LinkedIn is one of the largest social media organisations, with more than 800m members and 57m companies signed up. We reached out to business leaders, PR experts and senior marketers to discover how to make the most of this massive audience.
Sign up to Marketing Matters, our fortnightly newsletter about marketing and the news industry
Useful tools include weekly newsletters and polls
Ash Jones, founder of Great Influence, running B2B social media accounts for the UK’s biggest entrepreneurs including Steven Bartlett (Dragons’ Den): “LinkedIn is the home of B2B but marketing there is often misunderstood. It’s not a place for sales pitches or cold messaging, it’s a place of genuine connection and shared interest. Useful tools include weekly newsletters and polls, both can be used in conjunction with posts and articles shared from your personal page. Try for weekly posts but be wary of daily when just starting out – aim for value over volume and remember authentic storytelling tends to win out over hard data.”
Mix it up
Matt Phillips, founder of PPR, a pay-as-you-go PR service for start-ups: “We tend to think in two strands: The proactive stuff you can do (planned content calendar), and reactive, adding value when the opportunity arises. Thoughtful and emotive proactive posts that can showcase your thinking are more likely to be seen by your network, while reactive comments on other people’s posts are likely to get seen in your customers’ feeds, outside your existing network. So mix it up.”
Ads need to hook customers quickly
Red Rag, a specialist LinkedIn and Facebook marketing agency: “The key with LinkedIn when running ads is to get ultra-clear on your ideal customer as you can get really targeted with ads. Make sure you understand the key pain problems of the audience so you can position your offer as a solution. You don’t get as many characters for copy when creating an advert on LinkedIn compared to other platforms like Facebook. Therefore, it’s imperative you have done your research regarding your audience so you can hook them quickly and get to the point.”
LinkedIn prefers personal posts to business posts
Alice Bruce, digital marketing executive at Naked Marketing, a branding, graphic design, digital and marketing agency: “As with all social media channels, consistency is key on LinkedIn. Develop a content plan for your business profile and aim to post at least once a day. Vary your posts so that they remain genuinely interesting to your followers; recycling the same ‘sales lead’ messaging will not encourage people to follow you.
“Consistency is also required to give your business profile a professional aesthetic and create the perfect first impression. Ensure your icon and header banner are well designed and your page tagline has personality and clearly outlines your offering, and that your staff have access to branded LinkedIn banners for use on their profiles, alongside matching corporate headshots. Encouraging staff to develop a personal LinkedIn strategy is the best way of organically increasing brand awareness and reach on LinkedIn as the algorithm prefers personal posts over updates from business accounts.”
Nurture a presence in Groups
Jennifer Macdonald, head of marketing at Glass Digital, an online marketing agency: “LinkedIn B2B marketing has proven to be the most effective of all the social media platforms and offers good value for money – but there are plenty of free lead generation methods you can use alongside (or even instead of) sponsored content. These include regularly posting useful articles and resources, outreaching and responding to engagement on your posts, and nurturing a presence within Groups (networking channels facilitated by LinkedIn) that are relevant to your industry.
“Most importantly, set time aside to complete your profile and become an active poster. This may sound like basic advice, but it’s one of the most important things a B2B marketer can do on LinkedIn to support lead generation.”
It is built upon flattery
Gabrielle Dunbar, associate director at Champion Communications, a B2B PR consultancy: “A strong and healthy network is built upon flattery in the form of likes, comments and shares. If a certain person is repeatedly engaging with your content, you’re going to click on their profile out of curiosity and most likely connect with them.
“Businesses should optimise their profiles and make them prospect- and customer-centric to help achieve their networking goals. LinkedIn was created with the intention to grow contacts whether that be to help them find buyers, partners or even a new job. The opportunity to strengthen our networks is right in front of us, it just needs utilising.”
Invite your connections wisely
Chloe Blatch, senior digital marketing & account executive at ThinkEngine, a B2B digital marketing agency: “Make meaningful connections – although some people may find it somewhat strange and connect with as many people as possible, be particular with whom you connect. If you’re struggling to find new opportunities, use the LinkedIn post filter and search terms to find new prospects for your business.
“Split your LinkedIn posts between personal, business and charity/client work; that way you will have a variety of content to engage your connections. You can also invite up to 100 personal LinkedIn connections to follow your page each month, so use them wisely.”
Play the long game
Jonathan A.J. Wilson, Professor of brand strategy & culture at Regent’s University London: “1. Social Media is all about reciprocity. Approach activities with the mindset of giving in the hope to receive – that means liking, celebrating and commenting on others’ content. 2. Don’t chase likes and comments from your work colleagues – go out there to grow your network further afield. You never know where people might love to hear about you. 3. Build your profile and share content that collectively means people, in as short an amount of time as possible, have a better understanding of: Who you are, what you do, what’s special about you, and how they can work with you. 4. Be honest and write in your authentic voice, giving something of yourself – whether that’s an opinion or personal story. Also, find some good in this, a silver lining, or a takeaway point to help engage readers further. 5. Finally, don’t care too much what other people think – even your boss. You’re playing the long game here – building your professional reputation and maybe even a personal brand. That takes time and experimentation.”
Ensure your strategy is people-first
Sophie Baillie, PR and marketing director at Conscious Communications, a PR and marketing solutions agency: “We always recommend to our clients that their LinkedIn strategy is people-first, and focuses on raising the profiles of key team members so they become well-recognised figureheads within their industry and known as experts in their field. We know this strategy works because posts about people from a company page always receive the highest engagement rate.
“Most recently, LinkedIn has updated its platform to allow businesses to profile key spokespeople through being able to publish long-form articles from a company page. This new functionality means that they can drive thought-leading agendas through authentic opinion pieces, enabling companies to take ownership of their position within a market.”