Of all the social networks businesses use to market themselves, LinkedIn (a Facebook for the professional community) has perhaps seen the greatest transformation in recent years. Users (industry leaders included) who would once use LinkedIn intermittently are now embracing the platform in full as a place to communicate and share content.
This second wind has made LinkedIn more than just a place to endorse your coworkers and list personal achievements. It’s now a place of bustling conversation and engagement within industry circles, where ideas flow freely and circulate like wildfire.
Translating this into inbound marketing terms, the site has become a viable marketplace with broad, untapped potential. How did this happen? More importantly, what does it mean for your business and your social marketing strategy?
The rebirth of LinkedIn
The resurgence of LinkedIn can best be attributed to the launch of their Influencers and Pulse programs, in 2012 and 2014, respectively. These services provide channels for industry leaders and businesses to share ideas with consumers directly, based on interest, industry and ongoing trends.
As stated by LinkedIn “Influencer” and HubSpot co-founder, Dharmesh Shah, in his LinkedIn post on the Influencers program:
“There are over 300 influencers that are writing as part of LinkedIn Influencers. Many of whom you may not know but should. It's not just about billionaire entrepreneurs (though the program has its share of those too)...And by “following” Influencers (you can follow an Influencer without being connected to them) users can read, like, comment directly, and share Influencer content with their networks, all of which further extends the social nature of LinkedIn Today [now “Pulse”].”
Pulse’s newsfeed format and channel options create the perfect environment for user engagement, and reward businesses and industry thought leaders that use it to distribute stimulating content.
Pulse was essentially introduced to support content distribution, and allows businesses to post blog articles and other content directly from their websites (as in, you can publish your blog posts directly to LinkedIn, as opposed to copying and reformatting content for the site).
Note: when we say “stimulating content,” we mean that the content you post on LinkedIn and within LinkedIn circles should be entirely fluff-free. Ditch the pitch, and instead focus on sparking conversation and informing your audience. LinkedIn is a conversational platform, not a marketing platform.
The shift from self-promotional content/company bios to trending ideas and conversation have given LinkedIn new life, and drawn back its estranged user base by the millions. This has made the platform one of the strongest social tools businesses can use to engage with consumers and industry thought leaders alike.
LinkedIn and content strategy
To be frank, LinkedIn’s Influencer and Pulse programs are a huge deal for businesses currently using the platform. For any piece of content your business posts on LinkedIn (we mean any, whether it’s a blog post, offer from your website or a direct post on LinkedIn), your followers are sent a notification instantaneously.
For content posted on other social sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, views are dependent on users scrolling past your post. LinkedIn notifies followers directly when tracked businesses and professionals in their industry publish new content. The concept here, made a reality by the Influencer and Pulse programs, is to keep users informed on what thought leaders in their circles are saying, and invite them to discuss content in an open, social forum.
The best strategy for businesses using LinkedIn is to immerse themselves within circles and networks on the platform, and publish quality content relevant to those users. Once you post, all of your followers are notified via Pulse; this boosts not just content distribution, but active engagement amongst your audience.
LinkedIn has changed from the professional’s social network to a bustling content distribution channel. Users love it because they receive real-time notifications on what businesses and leaders in their industry are saying; businesses embrace the platform as it encourages engagement in a way that other social sites fall short of.
LinkedIn’s content programs, Influencers and Pulse, have made the site one of the most powerful distribution platforms for businesses looking to expand their reach on social media.