What did this crazy stunt teach us about how to gain 10x more followers on LinkedIn?

Key lessons on how to gain 10x more followers on LinkedIn

It’s no secret that the best B2B digital marketing strategies in 2019 include a focus on social media. And for B2B companies, LinkedIn has built a loyal business-focused audience and has developed tools to target your buyer personas. But what many people don’t realize is that in order to maximize the effectiveness of those tools, you need to “train” the algorithms to recognize which types of people actually fit your buyer personas. Having a robust audience of followers who already engage with the content you post makes it easier to target paid advertising to people who are most likely to be your ideal prospects.

While constantly checking your follower count is widely regarded as a distracting vanity metric, growing your audience does have merit. After all, perception matters. Your follower count lends legitimacy to your reputation and credibility to the thought leadership you share. So it’s something you should check periodically, but not obsess over.

Just as doctors are the worst at taking their own medicine, even the best B2B marketing agencies all too often are so busy working on digital campaigns for their clients that they don’t make time to invest in their own social media efforts. At The Marketing Blender, we specialize in sales and marketing alignment, so we understand the importance of walking the walk.

So, we set an audacious goal of increasing our number of followers on LinkedIn by 10x.

How do you increase your number of followers on LinkedIn by 10x? Spoiler alert: There is no magic formula. Yes, there are plenty of hacks and best practices for increasing your number of social media followers. But we wanted to try something different — because experimenting and testing is the best way to learn and improve results in digital marketing. (Don’t worry, we’ll also tell you all the tips that work soon.)

We’d seen that contests work well on other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But would a promotion be effective on LinkedIn?

We decided to put our money where our mouth is and hold a $500 giveaway on LinkedIn.

We settled on two phases. In phase one, we challenged everyone on our team to increase their own number of personal connections on LinkedIn. (The idea being that the more people who see our employees sharing about our company, the better.) To make it interesting, the team member who received the most new connections in two weeks would receive a $100 gift card.

Phase two focused on our company page, where we shared the news that five randomly selected people who liked or shared the LinkedIn post would each receive a $100 gift card. It is important to note that we decided not to run any paid posts or other advertising to promote this contest — only organic posts to our company and personal social media accounts.

(Full transparency: While our CEO, Dacia, already had over 2,000 followers on LinkedIn, our company LinkedIn page had 132 followers on the day our promotion launched.)

Tactics that worked for acquiring more personal connections on LinkedIn:

Kyle, our Vice President of Business Development, looked at his existing network and their second-degree connections for people who work in similar industries as our clients.

Brian, our Senior Copywriter, searched by the job titles of our buyer personas, filtered by geography and then reached out with an offer to help with their messaging.

Dacia, our CEO, also looked at the second-degree connections of her existing network but focused on interesting people she wanted to meet regardless of their industry or job title.

Keren, our Social Media and Paid Search Specialist, was mindful of curating her feed with people she could learn from, so she included a reference to an insight or article that each person had previously shared along with her request to connect.

Kristia, our Director of Client Strategy, used LinkedIn Sales Navigator to target the right prospects and then reached out with a suggestion to check out a piece of content relevant to their area of expertise.

Key learnings from our giveaway to gain more followers on LinkedIn:

  1. Build anticipation by teasing launches and releases, whether it’s a new product or an announcement.

  1. Video performs better — and native video (a clip uploaded directly to LinkedIn) performs even better than including a link to a video on YouTube. The brand video in our contest post received 1,127 views organically on LinkedIn in two weeks; compare that to YouTube, where it took over a month to organically break 200 views.
  1. Cross-promote your LinkedIn presence on your other social media accounts. While some social media managers have a strict “don’t cross the streams” policy, many people find a simple “you can also follow us on LinkedIn” message helpful — just be sure to include a reason for them to go follow, like a brief recap of the types of content you share on LinkedIn that they won’t see on other channels.
  1. You’re allowed to be a bit weird on LinkedIn. You don’t have to be buttoned up all the time. Show some personality and be yourself. People want to connect with other people, not corporate drones. Sharing your human side is a proven technique for building interest, engagement and loyalty.

Bonus tip: If you decide to run a promotion on LinkedIn or any social platform, look up how the laws in your area regard a sweepstakes and a contest differently. And be sure to post all the required rules and regulations. (You can see the ones we posted for our LinkedIn giveaway here.)

So, how did we do? When our contest ended, our company page had grown from 132 to 1,074 followers. That’s 942 new followers — or an increase of 2,034%!!

We had fun, learned something and got real results. In B2B digital marketing, it doesn’t get any better than that — except for the congratulations to our five winners: Logan, Anne, Betty, Stuart and Valerie.

For a complete list of tips and best practices on how to increase your number of LinkedIn followers, read our follow-up post here.

Hey, wait a minute, what is the difference between connections and followers on LinkedIn?

Connections are members who agreed to connect on LinkedIn (presumably because they already know each other or want to network with someone they trust). If you’re connected, you will see each other’s posts on LinkedIn and can also send messages to each other.

Following someone on LinkedIn enables you to see that person’s posts without being connected to them. However, the person you’re following won’t see your posts. Due to privacy concerns, there are settings on LinkedIn to control if people can follow you. So if you want to reach a larger audience, be sure you check this setting to allow others to follow your activity.

Don’t miss part two.

For tips on how to craft the best B2B marketing strategy and how to align your marketing and sales messaging, see this blog post.

Blender is a full-service B2B marketing agency focused on accelerating growth for clients in manufacturing, healthcare, software and professional services. If you have any questions, we’re here to help.

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