Social Media

7 LinkedIn Marketing Ideas to Grow Leads (Plus What to Avoid)

Microsoft reported that this quarter LinkedIn has seen ongoing growth in both total members and engagement. The network is now up to 690 million members, increasing from 675 million back in January, and sessions are up 26% as well. 

This makes sense because unemployment is at a historical high. So more people are actively searching for jobs. Plus, people are spending more time at home and, therefore, more time online.

While social media typically drives about 5-10% of a B2B company’s leads, 93% of B2B marketers feel that of social networks, LinkedIn is the best place to win leads, over Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, and Twitter.

So today I’ll share a few does and don’ts for maximizing your B2B business with LinkedIn marketing ideas, that will work no matter your industry or size.

Discover 7 low-hanging fruit LinkedIn marketing ideas for businesses

Here are a few simple steps to take today to drive more leads from LinkedIn marketing.

1. Set up a personal profile, not a company page.

I’d recommend only setting up a personal profile. I consistently see that employee LinkedIn content sharing drives a much bigger impact than the company brand page.

You can even list job postings from a personal page. So there’s really no need for a company page – other than to add some legitimacy to your brand if you feel that’s not being accomplished elsewhere.

So pick a face for your company, or be the face, and build from there. LinkedIn is a social network, and people are inherently more social than a construct like a business. You can even invite a character or a mascot, an actor, your founder, or a customer service representative to represent your company. Plus, you can incentivize your whole workforce to build their own personal profiles.

Let me elaborate on why I think this matters. If you log into LinkedIn today you’ll see a small Today’s news section in your right sidebar on the home feed. This is very “Facebook 10 years ago” when they made the pivot into content. LinkedIn, too, now views itself as a content company, and no longer a digital rolodex.

The proof is in the pudding when you look at the content their own team is producing. LinkedIn’s Marketing blog is pushing B2B content marketing (642 posts!) the most out of any possible marketing topic. For comparison, marketing career tips only has 21 posts.

Furthermore, when you look at the LinkedIn profiles of their in-house content writers, you’ll see descriptions of their work such as “I’m on the front lines of the content marketing revolution at LinkedIn.” and “With rich insights, information and content shared on our platform every day, LinkedIn is embracing the power of content to make professionals more productive and successful.”

You’ll remember when Facebook pivoted towards content, the network convinced publishers to pipe their content directly into their platform. This was the only way to be shown in the Trending Articles section in the right sidebar. And they inflated brands’ video views to bring even more content in. Then, they put those publishers out of business.

Over the same period of time, after previously encouraging businesses to set up fan pages, they also crushed a brand’s organic reach. Basically they used big content creating brands to bring user eyeballs to the network, and then stomped on those brands’ pages.

While social networks will always try to make the most money possible off of brands, they know they need user eyeballs to succeed with the flywheel. As a result, they are less inclined to suppress user content. So always be a user to capture more impressions while spending less money.

2. Create a compelling personal profile.

One of LinkedIn’s recommendations is to “Introduce your personality” on your profile, which made me roll my eyes. Because no one brings their personality to work.

So I would recommend introducing your “work personality.” Use your Headline section as an eye-catcher. Don’t just state your title. Ask for what you need, pitch what you’re selling, or build your own authority with a fun, helpful fact.

This will show up right under your name every time you share content. So it’s a pretty big lever and it’s often overlooked. Here are a few examples of people using this space to present a compelling offer:

Ann Handley's LinkedIn marketing intro title
Ken Underhill's descriptive text on LinkedIn is a great marketing idea
Wesley Samuel's call to action for hiring is a good use of his profile's description for LinkedIn marketing

Also, take advantage of everything you’ve already learned from your SEO keyword research and use those keywords, even here. Optimize your profile for search by incorporating keywords and phrases into the About tab overview, that potential customers might use to search for your product or service. And add commonly searched skills to your profile so that when people search for those you show up.

Finally, make your profile easier to share by customizing your LinkedIn public profile URL. Just click View Profile and then clicking Edit Public Profile and URL.

Don’t forget to pick an evergreen URL. I’d recommend not using your full name because it could change when you get married or divorced, and rather going with a common name people use to reach you or something that describes what you offer.

3. Post every Wednesday at 10:45 AM EST.

LinkedIn estimates that companies that post content weekly see two times the engagement. And brands that post once a day gain even more traction. But, that’s a big commitment, so I’d suggest getting started with once a week and optimizing around the ideal time.

Speaking of which, Hootsuite found the best times to post on LinkedIn are 7:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. EST. And the best day to post for B2B brands is Wednesday and for B2C brands, Mondays and Wednesdays are best.

The timing is critical, because LinkedIn says the more frequently you share content your followers engage with, the higher your Page will appear in search results.

4. Write long posts, with line spacing, and emojis.

The simplest way to produce strong posts on LinkedIn is to syndicate content from your blog. Take your top performing post from the week, and pull some actionable tips from it. Share those in the body of the post using clear formatting, plenty of white space, and emojis.

Plus, be sure to add very specific hashtags – the more specific the better (think three words). Low volume tags that are accurate will get more interaction and help boost the post because people are engaging with it.

Also, consider the audience. These are folks looking for jobs or distracting themselves while they should be at work. So posts that positively encourage career finding and posts that criticize outdated work processes tend to do very well. Popular themes to brainstorm around include: revamped HR ideas, hiring process ideas, WFH ideas, business best practices, recent learnings from an experiment, and persevering among work adversity.

Here are a few examples of popular LinkedIn posts:

A popular LinkedIn marketing post about starting a business that got 13 thousand likes
A popular LinkedIn marketing post about taking time off that was well received
A popular LinkedIn marketing post about picking a career path that got 136 interactions

Running low on content ideas? Here are some social media post content ideas that can help. Also LinkedIn encourages checking out Content Suggestions under the Content tab of your LinkedIn Page dashboard. However I checked mine for all of the pages I manage and nothing even remotely relevant was listed there. Maybe you’ll have better luck.

5. Take skill quizzes related to your company’s services or products.

Recently LinkedIn launched new skill quizzes. They’re currently testing and evaluating the feature, so it’s only available in English and isn’t yet accessible to all LinkedIn members.

This feature helps you demonstrate your knowledge of the skills you’ve added on your profile by completing assessments specific to those skills. A typical assessment consists of 15 multiple choice questions, and each question tests at least one concept or sub-skill. The questions are timed and must be completed in one session. And when you pass you earn a skill badge for your profile.

In a world where anyone who has updated a page title tag one time can accurately say they know some SEO, these tests can help those with a decently comprehensive skillset to stand out. By earning badges, you’ll add another proof point that you are trustworthy and can provide adequate expertise. You can find all available assessments here.

6. Reach out to warm connections with helpful ideas.

If someone repeatedly likes your post or comments (think three times), consider asking them to connect, to make it easy to enjoy each other’s content. Here are a few simple LinkedIn outreach emails to send as you try to connect.

You can also see who’s viewed your profile. These folks are your content audience members, potential leads, and customers. Since they’re proactively engaging with you, it could be worth trying to connect with them as well. You could also try to tailor future post topics to their interests.

Finally, you can export your LinkedIn connections under your Advanced Settings, and then email them outside of LinkedIn. Many people don’t have this enabled on their profiles anymore (i.e. you can’t download them), but some will.

Export and check out your list every quarter to bring over new contacts into your CRM, and to add to ad retargeting lists. But do not spam these people! Ensure you only email them as yourself, provide valuable information, and don’t add them to any automated email lists.

7. Set up job alerts to pitch new business first.

If a company is running short on a full-time resource, there could be an opportunity for you to pitch your products or services. You can search for jobs or in this case, new business, by entering search criteria such as industry, company, and job title and set up an alert. That way, when a new job matches your search, you can be the first to pitch.

You can also go to the urgent jobs section on Jobs homepage to see companies that have open roles that match your skills. You could also use Open for Business to indicate your freelance services are available.

What not to do is equally important, so don’t do these LinkedIn marketing ideas

Here are a few LinkedIn marketing ideas to avoid on the platform, to save yourself time and money.

1. Don’t use InMail ads.

They’re overpriced, and they don’t work because they feel like spam. Because, well, they are. They’re literally unwelcome emails in your inbox.

2. Skip LinkedIn groups.

With most LinkedIn groups the discussion quality and idea sharing just isn’t there. To be part of a discussion, join Facebook Groups.

Or, if you’re interested in making an investment and building for the long-term, start your own LinkedIn group. Since LinkedIn is following a similar playbook to Facebook, they’ll soon realize Groups are necessary to curating the vast quantities of content they’ll have. So you can set yourself up as an early bird and catch all the worms.

Just keep in mind, this is a five to ten year play. So set up a group based on a common interest your customers have, and only invest 5% of your marketing time in it for now.

3. Skip LinkedIn Learning.

Searches for LinkedIn Learning are on the rise. And you might think one great way to engage your audience is to share learnings from LinkedIn classes as posts, or to try to get in on the LinkedIn Learning class making. But today the class quality is hugely hit or miss, and is not organized in a great way to help you easily differentiate.

There is often more than one recommended courses on a single topic, which is confusing for users. Some courses are too short, and do not go into the detail and depth necessary to be helpful. And, others highlight outdated techniques.

Additionally, it’s not a credited institution, so there is limited recognition for having completed these courses. There are stronger platforms for learning new skills or listing instructional career content, such as MasterClass, General Assembly, or Udemy, among others.

4. Don’t use images in your posts.

LinkedIn says “Images garner over six times more engagement than text-only content.” But from my testing both in ads and on organic posts on LinkedIn, I haven’t seen that play out.

The majority of human posts in my feed don’t have images. I regularly see posts with 3K+ engagements and no images. And most of the posts with images are ads so readers are being trained to skim over them.

5. Don’t create company showcase pages.

As a small or medium sized business, there’s just no need to make multiple showcase pages for your company. You’ll be better off making one-to-one, real connections rather than broadcasting your product lines.

The exception might be if you’re a 5K+ employees-large company, with very differentiated audiences. But even then, you’re committing to creating a ton of content regularly for it to be successful.

As an example, let’s take a look at Adobe, which has five showcase pages for its different products and communities. While Adobe’s main page has 2.4 million followers, their showcase pages each have about 10% of that audience or less: Creative Cloud has 333K followers, Adobe Experience Cloud has 132K followers, and Adobe Document Cloud has 27K followers.

Yet a page with 27K followers takes just as much work to maintain as one with 2.4 million. Basically, they’re seeing rapidly decreasing returns, for each new page they introduce. You could argue the more targeted audience showcase pages get more relative interaction, which is true looking at the page’s most recent posts: Targeted showcase: .017% vs Broad company: .004% but both look like pretty small peanuts.

Apply these LinkedIn marketing ideas today

Take advantage of this social network’s current popularity by acting on a few of these tips today. Up next, learn how to grow your email newsletter list.

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By Megan Mitzel

I'm the wearer of overalls behind the marketing advice website Marketing Overalls. I'm also a senior marketing director with more than ten years of experience leading acquisition and lifecycle marketing at successful startups. Before that, I got a business degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. Before that, I owned a seashell shop. And that's the tea on me.