T.P.R. Episode 15 - How to Create Authentic, Value-driven Relationships using LinkedIn


Sam: Good day to you, wherever you may be. This is The Production Room, brought to you by Replay, The Collective Marketing Agency. I'm joined here by my co-host Mikhail Alfon, who's our head of content strategy, and Pat LeMaster, who is our head of paid media. We're stoked today. We're going to talk about LinkedIn, the platform itself, marketing on it, and the ad platform.

So, 500 million users use LinkedIn across 20 different countries. LinkedIn published that they grew from 467 million users to over 500 million in about an eight month period of time, and they were acquired by Microsoft for a little over $26 billion. So, a lot of shifts, a lot of different things have been happening on LinkedIn. I think the platform is growing in a robust fashion. Guys, it's the biggest B2B platform, professional platform that there is, and the average user on LinkedIn is 41 years old and they make over six figures in stark contrast to Facebook's demographic, which skew female, LinkedIn skews heavily male. With regards to the ad platform, what has your experience been like with it for some of our clients?

Mikhail: It's limited and it really depends on what your objective is, I think. Getting connections is always a great thing, and maybe getting into somebody's inbox or in-mail box is kind of a cool thing, too, but I think one of the biggest challenges that we run into is the fact that their targeting isn't as robust as let's say, as Facebook, and you can't really do like a keyword research type of thing like you can on Google. So, I mean, we're been really spoiled, so I think it's been a little bit of a learning curve, but with that being said, I think it could be a very effective way of marketing if you're doing kind of account based marketing and you want to target people that work in a certain industry or at a certain company.

Pat:That's true. I think it is limited. That's not an understatement. It's very limited. But what's cool is that you can target job titles, which I think is a very cool concept. You can do that on Facebook as well, but people aren't necessarily on Facebook looking for the type of contacts that you're going to put out on LinkedIn. So, having the ability to do that however, even though you do that, it will drastically narrow your target audience, which makes your ads a lot more expensive, but you are getting to the right people. As long as your offer is to the right people, then it should make sense, but just from experience, it is a little bit spendy.

Sam: Why? Why do you think it is so much more expensive than when you compare it to Facebook who, a lot of people say that Facebook is dramatically under priced, but when you compare it to LinkedIn, it's just, it's four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten X.

Mikhail:So, I've seen that the CPM is actually a lot cheaper, but I guess you're talking about the cost per click would be a lot more expensive.

Sam:Yeah. Cost per lead, cost per click.

Mikhail :Yeah. And I really think that's because the public isn't responding to it well, to be quite honest. If I'm on LinkedIn, I'm there to make a connection or to read maybe a business article for sure, and I don't think that anybody's really adapted to the fact that ads are coming out and then additionally, the way that ads are served, I mean, there's some articles I think that are coming up that seem native to the platform, but it just, like video ads. You can't do video ads. And I know that-

Pat:Not yet, right?

Mikhail:So, that's one thing, but it's just you have the sidebar, you have the sidebar ads, you also have the top banner ads, too. Nobody clicks on those.

Sam:So, they just released native video on mobile, so you can upload video on mobile. The video ads is something they've released in beta. So, it's definitely something that they're moving to. So, like, the ad platform definitely has a lot of room to grow. A lot of improvements need to be made, and like you said, Mikhail, we have been kind of spoiled because we compare it to platforms like Google and Facebook, which absolutely smashed LinkedIn when you're talking about the features in different ways that you can actually build campaigns and optimize for conversions and things like that.

 But let's talk about organic stuff on LinkedIn. Walk us through some of the advantages and the features that you can use and some of the ways that you could benefit from posting content and engaging organically on LinkedIn.

Mikhail: Well, it's going back to who you can search, right? It's like who are you trying to get in touch with, and on a professional level, what are you trying to get acorns with them? Everybody's there to essentially grow their network. That's why you're on LinkedIn. That's why you connect with other people, to help further your professional life, grow your business, whatever it may be. And people understand that. And if you can provide good value, good content to that person that you are connecting with, then it makes sense. It's kind of one of those things where you're opening up a business friendship without actually going to a cocktail mixer. You're just friending them on LinkedIn, you're sending them a message, then eventually at some point down the road, maybe you do meet them in real life and you grow your business from that point. So, that's where it really has a huge, huge impact in my opinion.

Sam: Building relationships.

Mikhail: Absolutely

Pat: Absolutely.

Sam: So, like, Mikhail, how would you instruct someone or what advice would you give someone to building their profile? What types of things should they think about when they're customizing their profile to make it effective and optimized?

Mikhail: Absolutely. I think that one of the vulnerabilities of LinkedIn is that it doesn't make their features very obvious. So, understand that you are able to upload PDFs and videos in your actual profile, and that's a nice way to really showcases all your work if you've done something in the past and you've seen success from that. Additionally, instead of posting an article, let's say from Medium or your blog to LinkedIn, LinkedIn actually has an excellent blogging platform that's very similar to Medium or something like that. And when you post that blog there, you're organic reach is awesome. And it's bigger than any ... If I post an article to Facebook, for example ... I just changed thoughts. But if I post an article to Facebook, I get little to no engagement and no views on it. But if I natively post an article to LinkedIn, there'll be 1000 people that it reached and a lot of engagement there that I'm just not getting.

Additionally, in your feed, now is the time to jump on video on LinkedIn and especially because the organic reach is huge on that. Because every time, whether it's Facebook or Instagram, but in this case, LinkedIn, they release a new feature, the organic reach is always higher before they monetize it. So, I would jump on that. And then also lastly, remember that on LinkedIn for sure, that is the number one personal brand platform for professionals, your brand being your work experience, the content that you're originally putting out, and what you're sharing. The business platforms on Facebook just, they don't do anything. They're so limited. So, as you are building a brand, even if you're the sales guy for XYZ company, it is important to put out your own content natively on that.

Sam: For sure. For sure.

Pat : I think, going back to the instant articles which you were talking about, what's cool about that on LinkedIn is you can create a post on LinkedIn and then you'll only see if somebody engages with it, that's the only notifications that you'll get. But when you create an instant article and you put it out there, it stays on your profile, it stays on your page, and people can access that over and over. So, the more that you create, the more content that you have, they see one and then it'll show all the other ones that you've created as well. So, what is that doing? It's making you a credible resource in whatever you're talking about.

Mikhail: Sure.

Pat: I think that's a huge place for it. And also, I heard a quote that said, "Make your LinkedIn profile a resource rather than a resume". And I feel like that hits it perfect, 'cause when people see that, they don't want, like all that experience and all that other stuff is great, but what are you going do to help the person that you're trying to go after. So, if you're a resource, I think that's a big push.

Sam: That's a great point because no one creates a resume to make themselves look bad or to show a weakness or a vulnerability. Everyone makes a resume to make themselves look good. However, if you reverse that and sort of make it a resource to people to provide value, right? We always talk about creating content and providing value for your audience, and LinkedIn is sort of that place to provide value and be resource. That's a really great point. A lot of times, you see someone's LinkedIn profile, you'll see "Vice President of sales at XYZ company" as their headline, but LinkedIn allows you to optimize that and to customize that. Do you have any suggestions for our listeners and our viewers of maybe what to put there? What are your thoughts?

Mikhail: Absolutely. Instead of putting your title, tell them what you do. And there's a big difference. It's like, "I help companies brand businesses online," as opposed to "Head of content strategy at XYZ company". And that'll just be a clear indicator of that.

Sam: Sure. Cool.

Pat: Exact same thing I was going say. I think mine says, "I help businesses solve the problem of lead generation in sales through digital marketing efforts". So, it tells you what you do, not "Digital advertiser" or "Social media marketer". It's like, what does that really do? Here's a specific thing that we do. It just kind of gets the point across quickly, or sure.

Sam: Cool. Pat, you mentioned to me before, we've talked about it before as far as like how is it that you introduce yourself to a new business prospect without coming off as like a sales person. You were talking about messages providing value, giving them something, how would you phrase a message to someone that you're trying to introduce yourself to and connect with without coming off as someone who's trying to sell something?

Pat:That's a good question. I remember we did talk about that and a lot of people that do make these connections, I feel like they're really trying to sell you immediately. Like, when I get connections from people I don't know, it just feels so sales and I'm like, "Man, I don't know you," and everything that they say is just like, "Hey, you know, I do accounting for marketing companies. We'd love to sit down and talk with you." It's like, I don't need that. How do you know that I need accounting or whatever, right? But if you can make it personable, if your first contact or your first experience with somebody you're reaching out to, essentially it's kind of like a cold call. So, you've got to kind of break the ice a little bit and say like, I don't know, I would just kind of go along the lines and say, "We've worked like this, we've seen great results. I'd love to share my results with you and see if we can potentially work on something new to help you out".


Pat:  Maybe not even in that context, but still something along those lines, but something to make it an actual, personal relationship, that you really care about that person will get you a lot farther than saying, "I have this product that could do something for you".

Mikhail: Absolutely.

Sam: Even something like, "Hey, I see that you graduated from Cal State Fullerton. I love to see other marketers doing well out there. Would love to stay connected here", kind of something-

Mikhail:  Yeah, I would like to, I'm sorry to interrupt you. I would want to take it a step further, because even then, that surface level, "I kind of care" thing is kind of whack in my opinion. And in addition, no offense, I mean, it's just like-

Sam:  No, it makes sense.

Mikhail: There's just a lot. I would go ahead and say, look,, if you want to get connected with the VP of Toyota, I don't know. Then I would send them a case study that you found on the trendiest cars for 16 to 17 year olds type of thing. Just send that to them as like, "Hey, saw that you do this, you know what I mean. Thought you might benefit from this article". And then just leave it at that.

Sam: Hmm. I like that.

Mikhail: You know what I mean?

Pat:mProvide value, right?

Mikhail: Exactly.

Pat :  Just give value, give, give.

Mikhail:  And that's the worst thing, to the listener, and to the watcher, too. Don't ask, "How can I add value?" If you're asking how you can add value, you've instantly wasted my time, you know what I mean? So, another thing that you can do, for example, is look up the person. Like if I want to talk to the head of content or the head of growth at Replay Collective, you know what I mean, I might say something like, "Hey, I actually did a little check up on your resume. I love everything that you had to do, and I actually wrote this article that I'm publishing on you. So, here you go". And that's it. It takes a little extra time, but that connection's going be real.

Sam : Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That's some great account based marketing stuff, too, you know. That's how you get the big accounts. You got to go after those people.

 Right on, guys. Well, this has been great episode of The Production Room, brought to you by Replay, the collective marketing agency. So much of you have been watching and viewing us, and we love the response and feedback that we've been getting from this show. It really helps to push us and continue to create, generate great content for you. Every piece of content that we create is meant to help you grow. So, until next time, don't stop growing. Don't ever, ever stop.



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