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5 Overlooked Features of Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn has proven to be a winning platform for many B2B companies. But while the professional networking site holds major potential for amplifying thought leadership, boosting brand awareness, and generating leads, success on the site isn’t a given.

Maximizing your LinkedIn presence requires mastering the ins and outs of the platform and its many offerings as a piece of marketing technology. Here are five of the most overlooked features of your LinkedIn marketing strategy—plus a few tricks to jump-start your efforts.

1. Engage Your Employees

Your company’s LinkedIn page is a great starting point for your marketing efforts, but a company page alone won’t guarantee an audience. Encouraging employees to share and amplify your company page content will help spread your message far and wide, hitting the types of people who might be interested in your company to begin with.

A proper LinkedIn employee engagement program starts with getting employees excited about the platform and everything it can do for them personally and professionally (not to mention what it can do for the company). Explain why participation can improve the visibility of the company, thus increasing exposure to potential customers and leads. Companies in service-oriented industries have an added incentive to used LinkedIn; the talent behind the company is as important as the product or service offered. Empower staff to build stellar profiles (complete with links to the company page and a logo), and encourage them to share company content—blog posts, videos, images—to increase the reach of your message. Content marketing on LinkedIn grows exponentially stronger when engaged employees share content with their connections.

2. Test Your Content

Sharing posts from your company page and encouraging employees to do the same will bring content to users within those networks. But if you want your content to hit users outside your networks, LinkedIn can make it happen (albeit for a fee). Direct Sponsored Content allows brands to test multiple variations of their content, while maintaining control over what is posted to their company page.

LinkedIn’s marketing technology allows companies to test the headline, intro, teaser text, and thumbnail image of a post to see what garners more clicks from users. By finding out which variable resonates the most, marketers can optimize content so that the people they want to reach—industry leaders and potential customers—are more likely to click.

LinkedIn offers metrics for organic posts, too. Companies can see which posts are performing better, allowing them to tweak their content strategies to woo more followers. Top-performing organic posts are good candidates to receive a sponsored boost, allowing the content to go even further.

3. Utilize LinkedIn Pulse

Motivating your employees to use LinkedIn is a key piece to LinkedIn marketing success. Take these efforts to the next level and recruit your in-house company experts to author their own posts and share them to expand your thought leadership marketing. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and innovator, adorns his LinkedIn page with posts about entrepreneurship, business success, and work–life balance. The posts offer easily accessible business insight—while also consistently referring and linking back to Virgin, helping the brand boost its industry cred.

Any LinkedIn user can publish to LinkedIn Pulse, which functions as its own self-publishing platform within the LinkedIn site. Simply click “Write an article,” add a photo and write a headline, and you’re on your way to accessing the millions of LinkedIn users who browse the site for insight or advice. Pulse editors help curate the content users see on their Pulse feeds, but trending content and content that users in your network have Liked also gets highlighted. Once again, the more employees on board and sharing content, the further your content will spread.

4. Vary Your Content Mix

LinkedIn is building a niche as a go-to platform for long-form content. LinkedIn readers have a high tolerance for in-depth pieces—as long as the content is interesting.

Despite the conventional wisdom that shorter is better, on LinkedIn, longer posts seem to perform better than their shorter counterparts. Posts between 1,900 and 2,000 words gain the greatest number of LinkedIn likes, comments, and shares, a study from OKDork found.

The key here is variety. Offer followers meatier pieces with an in-depth analysis of an industry conundrum. But it’s okay to share shorter content, too. A great infographic may do the same work of a 2,000-word thought piece.

5. Publish Solutions to Your Audience’s Challenges

“If you build it, they will come” is the wrong mantra to have when it comes to LinkedIn marketing. Before posting content willy-nilly to your company page, think about the audience you want to reach and the pain points they are experiencing within their industry. This is where you, the industry expert, can add value. Need ideas about what’s bugging people in your industry? Scour LinkedIn’s Groups Directory to find out what challenges people in your industry are facing, and create content that speaks to those challenges.

Marketers can use LinkedIn’s built-in analytics to get a better feel for who is viewing and engaging with your content. The content created should help this audience solve a problem, learn something new, or empower them with advice. Avoid clickbait like the plague, because users will see right through it. Only relevant, compelling content will resonate with LinkedIn’s professional audience, lending you legitimacy as an expert in your industry.

Source: Skyword, article by Krystal Overmyer (http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/marketing/5-overlooked-features-of-your-linkedin-marketing-strategy/)

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Is Your Firm Failing at Content Marketing?

It happens. You look at your Google Analytics traffic and the traffic to your blog is sad. No one is downloading your white papers and ebooks. You can’t get anyone to publish your guest blog articles. Your social media posts just sit and want for engagement and likes. No one in your company has the time or bandwidth to write a meaningful blog post. You feel like this whole content marketing thing is a hoax.

Don’t give up on content marketing just yet. If you feel like your firm is failing at B2B content marketing, there are several things you can do to turn it around.
Evaluate Your Strategy

Take a good look at your marketing strategy and your content plan. Wait, you don’t have a strategy? Check out Why Bother with a Content Marketing Plan before you go any further. If you have a strategy in place, look it over again. Is it too ambitious? Does it need more structure?

You can easily revamp your strategy by asking for input internally, especially from sales and customer service. Both sales and customer service work with prospects and clients on a daily basis and will have great input regarding common questions, typical objections, and what content would help close deals or educate clients. Also, make sure that your strategy has the resources and support to be properly executed.

Look at Your Competition

Check out what your competitors are doing with content marketing. In many cases, you may get some ideas from what they are (and aren’t) doing. We do not suggest copying anything that your competition is doing, but if they have a particular blog or white paper that has a lot of comments, questions, or likes – take that as a cue that your audience is interested in that particular topic.

Looking at your competitor’s B2B content marketing tactics can also help you to articulate what makes you different and what you should include in your content. For example, if they spend a lot of time discussing pricing and budget, focus on your value proposition of real-time customer service and long-term partnerships.
Get Help & Internal Buy-In

You can’t do this alone and you shouldn’t. Effective B2B content marketing typically takes a group effort to be effective. As a marketing professional, you know your product or services, but your engineers or support team may be better able to discuss how it works and/or solves a problem. Tap into internal resources, even if it’s an interview, to get the educational information you need to write a great blog post, ebook, or case study.

Internal support is essential to prioritizing content marketing. If your internal team doesn’t really believe in the effectiveness of B2B marketing, it will be difficult to get external interest. Share these B2B marketing statistics with the key influencers in your organization to get everyone on board with your content marketing strategy.
Pay to Promote Your Content

One of the main failures of content marketing is a lack of promotion. Social media is getting to be a “pay to play” space, meaning you’ll need to allocate part of your budget to promoting your blog posts, ebooks, guides, and case studies. The good news is that on many platforms – like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – once you pay to promote your post, the organic exposure goes up as well!

Many marketers create great content and then fail at putting that awesome content in front of their target market. Paying to promote your content marketing pieces is a surefire way to make sure your ideal prospect or client is seeing the valuable information you are sharing.
Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

We are quickly reaching a point of saturation with B2B content marketing. More and more firms are creating content and pushing it out on the internet. You don’t need to create more content to compete, you need to create better content. Make sure every piece of content you create is well written, offers new information, and has valuable insights for your target audience. Take the time to create irresistible content. Lastly, make sure it isn’t overly promotional. No one wants to read a 500-word advertisement.

Remember: content marketing is a long-term strategy, not a quick win. Invest the time, resources, and thought into creating a B2B marketing strategy that positions your firm as a thought leader and entices prospects to engage with your content.

Source: Business 2 Community, article by Jeremy Durant (http://www.business2community.com/content-marketing/firm-failing-content-marketing-01653439#yQcEFqBSSuY1jcGw.99)

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Why Have B2B Brands Fallen Behind on Social Media?

Take a look at 2016’s most influential brands on Facebook, according to Mavrck: Starbucks, Coca-Cola, MTV and Samsung Mobile top the charts, followed by brands like KFC, Nike and Target. What do these companies have in common? They’re all business-to-consumer.

These days, it’s rare to find a business not trying to make a social media splash. But why is it that B2C companies consistently outpace their business-to-business peers? According to Webbiquity, 88 percent of the B2B crowd uses Facebook—just 8 percent less than their B2C counterparts—so it’s not for lack of trying.

The problem is one of strategy. Because B2C companies like Verizon Communications and Sony Pictures were the early adopters, B2B companies patterned their approaches after their B2C peers.

But while B2C marketers don’t need such a targeted approach to draw new business—anyone can enjoy a Coke or crave KFC—B2B marketers can’t take the same top-of-the-funnel strategy. For niche business services, taking a generalized checklist approach to social media simply doesn’t work.
Why resist the checklist?

With a checklist mindset, social media management becomes a series of tasks: posting daily, responding to customers, adding friends and following clients. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these practices, unless you’re using social as a channel to find target prospects, you’re missing out on revenue.

B2B businesses that don’t use social to target specific leads or gather buying behavior insights are wasting their time. Intel, for instance, is proof that B2B brands can make social work for them: It has more than 25 million Facebook likes, and it regularly engages other brands with user-generated content to build relationships.

But most B2B companies aren’t like Intel. Rarely do B2B marketers even bother to measure the return on investment from their social investments.

According to Simply Measured’s 2016 State of Social Marketing Report, 61 percent of marketers indicate that measuring ROI is a challenge. Additionally, more than 33 percent say that tying social to business goals is a hurdle they must overcome. Only 9 percent of marketers can quantify the revenue driven by social media.
A better B2B social strategy

The first step to a better social strategy is abandoning the checklist mindset. It’s about choosing platforms strategically, being outward-looking and contacting top-scoring leads before they slip away.

Social media is a lot more than the sum of its separate platforms. Brands using a checklist approach often assume they need a presence on every site, but the truth is that your audience probably uses a couple of platforms and ignores others. If you’re a wheelchair manufacturer, for instance, your clients are hospitals and assisted living facilities, which likely aren’t on Snapchat or Instagram.

Don’t spread yourself thin by trying to be everywhere at once. Use customer segmentation data to predict which platforms they use or, better yet, survey your clients. Learn their pain points, company histories and partners. Spend your social budget efficiently by using these details to speak to their needs on their favored platforms.

By discovering your audience’s social habits, your strategy will naturally become more generous and outward-looking. Social success is all about listening and interacting. Blasting your own message on repeat is like talking about yourself at a cocktail party. The best friends (and clients) are found through give-and-take relationships. Mix up your content with links to clients’ blogs, helpful hints and questions to engage followers. With this approach, you’ll build your brand while answering questions and solving problems.

This is akin to when cocktail partygoers have settled down, taken off their dance shoes and started interacting in small groups. To forge connections with choice clients, use social media signals like hashtags, keywords, brand mentions and influencer mentions to identify target prospects.

Your goal is to offer personalized, resonant content that builds trust. Use Twitter’s direct-message feature to turn public tweeting into friendship. Let’s say, for example, your company provides marketing technology that helps with lead generation. If a marketer shares an article about #leadgen, you might send him your latest e-book about generating leads.

Once you’ve contacted target prospects through social, it’s time to capture their contact information in your marketing automation system for easy follow-ups. Connect your social media activities to your marketing automation or customer-relationship-management system to track socially engaged leads. To see ROI from your efforts, you need to see how many leads have been generated through social media, how many have closed and the revenue influenced by social media.

Social media activity is a great signal of buyer intent and should be a factor in your lead scoring model. Let’s say a lead just tweeted at your CEO. That person has shown interest in your brand, so you can increase his lead score. You could also draft an automated email and send the lead an article written by your own CEO on a similar topic. At Socedo, we’ve found that socially engaged leads have much higher email open and click-through rates than leads from other sources.

Social activity can also indicate when leads are further down the funnel. If a lead just posted about wanting a replacement for a competitor’s product, that’s a hot lead. Alert the appropriate sales representative to follow up and close the sale.

Social media is about human interaction, not a robotic, tick-the-boxes checklist. So ditch the list and craft a strategy around the clients you want to sign, and then get personal with them by starting conversations, sending content and nurturing those leads. You’ll see the difference in ROI almost immediately—and you’ll feel pretty popular, too.

Source: Social Times, article by Aseem Badshahhttp://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/why-have-b2b-brands-fallen-behind-on-social-media/644509)

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B2B Social Media: An Underutilized Method for Improving SEO Performance

 

Today, pretty much everyone uses social media – not just Millennials. As of last July, Pew Research Center found that 76% of online adults use social networking sites. From Facebook to LinkedIn, every generation is socially active.

With the significant popularity growth of social media, it’s no surprise that B2C marketers have found it to be a great channel to reach consumers. They are able to connect with buyers interested in their products and make a sale.

Why Does Social Matter to B2B Companies?

B2B marketers use social media for completely different reasons than their B2C counterparts. The sales funnel is much more intricate and the buying process is more time consuming than B2C.

Just because a consumer sees a company’s product online, doesn’t mean they are going to place an order the next morning.

Instead, marketers need to consider how social media may impact organic search visibility, as well as become more of a lead nurturing tool. Marketers can continue to connect with individuals who are interested in what you are able to provide, but not be ready to make a purchase.

Approximately 93% of B2B marketers use social media in some fashion, but only 32% actually have a documented strategy in place, showcasing that social media is becoming fully utilized by B2B marketers.

So how do we leverage social media tactics in our SEO program work? Let’s look at two key social media strategies that a B2B company can implement to impact off-page SEO value.

Link Building

Link building done on its own is not nearly as effective as it can be when incorporating social media efforts. When used correctly, social can earn website quality links that can bring valuable traffic to your sites.

Links can be acquired by driving awareness between shared content and targeted social profiles.

Content shared on social can capture new visitors to your site. As it is retweeted/shared the reach of your content grows, placing it in front of new audiences who may utilize it in their content and link back to you.

Social profiles also enable companies to link back to their site. Even though most social sites have nofollow tags in place, they do enable users to gain link visibility through cross-linking and brand visibility.

How can you initiate a link building strategy with social?

Make your content shareable. Sites that have social share buttons on each page, especially on blogs, simplify the process of social sharing for readers. You can also add buttons for sharing specific types of content like videos, pictures, e-books, etc.

Tag your references in your social posts. We all want credit where credit is due, especially on social media.

And finally, invest the time in analyzing your social networking activity, to better understand the type of content and updates that resonate best with your target audiences.

Content Marketing Distribution

Content has been king in digital marketing since the early 2000s. Since that time, every company, teacher, mom, and so on has wanted to develop new content as soon as possible because that’s what Google wanted. It wanted fresh content.

Yet, as the Internet continues to mature and change, so have content strategies. Not only does content need to be fresh, it needs to be great.

Why does it have to be great? Well, on average, Americans consume 33 gigabytes of media per day.

There is a plethora of content on the Internet and if your content isn’t up to par with reader expectations, it won’t help your SEO value.

Having quality content is only one piece of the puzzle. Content strategies must also have a plan for placing the content in front of your audience. Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with this. While 53% of business owners know they need to develop a content distribution strategy, only 26% actually have one in place.

How can you initiate a content marketing distribution strategy with social?

Put your content where your audience is. To optimize your social media marketing efforts, it’s important to know who your customers are and which social networks they actually use. If your target audience consists of IT executives and CEOs, you’d want to disseminate content on LinkedIn instead of, let’s say, Pinterest.

Adapt your content to the preferred format of each social channel. According to Agora Pulse, as organic reach becomes more difficult to achieve, formatting content to fit the style can help your posts gain visibility.

Want to have your content shared more on Facebook? Add a smiley face as posts with emoticons typically receive 33% more comments, are shared 33% more, and get 57% more “likes”.

Source: Co-Marketing. Article by Justina Logozzo(http://www.komarketingassociates.com/blog/b2b-social-media-for-seo/)

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