Increasingly, LinkedIn is becoming a media platform that brands and companies need to understand in order to get the best reach to their potential customers.

One of the things to understand is that LinkedIn requires a lot of time if you want to be effective, so it’s certainly not free media. However, if done correctly, it’s definitely worth the effort.

The first priority is to look at getting results from your personal LinkedIn profile or those of your executives. LinkedIn gives you a profile that is absolutely unique to you and offers a huge opportunity to increase your influence in your industry. It’s also a platform that everyone can see success with, not just senior people.

But the first thing many people ask is, how often should we be posting? There’s no easy answer, except to say it’s important to be relevant, rather than frequent. So, post as often as you’ve got something useful and interesting and valuable to say – typically we see people posting somewhere between a couple of times a week, to every two weeks in the B2B tech industry.

There is no best or right way to work with LinkedIn – it very much depends on what your company wants to achieve and the value you can add. Also, it’s about the audience you’re trying to reach and ensuring you reach that audience with content they care about.

When you share something on LinkedIn, it initially gets shared with your network, and then often will get shared with other individuals’ networks. A lot of people look at the algorithm and think, the more people in my network, the more likely people are engaged, the better it’s going to be for me. But actually, there is very little correlation between the number of connections you have and the average amount of engagement.

Some research suggests a slight negative correlation and certainly, once you get above 1000 individuals, there’s very little benefit in increasing your network size. And the reason for this is you’re then not sharing content with people who really know and care about you. This means that a smaller network of a few hundred can actually get those early engagements, which means you should focus on the quality of your network rather than its size.

Who posts what?

The other really important thing is, what are you actually going to post? This is where personas come in.

The first persona is a PR publisher, who simply shares content that looks good from a PR perspective. This is quite often news and announcements from their organization and sometimes information about their wider industry. This is actually a relatively low time and low effort approach, because all you’re doing is sharing content that may already be available.

It’s easy to dismiss this as just reshaping existing content, but actually, it’s incredibly valuable and is massively underestimated, particularly amongst sales teams. When you share content on your company page, it has a very limited reach – if you can get people within your organization, particularly the sales teams, to share with their contacts and networks, it can massively amplify the impact of your content. So, although the PR publisher is an easy and simple persona to be, it’s actually also incredibly valuable.

There are also lots of different personas that really build you as a brand, rather than simply as a channel to share information.

The first one is the storyteller. They will tell stories that could be very honest, maybe self-deprecating, or simply funny in order to engage people. This approach is also often coupled with some sort of clickbait headline. If you’re an organization that can openly talk about some of the challenges and mistakes you’ve made, and you like the story format, then this is a good persona to engage people.

The next one is the thought leader. For us, a thought leader is someone who researches ideas, so they may be looking at data or running experiments. They create their own ideas, and their own data therefore results in a valid opinion, backed up with solid research.

The thought leader is a great persona to be, particularly if you’re in a fast moving industry. However, it goes without saying that to generate real thought leadership on LinkedIn, you’ve got to generate new insights that other people haven’t shared previously. That requires a huge amount of work, including basic research to actually generate data that you can share.

In some industries, it’s a lot easier – if you offer an email platform, it’s very easy to research the length of subject headlines and the open rates. But if you make complex technology for large systems, it’s very hard to generate that research, and so produce your own thought leadership content.

Our next persona is the knowledge sharer, which is quite like the PR persona, except they share news about the industry, rather than about their organization. If you can share knowledge and information other people don’t have, it’s an incredibly effective way to become an influencer on LinkedIn without spending a huge amount of time producing your own content.

Choose your content

There are three sorts of content you can place on LinkedIn, other than your profile page.

The first is articles and any sensible length article about technology can be posted. Although articles are not favoured by the LinkedIn algorithm, and tend not to be pushed, they have a massive advantage as evergreen content, as they’ll stay associated with your profile; and because you’d typically write fewer articles, you’ll actually see those articles near the top and quite often on your homepage. We definitely recommend generating some articles to post on the platform.

Most of the content on LinkedIn is posts linking to your own or others’ content. Although you shouldn’t be too promotional, you can certainly share content that exists either on your company’s website, in the industry media, or perhaps from analysts – posts are a great way to share information with your audience and build that influence. LinkedIn does tend to prefer content that is on the LinkedIn platform, so just share one URL, don’t put multiple links in.

Also, video is clearly the most effective content today on LinkedIn, generating far more engagement than any text or image based content.

The last thing and something I think that is very important not to forget, is the engagement that you conduct on LinkedIn – the liking, sharing and commenting. We’ve found that people who engage with other people’s content, as well as promoting their own, are far more effective than people who simply push content out.

The last thing about content is to be creative. One of our clients posted a fabulously glossy page, talking about a new technology. In fact, this is their press release – they pulled out key quotes from the release and got some really striking imagery. It feels much more engaging, so if you’re looking to link back to content, look at how you can make that content more interesting and more engaging.

To sum up, if you engage other people’s content, they are much more likely to engage with yours. Also, being boring doesn’t work – be relevant, be interesting, and give the inside story of you. LinkedIn is a social media platform. It’s not a formal means of communication. Don’t be too fun and wacky but you can have fun within the context of your industry.

Boost your company image

Company pages have had a bit of a bad rap recently from LinkedIn. Lots of people think that the value of the company page has been diminished because LinkedIn is not promoting company posts as much as they’re promoting posts from individuals.

However, company pages are still very important, not only as an overview of your company, but also as a way to build your social presence. There are actually two sorts of pages you can create for your company. The first is the official page of the company, basically an overview of the whole organization.

The second is called a showcase page, and you can create ones that focus on a specific market, product, or group of products. The great thing about this is that you can use the company page to broadcast more general information about your organization, then use the showcase pages to narrow down and focus on specific audiences and tailor messages for people interested in specific areas of your business.

When you create the company page, and when you create the showcase page, it’s really important to make it easy to find and this is a simple, straightforward SEO job – it’s all about thinking what people would type into the search box so they get your company as a result.

It’s really important to test when you use LinkedIn, and you can do this on an individual personal page, but it’s much easier to see what’s working on a company page. You can test things like frequency, the topics of work and the formats very easily. PowerPoint and SlideShare presentations do very well, as do stories around your product or service rather than just talking about the products and service itself.

Another vital thing that should be on your to do list is to get employees, and particularly sales, to share comments and engage with your company content. When they do that, that content can to be seen by their network, as well as the people following your company page. It’s powerful, and pretty difficult, but if you can make your content really valuable to customers, it will help your team share, as well as giving a good impression of the company.

Company pages have something else that’s quite unique. LinkedIn will let you target posts, so you can showcase pages for each industry or country – you can send a post to people in marketing, engineering or purchasing.

There’s a big future in company pages, but it does need your staff to amplify the content you’re sharing to maximize impact.

Getting a better presence

There are a few ways you can help boost engagement and the first is customization. You can ask the audience what content they want to see, but perhaps even more effective is to look at the data and alter or update existing content to make it more relevant. Accessing data is not easy in LinkedIn but it is well worth the effort.

The next tip is thinking about your company page as a lead generation page, rather than simply an about us page. As well as having your complete profile, think about putting offers on the page. But also, think about what a customer would want to know when they find you, how to generate contact details and turn them into leads. LinkedIn ‘s Lead Gen forms will auto fill people’s details with the information on their LinkedIn profile – it can produce variable results, so we’d certainly recommend running some tests to see if it is useful for you.

Increasing engagement is all about doing something that’s a little bit different, maybe a how to post with tips in the title, a post that builds on some research you’ve done, or an infographic or video.

The next tip is to pay for promotion. LinkedIn is a business, designed to extract money from other businesses. It is incredibly good at targeting particular audiences very accurately and is probably the best account-based marketing platform we use in Europe. If you want to get organic success, we recommend a mix of payment combined with a focus on organic LinkedIn.

And don’t forget, LinkedIn is certainly less fun than Facebook, but it’s still social media, so it’s really important to create a social feeling. Make sure you respond to comments on your posts, which can create a lot of future engagement.

Be social, be friendly, and just go out and talk to people on LinkedIn. It’s a powerful tool that deserves to be a major part of your marketing mix.

If you want to find out more about how you can be successful on LinkedIn, check out our webinar ‘Tips, Tricks and Best Practices for LinkedIn’.