For global brands, there are many advantages to social media. As global marketing tools, social platforms are invaluable: they help you connect with potential customers around the world, even those in remote regions where they’d otherwise never have known you existed. But as you likely know all too well, the dynamic nature of social media (especially when we talk about it on a global scale) can come at a cost—and sometimes, the second your strategy is perfectly set, user behavior changes. If your platforms aren’t keeping up with users’ ever-evolving preferences, you’ll quickly fall far behind your competitors. Or worse: you’ll lose your audience altogether.
LinkedIn, like the other leading social media sites, is continuously evolving. The networking social service was already B2B marketers’ favorite channel for content distribution; now, marketers are able to prove the platform’s efficacy as a lead generator, thanks to product-based improvements in marketing data and measurement.
Furthermore, in the eyes of the experts, the tool’s new interface has succeeded in helping marketers to put a more human face on their brand stories—which makes it more useful for them and their customers alike.
Indeed, LinkedIn’s marketing transformation is well-aligned with your audience’s preferences and your brand’s needs. But that means nothing if you’re not positioned to keep pace as the platform improves. To become a LinkedIn rock star in 2017, you’ll need to take advantage of the platform’s evolution—and know how it plays into your global marketing strategy.
If you know anything about Jason Miller, you know he’s an expert in both LinkedIn and rock stars. As the platform’s senior content marketing manager, Miller leads global content initiatives by day and takes memorable rock ‘n’ roll photographs by night (like this article’s featured photo of Marilyn Manson at the Concord Pavilion, which he has been kind enough to let us use). And, as a marketing professional, you’re also likely familiar with the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn, which he created and produced; that is, at least familiar enough to know that the guide has been updated for 2017.
But what can marketers learn from the new edition? And what’s in it for the global marketing people? Let’s ask Jason Miller himself, and he’ll show you how to use your LinkedIn stage to make the public go wild.
1. What goes into updates to the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide each year?
It’s important to keep a guide like this updated, in the same way that an author updates their [author page] on Amazon if they want to keep it relevant. We make sure the thought-leadership elements address new data, new issues, and [new] priorities for marketers—and we work with the product team to make sure we’re explaining the new marketing solutions that are now available. We also write a new introduction each year, and take the opportunity to get creative with our cover redesigns. We then launch the updated guide globally, aligned with our local editorial calendars.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about the new resources for the content marketing toolbox (Content Marketing Score and Trending Content)?
Your Content Marketing Score (CMS) measures member engagement with your Sponsored Content, Company Pages, LinkedIn Groups, employee updates, and Influencer posts, and ranks [that data] against your competitive set. It’s designed as a recommendation engine, not just a ranking system. There’s a single score for you to track performance on a monthly basis and plenty of additional recommendations to help with optimization. You can see how each of your different content types is performing on LinkedIn, and how different organic and paid activities are contributing. The CMS also generates recommendations about the levers you can pull to drive greater reach and engagement: involving employees in sharing and amplifying content, for example.
Trending Content is an information tool to help plan your content strategy on LinkedIn. It provides a ranking of topics that resonate with different LinkedIn audiences. You’re able to see both trending topics and the top articles that are associated with them. It’s a really useful starting point for planning an editorial calendar.
3. How would you advise a marketer looking to leverage the power of storytelling on LinkedIn in 2017?
My first piece of advice is always to ensure that you are getting maximum value from any piece of content that you’ve invested in. We call this the “Big Rock” strategy: start by finding the subject your audience cares about most and the questions they most want answered, then produce the definitive piece of content on those issues—but don’t stop there.
Once you have your authority-establishing Big Rock in place, you need to start slicing it into content that brings out its different types of value, [with] different angles and perspectives. That’s where storytelling comes in. Concentrate on finding stories that bring the inherent truths that you’ve established to life. There’s a big difference between sharing anecdotes for the sake of being a “storyteller” and telling stories that have real relevance and meaning to your audience. Linking everything back to your Big Rock ensures that the moral of your story always matters.
Don’t be afraid to get personal with the stories that you tell. We often find that sharing our own experiences is a great and credible way to bring ideas and strategies to life for B2B marketing audiences. Having the courage to tell your own story, rather than relying on others to tell it for you, should be the foundation of good content marketing.
4. What’s the best strategy to create more sharable content?
There is an old wives’ tale that says “snackable” content gets more shares in the world of social, and it’s in part due to the ongoing myth that people have a plummeting attention span—that it’s even less than that of a goldfish. This is utter nonsense. We’ve got plenty of attention to focus on content, provided content shows itself worthy of attention.
Research actually shows that long-form content gets more shares and linkbacks, so I’m going to go against the grain here and say this: stop dumbing down your content to fit into the snackable mind-set. Recognize that there’s a big difference between the core content you are asking people to value and the teaser content that you might use to promote it. Go long, go deep, have a strong opinion, make it referenceable, and then tease it out to the social world by getting creative with your visuals and messaging.
5. What do global marketing practitioners need to do differently in 2017 to connect with international audiences on LinkedIn?
Global content marketing should involve making data-led decisions about which content resonates in different markets, and the levels of localization that each country requires. Most marketers realize [this] when they need to versionalize a core content asset to ensure it’s relevant—making sure the data in a research report includes the market you’re distributing it in, for example. However, you really start to unlock the potential of your content when you invest in promoting and amplifying it in a locally relevant way. LinkedIn features such as Direct Sponsored Content and language-preference targeting are ideally suited to this, since you can post different versions of content to the feed of your different audience segments.
This is where you have a great opportunity to refine your approach through smart A/B testing. Try different approaches, global versus local perspectives, focusing on market-specific stories or big global themes. This helps you optimize Sponsored Content and maximize engagement. It empowers more creative approaches, and it also provides you with valuable data on the content priorities of different markets. As you’re building out an international content strategy, this means you’re relying less on subjective judgments and gut instincts and more on data and results that you can all agree on. And that can be invaluable when you’re balancing global and local in your content strategy.
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Featured image attribution: Jason Miller
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