LinkedIn or LinkedOut? How to Engage Your Professional Audience

linkedin engagement audience

Recent report by TrackMaven shows that B2B brands are increasingly finding their niche on more casual, less business-oriented social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest. But what happened to LinkedIn – the ultimate social hub for B2B marketing?

Turns out that even though B2B companies have 36 times more followers on LinkedIn compared to Instagram, they get 20 times more engagement on Instagram than on LinkedIn. Even logistics brands that perform best on LinkedIn sport an engagement ratio of only 2.48 interactions per post per 1,000 followers.

Trackmaven-b2b-engagement

Engagement is no doubt one of the main goals in social media marketing. 50% of LinkedIn members are more likely to buy from companies when they have engaged in their social channels. (Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions) So, do the low engagement rates mean B2B industries should pack their bags and say goodbye to LinkedIn?

Hell no!

LinkedIn as a network is growing. According to Statista it had 414 million members by the end of 2015 up from 364 million in the beginning of the year.

LinkedIn-growth-statista

So, as a B2B brand you are faced with a situation where heaps of people came to your party but no one is dancing. This doesn’t mean you should shut the lights – it means you should change the music instead.

And that music is your content.

Here are 3 steps to increase engagement through a renewed content strategy. Unlock the potential of LinkedIn and get the party started!

1. Personas: who are you talking to?

The first step towards higher engagement is finding out who you are interacting with. Only then can you create content that people will notice and read in their LinkedIn feed. Focus on the wants, likes and behavior of your audience, and they will reward you with their engagement through likes, shares and comments.

Anonymous-audience

The common mistake B2B brands make is to write too formal and impersonal posts. LinkedIn audience usually seen as businesses with long rigorous decision-making funnels and high rationale. And professional posts are seen to build trust and authority in B2B marketing. But communication happens between people, not between soul-less entities!

According to Forbes most global business decision makers are always ON, regardless of time or location. Thus, it is important to understand their emotional attitudes and personal interests. If a CEO is browsing LinkedIn during his son’s soccer game, he might be still thinking of work, but his attention span is a lot shorter. So, you want to know the guy better in order to really get to him, in and out of office.

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  • Start with LinkedIn Analytics to get a detailed demographic data about your followers. See their position in the company, level or seniority, industry and country of origin. You can also compare your follower growth to similar brands and identify posts that drive the greatest engagement.

Linkedin-analytics-demographics

  • For in-depth knowledge about your audience perform interviews. Ask open ended questions, encourage discussions and use that information to create detailed personas. Specific profiles of your followers combining demographic and behavioral data, help you build engagement and generate leads. Marketing Land has a great post on creating a persona-based content strategy.

Persona-based-content-strategy

2. Why should they care?

Your audience consists of individuals not institutions. The writer Dale Carnegie has said:

“When dealing with people, remember that you not are dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”

Even in business-to-business!

Studies show that emotions play a significant part of B2B buying decisions. In fact, they account for 50% of the buying decision and not around 5% as the former point of view suggests. So B2B decision-making has become high stakes, personalized, and charged with emotion.

rational-vs-emotional-b2b

Source: B2B International

So create content that would stand out among all the dry and boring ones. Publish articles on LinkedIn that makes people feel something! There is nothing more powerful than sparking emotion among your audience. Studies reveal that emotional campaigns can outperform rational ones by a whopping 100%.

emotional-vs-rational-campaigns

Source: Neuromarketing

No, LinkedIn is still not the platform for ‘#sushinight #yolo’-type of posts like Instagram. Research shows:

  • 60% of LinkedIn members are interested in industry insights
  • 53% are interested in company news
  • 43% are interested in new products and services

But there are ways how to bring your informative content to life! A good example is an IT security firm Sophos who publishes industry-related news to LinkedIn in a fun and personalized way through their Naked Security blog:

LinkedIn-content-sophos

Check out a slide deck for more tips on how to create content in “boring” industries!

3. What’s the plan exactly?

First of all, consistent timing and structure for your content ensures that your audience sees your posts regularly. Through that they can recognize your brand and know what to expect when they choose to follow you. Content creator Kevan Lee from Buffer Social goes so far as to say that quality is the commodity and consistency is the key!

When to post?

Timing is everything. Famous psychologist Daniel Kahneman reveals in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow”  that even judges whose decisions should be based on facts, rejected more parole requests before noon due to lower blood sugar levels. That’s why your content needs to appear in your followers feed when they are the most receptive to it.

According to HubSpot the perfect time to post to LinkedIn is (surprise-surprise!) during office hours. The best times are from 7:30-8:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

And the ultimate winning hour in LinkedIn engagement is between 10 and 11 a.m. on Tuesdays! Data from over 14 million users collected by AddThis shows that posting within that hour generates the most clicks and shares.

LinkedIn-best-time-gavel

So if you don’t want your content to be “overruled”, use this statistics and nail your timing.

How often to post?

There is also a sweet spot in posting frequency. Some believe that the more content you share, the more prospects see you, and raising brand awareness will automatically boost your sales. Yet, studies show that too much communication can be harmful to relationships. This will make customers less interested in you. So, aim for quality not quantity!

Buffer Social suggests that the recommended frequency varies across platforms. While you can post to Pinterest up to 5 times a day, and twice to Facebook, limit your LinkedIn posts to once a day. 20 posts per month allows you to reach 60% of your audience! So, publish one quality post every work day to boost your engagement rates in LinkedIn.

LinkedIn-post-frequency

What to post?

There are many models to help you build your content strategy. We used the Content Marketing Pyramid to give you an idea how to publish diverse content that will maximize your engagement:

  • Relevant information – the basis of your content strategy. Find out what your audience wants to read and cover those topics in order to win their hearts. Don’t stop with industry insights. Be opinionated or political, take a standpoint, have a soul. Here’s how Google does it:

LinkedIn-relevant-content-google2

LinkedIn-relevant-content-google

  • Teach how to do something – practical tips are a valuable content type. It is a good way to be perceived selfless and provide utility to your audience.

LinkedIn-teach-content-HP

HP provides helpful content on team building and motivation.

  • Inspire – people want to be inspired. What could be better than helping someone to reach their potential and be great in what they do.

LinkedIn-inspiring-content-Alibaba

Alibaba, the biggest B2B portal in the world, posts plenty of inspirational content on LinkedIn.

  • Entertain – Use both original and curated content to entertain your audience once in a while. But keep in mind your fun content should not contradict your brand.

LinkedIn-entertaining-content-adweek Adweek magazine posts lightweight entertaining content to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn-entertaining-content-sophos

And here’s Sophos again, rocking entertaining content as usual.

How?

Present your content in an attractive way. Like it or not, books are judged by their covers. It’s even more true in the digital world where people will skip your content if it doesn’t catch their eye. According to QuickSprout:

  • Videos result in 75% higher share rate
  • Images boost engagement in average of 98%

free images marketing

See our post on how to get free images to illustrate your LinkedIn posts!

Also, don’t forget to include a call to action with a link. According to LinkedIn, links drive twice the engagement.

To wrap it up

The growing popularity of Instagram and Pinterest among B2B industries shows that the brands have started to take themselves less seriously. Thus, LinkedIn shouldn’t be taken too seriously either.

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Breathe new life into your LinkedIn platform and make your content more relevant to your audience. Business people do have a pulse and unique personalities outside their offices. Experiment with different types of content, use visuals, post strategically, and measure results. Whatever you do, don’t be boring! And the engagement will come your way.

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Photo credits Visualhunt

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