Reaching B2B buyers who are researching new products and suppliers is critical, which is why content marketing is a key tactic for manufacturers.
In 2018, the Online Marketing Institute reported that 85% of manufacturing marketers relied on content marketing to generate leads. Tactics included creating content for the company website and social media, leveraging landing pages, lead boxes, and downloadable content to entice potential customers to learn.
Creating content is only one step in the path towards reaching B2B buyers—amplifying content and promoting it is equally important.
With over 660 million members across 200 countries and territories worldwide, LinkedIn is the top professional social media network in the world. Over 30 million companies are represented on LinkedIn, so many of the buyers and decision makers you want to reach are already using the platform. In this post, we’ll focus on how manufacturing marketers can use LinkedIn to reach buyers.
The 50 most influential manufacturing brands on LinkedIn
Top manufacturing brands are already using LinkedIn as a key content marketing platform to reach new buyers, recruit talent, and showcase their achievements. A few years ago, LinkedIn published an infographic which ranked the top fifty manufacturers based on a proprietary Content Marketing Score, a metric that ranks each company based on their content-based activities on LinkedIn.
The list of activities includes:
- Company Page Updates
- Employee Shares
- LinkedIn Sponsored Updates
- Influencer and Employee Posts
The top five most influential brands on this list should be familiar to most people. They include BP, Toshiba Japan, Shell, GE, and SIEMENS.
These brands share similar traits when it comes to leveraging content on LinkedIn and serve as an ideal blueprint for manufacturing marketers who are interested in using the platform. For example, 90% of the top companies have employees who share other people’s content on LinkedIn and 100% of the top companies post updates to their LinkedIn Company Pages.
Let’s break down these top activities, which outline a road map for manufacturers who want to leverage LinkedIn to reach customers, prospects, and other relevant stakeholders.
Frequency matters on your LinkedIn Company Page
An up-to-date LinkedIn company profile gets 30% more views than an incomplete profile. Completed pages contain an overview of the company, your logo, and other relevant info, such as your website URL.
LinkedIn company pages are an ideal way to share and amplify content, with LinkedIn reporting that companies that post weekly see a 2x lift in content engagement (e.g., comments, likes, shares) than those who post less frequently.
As the infographic above illustrates, all the top-performing manufacturing brands update their LinkedIn company pages as many as 11 times per week.
Additionally, employees who share company-related content on LinkedIn can expand a company’s reach by 10x or more. Employee posts can also be shared to your company feed which is a great way to showcase key employee-generated content while communicating company culture and highlights.
It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn Company Page. LinkedIn provides video and written tutorials that cover best practices for setup, execution and usage.
Have a plan for your LinkedIn Showcase Pages
Companies can create Showcase Pages, which expand the company page by spotlighting individual brands, business units and initiatives. While Showcase Pages are free, they aren’t appropriate for every business or department.
Per LinkedIn, “It makes sense to create a Showcase Page when you want to establish a dedicated page to represent a brand, business unit, or organization initiative. Before creating a Showcase Page, ensure that you have a plan for maintaining an active presence.”
Showcase pages have their own unique URL and offer many of the same features as your main company page including analytics, sponsor updates, and social engagement. However, you cannot associate employees with a Showcase Page, so certain employee engagement features are not available.
The importance of employee sharing
Employee advocacy can be a powerful tool for companies on LinkedIn. On average, employees have networks that are ten times larger than their employer’s corporate audience and their shared content has 2x the engagement than shares by the company alone.
Employee sharing also helps companies attract more talent and improve sales.
Leveraging your employee network isn’t difficult, but it does take some deliberate planning and an actual strategy. LinkedIn recommends educating employees about the importance of sharing company successes and other content on LinkedIn, but without offering monetary or other incentives such as a free lunch or travel miles. Per LinkedIn, “All these incentives distract from the real reason for participating: Their social activity is good for the business and for themselves.”
Educating employees about your LinkedIn sharing strategy will provide structure around how employees can promote and advocate for your company. Create guidelines, best practices, and examples that employees can use to help them understand what to share and when to post about the company.
Pro tip: LinkedIn has a program called LinkedIn Elevate which was launched in 2015 with the goal of helping companies and employees curate, share, and measure the impact of content on LinkedIn. The product is not free, pricing is based on the size of the company, so make sure you have a strong plan in place before implementing the tool.
Sponsored updates and advertising
As with most social media platforms, LinkedIn offers ad products that enable companies to drive traffic and engagement both on and off the platform. Products include single image ads, video ads, and carousel ads all of which appear within the native LinkedIn environment.
To run ads, you must create a LinkedIn Company page since all ads are connected to this page.
LinkedIn provides a reporting interface that enables advertisers to measure and optimize their ad campaigns, including tracking leads and conversions via the use of a tracking tag.
Bringing it back to manufacturing
As noted above, the top 50 most influential manufacturing brands are actively engaging with the LinkedIn platform via the use of Showcase Page updates, content sharing, employee involvement and advertising. But what does this mean for your industry?
LinkedIn looked at the distribution of manufacturing brands by vertical and reported that the most influential industries (based on data obtained in 2015) included Oil & Gas (36%), Automotive (22%) and Electrical and Electronics Manufacturing (14%).
For companies in the more active industries such as Oil & Gas and Automotive, it can be eye opening to see what the top influencers are doing on LinkedIn. For less active industries such as Mechanical/Industrial, Chemicals, and Machinery, LinkedIn presents a great opportunity to stand out among your competitors who may not be leveraging LinkedIn fully. In both cases, the new year is the perfect time to focus on creating a more comprehensive LinkedIn strategy and educating your employees about how they can participate in amplifying and elevating your company and content on this unique platform.