LinkedIn is the “business” social network. Sure, the content is focused on connecting business professionals, career promotion, and sharing business-related news and content which sets it apart from the other mainstream social sites (think Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest).
But at the end of the day – LinkedIn is a newsfeed just like these platforms. And just like any social platform, the battle on LinkedIn is a battle for attention between brands & humans. This means, for B2B brands, your success on LinkedIn is linked to your people.
Now, I’m not suggesting brands shouldn’t have a page & a content strategy.
Rather, B2B brands must recognize that on LinkedIn their brand page is just another “person” among their many employees who use the site. It’s why I say brands are human. It’s also why successful customer outreach and acquisition can’t rely solely on the marketing team.
If you want your brand to succeed on LinkedIn, you need a solid employee advocacy program. You need to humanize your brand.
And I’m not the only one saying this. Recently completed surveys and research show that as more employees get involved, the more brands enjoy greater success on LinkedIn.
It’s All About Humans Connecting with Humans
LinkedIn’s employee advocacy guide reports some startling statistics. These figures come from LinkedIn’s own data, and data measured by the Edelman Trust Barometer. The guide notes:
- Employee networks typically have 10x more connections than brands have followers
- 75% of buyers use social media (LinkedIn) to make buying decisions
- Companies with socially engaged employees are 58% more likely to attract top talent
- Salespeople actively sharing on LinkedIn are 45% more likely to exceed quota
- 3% of employees sharing content accounts for a 30% increase in engagement
- LinkedIn Users are 3x more likely to trust company information shared by employees rather than a CEO or business owner
For marketers, the statistic that deserves the most attention is this:
There is a 2x higher click-through rate for the content shared by employees over that shared by the company/brand!
On LinkedIn, it’s simple. Content shared by humans achieves greater engagement. So, what should a brand do?
A brand should market. And it should encourage, support, and coordinate employee advocacy. Let’s look at what each effort entails.
What a Brand Should Be Doing on LinkedIn
Clear and simple, a brand should be marketing. I know, for all I’ve said about the importance of people connecting with people, this might seem counterintuitive. It isn’t.
Your brand still needs to represent itself to communicate its purpose, values, and products/services. What a brand does here provides the foundation for its people to share and engage with others. For this, you really need all three of the following:
- Brand pages with a well-developed presence.
- Branded content in the form of blogs, articles, ebooks, posts, and more.
- Targeted ads to increase reach and boost awareness.
Hootsuite identified 5 things every brand should do on LinkedIn based on their own successes. These included:
- Regular A/B testing of messaging to find what resonates best with your audience.
- Using an ad budget to boost organic posts to drive campaigns.
- Finding your content volume “sweet spot” with your audience.
- Use rich-media assets like video and graphics.
- Sharing different types of content beyond brand messaging, ie., company news, workplace tips, thought leadership, and more.
In short, a brand should have a solid brand marketing campaign in place and well-executed on LinkedIn. The key, however, is to get employees to be involved with it too.
What Your Team (Employees) Should Be Doing on LinkedIn
Every brand should encourage its employees to use and engage on LinkedIn. Build time into their daily (or weekly) schedule if necessary. Provide recommendations and advice on how to share content, and what type of content is good to share.
Now, I’m not talking about making them robots to your efforts. That wouldn’t be genuine, and others would see that. Rather, brands should empower their employees to share their opinions and content, both brand content and non-brand content.
Employees who see and understand how LinkedIn can help their current career with the company and even help advance their careers will be more active, engaged, and more likely to want to share brand content.
In addition to sharing content, your team should be connecting with new people on LinkedIn daily to grow their network. A day that goes by without 20-30 new connection requests is a day lost, again both for the employee and the brand.
Employees should also engage with and follow prospects, partners, and vendors. This keeps them connected and informed, a great way to stay informed, share timely content, and even help them advance their careers.
An Employee Advocacy Program Humanizes Your Brand
A brand may be a “person” on LinkedIn, but the statistics show brand shares don’t compare to those of its employees.
Brands should still market as it lays the foundation and provides the content needed by employees to share, connect, and engage. And as individuals don’t (yet) have a way to run ads or boost posts, the brand can increase exposure through highly targeted ad campaigns.
Branding may live within the marketing department, but on LinkedIn, brand campaigns must move beyond marketing. Everyone in the organization should play a role. Executives and subject matter experts can provide thought leadership. Client team members show the human face of the brand. Sales teams expand connections, build relationships, and reach new potential audiences.
A well-defined employee advocacy program coordinates these efforts. And when you bring people together, you accelerate your brand’s success on LinkedIn.
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Dan Golden is a veteran digital marketing executive & speaker. He liked to predict the future of digital marketing and is damn good at it. Beyond trendspotting, he has an insatiable desire to know what works and that means spending time auditing accounts, testing tactics, and diving into analytics. Dan is also a Forbes and HuffPost contributor, as well as a Lecturer at Northwestern University and DePaul University.
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