No, that’s not a typo. While everyone else was focused on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, LinkedIn quietly built itself into a content-producing powerhouse. And today, it’s one of the best places to build brand awareness if you’re targeting professionals in most industries.
But if you want to get serious about attracting the site’s 61 million senior-level influencers and 40 million decisionmakers, you need a game plan. You need to learn from the people who spend all day, every day, in LinkedIn’s trenches. You need to learn influencer marketing on the platform by studying the way LinkedIn uses LinkedIn for marketing.
If the stats above didn’t give it away, LinkedIn has become a destination where professionals consume high-quality content from professional publishers – like The Wall Street Journal and The Economist – and from their peers who publish content to their feeds.
When you leverage these same publishing capabilities for yourself, you’re effectively putting your content in front of the right decision makers, while simultaneously building brand awareness, expanding thought leadership and even driving leads for your business. And when coupled with some of LinkedIn’s paid advertising opportunities – such as sponsored InMail – you can create a revenue-generating machine targeting key prospects in your space.
How to Get Started with LinkedIn Publishing
LinkedIn campaigns – like so many campaigns on other platforms these days – begin with content. Great content, that is, if you want to have a shot at getting yours to stand out.
In its current iteration, LinkedIn offers several opportunities for publishing high-value content to the network:
- Long-form blog posts can be published using the network’s Pulse platform
Informative slide decks can be shared on SlideShare (acquired by LinkedIn in 2012)
- Creating a blog post is as simple as clicking the “Write an article” link in your news feed. Slide decks can be added by clicking the “Upload” button on Slideshare.net, while logged in with your LinkedIn account.
“Before you dive into a post, it’s important to note that LinkedIn’s publishing platform is a little different than your company blog. The audience, the tone, and the overall lay of the land are unique to LinkedIn.”
Once you’re comfortable with LinkedIn’s publishing features, expand the reach of your content by exploring paid advertising opportunities.
Running a Paid Campaign on LinkedIn
Currently, LinkedIn offers a number of advertising products, including:
- Sponsored Content, which places the content you’ve created into the feeds of your target audience members.
- Sponsored InMail, which lets you send personalized messages directly to key prospects (perhaps, to share another, more in-depth piece of content, like a webinar or white paper).
- Text Ads, that insert text-based promotions into your target customers’ news feeds.
- Display Ads, which place your brand’s banner ads in view of your target audience.
- Dynamic Ads, which take Display Ads a step further by letting you customize your messaging with relevant information in your prospects’ profiles.
Currently, only Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail and Text Ads are available on the network’s self-service advertising platform. Display Ads and Dynamic Ads must be managed through one of LinkedIn’s dedicated teams.
The specific campaign type you’ll want to choose will depend not only on how you want to place your ads, but on your company’s goals as well. Trying to expand brand awareness or grow thought leadership? Giving your Pulse articles a boost with Sponsored Content may do the trick. On the other hand, if you’re after qualified business leads, Sponsored InMail, Display Ads or Dynamic Ads may be a better fit.
LinkedIn Advertising Best Practices
The suggestions above are all somewhat generic – you’ll find them in just about every article discussing using LinkedIn as a business development tool.
If you really want to succeed with the network, however, you have to learn how the pros use the platform. This is where we get into how LinkedIn actually uses LinkedIn for marketing purposes.
Recently, the company released a free report of the same name, which offers up some of the best practices the network has identified over its time as a publisher and advertiser. For example:
- LinkedIn has discovered that using an image of a person’s face, rather than an image of a phone, produces better results overall.
- They’ve also found that running at least four different creatives for one target audience in a Sponsored Content promotion results in the greatest campaign exposure and performance.
- Interestingly, they learned that running multiple campaigns at the same time – in this case, Sponsored Content alongside Sponsored InMail – could boost InMail open rates by 25% and CTRs by 99%.
The LinkedIn team covers even more recommendations like these – along with step-by-step guides to running paid campaigns – in their free guide on LinkedIn’s “Secret Sauce,” which is worth a read by any marketer looking to get the most out of their campaigns on the network.
Ultimately, the key takeaway from the report is simple: you have to align your content with the proper targeting options to get the results you want.
Planning for Campaign Optimization
Besides LinkedIn, there are plenty of experts online offering up their experiences with running ads on the network.
“LinkedIn ads are really effective at driving leads, specifically from B2B gated content, such as our AdWords for Lead Generation guide. I recommend launching fresh content every ~6 weeks to limit ad / offer fatigue. The CPCs are significantly (5 – 10X) higher than many other channels, but converts much higher than other social networks. In the end we see the cost/customer as effective.”
“While LinkedIn ads tend to be more expensive than other platforms, they can be worth the money if you use their specific targeting options (companies, titles, education, etc.) and do micro-campaigns (instead of doing one big campaign that reaches 50,000 people, do 50 micro-campaigns that reach 1,000 people each). This reduces the cost, is easier to track and gives you more visibility.”
What works for one marketer, however, won’t work for another. Take these suggestions – along with those found in LinkedIn’s guide – to heart, but consider them in light of your own campaign goals and budget.
Come up with a plan for your first campaign based on these recommendations, but be mindful of the importance of early testing. LinkedIn does allow for A/B split testing of campaign creatives; every piece of data you generate using this feature can be leveraged to increase the effectiveness and lower the costs of your future campaigns.
It’s no surprise, really, that 80% of B2B marketers find it to be an effective avenue for generating business leads. If you’re a B2B marketer – or a B2C marketer whose clients are largely business professionals – it’s tough to ignore the possibilities inherent in LinkedIn’s content publishing and promotion tools. Give them a try today, keeping the best practices described above in mind.