Why you should connect content marketing to LinkedIn

The professional network is ready-made for thought leadership and content distribution. So why are so few communicators taking advantage?

BY James Meyers
Founder, President and CEO, Imagination

Do you view LinkedIn as a jobs and recruiting site? Still think it’s mostly a forum for indiscriminate connection attempts and endless skills endorsements?

If so, get with the times.

If LinkedIn is indeed the network for business and professional interests, it’s also ideal for sophisticated content marketing strategies. What it lacks in Facebook’s sheer numbers, it more than makes up for in quality engagement and data-gathering opportunities. The network’s 414 million members are a rich mix of the people who drive today’s business engine at every level, including influencers and decision-makers.

Consider (or reconsider) its multiple content-friendly facets.

Create a content showcase

There’s a reason the teams at GE and Microsoft have increased their focus on LinkedIn. The various LinkedIn Pages options offer not only personality but also segmentation possibilities.

GE has established a refreshing presence by focusing on innovation and technology, particularly in science. The company feeds link to interesting studies (both its own and others’ its users would find interesting), inspirational quotes, plus original long-form content, videos and infographics. Take GE’s web series featuring Bill Nye teaching science with emojis—a series that found high engagement at the intersection of STEM and pop culture.

GE also smartly uses Affiliated Company Pages as separate platforms. Users interested in health science find what they need on GE Healthcare, those with a stake in energy innovation find it at GE Power & Water, and so on.

Microsoft uses the same platform for different effect. The company’s Showcase Pages grow niche communities around products such as Microsoft Office, and they’re chock full of relevant content from the company’s Business Academy blog and YouTube channel.

The approach differs, but the end result is similar. Each company is using LinkedIn’s tools to target content to those most likely to need it, and therefore most likely to consume it.

"Each company is using LinkedIn’s tools to target content to those most likely to need it, and therefore most likely to consume it."

James Meyers
Founder, President and CEO, Imagination

Experiment with storytelling

LinkedIn also provides a platform for content experimentation. For example, long-form content is not only welcome there, but it also racks up considerable engagement.

LinkedIn’s Pulse is both a repository for thought leadership from community “influencers” such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and for storytelling from “preferred” publisher partners including The Atlantic, Bloomberg and CBS Interactive.

They key phrase in that paragraph might be thought leadership. Whether you’re a nonprofit, an association or a corporation, your leaders have lessons and insight to share with interested readers.

In fact, you may already be producing content along these lines. If you are, publishing via Pulse—with its 130,000-some posts each week—is an avenue to explore. And don’t forget that a smart, holistic strategy also will tie that content back to distribution on Pages and through individual accounts, as well.

Reach the right people

I’ve talked about the tools LinkedIn provides for publishing, but the distribution possibilities are part of what make LinkedIn worth another look. And if you want to make the most of them, paid tools are essential to strategy.

Sponsored content on LinkedIn allows you to target specific audience segments. And it’s not a broad, generic use of the word targeting. It’s specific, especially if you’re interested less in quantity and more in who is qualified.

The targeting can be sharply pinpointed according to program objectives. You can reach businesses of a certain size within a specific region. You can publish a piece for C-Suite decision-makers within your industry. Targeting covers everything from company size, location and industry to position and seniority, in 20 languages across 200 countries.

Adobe uses targeting to get its thought leadership content directly in front of marketing decision-makers. This exposure, the company found, led 79 percent of marketers in its target group to agree that “Adobe can help me optimize my media spend.”

Likewise, enterprise software company NetBrain served up use cases to tech influencers who, in turn, were invited to sign up for a product demo when they clicked through. Combined with a sponsored inMail campaign—another distribution tool not to ignore—the firm attributed a $4 million revenue gain to its sponsored LinkedIn content initiatives.

These companies also reap the rewards of LinkedIn’s treasure trove of user data. The network’s paid opportunities come with the chance to gain intelligence about target audiences, their behaviors and interests and the kinds of content they find most engaging.

For our own clients, we often recommend three-month tests on a deep-dive LinkedIn strategy. Doing so is long enough to see whether your content moves the needle—and to see just how much there is to discover about your users.

In most cases, those three months are just the beginning.

published: January 25, 2017

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