LinkedIn for B2B: Recalibrating and Refreshing Your Strategy

By: Brandon Chesnutt

When I sit down at the table with a B2B company to discuss social media, the majority of conversations start with LinkedIn. It’s the one network where a B2B company’s employees are likely to be regularly active, as well as an area of potential risk exposure. There is still a lot of curiosity regarding LinkedIn, and the overwhelming majority of companies I speak to want to maximize their participation on the network.

However, the other trend I’m seeing is an increase in the number of B2B organizations experiencing what appears to be “LinkedIn fatigue.”

LinkedIn fatigue is often brought on by a lack of positive change. Some common symptoms include plateaued community growth, content collection challenges or fewer associates sharing anecdotal successes. LinkedIn becomes a chore.

Thankfully, the symptoms of LinkedIn fatigue can often be treated. When working with B2B companies that are looking to maximize their LinkedIn presence, I like to start by recalibrating and refreshing their approach to the network. While there is no magic pill that will solve all of the issues, it’s a great way of shaking of fatigue, recalibrating efforts and approaching the network with fresh eyes.

Here are the key program pillars I hold out for B2B LinkedIn success:

Measurable Audience Growth
B2B LinkedIn strategies should place a strong emphasis on measurably increasing the size of opt-in target audiences. The larger the marketing-qualified audience, the more opportunities afforded to the brand to create marketing-qualified leads. Audience growth is a key part of the strategy and a program KPI. Simple, but not easy. Follower acquisition simply via content publishing can be tough. This strategy often requires the use of other tools or a better integration of LinkedIn as a company touch point across other marketing mediums.

Before I move on, I want to be clear: more followers does not always translate to success. There are several large, global companies with hundreds of thousands of followers that experience relatively low engagement rates. Is it because users of LinkedIn are more likely to lurk and consume in lieu of engaging with content? Probably. I also believe that large audiences require effective custom audience targeting in order to see stronger results. However, in order to leverage organic custom targeting, the audience needs to be in place. More on this topic in a minute.

Frequent Publishing of Purposeful Content
Content creation is still a tough challenge for B2B marketers. Whether it’s coming up with ideas or investing the appropriate amount of effort into mapping out content for an extended period of time, developing and deploying a strategy is no easy task. However, the dollars shifting toward content creation and production are consistently increasing. B2B companies are helping to drive this trend.

When looking at LinkedIn through a content lens, the network has routinely discussed the impact frequent content updates have on an organization’s presence. LinkedIn has previously stated that companies that post at least 20 times per month reach at least 60 percent of their audience. Content frequency is an area where many B2B organizations struggle, but it’s a problem that can be quickly addressed with effective planning.

On the other hand, we’ve had several conversations with B2B marketers who are feeling fatigued from repetitive postings of executives in suits, employees performing charitable initiatives and inspirational quotes. Again, if this is what your audience craves and responds to, no need to try and fix what isn’t broken. But, I do think it’s worth noting that delivering value via content is a continual process that is constantly evolving. As a result, experimentation is often required.

Audience Segmentation and Surgical Targeting
When the content creation and publishing process is humming, good things happen. However, content should be tailored to specific audiences whenever possible. If I want to post a recruiting update or culture post on our agency’s Company Page, I may target non-employee followers in Michigan who currently have a marketing function, which translates to about 360 of our 2,300 followers. Those are the people we want to recruit, and should be the audience who sees the update.

This custom targeting option is nothing new, but I feel like many small to mid-size B2B companies rarely leverage the opportunity. Instead, they throw out posts into the audience abyss and see what sticks. Relevancy and context are important, and a brand’s posting strategy should take segmentation into account.

In the same vein, sponsored posts are becoming another necessary element. If the content is strong, it can be supported with paid options in order to reach the right decision makers. Moreover, LinkedIn’s targeting options are quite precise, which is fantastic. If you can get past paying a premium for sponsored content, it’s worth integrating into your B2B LinkedIn strategy as a means to reach outside of an existing audience pool.

Employee Advocacy
This is where the magic happens. With employees possessing 10 times the number of connections than their employer has followers, employee advocacy programs are absolutely critical to scaling any B2B LinkedIn program. Arming leaders, relationship managers, sales personnel and other key employees with approved company content to share with their professional networks and circles of influence can multiply a B2B company’s LinkedIn efforts by 10x right out of the gate. From my perspective, employee advocacy program development is a non-negotiable when it comes to achieving LinkedIn success.

Employee advocacy programs often begin with the inclusion LinkedIn guidelines within employee handbooks that hone in on best practices and recommendations. Social media has matured to a point now where either your B2B organization is going to tap into the power of employees, or will keep all communications efforts centralized at the brand level. If you stick with the latter, you’re missing out on some amazing opportunities.

Once LinkedIn becomes part of the onboarding process, then comes selecting the right platforms and technology to support an employee advocacy program. Whether you choose Spinklr, EveryoneSocial, LinkedIn’s native Elevate platform or Dynamic Signal (Identity’s preferred platform), the integration of a SaaS product to help support employee advocacy will provide your marketing team with the ability to integrate simple content amplification processes, as well as provide visibility into how employees are using company approved content. No more guessing. It also eliminates many excuses we often hear from employees (and company leaders) about their lack of participation on LinkedIn. When the process for sharing content is easy, quick and accessible via mobile, it’s hard to use the “not enough time” excuse.

There are a lot of more steps required to launching and managing an effective employee advocacy program. Training. Content creation. Software implementation. Employee accountability. We’ll explore that program component in detail in a future post.

Fight LinkedIn Fatigue
It’s ok if you feel like LinkedIn is getting the best of your organization. You’re not alone. A quick review of your program pillars and the integration or refresh of one or more of the areas outlined above we’ll help you fight LinkedIn fatigue and inject new life into your LinkedIn efforts.