LinkedIn is one of the more established social networks, though it has undergone a transformational shift. Once thought of only as the place to post an online resume and search for jobs, LinkedIn has become fertile marketing ground for companies of all stripes.
Members span over 200 countries and have reached 187 million in number, with over 2.6 million businesses displaying LinkedIn Company Pages. Social media expert, author and seasoned speaker Brian Carter is teaching companies how to best take advantage of the LinkedIn opportunity through his consulting, writing and speaking work.
Carter spoke with Dell recently, to share insights and tips from his latest book, LinkedIn for Business: How Advertisers, Marketers, and Salespeople Get Leads, Sales and Profits from LinkedIn.
Where to Spend Time and Budget on LinkedIn
The first and most important consideration for marketers, said Carter, is deciding where to spend your time and money. On LinkedIn, he recommends using Ads and Groups. “Ads allow you to target better than Google AdWords or Facebook Ads, if you’re trying to reach people with specific job titles or within industries,” he advised.
Further, LinkedIn Groups have one particularly useful feature: weekly announcements sent directly to group members’ email address. “Groups are great, not only for building and engaging a social network, but for building an email list, as well,” said Carter.
Brian Carter: “Think Like a Publisher”
One of the biggest shifts in businesses right now is companies moving towards becoming publishers, Carter noted. This can be a challenging concept for companies to grasp and implement. “How do you get people interested in your content?” he asked. “How can I be interesting and provide value to people without advertising to them? They’re not going to go read your blog if you’re just marketing to them; they won’t choose to spend their time that way.”
The solution, he said, is an interesting content mix that plays to the needs of readers. “Use humor, where possible. Be inspirational. Give advice. What businesses struggle with in B2B marketing, especially, is that you have to be professional, but not boring,” Carter said.
Companies can create interesting content using minimal resources with these tips from Carter:
- Videos are not as compelling as people expect them to be, partly because there’s a time commitment. If you create a video, put the best stuff in the first 30 seconds.
- Infographics fulfill great content criteria well: it needs to look stunning, make data easier to understand, and inspire them to share with their peers. Find an experienced infographic creator, try an infographic creator tool to do it yourself.
- People love pictures; images are quick and easy to digest.
Tips for More Targeted, Effective LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn offers two types of advertising solutions: self-service, where marketers create and manage their own campaigns, or a managed service with a monthly budget.
If you’re going the self-serve route, said Carter, it’s important to experiment and test your targeting on an ongoing basis. “For example, if you’re going after CMOs or CIOs, you may still need three separate campaigns to find the best way to target those people,” he said. “It might be groups they’re in, or it could be that targeting job titles is more effective.”
The biggest problem people have is getting impressions, he said, because people aren’t spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. However, there’s a silver lining there in that ads don’t burn out as quickly as they do on platforms where impressions are typically higher, such as Facebook. This means ad images and copy stay fresh longer and require less switching out.
Experiment with different types of images and ad copy, he recommends. Carefully track the performance of each ad to determine the optimal length of time to display the ad before testing new creative.
Carter’s LinkedIn for Business book takes a deep dive into prospecting and sales generation tactics for B2B companies, complete with case studies and actionable tips.
Are you using LinkedIn to build your business, either organically or as an advertising platform? Share your tips and experience in the comments! If you’re just getting started, use our How to Engage Your Audience on LinkedIn series to help you navigate the many features available to you.
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