One of the mistakes marketers often make in trying to reach their target audiences is over-relying on organic distribution and under-relying on paid distribution. For many B2B firms, LinkedIn is the most important channel for sharing content with the people they need to target. As with other social media channels, a combination of organic (free) and paid distribution is usually the best approach to reach and influence your target audience on LinkedIn.
5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to influence your target audience
(4 of these are FREE, 1 of these is paid)
- Your personal profile (free): One powerful way to share your brand’s content is to publish personal updates on LinkedIn. These are usually short news items, such as links to new blog posts on your website, news items of interest to your personal network and brief status updates that are relevant to your target audience. These are automatically connected to your personal LinkedIn profile.
- Your organization’s company page (free): Just like personal status updates, you can add news items to your company page on LinkedIn. This makes them ideal for links to new blog posts, corporate news and other relevant online resources. Like any web page, you can optimize the content of your company page for key search terms so it appears higher in search results. That’s why you need to make sure your company page is complete, with a logo and company description, contact information and website link, as well as links to relevant content offers.
LinkedIn enables you to create up to 10 showcase pages that are connected to your company page. Each one contains an image and a caption. Some companies use them to highlight their products or business units. A more effective approach is to provide links to resources that are of value to your target audience – such as ebooks, worksheets and free online courses.
- Relevant LinkedIn groups (free): You should be actively engaged in any LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your target audience. Look for questions you can answer, share your opinions where it makes sense and publish links to your new blog content and other valuable resources. Don’t just focus exclusively on the last tactic, or you’ll annoy other group members. You don’t want them to view you as someone who’s only interested in self-promotion. A balanced approach is best in LinkedIn groups; being helpful and informative earns you the right to periodically share content links.
- LinkedIn Pulse (free): This tool enables you to publish long-form content on LinkedIn, which not only gets shared to your personal network, but also shows up in the news feeds of other LinkedIn members, based on an algorithm that matches articles to business professionals with similar interests. Publishing authoritative articles to Pulse is an excellent way to grow your thought leadership in your industry.Many marketers don’t realize you can also use LinkedIn Pulse as a tool to distribute existing content. Here’s an example: You’ve published a new post on your company blog, and want to draw attention to it on LinkedIn. Simply create a new article in Pulse, and copy and paste the first several paragraphs of your existing article into it. Then provide a link to the full post on your website.
- LinkedIn sponsored updates (paid): Using this tool, LinkedIn enables you to convert any status update into a sponsored update and to extend its reach beyond your existing network to people who match the criteria you specify.These powerful, highly-configurable filters may include:
• Company name, size, and industry
• Job title and seniority
• Level of education
• Relevant LinkedIn groups
Your company’s sponsored post will appear in your target audience’s newsfeeds just like a regular update – much less intrusive than traditional banner or pop-up ads.
Is LinkedIn promotion for you?
If LinkedIn is the social network where your customers and prospects gather, you should give serious thought to launching sponsored updates to extend the visibility and influence of your best content.
Do you dream of building a big following on one or more of the major social media channels? Don’t bother – it’s a waste of your time and it’s important you understand why.
It wasn’t always that way. During the last decade, the bigger your social networks were, the more people you could reach. Many of your posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels got a decent number of likes and shares. As the volume of messages on these networks has grown exponentially, that’s no longer the case.
The social networks are changing. In order to support these massive numbers of users, the major social media networks have turned their attention to growing their revenues. In many cases, they’re reducing the number of followers who can see your free updates. If you want to be seen by your target audience, you must now pay for that privilege.
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium and other channels now decide how much your content is visible to the world. Lately, those numbers have been going down:
- Posts to your Facebook company page are now shown to only 2-3% of your followers. That’s abysmal!
- Twitter and LinkedIn, have been modifying their search algorithms to de-emphasize organic (free) content so they can serve more paid advertising in your streams.
Don’t build your house on rented land
In today’s online world, there’s a real danger to “building your house on rented land.”
In other words, by publishing your content on platforms and channels you don’t own or control, you run the risk of them unexpectedly changing the rules and compromising your brand’s visibility. This is happening more frequently today. Imagine, for example, the Fortune 100 consumer products company that invested hundreds of thousands of dollars building a million-person audience on Facebook – only to discover that only a fraction of this massive audience can see its updates. That big investment is now practically worthless!
A common-sense approach to social media
In this constantly shifting environment, your best bet is to focus your content on platforms and channels that you DO own. Your website is the first and most obvious place to do that. What does this mean from a tactical standpoint?
- Your website should serve as the hub of your online presence. Think of your social media accounts as spokes joined to it. Your posts on these channels should always lead visitors to your website – for example, to download a new report, read a blog post or learn more about a new product.
- Because your free posts aren’t likely to reach as big of an audience as before, you should consider selectively using paid promotion to ensure that other potential customers can see your most important updates.
- Your ultimate goal should be to provide these visitors with such great value that they will subscribe to your enewsletter. As you may have already guessed, a list of confirmed email subscribers is another asset you own and control. You can communicate with them whenever you want, within reason.
Subscribers versus sales leads
One final note: You may believe you already have a list of subscribers because your website is generating sales leads. But they are not the same. A sales lead is an inquiry about a specific product, service or need that a prospect has. It doesn’t explicitly give you permission to communicate with them on an ongoing basis – any more than meeting someone once at a cocktail party means you can call them every week. A subscription, on the other hand, gives you explicit permission to communicate with them over time.
Now that you better understand what’s at stake, it’s time to make some adjustments in your content distribution strategy. Focus on building your house on solid ground – the web properties and assets you own and control. Good luck!
Did you try a new app, join LinkedIn, or come up with a new digital marketing idea on Social Media Day?
Equipped with social media–themed treats and giveaways, a decked-out photo-booth van, and a talented Cultivate crew, we hit the streets of Milwaukee’s Third Ward to celebrate Social Media Day 2014! Using the hashtag #SMDayMKE, we celebrated all that is Milwaukee — and social.
To find YOUR photo — or to look for anyone you may recognize — check out the rest of our photos from Social Media Day on our Facebook page!
Are you truly leveraging the power of social media for YOUR business? Check out these articles for tips from getting started to how industry giants are creating one-of-a-kind experiences for those who opt-in to their social media campaigns:
Did you try a new app, join LinkedIn, or come up with a new digital marketing idea on Social Media Day? Let us — and the WORLD — know about it.
Now, that’s using the power of social media!
Monday, June 30, is Social Media Day!
Initiated by Mashable in 2010, Social Media Day is intended to “recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes.” Events are taking place all around the country — but how is our awesome city, Milwaukee, celebrating Social Media Day 2014?
Cultivate Communications, has BIG plans to celebrate Social Media Day.
Using the hashtag #SMDayMKE, we will rejoice in all that is Milwaukee and social. From personalized hashtag t-shirts to displaying #SMDayMKE on our van and driving around Milwaukee to take photos with locals, our staff is excited to take part in this national celebration. And did we mention social media themed food? Our mouths are watering already!
Here are a few ways to celebrate Social Media Day in 2014:
- Tweet with the hashtags. The national hashtag for the day is #SMDay — and be sure to include #SMDayMKE.
- Find a local #SMDay event. There are a number of Mashable communities in the area; check them out and join an event!
- Take a photo with the Cultivate Van. If you’ll be in downtown Milwaukee, find the van to take a fun, social-themed photo, grab some free goodies, and enter to win an awesome prize.
You can find the Cultivate Communications Van in downtown Milwaukee at the following times:
11:30 am to 12:15 pm – Cathedral Square on Jefferson St., between Kilbourn Ave. and E. Wells St.
12:30 pm to 1:15 pm – The Third Ward on Broadway St., between St. Paul Ave. and Buffalo St
You can be our lucky winner! In additional to all the free swag and goodies we will be giving away this Monday, you can also enter to win this awesome prize pack!
Follow us on social media and don’t miss out on any of the Social Media Day celebrations!
Twitter – Facebook – LinkedIn – Google+
LinkedIn is the most powerful social media platform for B2B business – but if you’re new to social media you may need a little help getting started.
These additional resources will help you in every stage of your LinkedIn journey:
Connect with us on LinkedIn or check out our company Facebook page or Twitter feed to never miss out on future Pro Tips and industry advice!