Content marketing: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action” - Content Marketing Institute
As a marketer in 2016, there is no doubt you are aware of the importance of content marketing. A well thought out content marketing strategy allows marketers to hone in on their target audience, define what their needs are, and provide them with relevant insights. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2016 report, 88% of B2B marketers report using content marketing as a component in their marketing plans – making up an average of 28% of their annual marketing spend.
But with all of this adoption, the amount of content available for consumption every day can be overwhelming. Between blog posts, article shares on Twitter and LinkedIn, videos, webinars, infographics, Slideshare, e-newsletters, etc. – it often feels like an insurmountable task to stand out from the crowd and get your message read by the right people.
The good news is that it is not hopeless – with a targeted plan in place, your message can and will be heard. But with the wide range of options for publishing and reaching your audience, how much weight should you give to social media publishing options like LinkedIn Pulse vs. self-publishing on your company website and blog?
What is LinkedIn Pulse?
Pulse was first released as an app for Apple’s iPad back in 2010, evolving to a version for the web in 2012, along with versions of the app for iOS and Android. In 2013, Pulse was bought by LinkedIn and has since been integrated into the News Feed.
When it was initially released on LinkedIn, Pulse allowed influencers and innovators with thousands of followers to self-publish – in essence, providing them with a free blogging platform that was distributed to their followers and in the Pulse feed. In February 2014, the ability to publish was rolled out to all LinkedIn users.
So what does this mean?
When you publish content on LinkedIn, your posts are shown to your first-degree contacts in their news feeds. LinkedIn posts are ranked in search engines – and a post on LinkedIn is weighted heavily in terms of SEO for organic results.
More importantly, if LinkedIn editors select your post to be highlighted in a relevant channel on Pulse, your reach increases dramatically and extends outside of your established network.
Again, with 433 million+ users, it can be a challenge to be heard amidst the constant publishing noise. Successful posts manage to have a few traits in common:
- Never underestimate the power of a clever headline – In a 2016 research study, computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute found that 59% of links shared on social media are never clicked. So all those shares you see from your contacts? More than half of those weren’t read. But there’s an upside to this stat: the more your content is shared, the better your chances of getting in front of the person who is going to want to dig in further to what you have to say.
- Know your audience – By using LinkedIn’s People Search functionality, review the industries of your first-degree contacts – and then build content that appeals to the majority of your contacts’ interests. If you’ve used LinkedIn successfully to connect with colleagues and contacts over the years, there will no doubt be trends and commonalities across your contacts to guide your content focus.
- Remember the power of laser targeting – The more targeted your content is for key segments of your contacts, the higher levels of engagement. Your audience has unlimited access to generic articles that add no value to their needs – but if you can provide original content that helps them solve a challenge they’re having, you become a valuable asset.
- Know the questions your audience is asking – and answer them. It’s as simple as that. Don’t write about what it is you are selling; provide insights to your prospects’ questions that help them with their day to day.
So should I post to my own blog? Or to LinkedIn Pulse?
The quick and easy answer – for the best returns you should be posting to both! LinkedIn provides you with an outreach to an audience that may not immediately think to head to your blog for advice. But don’t let this additional step overwhelm you - post your original content to your blog first, and then tweak the post for LinkedIn (this is important – Google algorithms will prioritize duplicate content and may drive your audience somewhere other than your site).
As with all marketing initiatives, it’s important to test. Try this as part of your next quarter strategy and see if the results are what you anticipated. Review your analytics, confirm whether or not your tactics are providing you with the traffic you hoped for, and then adjust accordingly.
Of course, LinkedIn is not the be all and end all – some may argue that we have all become overly dependent upon stats of likes and followers when ultimately offline interactions are what truly drives new business. But adding LinkedIn Pulse as part of your multichannel marketing approach is always worth testing – and might help to start the conversation.
Do you use LinkedIn Pulse or other self-publishing sites as part of your content strategy? How has it worked for you? Comment below: