Unlocking The Power Of LinkedIn As A Research Tool For Your Content

You can use LinkedIn to under­stand your audi­ence and the types of con­tent they’re look­ing for.

Bas van den Beld By Bas van den Beld from State of Digital. Join the discussion » 0 comments

LinkedIn is an extreme­ly valu­able resource of infor­ma­tion on your tar­get audi­ence. The best way to get infor­ma­tion on the con­tent you should be cre­at­ing for your audi­ence is to real­ly dive into LinkedIn your­self – to real­ly “meet” with your audi­ence. The infor­ma­tion is there and rea­son­ably acces­si­ble using the advanced search. There is how­ev­er no easy route. You real­ly need to make an effort to find the right infor­ma­tion. This is a lot of work, but if you do make the effort, it will be worth it.

Yes, LinkedIn is anoth­er social net­work, and yes, mil­lions of peo­ple use LinkedIn. But that doesn’t mean you should be using LinkedIn as a bill­board, like we said in the first arti­cle of this series. If you start shar­ing con­tent and start spam­ming LinkedIn, chances are you will quick­ly dry out the poten­tial of the plat­form.

There is how­ev­er anoth­er, for some hid­den, poten­tial of LinkedIn. This is what I use LinkedIn for more than any­thing else. I’m shar­ing (for brand­ing rea­sons), I’m con­nect­ing, but most­ly, I’m research­ing. So I can find exact­ly the top­ics my audi­ence wants to read about.

Research On Other Platforms

So many arti­cles have been writ­ten about research­ing what peo­ple want to read about. “Con­tent mar­ket­ing” is now a must-do,  but that has result­ed in a lot of (most­ly worth­less) con­tent on the web, mak­ing it even hard­er for brands to stand out. So mar­keters try and find a tool that works.

Research­ing con­tent usu­al­ly begins on a plat­form like Twit­ter, doing analy­sis to see what is being shared the most. It’s what makes tools like Buz­zSumo so use­ful.

Con­tent mar­keters see what top­ics are pop­u­lar and write about those. The result? More of the same con­tent, not nec­es­sar­i­ly stand­ing out.

Being There Before The Answer Is Given

When research­ing your audi­ence, you should try to fig­ure out not just by look­ing at which top­ics are hot. While they help, and are a good first step, you should strive to answer ques­tions.

When peo­ple share links to arti­cles they like, it will be to arti­cles that have already giv­en them an answer (in most cas­es). So writ­ing anoth­er answer prob­a­bly isn’t the best way to go, unless you’re sure your answer is bet­ter than all the oth­ers (but you’ll still have to con­vince them of that, mak­ing it extra dif­fi­cult to cre­ate out­stand­ing con­tent).

For your con­tent to be shared, your con­tent must be first to pro­vide peo­ple with an answer to their ques­tion. That means you need to know their ques­tions before they find the answer.

And this is where LinkedIn comes in.

LinkedIn will give me the prob­lems my tar­get audi­ence runs into in their every­day lives, because it’s a more of a busi­ness plat­form than, for exam­ple, Face­book. Peo­ple not only share their issues in groups, their pro­files and their updates will tell me a lot as well.

Here are a few exam­ples of how you can use LinkedIn to research prob­lems.

Researching People And Businesses Using LinkedIn

As we know, LinkedIn is orig­i­nal­ly a con­nec­tion tool. This means peo­ple are putting a lot of infor­ma­tion on their pro­files that is use­ful for us. This infor­ma­tion will help us under­stand our audi­ence a bit bet­ter and will help us find the right audi­ence to tar­get, both with our con­tent, as well as with their out­reach.

Advanced Search

I talked about the advanced search option before in my arti­cle on using LinkedIn as a con­nec­tion tool. There I explained you can find influ­encers using the dif­fer­ent fil­ters avail­able. You can use those fil­ters as well to under­stand dif­fer­ent met­rics from your audi­ence. When you start search­ing, LinkedIn will give you infor­ma­tion on dif­fer­ent lev­els, from peo­ple to top­ics, to groups.

This means the search is a great start­ing point. Have your list of key­words ready and start search­ing. Write down groups, write down names, and write down (relat­ed) top­ics that show up.

Using search you will also gath­er oth­er inter­est­ing infor­ma­tion about your audi­ence: how are you relat­ed to them (you might be clos­er than you think), what type of com­pa­nies does your audi­ence work for and what are issues from those com­pa­nies. And if peo­ple have prop­er­ly set up their per­son­al pro­files and busi­ness pro­files, you will also see the kind of solu­tions they are giv­ing to their tar­get audi­ence. This is valu­able infor­ma­tion because it will tell you what they already know and where they prob­a­bly want to learn more about.

The key to not get­ting lost in the enor­mous amount of infor­ma­tion LinkedIn has hid­den for you: using the right fil­ter­ing.

For exam­ple, if you know that you’re tar­get­ing brands, you will want to fil­ter your search accord­ing­ly: choose the right indus­try, the right size, and the right region, for exam­ple:

After that you can start zoom­ing into com­pa­nies. Look at Updates, the groups they are fea­tured in, and see what relat­ed com­pa­nies peo­ple also look for and specif­i­cal­ly look at peo­ple relat­ed to the com­pa­nies.

Why is it nec­es­sary to look at a per­sons lev­el? Because it will give you much more infor­ma­tion. No, you don’t have to look at every­body, but look­ing at a set of peo­ple in depth will be much more valu­able than look­ing at big chunks of aver­age data.

The Next Step: Finding The Topics

The next step is the real­ly inter­est­ing part of research­ing: actu­al­ly find­ing the top­ics. Again, we start off with search. By search­ing our key­words Linkedin gives us some valu­able infor­ma­tion already. Just look at this (not even fin­ished!) search on influ­ence mar­ket­ing:

This search already gives me stuff to look at. There are the com­pa­nies and show­case pages that will give me con­tent relat­ed to the top­ic, but I’m most inter­est­ed in the groups. It’s even eas­i­er if we just fil­ter on groups in advanced search.

I want to find the right groups on these top­ics. These groups will tell me a few things:

  • How inter­est­ed are peo­ple in the top­ics: are the groups big? Is there a lot of dis­cus­sion? This might be a good top­ic! Are they small and aban­doned? Maybe not so inter­est­ing.
  • Are the groups full of peo­ple ask­ing ques­tions or are peo­ple just shar­ing their own con­tent in it? If the last one is the case, I’m up for some fierce com­pe­ti­tion, if it’s the first one, hel­lo con­tent!

The groups with ques­tions are the ones I’m inter­est­ed in most, because they will pro­vide me with con­tent ideas that are before the hype. This is where peo­ple ask ques­tions about their every day (work) life. This is where they look for those in the same posi­tion, as they are, who might have the right answers.

I have to tell you: most groups are just about shar­ing your links, but if you find the right one, you can find a lot of ques­tions for you to answer. And some­times part of the answers are there as well. Like this one:

People’s Updates

Final­ly there are people’s updates on LinkedIn. These can be found using the advanced search. Start by fil­ter­ing on posts, and search the terms you’re inter­est­ed in.

This search will take you through the pub­lished arti­cles from LinkedIn mem­bers. Now be aware, that these arti­cles already writ­ten, so you will have to look fur­ther than just the top­ics. The num­bers of views and shares are inter­est­ing here, as are the num­ber of fol­low­ers and the dates shared, but I’m most­ly inter­est­ed in the com­ments.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, LinkedIn doesn’t show this in the search results, so you’ll have to actu­al­ly look at posts. Start with the most read ones and you will prob­a­bly find rel­e­vant com­ments soon.

What Do The Comments Tell You?

Com­ments tell you a cou­ple of things:

  • They will give me more ques­tions; some peo­ple fol­low up on arti­cles with more ques­tions or ideas.
  • They will tell me if peo­ple have sim­i­lar issues as the arti­cle dis­cuss­es.
  • The more com­ments, the more peo­ple are inter­est­ed in the top­ic.
  • It might lead me to more peo­ple and oth­er posts with rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion and ques­tions.

Have you unlocked the pow­er of LinkedIn as a research tool for your con­tent?

Bas van den Beld

Written by Bas van den Beld

Digital Marketing Strategist, State of Digital

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

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