Content marketing was a hot topic at this year’s Cannes Lions festival. But for many B2B marketers, building and distributing content is extremely challenging. Content marketing doesn’t end at the publication of that excellent article, webcast, white paper, video, case study, e-book, newsletter, or podcast. Getting it into the hands of the right person is critical. Today, 87 percent of B2B marketers are using social channels to distribute content, with LinkedIn emerging as the dominant social channel for B2B content marketing plans.

Here are four strategies for creating and distributing content on LinkedIn:

  1. Maximizing the LinkedIn news feed as a content delivery mechanism. This is standard content marketing “table stakes” – delivering relevant, targeted content direct to company followers through LinkedIn’s news feed. Brands that have built a decent list of “followers” can target content based on follower personas – targeting by company size, industry, function, seniority, and geography. For example, by targeting localized status updates to followers, Salesforce increased engagement and sharing of content by 30 percent.But what if a brand doesn’t have followers? Or the right followers? At the very minimum, including calls to follow a company page in all outbound materials, using LinkedIn follow buttons, and paid follow ads are simple mechanisms for increasing follower numbers.

    And, brands are now no longer limited to delivering content to just their own followers’ news feeds. LinkedIn recently unveiled Sponsored Updates, which allows brands to reach targeted members who are not already company followers, effectively opening up a huge new addressable audience.

  2. Encouraging followers to share brand content on a brand’s behalf. Many Facebook best practices also apply to LinkedIn – people trust recommendations from their network. Brand awareness is spread by investing in personalized social experiences that encourage the network to participate, and share that participation. Beyond using the LinkedIn share button, brands that deploy LinkedIn APIs to create personalized social experiences outside LinkedIn can encourage participants in those experiences to share. Microsoft’s Nametag Analyzer campaign, for example, allows visitors to sign in with their LinkedIn credentials, and then share the personalized results – in this case a fun, shareable “name tag” – along with Microsoft Dynamics branding. The user amplifies the message (and the branding) to her own network, and opens up participation to new audiences.
  3. Encouraging sharing of conversational content in LinkedIn groups. Conversations in a LinkedIn group are just as much about content marketing as the distribution of videos, case studies, webinars, white papers, and the like. By providing helpful and informative “thought-leadership” advice, and by prompting group discussions to motivated group members who have self-selected their interest, as well as encouraging discussion around brand-created content, brands can be seen as helpful without imposing sales messages. Citi has been a prime example of success in this area. It has sponsored a group of 200,000 active businesswomen on LinkedIn, members who have shown a 30 to 50 percent weekly return rate.
  4. Offering targeted content hubs, based on LinkedIn personas. B2B brands with well-organized existing repositories of content can target that content to the right personas by encouraging visitors to log in using their LinkedIn credentials before they browse the content. The result can be a far richer, and more targeted experience. Intel U.K. has cracked this by offering personalized Intel IT Center resources based on the visitor’s LinkedIn profile; resulting content can be shared with peers and networks across LinkedIn.

Brand awareness, customer acquisition, and lead generation are top B2B content marketing priorities. But B2B content marketers have long struggled with the issue of reaching a specific person, not a nameless user, and engaging that user in a conversation through more powerful content and targeting. Today, through the vast tools available and lessons learned from Facebook’s innovations in social brand marketing, B2B content marketers can achieve great success by targeting the right content to the right person on LinkedIn. Targeting content both on- and off-site based on LinkedIn personas opens up a rich new world of content marketing opportunity. And when a consumer shares a brand’s message, or brand content, on behalf of that brand to their own business network…well, that’s “priceless.”

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