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LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World

LinkedIn's Megan Golden at Content Marketing World “The good news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story,” Megan Golden, group manager of LinkedIn’s* global content and social media marketing, said in the opening of her session at Content Marketing World last Thursday. “The bad news about being a marketer in 2018 is that we have dozens and dozens of channels to share our marketing story,” she added. It’s true. We’re inundated with options for trying to reach our audiences these days, making it a challenge to narrow focus and find the right mix. But it’s safe to say that if you work in B2B, LinkedIn has to be in that mix. Hosting more than half a billion professionals, and boasting unparalleled targeting capabilities, the platform is tremendously powerful for those who know how to use it. No one knows better than LinkedIn’s own marketers. During her presentation, Megan pulled back the curtains to provide an inside look at tactics her team has developed and refined over the years. It starts with a nod to Disney.

Embracing the Blockbuster Model

When Megan talks about shifting to a “Blockbuster Strategy,” she’s certainly not talking about the defunct video rental chain. Instead, she’s referring to the approach used by film studios like Disney to capitalize upon their most valuable franchises. After all, effective content needs to entertain, so which better examples to follow than cherished box-office boomers like Star Wars and The Avengers? Disney's Blockbuster Movie Schedule Via 7 Trends in B2B Marketing: Think Like Disney and 6 Other Strategies As the timeline above depicts, Disney’s roadmap is structured largely around sequels, spinoffs, and sagas. The volume of net-new content makes up only a fraction of the release schedule. And clearly, it’s working. “They’re monetizing their back catalogue by understanding what’s worked,” Megan says.

Three Principles of B2B Blockbuster Content

[bctt tweet=”A #B2B blockbuster #contentmarketing strategy monetizes a brand’s expertise. @Goldmegs” username=”toprank”] The content team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has adopted this same mindset, with great success. Megan points to a trio of core tenets that guide LinkedIn’s editorial council:

  • Focus. Concentrate your effort and promotion into regularly spaced out big-rock assets rather than following a scattered, ad-hoc calendar.
  • Familiarity. Make this content recognizable by consistently releasing new iterations and tie-ins around the same themes.
  • Extensibility. Unleash this content across various channels, platforms, and formats to increase its reach and accessibility. (Think about how much revenue Disney drives through merchandise.)

LinkedIn’s marketing team applied these principles through its Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions series, which has turned into pillar content for them. These sleekly and uniformly designed sets of guides, infographics, videos, and cheat sheets showcase the unique insights from LinkedIn’s own leading marketers around key B2B social media marketing topics like targeting, engagement, and ROI. The Sophisticated Marketer’s Sessions exemplify the B2B blockbuster model, following the three aforementioned principles and, in turn, monetizing the brand’s expertise. But of course, all of this is contingent on the content resonating with audiences. Disney’s model wouldn’t be so effective if not for the sensational appeal of Luke Skywalker and Iron Man. In order to execute the B2B blockbuster strategy, you need to find out what your audience loves. Doing so requires plenty of experimentation. Megan helpfully shared some of the findings her team has surfaced through its own experiences in this regard.

Tried and True Tips for Marketing on LinkedIn

[bctt tweet=”If you’re not testing, you’re literally losing money. @Goldmegs on #ContentStrategy” username=”toprank”] Film studios like Disney invest significant resources into test screenings, surveys, and research to determine what will hit home with viewers, because missing the mark is very costly. Marketers can similarly rely on audiences to direct their strategies through A/B testing, which Megan emphasizes as an essential practice. When it comes to marketing on LinkedIn, she saved us some of the work by sharing insights gleaned from her team’s experimentation on the platform. For instance:

  • Concise, quick-hitting content outperformed lengthier posts in terms of reach and clicks
  • Calling out the audience directly in the copy drove higher conversions
  • Darker shading tended to yield stronger click-through rates than light aesthetics
  • For digital assets, the descriptor “guide” outperformed “eBook”and drove 100% higher CTRs
  • Featuring a person rather than an object drove a huge lift in conversion rate

Create Your Own B2B Blockbuster

In the immortal words of Master Yoda, “Always pass on what you have learned.” We appreciate Megan following this directive from an unforgettable Star Wars character who’s helped vault Disney’s most prized franchise into the stars. With these insights in hand, you’ll be ready to take off with your own B2B blockbuster. Looking for more of the best nuggets to come out of Content Marketing World 2018? Check out some of our team’s other reports from the conference:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post LinkedIn’s Megan Golden on Building a Blockbuster Content Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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