Is it actually possible to get some sort of positive return from social media? Can you leverage LinkedIn for you marketing agency? Or any other platform?
Even when you work with it every day of your agency life, social media can sometimes feel like it’s a whole lot of noise; like it’s a bottomless pit of a time sink; like you’ll never get a return on investment for whatever you put into it.
So, you resign yourself to scheduling a few tweets and a Facebook post for your agency every day, and you spend the rest of your time on more profitable ventures.
I’m no social media darling, so I understand the feeling. Usually, you can only get me to buckle down and pay attention to Twitter or Facebook with no small amount of kicking and/or screaming. I get it.
But social media is a fact of life for agency people. It’s one of the best ways for us to network with other marketing professionals, communicate with current customers, keep up on industry news, and even court new customers. If you don’t like social media, it’s still a necessary evil. We ignore it at our own peril.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we need to be better at marketing our marketing agencies. I wrote that article because I’ve been guilty of ignoring my own marketing agency’s marketing needs in the past.
I’m writing this post for the same reason, although this time I’m talking about LinkedIn, the social media platform that might just pay off for your marketing agency, even if you don’t have a ton of time to spend on it.
Now, most of us have LinkedIn accounts, even if we’re reluctant about logging in and doing anything with those accounts.
But for agencies, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool.
“Social media platforms as a whole aren’t scoring high on the lead awesomeness scale. But among the low-scoring social sites, there is one that stands out as a success marker. You guessed it: LinkedIn.
To put [it] into real numbers, LinkedIn is responsible for more than 80% of a business’s social media leads! All the other social media platforms put together only amount to 19.67% of leads!”
Now, that study is a few years old. I don’t know the current numbers. But LinkedIn is a social network for businesspeople, and marketing is a B2B industry. It makes sense that you’d find more ROI there—and maybe even some leads.
I’m assuming you’re already spread pretty thin and don’t have much time to “waste” on social media, even if social media is part of your job. So, in the interest of making the most impact with your time, here are my recommendations to properly leverage LinkedIn for your marketing agency.
First off, you’ll need to understand what LinkedIn can actually do for you. It’s positively crammed full of features, and you probably don’t know about all of them unless you’ve looked into it. You can’t just assume you already know what LinkedIn can and cannot do. After all, they’re constantly working to build a better, more useful platform.
LinkedIn boasts over 450 million users, Those are unique registered members. Many of these people are decision makers for their businesses, and LinkedIn gives you an easy way to reach them and provide them with something useful.
Here are a few core features:
- Company Pages – This serves as a home base for your agency, where you can share what you do, how you do it, and what makes you unique.
- Groups – Active groups cover a wide range of business topics, and users discuss what’s happening in the business world and share valuable information with one another.
- Ads – These pay-per-click ads work much like they do on other platforms, and they can be very useful for a marketer who’s short on time.
- InMail – Using this paid service, you can send a message to anyone on the platform, even if you’re not connected with them.
- LinkedIn Pulse – Pulse, or LinkedIn Today, aggregates content for every user on the platform. It shows them what’s popular in their industry, or what’s popular when it comes to something they want to learn about—like marketing. If you’re ready to produce good content for LinkedIn, Pulse is your new best friend.
- LinkedIn Publisher – Publisher allows you to publish blog posts directly to the platform, and it notifies your connections when you do so. If your post does well enough, it may end up on Pulse.
To read more about LinkedIn’s many features, check out this post from Smart Insights.
Now, you likely won’t have time to use every LinkedIn feature. You have to pick and choose what you want to get out of the platform and what you can do to make the whole exercise worth your time.
Do you want to get more clicks to your website? Do you want to generate leads from LinkedIn itself? Do you want to network with potential clients? Do you want to start building a larger off-site content base? You need to decide what your goal is, even if it’s just brand awareness.
Steve Phillip, founder of Linked2Success, says a lack of strategy is the worst mistake any business makes when it comes to LinkedIn:
“It’s simple. Lack of a clear strategy is the biggest mistake. Users sign up to LinkedIn but then have no clear plan in mind how they will use it.”
When you’re puttering around on social media without a plan, it becomes a time-sucking black hole. We all know how true that is.
So before you pour valuable hours into LinkedIn, you need to decide what you want to get out of the whole thing and figure out how to best use LinkedIn’s features to reach your goal.
Join the Right Groups
No matter what your LinkedIn goals are, you’ll need to join a group or two.
Groups allow LinkedIn users to share content, ask one another questions, and just connect with each other. Sort of like how Google+ groups used to be, back when people still used Google+.
Now, most of us remember the days where you could write a blog post on your own website, find an appropriate Google+ group, post the article there, and walk away. You’d watch the visitors roll in and never go back to Google+ to interact with them.
You can’t really do that on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, you’re always using your real name and photo, or your business’s name. Spamming a group and then leaving is extremely rude, and it could very well damage your reputation.
There’s a LinkedIn group or two for everything under the sun. If your agency specializes in inbound marketing, find the best and most active inbound group you can. If you’re trying to find leads for your new influencer-marketing services, find a group on influencer marketing.
In general, you want to stick to just a few groups. Joining 20 groups may give you more opportunities to find leads and connections, but you also won’t have the time to keep up with everything.
When you join a LinkedIn group, you want to be active in the community:
- Ask people questions.
- Answer people’s questions.
- Link to good content from sources other than your own agency.
- Discuss industry trends and news.
- Post your own content.
Post your content less than you do everything else on the list. No one likes a selfish person or a spammer. Instead, focus on becoming a valuable community member. That way, when you do post your own content, people will take more notice.
If you can afford it, someone from your agency should spend 20–30 minutes a day in the two to five LinkedIn groups you’ve chosen.
If you need a list of active LinkedIn groups, this HubSpot post is a great start.
Use LinkedIn for Blogging
Earlier, I mentioned LinkedIn publishing. It’s basically LinkedIn’s built-in blogging platform. Here, you can write anything you want and broadcast it to your connections.
In its publishing guidelines, LinkedIn offers the following description of the platform:
“LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform is an ideal forum to develop and strengthen your professional identity by sharing your knowledge and expertise in your job. It will be tied to your professional profile.”
So, technically you can publish anything there as long as you own the rights to it. And some businesses have seen amazing success with the platform.
But before you start copying and pasting articles from your agency blog into LinkedIn, I’d urge you to think twice. You could actually run into duplicate content ramifications from Google.
Instead, write something original. Start with two posts per month and aim for something that’s over 1,000 words but not the length of a novel—after all, no one has the time to spend all day on LinkedIn unless they’re a recruiter.
Next, think of what you’d like to achieve with each post. Do you want to promote one of your services? Do you want to teach potential leads how to make better images to embed in their blog or social media posts? Do you want to spread the word about the benefits of white-hat SEO?
Have a goal attached to each post you write, even if it’s just “get someone to click over to our website.”
How-to posts and list posts perform well, according to Paul Shapiro.
He also advises that you follow these guidelines:
- Add up to eight images per post.
- Keep your titles between 40 and 49 characters long.
- Keep video or other embedded media out of your posts.
- Avoid posts with a question as the headline (eg: “How Do I Market a Flower Shop?”).
- Avoid overly emotional or controversial posts.
- Limit your posts to around 2,000 words.
- Use five separate heading sections.
There’s a lot more great info in Paul’s post, and I recommend that you read the entire thing before you publish your first blog for LinkedIn.
Learn How to Advertise
It’s 2017, and that means that effective social media use sometimes requires agencies to buy ads. LinkedIn offers PPC advertising, and it can be both effective and affordable if you use it correctly.
You can use LinkedIn ads in a variety of ways:
- Highlight a promotion (discounts for new clients, etc.).
- Direct users to a piece of content on your website.
- Announce a contest or giveaway.
- Advertise your presence at an event or trade show.
- Promote a local event you’re hosting.
- Find relevant followers for other social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Introduce new services.
Since LinkedIn’s advertising platform is so robust and powerful, I can’t cover it all here. Instead, I want to direct you to two useful pieces of content:
HubSpot has a great visual step-by-step guide to LinkedIn advertising.
LinkedIn has its own detailed tutorial.
Now, I don’t recommend constantly running LinkedIn ads for everything your agency does. That can get expensive. Instead, follow the advice outlined in the guides I just linked to, and start small. You’ll need to A/B test a few ads before you find success. Then, once you know what you’re doing, run an ad that coincides with a new marketing effort or big piece of content.
With the current state of social media, you’ll sometimes need to buy ads to get your foot in the door. Thankfully, LinkedIn has one of the best advertising platforms of any social network.
Now we get to actual lead generation, which is much trickier than publishing blog posts or buying ads. Just like with any other marketing platform or advertising space, LinkedIn users are being bombarded by brands at all times. They’re wary of aggressive sales pitches and lazy marketing. They are, after all, professionals.
This post from SmallBizTrends recommends 13 different ways to generate leads from LinkedIn. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Participate in group discussions.
- Find new connections.
- Use LinkedIn ads to directly find leads.
- Reach out to the people who view your profile.
It also doesn’t hurt to make sure your agency’s page is full of clean, eye-catching images and compelling copy. If your company’s LinkedIn page doesn’t have at least one call to action, you should remedy that immediately.
You should also make use of LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find the right leads and engage with them in a way they find useful and compelling.
Generating leads from LinkedIn isn’t easy, but it is easier than generating leads from Facebook, Twitter, or (despite what some “thought leaders” will tell you) SnapChat.
Unless your agency is bloated beyond belief, no one has time to spend all day aimlessly clicking around on social media. Instead, you need to set goals, put a strategy in place, and use proven methods to reach those goals.
LinkedIn is a good social media platform because you can accomplish realistic marketing goals if you use it correctly.
Now, use all of the marketing know-how you’ve built up over the years and leverage LinkedIn for your marketing agency.
Thanks for reading!