Integrating Natural & Paid LinkedIn Social Media Methods

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Many social marketers ask: does our brand really need to be on LinkedIn? In short, yes. By the end of March 2020, LinkedIn had reached 690 million users and recorded a 26% increase in user sessions compared to the previous quarter.

Your LinkedIn social media strategy is a little different from your strategies for other platforms. LinkedIn differs from its social competitors in that it is widely viewed as a professional social network, the largest B2B marketing platform in the world, and the number one platform for lead generation. The platform provides important opportunities to identify, connect with, and promote thought leaders, prospects, potential candidates, and target audiences who are completely new to your brand.

Building a strong organic LinkedIn strategy is still an essential foundation for success on the platform. However, the key to getting the most out of LinkedIn is connecting your organic and paid strategies.

LinkedIn describes an integrated pay organic strategy in three simple steps:

  1. Build a compelling organic presence
  2. Increase organic reach and engagement through payment
  3. Measure, learn and optimize to make more impact

In this article, we’re going to explain these steps and how Sprout can help you streamline your strategies, determine what content to invest in, and measure ROI.

Complete your LinkedIn page

The important things first; Make sure your LinkedIn Page contains accurate, relevant, and up-to-date company information. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to be thoughtful and thorough as complete information pages get 30% more weekly views, which is a good sign of your content performance.

The information you provide should include basics like your website url, logo, banner image, industry, company size, and location. In addition, your company overview should contain terms and expressions relevant to your mission and purpose. That way, your brand will show up in the results when users add keywords in their search engine or on LinkedIn.

Build a mix of engaging organic content

Now let’s get to the core and soul of your LinkedIn strategy – your content. Just because LinkedIn is a professional network doesn’t mean your brand’s content has to be completely buttoned up and dry. Your content should tell the story of your brand, show personality, add value to your audience, and engage them.

Marketing goals according to sprout index 2020

When it comes to creating your content calendar, it’s about adding variety and keeping your goals in mind. Increasing brand awareness is a top priority for marketers. On LinkedIn, ongoing branding leads to long-term sales growth. Continuously share content about who your brand is, what you stand for, what products and services you offer, what your competitors may not have, and why you are a current or emerging leader in your industry.

Given that LinkedIn is also one of the first places prospective candidates look for jobs, consider incorporating employer branding content that highlights your company culture, people, perks, and available roles into your organic strategy. In addition, not only are candidates interested in your employer brand, but consumers too. According to Morning Consult, the second most important consideration when deciding to buy a product or service from a brand is that that brand takes care of its employees and team members.

Thought guidance is powerful content, especially on LinkedIn. According to the platform, 75% of potential B2B buyers say that thought leadership helps them determine which vendors to shortlist. This type of content also shows the trustworthiness, authority, and wisdom of your leaders, which has a positive impact on brand awareness and lead generation.

Potential buyers on LinkedIn also typically deal with 7-10 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. So a comprehensive organic strategy includes a mix of top, middle, and bottom funnel content so you can engage with the audience at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

You should also confuse the types of content items you publish and reuse existing content. When creating or reusing content for LinkedIn, keep the following data points and best practices in mind:

  • Companies that post weekly see a Lift 2x in preoccupation with its content.
  • LinkedIn posts that contain images typically result in twice the comment rate.
  • Videos get 5 times more engagement on LinkedIn than other platforms, and live streams get 24 times more comments than standard native videos.
  • Updates including links can have up to 45% higher follower participation than updates without links. When inserting links, add URL tracking codes to measure post-click actions like website visits or conversions, which you can then measure via Google Analytics.

These considerations will help improve your content. However, determining what content is best for your goals and audience depends on reporting and analysis.

Let organic success influence your paid strategy

Reporting on the performance of your LinkedIn organic content is where your paid and organic strategy can work together. You should invest in the best content – that is, what resonates with your audience and supports your goals. Use a social media analytics platform like Sprout Social to find out what that content is. With Sprout’s powerful analytics, you select the metrics and Sprout pulls the top posts into your LinkedIn Page Report.

When brand awareness is your top priority, look at KPIs like impressions, likes, video views, photo and video clicks. In the middle of the funnel content, your top performers may be the ones with the most comments, approvals, engagement rates, link clicks, or click rates. Once you’ve added UTM tags to your links as recommended, use Google Analytics to keep track of which links lead to conversions on your website and leads.

You can also see what types of content fall flat in the post-performance report. Knowing what your audience is not responding to is equally important. Therefore, even key figures that are classified as “below average” are very meaningful.

If you’ve tagged your content in advance while planning, or doing it retrospectively, you can use the Sprout Tag report to measure the effectiveness of your content topics, the type of creative assets you are using, and the stage in the funnel post fits and so much more. For example, let’s say you want to know if your audience clicks a post more often when the images are focused on people and products. Or maybe you want to know if a testimonial from a video contributor drives more engagement than a blog post. These are all variables that you can test and track with the Tag Report.

Once you understand what organic content is capturing your audience and driving success, you can determine what to get a boost, what creative elements to keep testing, and what types of ads to invest in.

Invest in the best: step up and step up

Enhance your existing content and create sponsored content. The Campaign Manager from LinkedIn expands your organic reach and delivers content directly to your target group.

Boosting is a great way to start your paid LinkedIn strategy, and it’s inexpensive. If you have an organic post that works really well, then you can’t start from scratch, just put about $ 50 behind it and see how reaching a wider audience affects your goals. Boosting your content is easy too. Once it’s posted on LinkedIn, just click the “Sponsor Now” button above the post in your Page feed.

Even if you have a larger budget, the increase can give an early glimpse into performance and help you determine which content to invest more in or fall back on.

When you’re ready to start a new LinkedIn ad campaign, use the native campaign manager and follow these four simple steps:

  1. Choose your goal and goals to customize your campaign. Just like your organic content, these goals are awareness, reflection, or conversions with specific goals like engagement, video views, website conversions, and more. It depends on you.
  2. Then choose your targeting criteria from over 20 different audience attribute categories, including company size, company name, skills, job title, seniority and more. Targeting is what really drives success. Sprout Pro Tip: You can choose the same organic post targeting options in Compose for free.
  3. Choose your ad format. You can use sponsored content, message ads, dynamic ads, text ads, or a mix of all four.
  4. Finally, set your bid, budget, and schedule. If you’re unsure of how much money to bid and budget to bid, ask a paid strategist or digital marketer on your team for suggestions, if you have one. LinkedIn also has a variety of resources available to help you maximize your budget.

It is recommended that you update your LinkedIn ads once a month by changing the copy and / or image. Determine what to mix up by referring to your paid reporting data. LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager provides a full breakdown of your campaign performance, so you can view Cost Per Impression (CPM), Cost Per Lead (CPL), and more. The lower the cost, the better.

When you’ve connected your LinkedIn ad account, Sprout will also generate a LinkedIn performance report with a full breakdown of your metrics and data visualization for easy analysis. Just like with reporting on your organic content, you can determine which content is worth the investment.

Try it again

Organic and paid strategies are both trial and error and learning what works and what doesn’t – and improving yourself with each new approach using your performance data. Keep using organic content as a testing ground instead of throwing money on content based on gut instinct. Use your data to validate assumptions, optimize your campaigns and create cost-effective content.

LinkedIn is an influential platform for growing your brand no matter what industry you’re in. And when you harness the power of an integrated organic and paid LinkedIn strategy, there really is no other way but going up.

Would you like to go deeper and learn more about how you can turn B2B social data into a sales driver? Download our guide.

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