In part one of our conversation with content boss Jason Miller of Linkedin, we found out how the network targets global professionals, how to keep your readers on a steady diet of quality content and about the importance of “big rock” content. Here, in part two of our interview, he shares his tips on owning conversations and keywords through stellar content, weighing intelligent risks and how to take the rolling thunder approach to content amplification.
Let’s dig in.
How do you tackle search engine optimization for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions?
At the end of the day, The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide was written because we wanted to own the conversation of, “How do I market on LinkedIn?” We now own that conversation. Before I started at LinkedIn, we were on page 16 for that keyword and every other blog was owning that conversation, and now we’ve got that back. The next piece I wrote, The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership, was written because I saw the opportunity for us to own the conversation of thought leadership. So now we own that conversation, too.
A lot of SEO purists say not to go after branded keywords, but when the branded keyword is your product, it is a different story. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a very competitive keyword, even for LinkedIn proper.
What is your approach to content amplification at LMS?
I spoke before about creating your hit piece of content, your big rock; once you’ve conquered this epic piece of content, you begin the rolling thunder approach to amplification.
You send an email to everyone and email becomes the #1 driver, then comes the blog post and the blog takes over as the #1 driver and email goes away. Then you utilize sponsored updates and native advertising and they become the #1 driver. It is interesting to see the shift from the email as the #1 driver, to blog, to native advertising. And then we just do it again; creating these turkey slices (the repurposed content) as little tentacles leading back to your content.
How many in-house content marketers work at LinkedIn? Do you have agency partners?
We have a team of three internally and five agency partners. We have one who is concept and creative. Then I have two ghostwriters; one is an editor who takes my blog posts and turns them into something people want to read. Then we use an agency specifically for research, infographics and visual design. We use another agency for day-to-day raisin bran content and light SEO. Each enormous ebook we do with all the visuals, emails, slideshares and infographics comes in this nice little zip file. It’s enough to fuel our demand and our social channels for at least a year.
I read an article where you discussed the importance of trial and error in social media marketing strategy. As an expert content marketer, is it still a game of trial and error?
Let me rephrase that: There is no question on what piece of content we’re going to promote and what is going to work. We don’t take a gamble on anything that is a significant investment anymore, because the data is out there. Should I create this damn piece of content or not? With social listening and keyword research, is there a need? Can we rank for it? Does our audience want it?
There’s no question about the big home run pieces of content. LinkedIn is all about taking intelligent risks. My intelligent risks are starting a podcast series—yes, everyone is starting a podcast but we’re going to take the George Costanza approach and do the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. Make it a Jimmy Fallon thing. It’s an intelligent risk to do something like that and I don’t know how it’s going to do. Does anyone want to hear LinkedIn content on a podcast? We’ll see.
I think where that comes from is when I worked at Marketo with cofounder John Miller (no relation). He basically came in and said, “you can do whatever the hell you want, but you have to tie it back to a metric.” Whatever someone said didn’t work in the world of B2B, we did the exact opposite and proved them wrong. Every time we solved a problem, we wrote about it and created something to promote it, bigger and better than anyone else out there. It made us all better marketers. Trial and error has evolved into intelligent risk.
How successful has the publishing platform been on LinkedIn? What success have you seen from making your customers publishers?
People talk about—not speaking for the company but my personal perspective—don’t you worry about the quality of content? But at the end of the day, anyone can go out on Blogger and WordPress and start a blog for free. People make blogging more complicated than it is. It’s one idea. It could be 300 words, 500 words, 1,000, but people overcomplicate it.
What works well on the LinkedIn publishing platform is inspirational stories. If you’re using LinkedIn Today the right way, you should never run out of ideas. You can follow your influencers, companies, and of course your own network. When I log in, there are three articles that pop up. Those are based on what they think I’m going to like; an algorithm picks this up and it is different for everyone. Based on my networks, based on what’s trending, etc. They’re getting pretty good at in the publishing platform or Pulse.
I have the LinkedIn app on my phone now. I never thought I would a year ago, but it allows for intelligent conversations and always serves up extremely relevant, entertaining content. What’s up next for LinkedIn?
There’s a new app by LinkedIn called, Connected that is basically an engagement tool. You swipe back and forth and it’s an easy way to stay connected with people. If you sync it up to your calendar, it can actually remind you before you go to a meeting that it’s so and so’s birthday and they were just mentioned in this news article and you have this many shared connections.
We’re moving toward the ultimate professional relationship management platform. It’s cool stuff.