To say this year has been hard is an understatement. It was unprecedented, uncertain and down right bloody difficult. But one positive thing that you can take with you into #2021, is the growth in digital marketing, and specifically social media channels this past year. Here is our summary of the good, the bad, and the ugly for LinkedIn, and our predictions of what will trend next year.
LinkedIn has really rocked this past year. Many people have been complaining of huge drops in algorithmic reach and engagements. At ZoecialMedia we are a bit skeptical about this for a few reasons. 1) Our data tells us differently. Across all our client accounts we see continued YoY growth, even with the difficulty presented by the pandemic.
2) We believe there are just many many more people online, pushing content and consuming content, so your share of visibility just got harder, that is all. But that is why you need to be engaging and engage more to be seen.
Some of the reasons LinkedIn has really upped its' game are:
- HASHTAGS: #hashtag #hashtag #hashtag - the first 3 you use in every post are the most important ones. In fact when you copy link to post and paste it in WhatsApp or another forum, LinkedIn now includes these hashtags as part of the link. It's how you find interesting people and content, and how you optimize your feed, and how you filter what you see. HASHTAG!!!!
- DOCUMENT UPLOAD: Swipe through carousels are the bomb! We love them, people love them, and the ROI on visibility and reach is huge!
- PRODUCT PAGES: This feature is still a WIP but we believe these are really going to be a game changer next year and it starts with those companies who are already have them.
- EVENTS: They started out really badly, but now LinkedIn have really invested in the feature, not only do you get real lead generation with them, but some of our clients are reporting 3-5x the event registrations using this feature.
- POLLS: Do it! try one but remember to be engaging.
We put together a guide for LinkedIn Product pages and one for Polls that will help you be strategic with them next year. Here you go!
Let's talk #LinkedInPolls: Here is a summary of how they work:
- Questions can only be 140 characters long.
- Answers can only be 30 characters long
- You can only have up to 4 answers
- A poll can run for 1 day, 3 days, 1 week or 2 weeks, you decide
- You are not allowed poll questions related to political opinions, medical information or other sensitive data.
- HOT TIP: Once a poll is live you can edit the actual post above it but not the poll - so if there is a mistake you will need to delete and repost!
- YOU CAN notify employees of a post using the button on LinkedIn.
- YOU CAN PIN a post to the top of your profile.
- YOU CAN link to a post - so you can share it among your staff, friends, partners and advocates.
Get creative with polls: Here is a nice example we did for our client Deep Instinct
- YOU CAN put a link into the main poll post.
- YOU CAN geo-target by language, job function, university, seniority, location, company size or industry
- YOU CAN only post a poll natively, so no social posting tools and no reporting tools, you will have to do reporting manually!
- FINALLY: You cannot promote a poll on a paid campaign!
Growing on LinkedIn is HARD. If you want thousands of new followers for your company profile each month on LinkedIn - STOP ... doing this one thing!!
Expecting to get thousands of new followers on #LinkedIn each month. The harsh reality is that there is no "magic follower pill" you can swallow. It takes:
PERSISTENCE: Regular cadence of good and engaging posts.
DEDICATION: You need dedicated advocates and followers who will engage with your brand and like, share and comment to get you more visibility.
TIME: With more visibility comes more followers. You cannot buy them and if you think you can, you might be in for a shock. We ran a $3K campaign for brand awareness for a client in India, the goal we set was "engagements" which is one of the few LI goals that has a "follower" button on it. Guess how many followers came from that $3K spend?? LESS THAN 500!!!!!?
Change your goals, align your expectations, put in the effort to engage and build a dedicated following and stop expecting it to happen overnight. Unless you are Microsoft or Apple, which you are NOT!
STORIES: Our initial few observations about the new #linkedstories feature. after posting consistently for days on end....
1. You still cannot save a story.
2. About 30-35 unique views of each story, but all except one person were in my 1st degree connections, so not really getting outside my existing following.
3. There is still no way for people to like a story.
4. You can still only write a private message to the story author. You can also "unfollow" them
5. The "mention" feature only currently allows mentioning people, NOT COMPANIES.
6. Still only available on mobile, not on desktop.
7. Still no hashtag support on Stories.
8. The stories expire after 24 hours, and no way to see "old stories"
9. Still almost no analytics on story (other than how many people and who viewed it).
10. No live links
For Company Profile Stories:
1. You cannot like a story.
2. The share button allows you to send the story via messenger to people.
3. You cannot save a message
4. You cannot tag another company
5. Also only available on mobile.
6. If you go to the company profile, no way to view their stories (this to me seems the most illogical of all the non-features).
The point is, no need for #FOMO if you don’t have it yet, it needs some work.
NOW, WHAT SHOULD YOU EXPECT IN 2021:
- MORE P2P: People-to-People marketing will be the buzz in 2021. We are already seeing companies, and more importantly C-suite execs buying into the importance of active, engaged and thought-leading LinkedIn accounts this year, and it will only get stronger next year.
- PROFESSIONAL BRAND MANAGEMENT: With the need for more P2P marketing, comes the need for professional services to help you do this. We are currently managing 57 LinkedIn stakeholder accounts. From A-Z writing and posting content, engaging daily, strategically growing the network and connecting to new industry and ABM targets.
- LESS AUTOMATION: DON'T BOT!!! The appeal is real, and we understand, you are worried that investing in your employees is a waste of time and money, and they may walk out the door one day. So you set up fake accounts and bots on those accounts, or even WORSE, you run the bots on your employee accounts. But a robot can never properly emulate a thinking human. We are currently dealing with one client who has 6 blocked accounts of senior sales people on LinkedIn because they ran a bot on the accounts. The pain is real, those people can never ever connect to a potential client or person again, without first having to put in the person's email address.
- MORE VISIBILITY and CREDIBILITY. How? STOP LIKING
Don't be a 'like bunny' [Trademark ZoecialMedia], take the extra few seconds to really engage and show people your expertise, compassion, share your knowledge, friendship, support, shared interests, along with some respect.
Watch those visibility reach numbers climb for:
- more profile views
- more connect requests/follows
- more visibility
- more trust in your personal brand
- MORE ROI: Use Shield Analytics app. A full 360 degree view of your growth, engagements, reach. Like you have never before been able to get from LinkedIn. The ROI is there!
GOOD luck in 2021 and reach out if you need a hand!
By Zoe Bermant, CEO ZoecialMedia
People are often shocked when I advise them NOT to open a new Facebook page or start another LinkedIn Showcase page, stating "one is enough." But really, one is in most cases enough! It is hard enough to grow and get visibility for one page, and unless you have endless time and money, you do not need to have multiple multiple multiple pages for no reason. In this article I will explain why and also what you should be doing on your main company page so that you can optimize your posts to reach the right audiences:
Why don't you need another company page?
Getting organic growth is actually harder than you think. Even pages with tens of thousands of followers struggle daily to get their content seen. It is no longer a game of "post and they will come." Now you need to stand out, be engaging, be creative. I can guarantee you that if you don't post at all, you are lost to the world. I had a client with over 100,000 followers. Their growth was wild, and viral. Some of their posts had 80,000+ likes and comments on them - I kid you not. They had funding issues at the beginning of this year and let us go, they downsized their teams to just R&D and stopped posting on Facebook altogether. From June to December last year they had 5,168 new followers on their FB page. Since January they have only had 883 new followers. In 2019 in total they had 13,679 new followers, and that was mainly due to the HUGE visibility they got, not from constant posting, but constant viral content!
So let's for argument's sake say you manage 2 pages. Now you must create twice as much engaging and relevant content. What is your strategy? When you start with ZERO followers how does anyone see anything? If they aren't seeing it, do you have money to pay to play? Let's say you are one of those "Microsoft" brands, who can start a new page and have 10,000 followers in the first month - did you know that most of your posts will only reach a very small portion of your existing following, and ONLY if they engage with it does it get seen by people outside of your following, so now you don't only have to create content for 2 pages, you have to make it really GOOD and engaging content, so that people want to engage with it. NOW say you are neither popular nor do you have a willing gaggle of ready advocates who will all follow and engage with everything you post, do you have enough budget to "boost" or pay for a targeted audience to see your posts? If you answered NO to the above scenarios, read on to find out what you should do instead.
What should you do instead?
As you are able to geo-target by location all content on Facebook and LinkedIn, you are better off investing your time and money in bringing in a good/strong audience to your main profile so that you can simply post to your main page using audience segmentation. On LinkedIn you can even go further and segment by industry, job title, seniority etc... It means you have one really strong brand presence, but only people in that targeted audience will see the content that is relevant to them. NB: You need a minimum 300 people to be able to properly target on Linked in any specific audience, so rather spend your time and efforts bringing new followers to that main profile, so that you can utilize this feature.
Here is a short video I made that shows you how to post to LinkedIn using audience segmentation:
When DO you need another page or profile?
If you have multiple brands and they aren't all the same target audience, it makes sense to have a MAIN page for your company brand and showcase pages or separate FB pages for your sub-brands. For example you have multiple products, and one is B2B and one is B2C, they need different audiences AND different content. In this instance, be prepared and realistic - you need double the amount of time, effort and budget to make both successful.
When do you NOT need another page or profile?
As stated above, language or geo-location is not enough of a reason to need a separate page. Use your main page together with audience segmentation. You also 100% DO NOT need a separate page for corporate social responsibility, or careers posts, or employer brand. They are all part of your company DNA, they should be part of your main brand, just use audience segmentation. Consider starting a group or community for employer brand or corporate social responsibility. That is a better place to have it, as you do not face the same growth and algorithmic limitations of a page, it is more interactive AND you can invite people to be members.
What else could you do to be smarter at optimizing your brand visibility?
People relate to people more than to brands. Your CSR, employer brand, careers updates are better spread by employees than just your company page. Onboard and launch an advocacy program and encourage, and incentivize your employees to be your brand ambassadors. I would recommend getting a tool like Sprout Social's Bambu, or Oktopost it allows you to manage your social media, measure success, and run and track results of an advocacy leaderboard. Speak to me and I can make a referral and explain why you need a tool like this.
I hope this article has given you food for thought. I cannot tell you the number of clients who are struggling to strategically grow their social media following and brand presence, and they are maintaining multiple pages at the same time. If it is hard with one, it is even harder with many! Focus on one, produce quality, put some money behind it and I guarantee you will have more bang for your buck and efforts!
Good luck! Reach out if you have any questions.
SRight now, selling is a challenge. We aren’t travelling, we aren’t attending conferences, and we aren’t meeting face-to-face. Building trust and relationships is a challenge in a digital-only world.
Let’s be honest too, no one sees something on social media or online and clicks and buys it immediately. At least, they rarely do. Experts say that it takes 5-7 touch-points for an ecommerce sale to happen. So if someone needs to do research before buying something small like a new TV, maybe shop around for a better price, or check out what people have said about it online, imagine how much more difficult that is when the purchasing decision involves multiple people and a typical 6-12 month sales cycle.
That’s why social selling is one of the most important tools a salesperson can have today.
Knowing how to:
- Grow and nurture a strategic connection to the right people
- Become and remain visible to your pipeline of existing and potential customers
- Build credibility as a subject matter expert.
- Stay 1 step ahead of your competitors.
- Know the etiquette of how and when to do outreach to a potential customer.
- Understand what tools are on the market and can help you do your job faster/better.
- Elevate your companies’ brand by helping their visibility.
- Measuring your ROI so you know that you are doing it right.
The aim is personal brand growth with an end-goal to building visibility and nurturing potential strategic leads. It isn’t a one and done methodology, it does not happen overnight, and it IS an artform.
ZoecialMedia manages over 50 LinkedIn accounts for C-Suite execs at companies like Deep Instinct, Amdocs, Plataine and more. We will teach your salespeople how to strategically grow and nurture their sales leads. Fast becoming the most important skill in a salesperson's arsenal.
Read more here: 23 key social selling facts you need to know in 2020.
No need to cue panic for this announcement. LinkedIn are telling Group Admins that they will be re-integrating group functionality back into the main fold of your LinkedIn home page. And... It's about time! For too long now LinkedIn has ruined the Group experience by locking it away and having too much control on it. Making it more difficult to find groups, difficult to grow groups and the worst thing they did was make it impossible to post in groups using 3rd party tools.
Now admins will have all sorts of new tools for engaging members of their groups. They are also planning to make it easier to discover and join groups, although what that will look like isn't yet known.
These are very welcome changes. I cannot wait to test them out and write about how to optimize them so you can be better community managers. I honestly believe the future of successful social marketing will be in how we as business owners and consumers engage with each other in communities. I am always telling the sales and product marketing managers I train, that they need to be socially selling. Not "Hi I am so and so and work at so and so and here is my product, buy it." But... really living in these communities, forming relationship, adding value to the conversations and by doing so creating opportunities to sell when the time is right.
Stay tuned... I will update again when we know more about these changes.
I am thoroughly enjoying teaching a private Marketing and Social Media strategy course at the moment. The best part is that while teaching I am able to verbalize all my strategies into all sorts of cool new mantras to explain basic principles of Marketing. In this post I will write about how I use Stop. Measure. Analyze. Strategize. as part of my "3 month cycle to guaranteed growth and lead generation using social media." How do you achieve this in 3 months?
Month 1 - MEASURE and ANALYZE
In order to get strategic you need to look at everything you have been doing historically, and how effective it was as a strategy. Set benchmarks for followers, engagement numbers, reach, type of content etc... Now look at what similar companies/people/brands in your space are doing. Who are their followers, how do they post, how do they engage, what seems to work? Make a note of it. During this month DO NOT STOP POSTING, what you actually need to do is post more, post often, change it up. This is the month to see what works and what doesn't. Not just for you, but for people similar to you. The insights you gain will help you with your strategy.
Month 2 - STEADY GROWTH
I call this the growth month. Focus now on applying the insights you have gained during your MEASURE month into actionable posts. By now you should be posting more often, in the right place, focusing on a particular type of follower/influencer. Your main goal this month is to get your follower and engagement numbers steadily growing. Why? because it means you are doing something right. Once you are getting it right applying it to a strategy will guarantee success.
Month 3 - STRATEGY, STRATEGY, STRATEGY
This is the month you can start to plan how to keep growing and turn your captive audience into a potential leads. By applying the lessons you learned in the first 2 months you should now know for sure:
Month 4 and Onwards - STOP. MEASURE. ANALYZE and continue STRATEGIZINGTo make sure you never lose sight of that not so elusive successful end-goal, never ever stop measuring, analyzing and strategizing. It is the only way to guarantee #MROI.