Are you using LinkedIn to generate leads? If so, you’ve probably already discovered how powerful the platform is for B2B social selling purposes. Whether you’re promoting original content, sharing a link to a relevant article, or posing a question to promote engagement, there are several guidelines you should consider when crafting a LinkedIn message aimed at reaching target prospects.
First Come, First Engage
When first joining a group, the best approach to take is to start by asking questions related to your industry, or initiate a discussion about recent trends. This will assist in you in building up trust, influence and credibility among Group members, and likewise driving active engagement among them. The simplest way to achieve this is to post an open-ended question or conversation starter in the subject line of your LinkedIn message. The subject line not only appears in your post, directly on the LinkedIn Discussion Group page, but it also shows up as the main message in the daily or weekly digest that Group members receive.
For example, a general open-ended question can be along the lines of: What KPI is most relevant for achieving your business objectives? Or: What were the most popular content marketing trends of 2013? Remember that the question should be broad enough to allow a range of members to respond, but should still be specific and relevant to the Group you are posting in. Also, when writing the subject line, keep in mind that LinkedIn limits it to 200 characters.
During a recent Oktopost customer-hosted webinar, Adam Robinson – the Marketing Director of Cerasis, remarked: “Before you start including links to your content, I strongly suggest spending 30-60 days asking open-ended questions in the subject line, and really engaging on LinkedIn to build up your profile. By putting links up right away, you run the risk of losing credibility with your audience, causing readers to be apprehensive about the relevancy and value of your content.”
Apart from establishing credibility, asking questions is a great way to raise your profile within a Discussion Group. In this context, LinkedIn created an algorithm that takes into account your posting and engagement activities, and determines whether your profile is eligible for Top Contributor status. If selected, your name and photo are featured at the top of the Discussion Group page. This can be extremely valuable in terms of increasing brand awareness and building connections with Group members, including industry thought leaders and potential prospects.
Promote Content, But Don’t Abandon Engagement
After you’ve built up your trust and influence within a certain Group by asking questions, initiating thoughtful conversations and actively engaging with members, you can begin promoting your content. Yet, even though you’ve passed the initial 30-60 day ‘credibility building’ period, this doesn’t mean that you should use LinkedIn Groups solely as a platform for distributing content. You should employ a number of tools to continue attracting new prospects, and maintaining a positive reputation among your existing user base. Make it a point to find the right marketing balance between promotional posts (which advance your blog, website, marketing collateral) and engagement-oriented posts (which encourage ongoing industry-related discussion, without directly promoting content and including links).
Before you begin writing the subject line and body of your message, first take a look over the Discussion Group profile and rules. When accessing the Group Page, click on the Information and Settings icon in the top right corner, and under the About section, read the Group profile and Group rules. This will provide you with a better idea about the main topics covered by the group, as well as any policies about including links or promotional content in the body of your message.
After you’ve taken a closer look at the Group guidelines, one helpful strategy for promoting content – particularly a blog post, is to create a question based on a specific part of the post, and use it in the subject line to spur engagement. In the text of the message body, you can either write a short summary of the post itself, or even ask an additional question. Don’t forget to include a link to your content to generate a thumbnail, choose the most relevant image, and then delete the actual URL from the message body (the thumbnail will remain). Including the link in the text itself can cause readers to view the message as spam, which may result in fewer clicks.
Select Optimal Times and Days for Posting
Before sharing your message, remember that if you post on a LinkedIn Discussion Group today, Group members will most likely only see it until tomorrow. Rather than directly accessing the Group page, members frequently opt to receive a daily or weekly digest containing the messages instead. In the past, these digests would always arrive during the morning hours, but LinkedIn has since started staggering the digests, meaning that it’s difficult to judge when they will arrive.
On this note, Adam Robinson, Director of Marketing at Cerasis recently shared his best practices for scheduling posts: “I always post early in the morning – between Sunday to Thursday, to make sure that posts appear Monday through Friday. You can post on the weekend, but then you run the risk of members receiving three days worth of digests from you if they don’t check their e-mail over that period.” In general, it’s important to carefully schedule posts to avoid over-posting. Posting once to twice a day per group is sufficient, but as mentioned earlier, if you post twice and one message is promotional, the other should be engaging. Otherwise, members may feel you are being overly promotional, which could ultimately hurt your company’s chances of creating a sustainable and engaging social presence.
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