also a mini search engine. Businesses looking for expertise in a field can use it to search for qualified professionals. While this is often used for recruitment purposes or to source contractors, it can also be a way businesses find agencies or specialized services.
Take time to optimize your page and ensure you’re listing your core skills on your profile. Including key terms in your business description will help you rank better in LinkedIn search results. Encourage your employees to clean up their pages too, so that they have listed their experience and core skills.
3. Promote thought leaders within your company to demonstrate expertise.
LinkedIn offers a more limited tool set to brands who have company pages than they do to individual users on the platform. This is because they’re trying to promote individuals over brands—precisely for all the reasons we discussed earlier.
Why not lean into it? Businesses are understandably anxious about promoting employees who might leave to go to a different company, but in many cases, investing in the individuals who work for your company is a move that will not only boost your own business, it will also give those employees a reason to stay with you, even if another offer comes their way. If the individuals at your company have expertise to share, encourage them to publish, and promote their efforts.
4. Use your LinkedIn analytics to run more targeted ads.
Advertising can be effective on LinkedIn—it just has to be done well. Fortunately, if you’ve put time into learning about your clients, you can better run an effective marketing strategy. This can even mean running specialized ads with different messaging based on the group you’re trying to reach. The added effort is often repaid by better click-through rates.
We’ve recently run a successful advertising campaign on LinkedIn with one of our B2B clients—a company that is both a VAR for simulation software, and a consultant for simulation projects. Our ability to hone in on specific audience personas helped them reach more of the audiences they needed with their ad.
5. Encourage—but do not coerce—your employees to like, share, and comment.
Finally, your posts on LinkedIn will attract more attention the more they are liked, shared, and discussed. Asking your employees to share your content to their network of contacts is a great way to do this. It will broaden the reach of your business and get your brand in front of more people.
However, making this ask of your employees should be handled carefully to protect work/life boundaries between your business and your employees’ personal networks. Talk to your employees about how important their support on LinkedIn is to the company. Give them specific instructions on how they can help out, and show appreciation for those who step up to the challenge. But don’t monitor their activity or create consequences for anyone who doesn’t post. At the end of the day, you’re asking for a favor. Whatever they do should be voluntary.
LinkedIn is about networking more than advertising, the soft sell over the hard sell.
One of the biggest differences between LinkedIn and many other social platforms is that the volume of followers matters less than the quality. LinkedIn is about relationship—building trust on a peer-to-peer basis rather than the influencer-follower dynamic on other platforms. While successful Facebook campaigns may draw in a few thousand visits o a website, LinkedIn can be successful if it brings in just a handful of leads—provided those leads are the right people.
Because the relationship is so important, one of the fastest ways to damage your reputation on LinkedIn is to be too sales-focused. For instance, if you join a professional group and start self-promoting and posting a lot of sales content, you’ll probably be removed from the group. If your brand timeline looks like a stream of advertisements, you’re unlikely to gain the valuable following you want.
Instead, focus on positioning your brand as thought leaders providing interesting content for discussion. Nail down your keywords so that people who are searching for you can find you, and when you do run ads, focus on your demographics to refine the messaging. In doing this you’ll be well on your way to forming the meaningful networking connections that will serve your business—and your clients—well.