A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Lee Odden on Ruling the Content Kingdom

May 28, 2019

A Sophisticated Marketer’s Perspective: Lee Odden on Ruling the Content Kingdom

In 2012, when he published Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden proposed a simple overarching thesis: truly effective digital strategies must account for every key area of a brand’s web presence.

Within his book, Lee offered a memorable quote: “Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom.” That feels even more true today than when he wrote it.

Optimize is now seven years old, but Lee’s insights are anything but dated. He travels the globe for speaking engagements, tackling a wide array of subjects. On social media, he steadily authors and shares enlightening content concerning the now, as well as what’s next. The renowned industry veteran embodies a sophisticated marketer’s broad expertise and perpetual curiosity, so we were thrilled to have him as a contributor for our guide to marketing on LinkedIn.

To uncover more of Lee’s perspectives, we engaged with him in an extended Q&A session. Read on to find his thoughts on how to optimize LinkedIn as an integral component of a successful and holistic marketing strategy.

Lee Odden on Conquering the Content Marketing Kingdom with LinkedIn

1. What’s something interesting about you that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?

Right out of high school, I spent two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a Combat Engineer stationed in Fort Richardson, AK.

2. Where does LinkedIn fit into an integrated B2B marketing strategy?

With over 610 million users worldwide, there is no better place for B2B marketers to reach business professionals. Whether through establishing a LinkedIn page and showcase pages, inspiring your employees to become active by sharing posts and video to the feed, or authoring long-form content on individual profiles, there are abundant ways for B2B brands to attract and engage business buyers on the LinkedIn platform.

And when it comes to targeting specific buyers to engage and drive new business, there are myriad advertising options ranging from Sponsored Content to Text Ads, to Sponsored InMail to Video Ads. Most users of LinkedIn keep their information up-to-date more than other social channels, so you can target a preferred audience at scale. I’m not sure how an integrated B2B marketing program could be successful without some element of it focused on LinkedIn.

3. What are the common traits of your most popular and engaging posts on LinkedIn?

Longer form text posts seem to do well. Also, posts that mention other people in a relevant way tend to get more shares and engagement. We do a lot of work with industry influencers, and tagging them within posts about something we’ve worked on together creates a notification that links back to the post. As a result, those tagged will see the post and often engage and re-share, giving the post more exposure to new audiences.

However, it’s very important that such tagging is relevant and in context. Simply tagging influencers you hope to see the post isn’t as effective.

4. How do you view the relationship between organic and paid promotion on social?

Overall organic visibility is down on all social networks so it’s increasingly important for brands that want to connect with existing and new audiences alike to budget for advertising.

There are some kinds of organic content that still give brands visibility and engagement, and it’s worth continuing to allocate some effort to content that’s not amplified through ads. For example, content that is co-created with industry influencers can achieve significant organic reach because those influencers inspire the kind of engagement that is favored by social feed algorithms.

When organic content spikes, it’s not a reason to skip advertising though. It’s a reason to allocate advertising budget because the content has proven to resonate. In fact, it makes sense for marketers to forecast and implement both organic and paid promotion to get the best results.

5. What’s a benefit of marketing on LinkedIn that most people don’t think of?

I suspect there are plenty of investors who pay attention to companies marketing on LinkedIn as they consider companies for investment or acquisition. Customizing content for distinct audiences makes as much sense on LinkedIn as it does on other marketing channels. Creating and marketing content on LinkedIn that would appeal to potential investors could help attract investment more quickly and from sources that are a better match for the brand.

6. How is content marketing evolving in an era of increased expectations of transparency for brands?

Trust is a big topic for business right now and customers are tired of both ambiguity and the shellack of polished, hyper-optimistic marketing. Buyers want “what’s real” and for brands to be more transparent in their communications. They want to know the good, the bad and the, well, you get what I mean.

Things as simple as pricing or reviews can add a lot of credibility to brand content — especially how brands respond to customer comments in all forms, including anything negative. No one is fooled by brands only showing the positives. By being open and responsive, brands reveal they are relatable and worth trusting.

Millennial and Gen Z audiences expect brands to be honest and forthcoming. While some companies view information that is not a glowing endorsement of the brand as a liability, others are embracing those challenges as an opportunity to be transparent about issues and how they’re being solved. That transparency builds trust and confidence in the brand, key differentiators for customers who become loyal advocates.

7. As LinkedIn has changed over the years, what are some improvements that have stood out to you?

LinkedIn has made more improvements in their advertising offering than probably any other single area. LinkedIn has gone from a place where you post your resume and surf for candidates to a complete advertising and marketing platform with a whole portfolio of ad options including: Sponsored Content, Text Ads, Sponsored InMail, Dynamic Ads, Lead Gen Form Ads, Video Ads, and Carousel Ads.

More recently, the announcement of a coordinated effort between LinkedIn, Adobe and Microsoft Bing data brings some very interesting customer targeting possibilities with ABM on LinkedIn.

8. Where do you see LinkedIn in five years?

In the short term, I think LinkedIn will be seamlessly integrated with Microsoft applications and probably other cloud platforms that we use on a daily basis. The recent partnership with Microsoft and Adobe Marketo is just the beginning.  

I also have a feeling that there will be a LinkedIn voice assistant and a substantial AI component that will make accessing what’s possible with data on LinkedIn a lot easier, whether it’s to set up an advertising campaign, optimize content to better target your accounts, or engage candidates for hire. Again, that will happen in less than five years too.

In the long term, I suspect there will be a LinkedIn (or more likely Microsoft) powered business operating system that companies can use to run most of their operations from in the cloud.

Unlock More LinkedIn Marketing Wisdom

Lee is among a stellar lineup of influential minds we recruited to help out with our full-on revamp of the Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn in honor of the guide’s five-year anniversary. You’ll find plenty more advice on producing organic content, layering in the right ad formats, taking advantage of new features, and more within its pages. Download your copy today and optimize your brand’s impact on LinkedIn.