I was looking at an agency's Google analytics to see their traffic sources, LinkedIn in particular. In the past 12 months, they got about 52 referrals from LinkedIn. Of those 52, 16 might be valuable – 10 to the home page, 4 to a new hire announcement, 2 to their About page. The other 36 were job seeker clicks to the Careers page and specific job postings. Then I looked at the agency's LinkedIn company page. The vast majority of posts had no link to their website or any call to action — just a quick thought with an image and nothing to do but to move on.
A closer inspection to their posts shows roughly the same number of 'Likes' on each post by their staff. Don't get me wrong. Liking is good because it pushes the post into each follower's feeds. Liking, sharing, commenting, and reposting with commentary all help push the content out. Adding more followers, especially those who might be potential clients, increase the reach and frequency of each post. The company page had only 500 followers. Imagine if they could get 5,000 or more.
LinkedIn data claims they have 610M members, 180M senior level influencers, 63M decision makers, and 10M C-level executives. An unscientific random sampling of the agency's prospect list showed about 90% with a LinkedIn profile, 60% had 500 or more connections, and about 10% are my connections. Many argue that LinkedIn is for job seekers. I agree. That is its primary use, and it has amassed an incredible number of people may be on it to find a new job or a new hire but who are also potential clients. I would love to see more of these people visit the agency's website.
Agencies often debate the proper LinkedIn strategy. Many have said they've tried it with little success or have run ads with no clicks. Some say they can't or don't have time to create posts or have posted but get no engagement. Social media use, in general, has many strategies and purposes. For agencies, it should be their primary content channel with a basic media strategy; reach, frequency, and message.
An agency's goals for LinkedIn should be:
- building awareness for the agency and what they do
- shaping perception around their brand strategy
- staying top-of-mind among potential prospects
- bringing people to the website
- demonstrating why they are different
- a call to action to engage
A key indicator of success is referral traffic to the website.
There are five key topics agencies should be discussing.
- LinkedIn is a goldmine of prospects, far better than Facebook or any other social media
- The agency and staff should actively participate in LinkedIn for greater reach
- Agencies need to post more frequently
- Content should reinforce and complement the business development strategy
- Posts should drive likes, shares, comments, and of course, clicks
With 610M people and 63M decision makers, getting in front of this audience is the holy grail. Reaching them is the hardest part unless you pay to do so, and there are a variety of ways to buy audiences on the platform, which I know can be successful. The real magic of the platform is that you can reach people without paying through an opt-in or connection strategy. It requires employees to 'connect' by sending invitations to people you want to reach with your message. And it requires ways to convince the people you are after to follow the company page so they will receive your posts. Getting company page followers is very hard, but agencies are in the business to help their clients overcome hard challenges. Why should an agency do the same for themselves? You know. Treat your agency like your best client.
Connecting with LinkedIn members is easy and free but requires time and effort, and the right mindset. You might think about it like this. If you believe your agency provides valuable services to marketers, then why wouldn't you want to share the agency with those marketers? Agencies should encourage everyone to send invitations out to all your prospects and any others who could benefit from their services. Some will connect, and some won't. Regardless, some are better than none.
Like all social media, your friends have friends who have friends, and each adds their connections to your reach. Today, I have a lot of connections but nowhere near the maximum 30,000 that LinkedIn allows, at least not yet. I am also a member of many groups. That means I can reach millions of people. I send out invitations weekly trying to reach more people I know and grow my network. These are people who I know will benefit from the agencies I work with or who find value in my expertise. I end up establishing a connection with only about 10% of those I invite, and that is ok. I rarely, but have been disconnected. It hurts for a moment, but c'est la vie.
Your agency has senior-level business people who can substantially grow their network and other staffers who can also add to theirs with a little effort. Since LinkedIn is a business people platform, everyone can and should post agency business-related content like their latest work experiences, examples of their work product, client success stories, industry, and audience stories; the list is endless. When you accept that LinkedIn is a business platform for business people to share business content, you'll agree that it is appropriate to connect with like-minded business people who might appreciate and even benefit from posts about your agency. Everyone in the agency should actively add connections to help the agency get greater reach.
Other ways to gain reach is liking and sharing posts, and everyone should be doing that. When your likes or comments get noticed, you gain additional visibility, especially if it includes prospects, clients, or industry influencers. It's an easy and effective way for everyone to make themselves more visible, and by doing so, make all the agency content they post more visible, too. If you like an article or post, LinkedIn might show that post in your connections' newsfeed and mention that you liked it, providing additional exposure. Your name and profile picture will show up when someone else clicks to see who liked and who commented on the post. The same applies to posts in groups. It is a small but potent action to increase visibility, grow your network, and increase reach.
It is also noteworthy to state that the more connections a person has, the larger their network (reach). The more extensive the network, the more profiles they have access to when searching. You can check your reach by going to your LinkedIn page and clicking your cursor in the search bar. Select 'People.' When the page loads, click on the 'Connections' box and select '1st' and then 'Apply' to see how many 1st degree connections you have. I have 5,984. Click on 'Connections' again and select '1st' and '2nd', and click 'Apply.' You'll see how many total profiles you can access. I have over a million. The more you can reach, the better you'll be at finding new prospects or verifying potential candidates through LinkedIn searches. You will also increase reach exponentially with the list, 'People Also Viewed' to the right of many profiles you see.
Posting on LinkedIn ends up in your follower's feed, and that can be a very crowded place. If they like, comment, or repost, it goes to their followers as well. Statistically, posts perform the best (clicks) between 10 am – 12 pm, and 5 pm – 6 pm weekdays in the local time zone. Like a classic media strategy, the frequency of a single post impacts viewership. A one and done strategy limit viewers because users scan posts throughout the day, especially at peak times, so being seen is a simple frequency play. Often, we worry about overexposure, but I argue that there is little downside. If viewers are tired of seeing your post, they pass you by while others might see it the tenth time – for the first time. Repurposing and repeating content is a critical strategy of any media. Social is no different. And, while peak times are a top priority, catching viewers at any time is a win too. People are, by nature, afraid of posting too much. Agencies achieve the best referral traffic from LinkedIn know better.
You can check what the 'experts' say about frequency. I have, and I don't agree. Hubspot says once you publish more than five times per week (for most companies, this means once per workday) the return on investment drops substantially. While there is a diminishing response on repeated posts, there is NO investment since there is no cost to like, share, and post. The performance on even one click or 20 clicks is the same – excellent. Buffer says 20 posts a month or posting once a day helps you reach 60% of your followers on LinkedIn. Constant Contact says to post on LinkedIn at least two times per week and a maximum of five times per week. I say post more.
I believe these opinions are sensible when repeating the same post, although I repeat posts more often. If you have a variety of posts, different topics, pictures, etc., each following the same frequency you achieve a much higher reach, and you gain greater awareness while expanding an understanding of the agency, what you do, and 'Why' you are different. People scan LinkedIn just like Facebook throughout the day, in and out, during meetings, while eating at their desk, with their morning coffee. It's easy to become irritated or embarrassed when you see so many of your agency posts, but remember, no one else sees as many as you, in fact, far less. More is always better.
Considering the goals mentioned earlier for LinkedIn in particular, the content is where the magic happens. If it catches one's attention, it gets viewed. If it is relevant, it gets read and maybe liked or shared. If it is interesting, it gets clicked. Likes and shares are great for reach, but clicks are the best, and everything about every post should aim at getting clicks. Once they click, they are on your turf, and you have their full attention to make the right impression. Clicks get recorded by your marketing automation platform as a visit, and that triggers follow up if appropriate. If they don't click, they are lost, at least until they see your next post.
There is endless debate about what the right content is. The answer always lies in your business strategy, although too often it is obscured by competing philosophies. If the agency plans to grow and it is customer-focused rather than agency-focused, it's content should be developed to give potential customers a reason to learn more – to begin the customer journey – awareness, understanding, interest, consideration. We know from experience that marketers respond to different stimulus. Some like results while others enjoy seeing creative. Some are looking for answers while others want innovative thinking, specialized expertise, a fresh point of view, or a proven solution. A wide range of content covering as many of these things is the best way to capture the most attention, and the best way for your prospects to accumulate a complete understanding of the agency and why you are worthy of consideration. Like any creative endeavor, measuring, analyzing, and optimizing content is critical.
Bottom line, a coordinated strategy between social and prospecting will benefit the agency in multiple ways. First, it will remind and reinforce messages to your prospects and many other potential prospects. (at the same time it will build awareness across the spectrum so that when you run job postings, the number and quality of candidates will increase) It will reach more potential prospects than any other tactic to build awareness, understanding, and relevance, complementing, and reinforcing your 'Why.' And it will help create a sense of omnipresence; This agency is in my mailbox, in my LinkedIn feed, working with top brands, and solving real marketing challenges. I'm not saying it has to be all business, but it should be a lot more. The icing on the cake – it's free to exploit! All it costs is your time and creativity, the former you have little of, but the latter you have in abundance.
I’ve got a lot of advice on how to make your business development efforts more effective and would enjoy sharing what I know. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Find me on Twitter and LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. And, please share your new business advice, successes, and failures. #LetsGrow!