The co-author of The Art of SEO (and one of the leading SEO and content marketing experts in the world) drops by today to share his LinkedIn insights.
Over the years I have become a huge fan of Eric Enge and the team at Stone Temple Consulting. They are smart, easy going and always willing to help others.
But what has really set Eric and his team apart is the amount of experimenting and research they do … sorting fact from fiction in the field of SEO and content marketing.
I was fortunate to get the chance to interview Eric at Pubcon Austin and discuss his thoughts on using LinkedIn for content marketing.
As Eric points out in this interview, you may be “renting” your audience on LinkedIn, but if you follow his advice, you may be able to “rent to own.”
In this episode Eric and I discuss:
Listen to The Missing Link below ...
Voiceover: This is The Missing Link with your host, the insufferable, but never boring, Sean Jackson.
Sean Jackson: Hello everyone. It s Sean Jackson and I am joined as always by the cheerful Mica Gadhia. Mica, how are you?
Mica Gadhia: Sean, I m excellent today. How are you doing?
Sean Jackson: To be fair, I m on drugs right now.
Mica Gadhia: Okay. That explains a lot Sean.
Sean Jackson: Not that type of drugs Mica! I’m feeling under the weather so I took some medicine this morning, and I m feeling a little fuzzy right now. If anyone complains about the podcast, you re going to realize — “Well, Sean s on drugs.” The good news is I actually have a special treat for everyone because we have my good friend, great thought leader, overall generally awesome guy, Eric Enge from Stone Temple.
Mica Gadhia: Yay!
Sean Jackson: Yeah, I know! The good news is I wasn t on drugs when I was interviewing him because I was at Pubcom in Austin. I had my recorder with me and I knew I wanted to get Eric in person on a recording device so we could share it with our audience. Now for those of you that don t know who Eric Enge is, trust me he is literally — I want to call him like the professor of content marketing. He s so smart. But he s smart not just on the theory standpoint, he actually uses all of these — much like Copyblogger does — to promote his own business.
He s also doing, beyond that, the research out there. If you ve heard of Stone Temple it may be because of all the research reports out there. I am just hugely excited that he s here. That we were able to get him actually to record the show. I think it s going to be one of our best interviews today simply because of the amount of awesome insight Eric had.
Mica Gadhia: That s exciting!
Sean Jackson: Always. And of course, if you ve been listening to the show you know what I m about to say next. I want you to pull out your phone and send a text message to 41411, with the keyword MYLINK — no spaces. Don t let it autocorrect for you. If you re international, outside the US, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now why should you do that? Because when you subscribe to 41411 with the keyword MYLINK, we are going to send you a link directly to a private LinkedIn discussion group. And Mica, what is in that discussion group?
Mica Gadhia: A lot of information that you can use right now to use for your LinkedIn promotion, your LinkedIn profile, your LinkedIn We re even putting some information about the images that you can put in, or how to write headlines for the posts that are on LinkedIn. So everything in addition to what we re doing in the podcast. You can get other resources that will benefit your LinkedIn journey.
Sean Jackson: It s almost like free consulting, isn t it Mica? Almost like here s everything you need to be successful in marketing on LinkedIn in one private place.
Mica Gadhia: Yeah. I ve seen some of your answers Sean and they are thorough and in-depth. I invite all of the listeners who are already in there to ask any questions you can. It’s all going to help everybody in the community.
Sean Jackson: Everyone take a moment to go ahead and do that. When we come back from the break, we are going to have an awesome interview with my good friend, thought leader, entrepreneur extraordinaire, Eric Enge. Right after this.
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Sean Jackson: If you don t know who Eric is, you re on a freaking other planet. Eric has been in this community for quite some time. His marketing is beyond compare, and this guy knows his stuff. Without further ado, my good friend and brilliant thought leader on our space, Mr. Eric Enge. Eric, thank you for being on the show.
Eric Enge: Thank you. I m going to try to come somewhere near living up to the way you ve introduced me. Probably my challenge for the show.
Sean Jackson: Quite frankly you re all over the place, and so I figured you must know something. I see you all over, between your videos, and the blog posts, and everything else. You may not know what you re talking about, but boy it seems like you do.
Eric Enge: I m talking about it a lot.
Sean Jackson: You re talking about it a lot. Exactly. So Eric, go ahead and bring our listeners a little bit up on your background. Certainly I know it, but what is it that made you kind of get into the space, and what is Stone Temple out there to be doing.
Eric Enge: I ve been an engineer by background for the longest time. Somewhere along the way, I learned that I had the ability to talk and explain things. That very quickly got me into careers really comparable to SEO. My early days — helping run businesses and sell technology things — fit really well with SEO. Because you re constantly explaining things, and you re having to help people understand difficult technical concepts — businesspeople, C-suite people — trying to get them understand difficult, technical concepts.
If you re the kind of person that can help them understand, to simplify it so they can take action on it, then you re in a good spot to be in the SEO industry. That s how I got here. Stone Temple Consulting is a digital marketing agency — content marketing SEO, social media. We help people get more traffic and more business from that traffic on their websites.
Sean Jackson: I would highly recommend, if you have not read, “The Art of SEO.” Quite frankly, before I ever met you in person (which was at Pubcon by the way, in Vegas) I totally remember getting that book. I was thrilled to death to read it. Then when I got a chance to meet you, I was like, Oh my God, now I can get all the behind the scenes stuff. It turns out you put everything in the book.
Eric Enge: There you go, that s all you need.
Sean Jackson: That s all you need.
Eric Enge: Third edition comes out in July.
Sean Jackson: Fantastic! Absolutely highly recommended. Anyone who s listening, buy “The Art of SEO” third edition, out in July. Now I want to get into the nuts of this because, quite frankly, let me tell you what I ve been hearing. I ask people, “What do you think about LinkedIn? Is LinkedIn good for this? Is LinkedIn better for that, etc?” I m going to tell you quite frankly Eric, I m hearing a lot more negative sometimes than I am positive about LinkedIn.
Sure, it s known as the job board. It’s the fancy job board. That s what everybody thinks. But yet, if you look at the numbers, how many more people are on LinkedIn than Twitter? Yet Twitter gets all the play. LinkedIn is, by all the metrics, still bigger than Twitter, and yet it gets nothing of the attention. I think in the online marketing space we re starting to notice. We ve always known about it, but we re noticing it. And you’re doing some things on there, so I want to talk to you what is it that you re doing, what is your thinking behind it, why are you doing it? Give us a little bit of background to why you’re spending your very valuable time on LinkedIn.
Eric Enge: Sure. To be fair, as I told you before, we re in the early stages, but I’m going to tell you what we see in it and why I think it s really important. First of all, you have the other social networks. You have Facebook, which of course they ve taken away so much of that organic visibility from brands that Copyblogger dropped it. Very interesting, and great move for you guys.
Not that you can t do things with Facebook, you can. But then you have Twitter, which is the sound bite capital of the world, if you will. It s 140 characters, of course make it 120 so someone might be able to Retweet it. It keeps getting shorter and shorter. You can do some useful things on Twitter, but it s a little bit watered down too.
Then the next thing that you re going to do is think about, “Can I do better by jumping in on some niche (I prefer the French style pronunciation) social networks?” LinkedIn is big in terms of total volume, but if you look at it as it’s used as a social media site, it’s actually a niche network. Our early experiments make me think that it works really well as a B2B environment where I can get to decision-makers with less noise around that communication than I can on the other social networks.
Sean Jackson: Let s talk about experiments. If there anything that Stone Temple is known for, is the amount of pure research — statistical data research — that you do across a number of mediums, both in SEO and content marketing, etc. Before we get in the results, let s talk about the things that you guys are experimenting with right now.
Eric Enge: Sure. You mean on LinkedIn specifically?
Sean Jackson: On LinkedIn, yes.
Eric Enge: Yeah.
Sean Jackson: I would hope so. That s what the show is about, Eric.
Eric Enge: Well, we have our studies that we do. There are three areas that we ve experimented with. One is LinkedIn publisher. That actually works pretty well and it s a good way to build an organic following. But as you talked about, some people get into this stuff and they get discouraged in trying to do something with LinkedIn.
It s a long effort. Don t go in and think that overnight, you re going to have this great success on LinkedIn. You have an opportunity on LinkedIn to build a powerful, focused, organic following. Through LinkedIn publisher is one method, which means writing full blog-post sized posts on LinkedIn. 500-word, 700-word, 1200-word posts, half a dozen images — just like you would on anything in your own blog. If you re lucky, then Spotlight, where they actually start showing it to broader audiences —
Sean Jackson: Right, part of the Pulse network. They get it get out there.
Eric Enge: If you publish on a regular basis and you publish good content, you pretty much — after maybe a dozen or so articles — can start to get in there every time and you get broader distribution. What does that mean? What that means is that based on the channels that they find within LinkedIn, you’re getting exposure to focused, higher-level audiences that are interested in your content. You re getting in front of new eyeballs. You re doing that in a way that’s different than really any of the other mechanisms.
Sean Jackson: Let s go into the publisher feature because I think there is a lot of unique things about that. I noticed that you and Mark Traphagen do a lot in there. I ve seen some experiments. The question comes up all the time: “Can I take an existing blog post that has been out there and put it into the publisher feed? And if so, what are the benefits? If not, why not?”
Eric Enge: Technically speaking, you can. I m not a fan.
Sean Jackson: Okay. Why?
Eric Enge: Because to me it s like anytime you have an opportunity to get in front of an audience –I don t care what that audience is — if you don t tailor what you re doing to that audience, it s just a mistake. First of all, repurposing is great. I m not saying don t repurpose. But if you re going to take that post verbatim and drop it in there, it is going to come back on you at some point.
It s just my opinion. I know other people who are doing it. LinkedIn doesn t technically prevent you from doing it, although I think their terms of service discourage it. I just don t like to do it, but physically you can do it, and it works.
Sean Jackson: What about the strategy of taking an existing post and cutting it up, so that to read the rest of the post or to get further information — it s call to action if you will. There s a componentized, summarized, or even an actual two-thirds of the remaining third — the real meat of it — back on your site. What about that as a strategy?
Eric Enge: Absolutely. You can do something like that. I d still like to somewhat customize that.
Sean Jackson: Tailor it to the vehicle.
Eric Enge: Right. I think you get a stronger response from my experience with publisher when you put a full-on post in there.
Sean Jackson: Got you.
Eric Enge: Not that you can t use it to drive traffic the way you just described, Sean, to your post by other means. Because you can do that. But from my perspective you re going to get a lot better spread within the LinkedIn publisher system if it s fresh, original content. That’s been borne out from our experiments with it so far. Look, we all know any social media network is a rented audience. But it s a rent-to-own world.
Sean Jackson: Love that, rent-to-own.
Eric Enge: Use those rented audiences as a way to capture and build your own audience. That s what you have to have in your mind wherever you are. You re on Facebook. You re on Google+. You’re on Twitter. You re writing a guest post column for somebody. Speaking at a conference. Those are all borrowed audiences and they re all about building your audience. Always back to your audience.
Sean Jackson: What else besides publisher are you guys looking at or thinking about experimenting with?
Eric Enge: Something I know that you guys do quite well is groups. And pulling together a group — very powerful — because once you start building your own group you have the ability to communicate with that group on a regular basis. It s a semi-rented audience because it s your group on LinkedIn — you re running that thing and you have the opportunity.
As always when you do these things though, you have to be very mindful of, “Okay, I ve got this group. What am I doing to make sure that this particular rented audience is not engaging with me only here but they re coming through and seeing things?” There are lots of payoffs to this. It s important to understand how many levels of interaction there are here.
You might have someone you first meet on the LinkedIn group. Then they see you speak at a conference. Then they see an article you published somewhere else. It s only after all three of those things happen before they re ready to become a customer or just simply Retweet your article — I went to a fourth platform now. This is the way the world works.
Sean Jackson: Sure, sure. And I think there s a lot to the LinkedIn discussion groups. That has probably been my personal favorite out of all LinkedIn because of that email capability. We know that open rates on LinkedIn emails are much higher because it s coming...