In this blog, Aaron Carpenter, Senior PR & Marketing Copywriter at The B2B Marketing Lab, shares some best practice tips on how to use LinkedIn for content marketing to raise brand awareness, increase engagement and drive specific campaign objectives.
It has over 500 million members, is the most-used social media platform amongst Fortune 500 companies, and makes content amplification easy.
What are we talking about? LinkedIn. The world’s largest online professional network.
For B2B marketers, it’s a potential gold mine. It provides them with a direct line to their target audience – decision makers – and the necessary tools to market to and engage with them.
But in order to achieve success on LinkedIn, you need to follow some strict guidelines. First and foremost, incessant self-promotion is a no-no. When marketing on LinkedIn, it’s all about providing value. If you don’t provide value, you won’t only find it hard to reach and connect with your target audience, you’ll also struggle to stand out.
So, what can you do?
Best practices for content marketing on LinkedIn
1. Know the difference between articles and posts
There are “articles” and “posts” on LinkedIn. Articles have replaced what were previously called “LinkedIn Pulse posts” and are equivalent to blog posts.
Posts, on the other hand, are akin to status updates – like the kind you would post on Twitter – and have a limit of 1,300 characters. You can find the post function at the very top of your LinkedIn homepage.
2. Keep article titles between 40-49 characters
Headlines can make or break articles. We recommend our team to spend as long thinking about the title of an article as they do for the copy itself. Too long a headline may bore the reader or struggle to get someone’s attention, and too short a headline may fail to explain what the article is about.
When posting on LinkedIn, we would recommend keeping article title length between 40-49 characters. Research shows that article titles between 40-49 characters receive the greatest number of post views overall, so keeping them short and catchy is vital.
Engaging titles can, however, be a challenge to create – so here are a few tips:
- Know your audience
- Be helpful, answer a question that your competitors won’t
- Solve a problem
- Use number-based headlines, i.e. “Five things you didn’t know about X”
- Apply the “shock” factor (make your audience feel as though they’ll miss out)
- Use a title generator for inspiration – check out a few of the tools below:
- HubSpot’s blog ideas generator (can be used for titles as well)
- SEOPressor’s blog title generator
- Portent’s content idea generator
3. Long-form articles get the most engagement
As consumer behaviour has changed, more and more of us want in-depth information to make informed decisions on new purchases. If an article provides value and resolves a specific issue many of us are happy to read on, regardless of length!
As a result, the recommended length of online content has changed. According to Google, the average content length for page 1 results is around 1,900 words. Much longer than the 200 to 500-word blogs that most writers and webmasters believe to be ideal.
And it’s exactly the same when using LinkedIn for content marketing. Long-form articles between 1,900-2,000 words perform the best and gain the greatest number of post views, likes, comments and shares. The best performance content is the content that answers questions and topics by providing the best possible value.
4. Including a call-to-action is a must
To maximise engagement, encourage readers to take a specific action and generate leads, including a call-to-action of some sort is essential. This doesn’t HAVE to be to an eBook, or to sign up to something. It could be as simple as asking readers to like or comment on your article/post. It requires no effort whatsoever but will increase the performance and visibility of the content your market on LinkedIn.
Depending on your specific campaign goal – i.e. why you are posting on LinkedIn in the first place – your CTAs will vary. For example, if your goal is to drive readers back to your website, you might include a CTA directing readers to another relevant article on your website.
5. Some article and post formats perform better than others
How-to and list-style headlines, i.e. “How to use HubSpot to scale marketing activities” or “Five things you didn’t know about marketing automation”, tend to perform better on LinkedIn than articles that ask a question.
How-to articles perform better because they provide readers with education and detailed information on how to do something. In order to gain be successful in content marketing in 2019, you need to gain trust and provide value, and this is a perfect way to do this.
List articles perform well due to how easy they are to read and the fact they make a very specific promise of what’s in store to the reader. List articles are usually very short – making them easily shareable – and, if written well, provide valuable insight to readers in no time at all.
If you’re using LinkedIn for content marketing, create articles that are how-to guides, lists or in-depth thought leadership pieces for the best return on investment.
6. Headings can improve article performance
Just as you optimise your website and content for Google, you should also optimise your articles for your readers on LinkedIn (or any other platform!).
Dividing your articles using headings and sub-headings – H1s, H2s and H3s – will improve its presentation and readability. Anyone reading the article instantly knows what each section is about and can skim to those relevant to them if they wish.
When marketing content on LinkedIn, make sure that your articles are divided clearly and appropriately.
7. Keep your articles simple!
Clear, concise and considered content is the kind that educates and sticks in the mind. No need for hyperbole, corporate jargon or terminology that will be lost on those outside of your industry. Articles that are easy to read get way more views on LinkedIn than those that are not!
Dealing with images, publishing and promotion
1. Include images in articles (and video, if you have it)
If you want your articles to stand out on LinkedIn – use images. Adding images and other rich media, especially video, adds variety, leaves an impression and breaks up the text.
Where possible, create your own bespoke imagery for use in LinkedIn articles – this will ensure the imagery you use is relevant and stands out from all the other articles using stock images.
Remember, a killer headline and photo to boot will make people stop as they browse and look. Keep this in mind as you use LinkedIn for content marketing.
Video can also be a great addition to both articles and posts – and are far easier for users to consume than walls of text. From our own efforts on LinkedIn, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in engagement by using video and short text excerpts for LinkedIn posts.
2. Find the best time of day to post
While statistics suggest that either Wednesday or Thursday are the best times to post, it can vary from audience to audience. For example, you might find that your business’ target audience is most active on a Monday or Friday – and therefore more likely to read and respond to the articles you post.
It’s also not uncommon for business professionals to use LinkedIn during the weekend due to the fact they are busy during the week. So keeping tabs on engagement throughout the week will help to guide your efforts.
Experiment to find out which day yields the best results in terms of post views, likes, shares and comments!
3. Promote your content
When you publish an article on LinkedIn, only a small portion of your network receives a notification.
To maximise its exposure, therefore, you’ll want to do the following:
- Promote it yourself via LinkedIn and other social media platforms
- Ask readers to like and share your article
- Engage your marketing team and ask them to create promotional material to go out from key spokespeople
You should always think about how you can provide value to those who follow you without directing them off LinkedIn to content on your website. Instead, create and publish blogs and how-to guides on LinkedIn that answer questions your followers have. As you continue to post content and answer questions, you’ll quickly become a trusted source of expertise. At this point, you can then think about promoting maybe one or two of your content assets (blogs and eBooks) every month.
Remember: excessive self-promotion is an easy way to lose followers and not stand out from the pack!
Working out LinkedIn posts and status updates
1. Create long-form posts and status updates
LinkedIn posts and status updates are a little different to LinkedIn articles, but many of the same rules apply. Long-form posts tend to be the best performing (up to 1,300 characters) and including a CTA or two can help increase engagement.
The aim should be to write a post or status update that includes a link and encourages readers to click on it. The link could be to another relevant post or article – either on LinkedIn or your website. The choice will depend on your LinkedIn marketing campaign objectives, of course.
2. Don’t overlook the power emojis
Using emojis in posts and status updates in place of headings and/or bullet points has become the norm due to the rise of instant messaging apps.
Though a stark contrast to “professionalism”, emojis do work – and they do get people to stop and read posts – and they are being used by professionals on LinkedIn.
In the same way that a professional headshot gets you 14 times more profile views, including emojis in your posts and status updates gets them noticed!
That said, don’t go overboard! Emojis shouldn’t replace words but rather add context or convey an emotion.
3. Insert videos into your posts rather than link to them
LinkedIn allows you to upload and embed videos directly into your posts. This saves you the hassle of having to upload videos elsewhere and also allows you to assess video performance. Allowing readers of your posts to play videos directly from LinkedIn – rather than navigate to another website – will increase the likelihood of them watching it.
4. Like and tag your own posts to increase exposure
Some might consider liking their own LinkedIn posts embarrassing but it does, in fact, provide a lot of value.
Those that have already liked or commented on your post will continue to see notifications about new likes and comments on the post, which will perhaps encourage them to comment as well. People are much more likely to interact with your content beyond just reading or watching it if others have left comments.
You should also tag your posts using hashtags and – if applicable – tag people in the post using @.
Finally, remember that using LinkedIn for content marketing isn’t about self-promotion. Where possible, you should make a concerted effort to engage with your followers. This means liking, sharing and commenting on relevant posts. It’s important to remind your followers that you are human and that the content you post isn’t automated.
In summary, to use LinkedIn for content marketing correctly, you need to understand the nuances of the platform, as well as what your target audience wants to see and engage with.
The points outlined in this blog will provide you with a foundation from which to improve your efforts – but buyer behaviour is constantly changing, so what works today might not necessarily work in a month’s time. Keep that in mind and constantly refine your efforts. Work out what works for your and repeat it!
That said, to use LinkedIn as a lead generator for your business, you need to know how to create lead-generating content. Once you have built a rapport with your LinkedIn audience, the next step is to start promoting your own marketing collateral.
Check out our free eBook below and find out how to create lead-generating content.