25 Insights for Brands
First, I’ll outline the 2020 LinkedIn Mastery Formats (down to the character count), along with methods and tactics that work best when creating branded content within LinkedIn posts. Then get ready to learn expert-level, editorial tactics you can use today to win the LinkedIn brand battle. Let’s dive in.
1. THE PROVEN FORMAT FOR BRANDED CONTENT POST UPDATES
Informational and How To articles do best on LinkedIn. Format and compliance are also heavily weighted by the LinkedIn platform. Craft your content carefully, especially if you plan to sponsor the post from your marketing budget. Make every dollar count by utilizing LinkedIn compliance as the first step in authoring each post. We’re about to show you how.
2. CHARACTER COUNT AND THE FIRST FIVE HASHTAGS
The maximum character count for a post on LinkedIn is 1,300 characters, including hashtags.
The first five hashtags in the post will get search priority, choose them with surgical precision. Don’t rely on hashtags that work on other social platforms. Most won’t have the same effectiveness on LinkedIn. Instead, look for relavant business category or business event hashtags.
Take a few hours (yes, hours) to research tags on the LinkedIn platform, targeting your industry to find out what’s popular, where the low-hanging fruit rests (less crowded tags/easier conversions for your brand.) Find a few tags you want your brand to own through targeting in a few months time. Make sure you know the tags that are being used around any specific industry events, cause campaigns or are being used by industry associations your brand belongs to.
3. HASHTAG EXAMPLE BY SOCIAL PLATFORM – IT MATTERS
When working with content for the #renewables market:
In 2020, LinkedIn prefers the hashtag #SolarEnergy to #SolarPower. It also prefers #SolarIndustry to #Solar. LinkedIn likes targeted professional tags like, #CleanEnergyTechnology and #OEM, over #CleanPower and #SolarManufacturers.
- On Twitter, this same energy topic would use the hashtag #Renewables and #Solar
- On Facebook, this topic would use #SolarPower and #GoSolar
- On Instagram, it would use #InstaCleanEnergy and #SolarFarm
On LinkedIn, the trick is to always remember that the hashtags are business-category focused. Underline that and remember it. Tags don’t tend to exploit trendy, disposable tags the way other social sites do.
4. IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT VIDEO – THE MAGIC FORMAT
At Media Lab One, we run LinkedIn accounts for several large brands. Over time, we’ve found that the LinkedIn system typically likes longer posts with one image, and especially posts that utilize subheads, bulleted lists and careful use of call-outs optimized for scan-ability.
All over LinkedIn, you’ll see they are encouraging brands to create videos, and you should do that, but only a few times a month. And preferably to support an event, product launch or any other larger brand moment. But for the day-to-day content, posts with one image perform the best right now on LinkedIn.
5. BRANDED IMAGES
The image that goes along with the post can be yours, or it can be a stock image you have licensed, but either way, it’s a good idea to give the image a custom branding treatment in Adobe PhotoShop or Illustrator. Doing this will help your post be seen more favorably by the LinkedIn system as unique content. (SIMPLE EXAMPLES: A and B)
On that same note, don’t be tempted to take a shortcut and post the same image on multiple branded posts. It will zap your growth and LinkedIn may even think you are spamming the system. Images should always be unique to each content posting. That’s extra work and it does take time, but it pays off and you’ll never be sorry when your LinkedIn 2020 page starts to rock ‘n’ roll organically.
6. POST WRITING MASTERY
The first 160 characters of your post are the most important. It’s what people on LinkedIn can view before they have to click, “see more,” to read the rest of your branded content.
On the example shown here, notice how the reader must engage and click to find out what the, “Metrics That Matter” actually are. Think of this area as a place to entice the reader to engage with what your brand has to say.
This particular post looks simple and that’s the point. You want your audience to feel your content is on-brand, that it flows like an easy river and that you are the ultimate authority on the subject giving them trusted advice they can take to the bank.
This post took time to research, write, copyedit and then factor in the time it took to assemble the creative. Was it worth the extra effort? You bet. This particular post has had 5,825 views with an engagement score of 28 percent, and drove four, qualified leads through email to our brand in 24 hours.
7. LIKES DON’T MATTER – ITS NOT A TRUE SUCCESS METRIC
Online LIKES can be similar to the noise a slot machine makes when you feed it quarters. Many businesses are so hooked on LIKES that they’ve been lulled into a false sense of success, rather than connecting them to a relevant revenue strategy.
LinkedIn by design is a place where LIKES don’t factor into success. It has nothing to do with why your targets are spending 17 minutes on LinkedIn every time they visit. (That’s the latest LinkedIn Stat.)
8. THE FALSE IMPRESSION OF SUPER SMARTS
Many people, especially in business, don’t like to admit they don’t know everything. They don’t want people in their LinkedIn network to know what topics they are researching. They don’t want their colleagues, business associates and competitors to know what information they are are scoping-out or more often than not, what topics they are brushing-up on.
That’s the key to understanding engagement on LinkedIn. Once you understand what drives LinkedIn users, you can learn how to effectively target them with branded content.
9. THE PLATFORM WILL TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOU DID
Every time someone hits a LIKE button or comments on a LinkedIn post, the system does three things:
- It promotes the LIKE on their personal LinkedIn profile page in the Activity section
- It sends emails and notifications to their LinkedIn connections
- It places the action taken in the content feeds of their LinkedIn connections
This can be changed in the preferences area, so it does not blast actions to all your connections. Still, all of the LIKES and comments will always appear in the Activity pane on personal LinkedIn profile pages for everyone to see.
That is what makes people hit the LIKE button much more carefully and comment sporadically on LinkedIn in 2020.
10. FOLLOW THE BRANDS WITH HELPFUL CONTENT
Most using LinkedIn know the system does this and as a result, it has fostered a reluctance to publicly engage with certain types of content, especially the kind of content that tells someone how to do something.
However, that’s also the exact kind of content most people will engage with. They will read it more deeply, bookmark and save it, some even email it to themselves to refer to later.
These very same people will also FOLLOW brands that produce this type of content.
That’s exactly what a LinkedIn master wants them to do. Branded page follows, individual post engagement (clicks, shares, comments), continually bring visitors to your company page and company website, as well as reach-outs to your business via email addresses promoted in branded content posts. These high-value actions are the metrics to care about when it comes to LinkedIn.
11. KEEP IT ROCK STEADY – HOW TO BE A LINKEDIN MASTER
Growth on LinkedIn happens more slowly with regular content creation. How many posts should you create per week? Four at the very minimum. Five or six posts per week works better when you are just starting out.
12. Every 2020 Post Needs To Include These Eight Things:
- Branded Photo Sized 1200 x 628 px (custom or stock with a custom branding treatment)
- Headline: If it spans one line, make it all caps. If it drops down to two lines, initial caps only
- Teaser: First 160 characters. Something that makes them want to expand the post to read more
- 1200-Word Body Copy: Preferably including scannable subheads and a bulleted list
- Business-Centered Copy Topic: Teaches, informs or helps the reader learn something
- Business Email Address: With call to action, EX: “Contact Us to Learn More”
- Web URL: Can be to your homepage, or an article page or something that helps build trust
- Targeted Industry Hashtags: The first five tags are weighted the most heavily
For the few times a month you will post a video, simply follow the list above and swap out the image for the video.
13. SCREAMING INTO THE WILDERNESS
When you first begin a branded LinkedIn company page, you will probably feel like you are talking to yourself for about three to four months with branded posts. However, you’ll see your follower count slowly start to rise over time.
Be prepared, you won’t get many likes, shares or comments either. But, if you are writing about topics that engage and inform, if your images are intriguing, you will see impressions, follows and company page visits increase.
14. HOW MUCH WILL THEY INCREASE?
With five posts per week, you should see about 30,000 to 45,000 post impressions every 30 days, depending upon industry. Over time that will continue to increase. That’s an average 1,000 to 1,500 impressions per post. Remember, impressions are not your main target, but they will keep you from feeling discouraged while you build your branded page audience. When you begin to hit you stride, expect 2,500, up to 5,500 per post.
15. ENGAGEMENT SCORE
Next, look to the post engagement score. If each post is ranking around 10-25 percent per post or higher, you are spot-on target with your content. Below 10 percent, rethink your content strategy. The average Joe on LinkedIn gets about a 4-6 percent engagement score per post. Your job is to blow that out of the water with content they can’t help but click on, aiming upwards of 10 percent engagement or more.
This will be slow going and each follow will be hard earned. Very hard earned. But each is also very valuable, a potential customer and ideally a long-term partner you can have a brand relationship with. Each follower also has a higher probability of converting via email address sharing opportunities to become true leads for sales and promotions customer databases. Ideally, they will earn a positive Customer Lifetime Value score for your brand, year-over-year as you nurture the relationship through branded content and brilliant customer service.
The first month on LinkedIn, you may only gain 10 followers or less. The next month, it may be 12 to 15. But once you reach your first 50 to 100 branded LinkedIn page followers, you’ll see more engagement. Just keep working at it.
Once you eventually gain about 800 followers, your branded LinkedIn page will begin to take on a life of its own with more shares, engagement and comments. The page follower count will begin to increase more easily too. Individuals will even start to engage with older content, such as commenting on something you posted a month ago. This will serve to channel your branded content with a more lasting, long-tail effect, making each piece of content you create work longer.
17. PAY FOR PLAY?
Yes, you can pay to amplify exposure of your branded content, but followers will still be tough to get at first, no matter how much money you throw at paid LinkedIn ads. $500 for 40 followers is average with deep targeting when you are just starting out.
On the other hand, remember that organic traffic is real traffic. These people are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. So while this is slower, the growth is much more valuable. It’s never a bad thing to play the organic growth game.
18. MIX IT UP
What’s best is a mix of organic and paid traffic. A method that works is to schedule two paid ads for every four organic posts, ideally scheduling paid ads on Tuesday and Thursday. Plan a budget of $25 to $30 per day per post.
This method gives brands the best opportunities: growth, exposure to new individuals, fostering your core audience organically and building upon the work you’ve put into the LinkedIn platform with branded content.
19. DON’T MAKE THIS EXPENSIVE MISTAKE
While you are starting out, it’s advisable to set-up an ad and watch it while it runs.
Keep in mind that if you pause a paid ad after spending $30 and then re-activate that same ad, LinkedIn will view the reactivated ad as new. It will automatically reset the daily budget spent to zero and start working toward your previously entered budget cap of $30.00. That means instead of spending $30 that day, you’d spend $60. When you reactivate an ad, LinkedIn is primed to immediately spend your daily budget on that same ad again and again.
It’s an easy way to accidentally overspend, so be mindful of turning ads off and on again in the Campaign Manager.
20. FASTER THAN YOU CAN EAT A TACO
LinkedIn can easily run through $30.00 in a few minutes, showing your ad to 1,500 targeted people while you walk down the hall to grab a coffee. Tread carefully with paid ads while you are learning how they work.
21. THE AUDIENCE RESEARCH, SEGMENTATION AND SET-UP PROCESS
Audience targeting takes time. If you are creating an audience in just a few minutes, you are likely not optimizing deep enough to drive the right traffic to your content. Audience targeting is a big and very vital subject. I’ll do a deep-dive into setting-up a targeted audience in the LinkedIn Campaign Manager in a future post.
22. COMPANY PAGE VISITS
This is where the payoff gets good for your brand. Once a LinkedIn 2020 member is interested enough to visit your branded LinkedIn company page, you have the opportunity to hook them for the following three actions:
- LinkedIn Company Page Follow
- Click on your URL, becoming referral traffic from LinkedIn to your company website
- Once on your company website, there should be a way (or many ways + a great reason) for them to give you their email address, entering into a relationship with your brand as a potential customer via your lead database, with a chance for a future sales conversion
23. COMPANY WEBSITE REFERRAL METRICS IN GOOGLE ANALYTICS
It’s good practice to know how much referral traffic your posts are driving back to your company website. This is something I check almost daily, but you can also do it weekly or monthly if you choose.
The reason I check so often, is that it’s a real-time guide to the effectiveness of the copy. If I see referrals drop-off, the copy or creative needs revision.
If your brand uses Google Analytics, this metric is super easy to check:
- Open Google Analytics
- Select the date range you wish to check
- Navigate to the, “Acquisition” tab
- Expand the, “Social” tab
- Choose, “Network Referrals”
If traffic is coming over from LinkedIn, you will see it listed in the column of referral sources. For Media Lab One, it is consistently our top source for daily referral traffic, aside from Google Search organic keyword traffic.
24. WHEN TO POST: DAYS & TIMES THAT CONTENT PERFORMS BEST
Tuesday through Thursday are the best days to post branded content on LinkedIn 2020. These are also the best days to pay for a sponsored post.
Regarding content, definitely post on Monday, but do it after 9:30am. Wait for your targets to get to work, get settled and have a coffee. Friday after about 2:30pm also has very low traffic. That said, it’s still it’s advisable to post something late in the day on Friday. This way, it will be at or near the top of the targeted keyword/hashtag content streams for weekend browsers and very early, Monday morning scrollers.
Here’s a basic rule of thumb for each day of the week. When posting, try to hit one of these timespan brackets:
Mon: Start your week after 9:30am
T-Th: 6:15am up to 7:45am
M-Th: After 9:30am up to 11:50am (LinkedIn Mastery Primetime)
M-Th: After 1:15pm up to 4:30pm
M-Th: After 5:30pm up to 8:30pm
Fri: 8am up to 12pm
Fri: 12:30pm – 2:30pm
Fri: Post after 6pm, targeting your keyword set for weekend browsers
Sat: Anytime from 10am-2pm (low traffic)
Sun: Anytime (low traffic)
25. LIVE INDUSTRY EVENTS – LINKEDIN MASTERY
When attending a live industry event, at least four posts per day, timed accordingly for maximum exposure can net leads and opportunities you didn’t even know you wanted. For daytime events, such as a trade show or conference, try these time blocks for posting:
- Morning: Early in the morning 7am – 11am
- Morning: Just before lunch: 11:30am (Primetime)
- Afternoon: After lunch around 1:15pm up to 3:30pm
- Evening: 8:00pm, when people are in their hotel looking at content from the show
Be sure to research the correct hashtag for the event in advance, as well as any variations that may be circulating. Always attach these to your event posts as one of the first five hashtags to help give your post priority in the sea of posts being made about the event.
HOW TO GET IN CONTACT
If you have questions about branded LinkedIn content, or if you want to investigate professional services through Media Lab One, LLC for your own brand, you can reach our team via our general email address: Hello@MediaLabOne.com
You can also communicate with me directly on LinkedIn.
- 30 LINKEDIN METRICS TO TRACK FOR COMPANY PAGES
- FINDING THE RIGHT LINKEDIN CONTENT TOPICS
- HOW TO GET IN-HOUSE STAFF TO SUPPORT YOUR LINKEDIN MASTERY EFFORTS
- BUILDING YOUR BRAND WITH STAFF-GENERATED CONTENT
- BOOSTING LINKEDIN POSTS WITH KEYWORD TIERING
- 2020 TOP B2B LEAD GENERATION SOURCE
LinkedIn has uniquely high returns for B2B businesses, sales teams, OEMs making large dollar contract deals, and new venture launches. If you need to expand your network to reach those with deal-making and spend authority, LinkedIn is the best place online to make that happen. That’s why LinkedIn mastery is especially relevant in 2020.
Custom, branded content is often how you can reach them. Of all the content authored on LinkedIn, 45 percent are read by managers, directors, VPs, and C-suite executives. Those are favorable odds for success.