The challenge was to improve all areas of engagement and reach on the SBPR social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) by 100% from the December figures by the end of January. Although we work on these channels every day and do our best to stay abreast of the latest algorithms, we doubled our hours and spent 60 hours on SBPR social media in January to ensure that we hit those 100% growth targets. This social media challenge has not only got us up to speed with what’s new on each channel but has also demonstrated the amount of hours that a company needs to invest in order to achieve real (and organic) growth on social media.
LinkedIn is famous for connecting professionals all over the world and is often seen as the Facebook for business people. It’s associated with finding a new job or as a Rolodex for sales people, but LinkedIn can also be used as a valuable tool for business growth.
As a business page you don’t have a strong presence on the professionals’ platform but as a person it’s much easier to engage with other people to build a community and following. As an agency we run the Sunny Bird PR LinkedIn through Sunny’s personal account rather than on a business page for this reason. For our clients we run a mix of company pages and personal pages depending on their needs, flexibility and restrictions. In addition to considering the type of account you use, there are a number of things you can do to maximise your LinkedIn presence that we have tried and tested for you.
People barely use LinkedIn (in terms of time spent on the platform) when compared to other social media channels. The majority of people use it for less than two hours a week and only 40% of users log on to the platform on a daily basis. This mean that when people do visit, they tend to browse fast and efficiently.
Unlike Facebook, you won’t get penalised for posting too much so our approach with Sunny’s LinkedIn has been to share posts that we think will be of interest to the business community, analysing these on a weekly basis to see which types of posts perform best. The only problem with using a person’s account over a company is that there are no analytic tools (an oversight we think on LinkedIn’s part as it’s such a powerful tool). As a result we can only see which posts have received the most views, likes and comments so on this platform, views is how we’re measuring reach – how many people have seen that post. And the number of likes and comments is how we’re measuring engagement – how many people are engaging with our posts.
What we’ve found really interesting working on Sunny’s LinkedIn is that the posts we thought would work haven’t and the best performing posts have really surprised us. We assumed (we have been warned against assuming but it’s all to easy to do) that as LinkedIn is a business platform then followers and connections would be interested in business news, industry news, PR tips, results we’d achieved etc. This has very much not been the case.
A great example comes from our second-best performing post ever – or since we started analysing posts in September 2017 – which was a video of the team presenting Raluca, one of our interns, with a leaving present. The video was viewed by over 5,300 people and we can only summon up the following explanations:
1. It’s a video – videos often perform better on LinkedIn (although saying that, we post several videos a week so why is this one so much better?)
2. It’s light-hearted – as what can be quite a dry platform, it may be this post has done well due to its frivolous nature
3. It’s feel-good – demonstrating SBPR as a caring company that cares about its staff
The point is to never assume, don’t think you know who your audience are before you have actually met them and tested them.
In December 2018, Sunny had 4,046 followers which was an increase by 75 from November. This meant the challenge was to gain more than 150 followers by the end of January. We connected with people who had attended our Reaching Millions PR & Publicity courses, with people who had similar interests and those that were suitable from LinkedIn’s suggested connections. By making a concerted effort to grow followers and investing that extra time we increased Sunny’s followers by 178 in January to a grand total of 4,224.
After extensive research on the recent algorithms as well as lots of experimentation, here is an overview of what we learnt including some tips and tricks for getting the most out of LinkedIn:
You Are the Expert
This is something we talk about a lot on our Reaching Millions courses, you are the expert, you know more about your industry then most other people. Sharing that knowledge with the business community on LinkedIn is a great way of attracting followers. We often share features that we secure for clients on social media and these used to be a very showy affair ‘We achieved this aren’t we great look at us’ style but with the knowledge sharing ethos in mind we’ve changed that to ‘this feature was secured by….’
For LinkedIn 30-second long videos are recommended to work best with the algorithms. We have always posted a number of videos each week knowing this but paid special attention in January to which type of videos (content/length/style/format etc) were performing best.
Although it’s important to understand the value of videos and ensure you post them regularly, LinkedIn does not feel as strongly about them as Facebook does. In December, not one of our three best performing posts included a video. Our best performing post from December was a post thanking our new and existing clients for a fabulous year, this is a no-brainer, it performed so well because of all the companies we tagged, as well as it being a feel-good success post.
From our best performing posts in January, only one of those was a video and it was our third best performing post of the month in terms of views. This was another ‘funny dance’ video of the team celebrating the successes of Becca, our current intern, we did also tag in the BBC as she had secured a radio interview for one of our clients which would have helped improve its reach.
By looking at both these posts, it actually demonstrates the importance of tagging in brands in an authentic way to improve the reach of your LinkedIn posts.
For years now it’s been drummed into us that we need fancy photos or videos to make social work, well it seems that we may have visually peaked. An overuse of images on social media can actually lead to what is known as ‘banner blindness’ which may account for the latest studies showing social engagement is down by 50 percent in just the last few years. You know people are trying to get your attention with a video or picture – try just text – it can come across as more authentic and ‘real’. Some of our research cited basic text posts as generating more likes, comments, and views than any other form of content on LinkedIn. Judging by our own analytics, I wouldn’t suddenly ditch photos and videos altogether as these still perform very well on Sunny’s page but we did have a text only post appear in the top three best performing posts for January.
This post is a great example of using the business community to your advantage, people love to help (think about how well asking for recommendations posts do on Facebook) so if you need something or someone, try asking the community on LinkedIn.
This is probably one of the most important tips and the one that makes the most difference. We really can’t just rely on pushing out posts and hoping people will engage, we actually need to make the effort to engage with them. People talk about engagement a lot, but what does it look like? Here are some specific tips to help you engage authentically with your audience:
Comment on your own post – reply to other people’s comments in a meaningful way
Spark discussions on an article – these are great for in-depth discussions which lead to more authentic connections with your followers
Ask for feedback – we’ve found the LinkedIn community to be very helpful when we’re looking for advice or opinions on design ideas for example
Actually respond to comments – this sounds obvious but it’s not uncommon to see a post by someone with several comments underneath, none of which have been engaged with by the author
Genuinely ask people to give their opinion on subjects that you want to learn more about – this goes back to people loving to help, we’ve found lots of willing connections on LinkedIn happy to some and share their invaluable knowledge with the team in return for a free place on one of our courses for example
It seems that LinkedIn are pushing their article feature; everywhere we went looking for news on LinkedIn algorithms we were told to “write an article”. The feature encourages users to post short blurbs that focus on storytelling and promises that with just a few hundred words you can produce content that grabs attention.
We have tried publishing articles a number of times on LinkedIn and have been rewarded each time with what can at best be described as tumbleweed. ‘They’ say that by using the native article feature on LinkedIn, every time you publish a piece, your connections get a notification, giving you that extra chance to get more engagement than organically posting on your feed. From our experience however this is not an easy win, we have not found that it engages people at all and our lowest performing posts of the month outperform the articles.
The Grand Finale
By working our way diligently through the online research available and by taking some time to try out the various tips and tricks we fine-tuned our LinkedIn processes and by the end of January we had managed to grow in followers, views, likes and comments. Here we have our best performing posts from the month. This post outstripped all others for the following reasons:
· It’s a post featuring Sunny and people connect and engage much more easily with a person rather than a brand, article, stat or graphic
· It’s exciting news (about Sunny’s new dress company) that people are interested in
· It’s feel-good news – people love finding out good news about people they know
· They’re beautiful photos including a very cute one of Sophia (Sunny’s daughter) and we don’t care what ‘they’ say - images still rule the internet!
· It tells the story about how Sunny has set up the Perfect Dress Company – delivering the ‘how to’ rather than just showing off
· Sunny has engaged with the comments demonstrating authentic engagement
This post neatly encapsulates all our learnings from the month and it is then no surprise that nearly 5,000 people have seen it making it our third best performing post of all time. What we think this post most definitely demonstrates is the need to never ‘do’ social media but to truly ‘be social’.
If you would like to find out how the team can help you grow your LinkedIn channel organically by 100% get in touch on 01202 293095 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.