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The Essential LinkedIn Guide for Marketers

What can your brand do with LinkedIn’s wealth of targeting, engaging, content-sharing, and analytics features?

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GUIDEThe Essential LinkedIn Guide for Marketers
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LinkedIn has long been one of the most lucrative networks for B2B marketers who’ve made great use of the platform’s tools for recruitment, brand awareness, and lead generation. 

Now, as the platform grows and its audience diversifies, LinkedIn has also become a top channel for lifestyle and luxury B2C products.

It’s also rapidly grown in the video space, with millions of users creating and sharing videos and having meaningful conversations based on the content.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Showcase your brand on LinkedIn
  • Find and start a dialogue with new customers
  • Promote career opportunities
  • Generate new business in both the B2B and consumer spaces.

About LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network that functions much like Facebook or Instagram — minus the baby photos and weird memes. A strong set of norms permeates LinkedIn and keeps profiles and posts professionally oriented. From a marketing perspective, LinkedIn allows companies to reach candidates, prospects and customers through their business-oriented targeting capabilities. It’s also a rich content-sharing community with video growing quickly among marketers, sales people, and other users. 

LinkedIn provides a platform for both B2B and B2C marketers to:

  • Advertise with highly specific targeting
  • Create and share content, including video
  • Generate new business
  • Attract talent and showcase company culture
  • Find mentorship or mentees within their industry or vertical
  • Engage with current customers and offer support

Why are people using LinkedIn?

As a niche network, users of LinkedIn come for a specific set of reasons. The most common use case is for jobhunters and recruiters: LinkedIn has become one of the most visited job listing sites in the world. While recruitment is important and showcasing your brand and incredible company culture can serve as a marketing tool, let’s dive into how people are using LinkedIn in the marketing space. 

The second most common reason folks are using LinkedIn is lead generation. Business professionals use LinkedIn to target, profile, reach, and convert new prospects. LinkedIn offers a slew of tools to assist marketers and growth hackers to reach their goals, from career-oriented segmentation tools to native lead-gen ad formats. 

Where Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram combine both personal and business interests, LinkedIn is strictly for professional development which makes it a great place to market your business. LinkedIn has been shown to be 277% more effective at generating leads than either Facebook or Twitter. 

Companies use LinkedIn as a tool for spreading brand awareness, promoting new products and services, and especially for employer branding. LinkedIn also offers tools for consumer-oriented marketers to run campaigns.

It’s important to remember, however, that the average LinkedIn user doesn’t come to the platform to be marketed at or sold to. They derive value from staying in touch with their professional networks, sharing their own accomplishments or challenges, finding mentorship and community in their industry, and gaining knowledge. In some cases, that does include seeking recommendations for new products or services, which is really a marketer’s sweet spot.

LinkedIn for every marketer

Let’s dive into some of the ways you can leverage LinkedIn to meet your goals.

Employer branding

Employer branding is the process through which a company shares its identity as a desirable workplace. Brands can share stories from current employees of all levels to communicate their values, goals, and day-to-day experiences. They can answer questions from candidates and give a face and personality to recruiters and talent acquisition teams. 

Your brand is your product. Take care of your outward-facing persona and develop a strong sense of identity, starting with the largest professional network—LinkedIn. 

As the industry go-to for employer branding, it’s also where talented professionals go for new opportunities. By creating a strong and inclusive employee brand, you’ll stand out on LinkedIn to impressive job seekers as well as potential clients. 

Having a good employer brand can also impact your bottom line — after all, customers are naturally more interested in doing business with a company that has a reputation for being a good place to work. 

Top tips for employer branding on LinkedIn

  1. Make sure your Company Page is set up and up to date. Enter your website, physical location(s), company size, and what industry you’re in.
  2. Write a concise and inspiring description of your company’s purpose and/or mission. Throw in some keywords or hashtags for extra credit.
  3. Add your company logo and an on-brand cover image. You can use the cover image to promote a new product, service, or event, or to convey general brand statements. 
  4. Create a Careers Page with all of your open job opportunities. Pro tip: If recruitment is a top priority, encourage job seekers to sign up for Job Alerts with your company so they’ll be notified every time you post a new position.
  5. Sponsor content about company culture. Whenever you post content related to employer branding (life around the office, employee accomplishments, new job opportunities, etc). make sure to give it a boost by sponsoring it.
  6. Create Recruitment Ads for open positions. Use personalized, dynamic content to attract job seekers.

B2B marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known as the undisputed champ of business marketing, making it the B2B marketer’s playground. If you sell a business-oriented product or service, LinkedIn has some of the best targeting capabilities. If you’re looking for a specific type of role or for companies within a niche industry, you have hundreds of millions of professionals’ worth of data and targeting to find exactly the title you need.

With LinkedIn, you can segment audiences by industry, job title, seniority, skills, interests, groups, education, and keyword, as well as standard filters like geographical location and language.

Top tips for B2B marketing on LinkedIn

  1. InMail ads: Advertise directly within LinkedIn’s messaging tool. Write thoughtful, personal messages and include a link in the CTA and inline for a higher click through rate (CTR). These campaigns don’t run exactly like emails and work well as a way to boost conversions for events, drive registrations, and convert prospects.
  2. Audience Expansion vs Lookalike Audience: Audience Expansion allows you to expand on a given set of demographic data points to reach a wider net. LinkedIn’s feature Lookalike Audience, is a more advanced tool that helps you to match an already high-performing audience to those with similar demographic information in order to increase your network of quality prospects. With Lookalike Audiences, you’ll have more control and transparency about who you’re targeting.
  3. Trends: Explore top performing content and find hot industry topics. As a page administrator on LinkedIn, you can choose a specific audience, view the pages they follow, then explore trending topics. You can also view your post performance to find high performing content based on impressions, clicks, reactions, and engagement rate.
  4. Account based marketing: Run ABM campaigns by targeting on the account level. With LinkedIn’s targeting, you can match your accounts to their database of over 30 million companies and narrow your search to decision-makers at your top accounts. 
  5. Retargeting: Re-engage visitors to your website with retargeting on LinkedIn. Choose specific pages, like your pricing page, and follow up with visitors on LinkedIn. Try pixel-based targeting or list-based targeting to capture those who didn’t convert the first time with related content, industry reports, or demos.
  6. Matched audiences: Use your own data paired with LinkedIn’s data to create custom, targeted audiences. Matched audiences help expand your brand reach and find new customers. 
  7. Lead gen forms: Have members register for events, download content, or join newsletters and track the ROI of your campaigns.
  8. Sponsored content: Create native ads to promote content, tools, events, or job postings in the LinkedIn newsfeed on mobile and desktop. Use analytics to optimize and target specific audiences.

B2C marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is just as much a vital part of a B2C marketer’s strategy as it is to a B2B marketer. With unique and specific targeting capabilities, users with decision-making power, and the draw of the top online career network, consumer marketers have an eager audience ready to interact. As a B2C marketer on LinkedIn, focus on starting and facilitating conversations and serving as a helpful resource within your industry. 

Top tips for B2C marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s primary feature that supports a B2C marketing strategy is data. Today’s consumers are well-informed and want to read content, reviews and industry comparisons before purchasing new products. LinkedIn provides a place for B2C marketers to directly target and gain valuable information from their desired audience.

  1. Curate and share trending content with your target LinkedIn audience: Drive users to your website and use highly visual content to promote products. Join the conversations that matter and provide helpful content like reports, product demos or great reviews. Keep the conversation going even when you’re on the go with the LinkedIn mobile app. Show your audience that you are a real person and that you care about them, whether or not they are a current customer.
  2. Analyze your audience and discover new demographics: Know who your audience is. LinkedIn’s admin dashboard includes demographics, visitors, and a breakdown by job function, seniority, and other specific data points. Centralize your social data using a social media management platform to look for patterns and trends among your database.
  3. Make your brand an industry leader: Associate your company page with trending hashtags and current campaigns. Be an active participant in relevant conversation and provide resources for those in your brand’s industry. Work with influencers and LinkedIn personalities who are respected in your community.
  4. Use creative and custom ads: When creating custom sponsored posts, drive specific actions with a customizable call-to-action button. Use LinkedIn’s gallery and image-based posts to showcase products, tell stories and complement special offers.
  5. Time-triggered targeting and unconventional targeting: LinkedIn allows you to get really creative and specific with targeting, including identifying and advertising to those with changes to their profile. For example, someone with a recent promotion may be more open to buying luxury items, like a new car or watch.

What to share on LinkedIn

Content has proven to be an important factor in how much people come back to LinkedIn. Creating and sharing relevant content is an easy and free way to grow brand awareness.

When publishing on LinkedIn, you’ll need to understand both the audience and the medium through which your audience receives your content. Every hour, the millions of posts published to LinkedIn receive tens of thousands of comments, meaning conversations are always happening.

Understanding LinkedIn’s algorithm

LinkedIn’s algorithm, like Facebook or Instagram, shows the audience what they think will be most relevant to them, rather than what was posted most recently. They even published exactly how the algorithm works, explained visually:

Basically, LinkedIn wants to promote high-quality content that has a high level of engagement. 

Beware: content that is marked as spam or hidden by your audience will get pushed down in favor of content with likes, shares, and comments. 

It’s all about what you’re posting as it relates to your audience. If it’s irrelevant or you’re posting too frequently, you’ll have a tough time breaking through to your desired news feeds.

The LinkedIn algorithm favors: 

  • Engagement soon after posting as well as posts receiving consistent attention and engagement
  • Likes, shares, comments, views, particularly from influential members
  • Content optimized for mobile
  • High quality content tailored to users’ interests and behavior as well as quality content within the larger LinkedIn community
  • Diversity in post-type: try videos, images, links to articles, plain-text posts, and shared posts from your team members
  • Professional growth advice
  • Native content including videos, articles and images
  • Posting at least daily and keeping cadence irregular

Organic content types

Links: Use these posts for company updates, reports or tools. When posting content on LinkedIn, try replacing the link preview with a custom image and posting the link as the first comment to encourage users to engage in the conversation. 

LinkedIn articles: LinkedIn page admins can search their audience’s (page followers’) interests and find trending articles, then share them to their audience. Search through employees’ own high-performing content or mentions from your community and share from the company page.

Videos: LinkedIn’s algorithm prefers posts with native videos and users themselves are reportedly more likely to share a post that includes a video. Aim for one to two minutes and include subtitles.

Images and text: These posts allow you to post either an image or text (or both) with or without a link. These can be great as conversation starters, questions, or regularly scheduled “chats” with your audience. Add the link in the caption or as a comment on the post.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content are the native ads you can promote on LinkedIn’s mobile and desktop news feed. You can either publish your own content, share industry articles, post videos, or advertise job openings. 

LinkedIn has a new Campaign Manager that is objective-based. Using this tool, you can begin your ad campaign by choosing an objective like brand awareness, hiring, or website visits. LinkedIn will automatically optimize your campaign to your goal and give you tips on how to achieve your desired results. 

The platform’s objective-based advertising goes from the beginning of the campaign all the way through to reporting based on your goals. 

LinkedIn has one of the most specific audience targeting capabilities of any other social network because it’s in the LinkedIn user or job seeker’s best interest to provide data. Job seekers want employers to find them based on where they are, what education they have, their interests, and their experience. By combining certain traits, like years of experience and certain degrees, titles, or skills, you can specifically find decision-makers with a skill or job function you’re looking for. 

Create specific buyer personas and associated audiences to create effective and cost-efficient ads. The smaller your audience for each specific target demographic, the less likely you are to be paying to promote content to the wrong people.

LinkedIn offers targeting based on these specific traits and categories:

  • Job Experience: Job functions, job seniority, job titles, member skills, years of experience
  • Education: Degrees, fields of study, member schools
  • Demographics: Age, gender, location, language 
  • Company: Company connections, company followers, company industry, company name, company size
  • Interests: Member interests, member groups, followed hashtags

Pro tip: Use specifics like job function and years of experience rather than age and gender whenever possible since demographic data can reduce audience size due to lack of available information. 

LinkedIn Audience Templates are sets of 20 B2B pre-populated targeting options to help advertisers optimize set-up time.

Formats

You can create sponsored content in the following formats:  

Text: Use LinkedIn Text Ads to drive people to your website or a specific page, attract job prospects, or launch a product.

Images: Extend the content from your company’s LinkedIn page beyond your own audience using image ads. 

Carousels: Promote visual campaigns with an interactive story that lets viewers scroll through up to 10 cards to promote brand awareness and display products. 

Video: Sponsored video ads can promote events and showcase products. They spread brand awareness while serving as a storytelling tool. 

InMail Messages: Use these ads to drive downloads, convert prospects, or directly interact with specific companies and connections.

Lead Gen Forms: Generate leads directly from LinkedIn and drive content downloads or event registrations and gather data about new prospects.

Measuring engagement on LinkedIn

Engagement on LinkedIn can be people reading and sharing content, watching videos, asking questions, clicking links, and any other way that members can interact with your brand or employees. To measure engagement on LinkedIn, you can use LinkedIn’s built-in analytics tools which provide metrics on page visitors, page updates, and your followers. 

LinkedIn engagement can indicate where there are opportunities for conversation and action. Say you learn that the majority of your page visitors are viewing on mobile. This would encourage your team to prioritize mobile-optimized content and add captions to videos for on the go viewing. Engagement also incorporates communication with your community. 

An all-in-one social media management solution can simplify community management by bringing all of your social messages to one singular location. Not only does it make your social media manager’s life easier, but it provides data and commonalities among your users’ responses. 

Organic metrics on LinkedIn

Organic metrics on LinkedIn represent anything you did on the platform without spending money. This includes your company’s page and page updates (or posts).

Organic data on LinkedIn

Data for posts or “updates”: 

  • Update reactions, comments, and shares
  • Update impressions, unique impressions, clicks, click through rate (CTR) – LinkedIn defines impressions as an update being viewable for over 300 milliseconds on at least 50% of a signed in user’s screen
  • Update engagement rate: interactions with your post added to the number of clicks and new followers divided by total impressions 

Data for your company page:

  • Unique page visitors
  • Page views

Paid metrics on LinkedIn

Paid campaigns are measured like paid ads on other social media networks and include a feature where you can easily compare paid and organic engagement on individual and page-level updates. Start by identifying your goal using LinkedIn’s Objective-Based Reporting, then analyze where you have the biggest bang for your buck.

Paid data on LinkedIn:

  • Spend: how much you spent on impressions or engagement
  • Results: how many times your ad campaign was successful based on your campaign setup and objective
  • Results are also known as your goal for the campaign - these include impressions, landing page clicks, social actions, video views, conversions or ad clicks 
  • Cost per result: depending on your goal, this is the cost per result (ie click, conversion or impression)
  • Impressions/views - the number of times LinkedIn members saw your ad (each individual ad type has a specific definition for how engagement and impressions are measured)
  • Clicks: the number of link clicks from your ad
  • Click through rate (CTR): clicks divided by impressions
  • Cost per click (CPC): spend divided by clicks
  • Average engagement: engagement (clicks, shares, likes or comments) divided by impressions 

Brand metrics on LinkedIn

Brand awareness can be hard to quantify but, with certain metrics, you can gather a good sense of how many people know who your company is.

Brand data on LinkedIn:

  • Page followers
  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Reactions, comments, and shares (for both Sponsored Content and organic posts)
  • Clicks (on your updates, company name, or logo by a signed-in LinkedIn member, excluding reactions, comments and shares)
  • Page views (the number of times your company page was viewed)
  • Unique page visitors (the number of times your page was viewed by LinkedIn members without duplicates for return users)
  • Impressions (as defined above, this is when a post is shown to a user for more than 300 milliseconds)
  • Unique impressions (how many times updates were shown to individual logged in LinkedIn users)
  • Pro tip: Tailor your key metrics to your team’s goal and focus on those. You won’t be able to move the needle on every metric every month, so prioritize the areas where you have good engagement but low volume and start sending people that way. 

Top 10 takeaways

  1. Keep it personal. It’s not always about your product. Even though LinkedIn is the network for professional content, the top performing content has a personal touch that makes it friendly and relatable to others in your network. 
  2. As a B2B marketer, make LinkedIn your home base. LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than either Facebook or Twitter and generates 80% of all B2B leads that come from social media.
  3. As a B2C marketer, be one of the first to take advantage of LinkedIn’s global audience. By targeting people who have recently changed jobs, been promoted, or have some unique professional qualifications, consumer marketers are finding new ways to use LinkedIn. 
  4. Your company culture is your brand — showcase it on LinkedIn. Employer branding is a huge part of your company’s positioning. LinkedIn is the number one resource for people looking to learn more about your company. 
  5. To increase reach and engagement, leverage your top influencers (your employees). Peer-to-peer comms is always more effective than branded communications, so encourage employees to share their own content, always tagging the company page. 
  6. Experiment with new video and rich media capabilities. LinkedIn allows you to share not only videos (always use captions!) but also whitepapers, PDFs, and other assets that will give you an edge.
  7.  Use LinkedIn’s analytics and content suggestions to see what your followers are interested in. Create content based on what works best among your specific page followers. 
  8. If you’re new to paid ads on LinkedIn, use their audience templates to save time when setting up a new campaign. By pre-populating audience filters, you can get started quickly and start testing audiences against your different messages.
  9. Use LinkedIn’s rich targeting capabilities to create unique audiences that you can’t target on any other platform. By looking at data like job title, location, years of experience, and more, you can create highly specialized and nuanced groups, perfect for your campaigns. 
  10. Use LinkedIn’s lookalike tool to discover new audiences — and apply filtering to make those audiences more effective. By combining the audience expansion tools with your own smart filtering, you can create custom audiences that perform well above industry standards.

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