For years we’ve wondered whether LinkedIn could deliver for B2B marketing what other social networks were doing for B2C. While these networks were experimenting with ways to deliver advertising for brands, LinkedIn appeared to be suffering from an identity crisis, not knowing whether they were a virtual resume database or a social network for business professionals. However, through 2012 and into this year, LinkedIn has undergone the beginnings of a transformation, and is now comfortably positioned as the leading platform for B2B content marketing.
In 2011, 71% of B2B marketers chose LinkedIn for content marketing purposes, but 2012 showed an increase to 83%, with Twitter and Facebook at 80%.* LinkedIn has achieved this through making key changes to their platform.
LinkedIn Today, which aggregates and features top news items based on your preferences, has been live for a year. The company has complemented this with an original publishing effort, and launched the INfluencer feature in October. INfluencer allows you to follow article feeds from some of the most influential industry thought-leaders on LinkedIn, like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington.
And the posts do well: Richard Branson’s most recent post about “Where I Work: surrounded by people (and swimming in tea)” was shared 600 times on Twitter, 2,500 times on Facebook and 8,300 times on LinkedIn. Not forgetting the comments: in excess of 2,000. This type of approach, with resultant engagement and sharing, has contributed to an eight-fold traffic increase to LinkedIn Today in the last year.
This is paving the way to even more content in 2013; CEO Jeff Weiner says LinkedIn sees its future as a professional publishing platform.
One element of this is selling new “sponsored posts”, similar to sites like Buzzfeed, where the message is delivered in the format that readers of LinkedIn Today are comfortable with. A perfect example of everyone’s favorite buzz concept: “native content”.
GE is one of the companies taking part in a test of taking existing repositories of content built up over time – white papers, thought pieces etc. – and serving that content up as status updates, and targeting specific followers of theirs on LinkedIn.
So what does all this mean? It means LinkedIn should be a significant part of any B2B strategy. Moving forward, it will be essential for our B2B brands to ensure they have an effective presence on LinkedIn, and that means increasing your LinkedIn connections in order to optimize your content strategy. It’s also important to utilize LinkedIn groups to distribute your content.
*The Content Marketing Institute reports — in its 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends