This makes sense. Consider the average Instagram user -- scrolling through her feed, liking photos of her friend's beach vacation and her sister's bridal shower, and occasionally using the platform to find and purchase products.
Alternatively, the average LinkedIn user is on the site specifically for professionally-geared content. They're already seeking out information to help grow their businesses. If you can provide them with high-quality content, it becomes much easier to convert.
Of course, it's easier said than done, particularly when trending content on LinkedIn ranges from SEO to customer acquisition to goal-setting. Without a clear strategy in mind, the task of lead generation on LinkedIn can feel challenging.
Justin Shriber, Vice President of Marketing at LinkedIn, was interviewed as part of HubSpot's new campaign, "Advertising, a Look Behind the Screens". Take a look at the full interview series here, or keep reading to learn some of his key insights regarding lead generation and building a brand across the platform.
Shriber's Steps for Growing a Brand and Generating Leads on LinkedIn
1. Make sure your executives have a strong LinkedIn presence.
When you're first getting started on LinkedIn, it can be tricky to know where to dedicate your initial efforts. Should you create a compelling LinkedIn Page, and immediately start posting content to your business's feed?
Maybe, instead, you should start by posting all your job openings to attract new talent?
Shriber suggests another strategy: "We definitely want to fuel the growth of small businesses that have aspirations to grow to become larger, and we put together a playbook that allows them to do that. The playbook always starts with the individual LinkedIn profiles of the employees at the company, and in particular, the executives at the company."
"[Executives are] trendsetters. They can make statements about what they stand for, and in many cases, develop a strong following in relatively short order."
Consider the leaders at your company and their current LinkedIn presence. Could they contribute more thoughtfully to LinkedIn groups within your industry, or post more often to their feeds? More likely than not, your executives could be doing more to grow their LinkedIn following.
Krawcheck is CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, and a powerful leader in the financial industry.
Krawcheck uses LinkedIn wisely, leveraging the platform to promote content from her own investment company, while also liking or sharing other relevant financial content geared towards women.
Ultimately, Krawcheck uses LinkedIn to build a personal brand and help her followers find useful content related to investing and women in finance. Ideally, your own executives should be doing the same.
2. Create a powerful LinkedIn Page for your business.
Once you've ensured your own executives have a strong LinkedIn presence, it's time to cultivate an impressive page.
You'll want to ensure your page is active, with thought-provoking content and contributions to conversations already happening on LinkedIn.
Shriber notes -- "Once you've got a strategy related to your executives and their presence on LinkedIn, step two is to think about the presence of your company on LinkedIn. We have a product called LinkedIn Pages, which has been incredibly powerful for businesses that want to establish their place in the world's professional community."
"[LinkedIn Pages is] a free product," Shriber adds, "and really, at the end of the day, it's a place for you to stage the content that you have to offer, and really promote all of the benefits that you have for people that want to follow you."
He continues, "So, when you come to a good LinkedIn Page, you'll find information about what the company does, but beyond that, some of the thought leadership that's happening. There will be video content as well as the written word, commentary from executives, but also in many cases, information that's curated from other sources. It doesn't just need to be from the marketing group or from an internal source."
To ensure your page is strong, consider posting a variety of content, including video. Additionally, follow the page analytics closely to figure out what content resonates with your audience.
It's equally critical you use LinkedIn to join communities and have conversations with other professionals in your industry. LinkedIn, at its core, is a social platform like any other. If you don't engage with your followers and follow trending articles related to your business, you'll lose out on making meaningful connections.
If you post an article once a week and then log out, you haven't leveraged LinkedIn for all it has to offer. Instead, you should be learning from others in your industry to further inspire better content and connect more closely with the prospects you're hoping to attract.
3. Use paid products to ensure your content reaches your intended audience.
Businesses with small marketing budgets may be wary to put money behind paid campaigns on LinkedIn. They often ask-- we have a small marketing budget and we want to use it wisely. Where should we spend it?
Remember, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. And, ultimately, using LinkedIn's paid products will help your brand and content appear in prospects feeds.
Shriber told me, "Once you've built that strong LinkedIn Page, companies tend to realize that that audience that's consuming information is incredibly valuable, and it's different than what they're finding on other platforms."
He adds, "We have a series of paid products that you can then move into that allow you to insert content into the LinkedIn feed. Now you've got a series of followers or you've got a set of targeted members that you care about. Suddenly, they're seeing your content appear in the feed itself and there are some really rich ways to turn that engagement into actual activity."
LinkedIn can help you convert prospects faster, with limited friction. For instance, on one of your paid ads, your prospects might have the option to immediately fill out a form or respond to an event. Since their information is already saved on LinkedIn, it's a one-touch process for them. Best of all, it provides your sales team with invaluable data related to their industry and how you might best serve their professional needs.
4. Ensure you have strong sales and marketing alignment.
You're likely all too familiar with the recent shift in consumer buying behavior. Nowadays, customers are researching online ahead of time and typically use marketing content to help inform their purchasing decision before even reaching out to a sales rep.
Shriber describes the shift like this: "What you're seeing now, is consumers are becoming more savvy about learning about products and services that they need and progressing deep into the sales process before they reach out, raise their hand, and say that they need help."
He adds, "It's becoming incumbent upon marketing to really meet the needs of customers that are investigating and exploring, and then seamlessly handing that off to salespeople so sales has context on the journey customers have already traveled."
Additionally, he notes: "Salespeople, in many respects, are [also] becoming brand experts."
"I've got a number of customers that have come to me and said, my salespeople know my target customers better than my marketing group. They've been in the business for 20 years, and they know all the key people, so I'm going to use them to create awareness, build a brand in a way that historically has been reserved for marketing."
On the flip side, of course, marketers are playing a more heavy role in closing a deal. Shriber told me, "Imagine, for example, that you're procurement and you're trying to negotiate a contract. Historically, that's been the domain of a sales professional, but today, savvy marketers know that that's where you are in the sales process."
Shriber adds, "They're able to target that procurement person, send in some relevant content related to validation of the solution, why it's valuable, what other customers are saying about it, and all of a sudden, that marketer has played a key role in getting the deal closed."
All of which is to say -- it's absolutely critical you align your sales and marketing teams, since they play equally valuable parts in finding prospects and closing deals, and they overlap more heavily now than ever before.
Ultimately, if you aren't using LinkedIn or aren't using it often, you're likely missing out on major opportunities to grow your business. As Shriber told me, "We've really tried to think through the full spectrum of what you might care about, from building a brand to generating leads, whether you're a small business or a large enterprise -- and we built playbooks that address you where you are, and help you to get where you're going."