LinkedIn B2B Content

Boasting more than 330 million members, it is little wonder more and more businesses are pouring time into LinkedIn. Ever increasing user numbers also mean that LinkedIn has been able to integrate all manner of new features, meaning, as a platform for building connections, it has never been more powerful.

People might point to Facebook´s 1.39 billion active users and suggest time could be better spent than on LinkedIn, but how many of Facebook´s users are prepared to actively engage with you?

Now, we´re not here to take anything away from Facebook or Twitter – both of which have proven themselves to be vital tools for any brand – but instead make the case for LinkedIn to be featured a little more prominently in your thinking.

As we will go on to explain, using LinkedIn for business is not as straightforward as you might think – and we mean that in the most positive sense.

LinkedIn as a marketing tool: a brief history

Since its launch in 2003, LinkedIn has worked hard to prove itself a valuable marketing tool. Looking back over the key developments we’ve commented on over the years on our blog – coupled with the use of LinkedIn’s own story board of its journey since conception – we’ve captured those moments in history that’ve really ramped up LinkedIn’s profile in terms of B2B marketing and promoting content.

Our condensed LinkedIn timeline

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_toggle title=”2004 – 2006 (when LinkedIn learnt to talk)” open=”no”]
linkedin-the-early-yearsIn their early years, LinkedIn first introduced groups, address book uploads and public profiles.

Where would we be without these features now in our LinkedIn marketing efforts? Without groups, there would be no fellows to collaborate with, influencers to work with, or content for review, conversation, opinion and most importantly valued interaction.

Other key features added included recommendations and ‘people you may know’.[/fusion_toggle]
[/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_toggle title=”2006 – 2010 (that awkward child stage)” open=”yes”]
LinkedIn the awkward child stageIn terms of new features and technological advancements, not a huge amount happened in these years. In all fairness, organisational reshuffles, going global, appointing a new president and turning a profit, were probably higher on the LinkedIn agenda. By the close of 2010, LinkedIn had a whopping 90 million members.

That global expansion and change in internal strategy certainly set the stage for ramp-ups in neat tools and additional features to give us marketers an extra edge in our efforts.[/fusion_toggle]
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LinkedIn gets a much needed facelift, having looked like one of our favourite gawky teenagers for a few years. Cast your eyes over the screen shot above to reminisce on the early years of the Internet and web design, if you care to recall.

One of the first notable technological introductions in that year was that of its ads API programme. This was intended to simplify things for B2B users by giving them more control over their campaigns, whilst facilitating planning and strategy for businesses through greater flexibility of advertising. It proved to be a winner for brands, who were able to tweak their campaigns in real time not just on LinkedIn, but also on other social platforms for ultimate impact.[/fusion_toggle]
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Now with a whopping 225 million members worldwide, a real period of transformation was in full throttle. Arguably, LinkedIn had succeeded in its efforts to become the preferred spot for professionals and businesses to share experiences and work-related issues.

LinkedIn quickly followed this up with the launch of an online forum, called Succeed: Small Business Network. The group, which now boasts over 120,000 members, is a joint venture of the social networking site and Staples Inc. which allows small businesses access to professional content, advice and connections.

A few months later, in order to help ensure content being posted was achieving the sort of engagement brands had envisaged, LinkedIn added a ´mentions´ feature. At the time, Angela Yoonjeong Yang, associate product manager at LinkedIn, said that members of the social platform were among the most engaged professionals online and were involved in a million conversations across LinkedIn. Little surprise so many people have been flocking to the platform ever since, then.

To improve the user experience even further, LinkedIn announced Sponsored Updates – a tool that helps foster business relationships between companies that are not otherwise related on social sites. It also saw the delivery of relevant content to the feed of businesses outside the publisher´s immediate relations. You can imagine what this has done for reach of brands´ content on the platform.

Easily the most important development in 2013 for content marketers was the acquisition of Pulse, which really showed LinkedIn’s commitment to becoming the ultimate professional platform for publishing.

Pulse was developed with the overall intention of helping to foster discussions that lead to informed and intelligent decisions – sounds like a B2B content marketing manifesto to us.

Incremental change followed through 2014 as we all got well and truly hooked on the platform. We were presented with a mobile app giving us on-the-go connectivity with our target audience and industry influencers, and Pulse got a sexy new refresh to make the whole experience more enjoyable.[/fusion_toggle]
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More recently, LinkedIn updates have arguably been slighter in terms of impact, but it´s clear that the platform isn´t prepared to stand still. Its recent acquisition of Bizo in July 2014, for the sole purpose of amplifying its growth as a B2B advertising program, speaks volumes for the future of content marketing through LinkedIn.

The aim of the game? To become the most powerful tool brands can utilise to build stronger and long lasting relationships with professionals. We’ll wait and see how that pans out for us…

As a member who works for a firm of accountants was recently quoted as saying…

You can´t walk into a room without everyone having looked everyone else up on LinkedIn.[/fusion_toggle]

 

What that means for you, fair B2B marketer

If you´re not making the most of it already, then now is the time to utilise LinkedIn for business. Without question, there couldn’t be a more powerful, diverse, functional or professional social network available for you to connect to key members – either directly or indirectly – related to your industry.

Whilst the second part of this mini-series will give you some juicy tips on how to use LinkedIn for marketing and to promote your business, we just want to leave you with some key takeaways to consider:

Everyone and anyone can publish on LinkedIn

… and with such a huge number of members, standing out from the crowd and achieving the ultimate goal of getting your published content featured through Pulse will be harder than ever.

Rub shoulders with the big cheese, and perhaps become one yourself?

For even more success than Pulse, why not aim to join the big guns. Think you can get your company’s CEO featured in LinkedIn’s influencer program? Heck, it’s worth a shot, with the average influencer post receiving a whopping 30,000+ views and almost a hundred comments.

Show off your assets

As if one company profile wasn’t enough, for companies with multi-variant divisions, or key products and services devoted to different industry sectors, you can now segment your business’s core selling points into showcase pages. Content marketing and lead generation just got tailored, targeted and undoubtedly more successful.

Lead gen for the next generation

It’s not just about promoting content either, utilising LinkedIn for lead generation is a powerful tool that could see you dropping your advertising spend from a myriad of other avenues, if you have a strategy put together like a pro.

If you’ve got to that point where you’re struggling to see the wood for the trees, however – fear not. We´ll be running another blog offering some comprehensive tips for businesses as well as how to make the most of your company page, so stay tuned.

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Ben Hollom

April 1, 2015