3 Best B2B Lead Magnets for SaaS Marketers

Learn how to generate more leads online with B2B lead magnets like ebooks, guides and white papers. In this post, Uplift Content covers 5 common elements your lead magnet needs to include, what content type you should choose and 5 mistakes to avoid to ensure your lead magnet generates leads.

Updated November 2023: If your company doesn’t have a lead magnet, you’re likely losing out on potential customers. Downloadable content that entices visitors to give you their email addresses makes the best B2B lead magnets—and as a marketer, you know that’s the golden ticket to nurturing relationships that convert to sales. That’s why 90% of people are willing to share their email addresses when presented with the right lead magnet. 

But, not all lead magnets are effective. No one wants another useless email in their inbox so your lead magnet should provide value and help your audience quickly achieve a goal. This will help establish your company as a reputable thought leader in your industry. 

In this blog post, you’ll find out the 3 best B2B lead magnets you should be creating for your target audience.

What is a B2B lead magnet?

A B2B lead magnet is a free, value-packed piece of content that your target audience is willing to “pay for” by giving you their email address. Lead magnets often take the form of content such as white papers, ebooks, cheat sheets, calculators, templates and more. 

The goal of a lead magnet is to incentivize visitors to engage with your brand and build trust, thereby increasing the likelihood of converting them into paying customers. Consider it a win-win situation: your audience gets something valuable and, in exchange, you can nurture those leads through email sequences.

The case for lead magnets is strong, which leaves only one question.

What do the best B2B lead magnets have in common?

The best B2B lead magnets provide real value for your potential buyers. To successfully capture email opt-ins, every lead magnet should do these 7 things:

7 objectives of successful lead magnets

1. Address a challenge

A great lead magnet solves a specific problem. First, you need to understand your prospect’s pain points and what keeps them up at night. This will allow you to pick a topic that resonates and encourages them to opt in. 

2. Deliver a win

Your B2B lead magnets should help your audience quickly accomplish a goal. When prospects achieve a quick “win,” they associate your brand with a company they can trust and buy from. 

3. Have a specific focus 

Keep your B2B lead magnet centered around a single topic. Ideally, the topic of your lead magnet needs to relate to the products and services you offer, but also answer questions or solve challenges that your target audience is likely to have.

4. Be instantly accessible

Your audience should be able to download your resource immediately, so instant gratification is guaranteed. Don’t make people wait to receive an email.

5. Be easily digestible

Your B2B lead magnet shouldn’t put anyone to sleep or overwhelm them. Keep the content engaging and get straight to the point, especially if it’s directed at an audience in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.

6. Have high perceived value 

Is the resource you’re offering worth the “cost” of your audience’s email address? If the information in the lead magnet is something you can find with a quick Google search, it’s probably not very enticing for visitors. The best lead magnets offer insider knowledge, expert insight, a faster way to accomplish a goal or a creative solution that relieves a large pain point.

7. Demonstrate your expertise 

When someone consumes your lead magnet, it should demonstrate your expertise and unique value proposition. For example, adding success stories can illustrate how your expertise has delivered results for others.  

How to determine the 3 best B2B lead magnets for YOUR audience

With dozens of lead magnet ideas out there, it can be hard to decide which format to create. The best B2B lead magnets range from ebooks and white papers to checklists and worksheets to courses and infographics. So, how do you know which to select?

We’ll say it again: you have to know your audience really well to choose the best B2B lead magnet for their needs.

You can take the guesswork out of creating a B2B lead magnet by using data to inform your decisions. Netline Corporation is a lead generation solution for B2B marketers. Its Audience Explorer tool allows you to search for data on the content consumption behavior of your target audience in real-time. 

At Uplift Content, our target audience is marketers in the software industry. A quick search shows the best B2B lead magnets for this particular audience:

Netline Audience Explorer shows the 3 best B2B lead magnets you should create

Source: Netline Audience Explorer

As you can see, ebooks are the clear winner for us when it comes to choosing the best B2B lead magnets, but they might not be for you. Try out the Audience Explorer tool for yourself to find out what content is most popular with your target audience.



13 of the best B2B lead magnets to experiment with

B2B lead magnets can take many forms. The type of lead magnet you choose should be a format that lends itself well to the kind of information you’re providing to your audience. It should also be a format that your audience prefers. Here are the 13 most common types of B2B lead magnets.

13 most common types of lead magnets

Ebooks

Ebooks are easily digestible pieces of content that delve into a specific topic, offering in-depth information, insights and solutions for readers. Check out Uplift’s ebook writing service.

White papers

White papers are authoritative documents that present research, analysis and solutions to complex issues. They’re typically used to establish expertise. Take a peek at Uplift’s white paper writing service.

Guides

Guides are informative documents that provide step-by-step instructions or advice on accomplishing a task, solving a problem or navigating a process.

Checklists

Checklists are concise lists of actionable items or steps necessary to achieve a particular goal.

Templates

Templates are pre-designed layouts or formats that users can customize to create documents, presentations or designs.

Calculators 

Calculators are online tools that allow users to perform specific calculations or estimations.

Courses

Courses are structured educational programs delivered online. They offer valuable knowledge and skills development.

Worksheets

Worksheets are interactive documents that guide users through exercises, planning or problem-solving. They facilitate practical learning and engagement.

Webinars

Webinars are live or recorded online seminars or presentations that offer valuable insights, training or discussions.

Free tools

Free tools are online or software-based resources that offer practical solutions or services at no cost.

Product trials and demos

Product trials and demos offer users a firsthand experience with a product or service. They allow users to explore features and benefits before making a purchasing decision.

Case studies

Case studies are descriptive stories about how a customer successfully used your product or service to solve a problem and benefit from results. Check out Uplift’s case sutdy writing service.

Swipe files

Swipe files are collections of proven marketing or design materials, such as copy, images or templates. People can use them to help create their own content or campaigns.



Fine-tune your B2B lead magnet strategy

If you’re in the B2B SaaS industry, you likely already have an inkling that ebooks, guides and white papers make the best B2B lead magnets because they offer actionable value to readers. They also give you an opportunity to promote your company’s products or services.

Perhaps you’ve created ebooks, guides and white papers in the past, but they didn’t generate the kind of leads you were hoping for.

Avoid these 5 mistakes when creating the best B2B lead magnets

5 mistakes to avoid with lead magnets

1. Weak promotional strategy

You can develop a beautiful B2B lead magnet packed with actionable insights, but it won’t be effective if you don’t promote it consistently. Create blog posts that funnel readers to your lead magnet with strong calls to action.

2. Boring cover

People are bombarded with information online, so if you want your B2B lead magnets to stand out, the title and cover design need to be compelling.

3. Missing “impact” message

Offering a free download isn’t enough. You need to tell your audience how your lead magnet will deliver value if you want them to share their email address in exchange for the content.

4. Labor-intensive opt-in form

You certainly don’t need the past 10 years of employment history from everyone who downloads your B2B lead magnet. Keep your opt-in form as simple as possible to generate more leads. See these opt-in page examples.

5. Misaligned topic

Before you create the best B2B lead magnet, take the time to understand your target audience’s pain points and desires so that you can produce something they’ll actually want to get their hands on.

Call in the reinforcements

Too busy to tackle lead magnets on your own? Check out Uplift Content’s ebook writing services and white paper writing services, which provide you with the strategic expertise needed to create compelling lead magnets that you can use across multiple marketing channels.

ChatGPT Tips, Opportunities and Risks

ChatGPT has proven to be a valuable tool for customer marketers, but it does carry some risks. Lauren Turner of Alyce offers tips on how to get started—and how to manage the limitations.

Interview with Lauren Turner from Alyce

Have you taken the ChatGPT plunge yet? The AI tool has barely been around for a year, and already it’s having a transformative effect on communications. In this post, we’ll touch on ChatGPT tips, opportunities and risks for customer marketers. Used well, it can save time, particularly time spent on writing, data analysis, strategy and research. But it also has critical limitations, which all users need to be aware of.

That’s why I was so interested to speak with Lauren Turner, Director of Customer Marketing with Alyce. Lauren is a tech-lover and an early adopter of ChatGPT—she uses it daily in her work life and is well acquainted with its benefits and challenges.

Read about Lauren’s experiences with ChatGPT and her top ChatGPT tips. She talks frankly about her efforts to learn how to use the tool and offers tips and encouragement for others ready to take the plunge. Lauren also gets real about the risks of ChatGPT, and what you can do to manage them.

Lauren Turner interview

Lauren Turner, Director of Customer Marketing, Alyce

Name: Lauren Turner
Job title: Director of Customer Marketing
Company: Alyce
Previous companies: Qlik, UserTesting
Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida, USA
Degrees: BA, Economics and Government; MBA, Marketing and Management


Fun facts about Lauren Turner:

🐼 Your favorite animal is: Dog
🎞️ Your all-time favorite movie is: Spaceballs
⛸️ Your top 3 hobbies: Improv comedy, word games and reading
🌍 Top 3 places you want to visit someday: Japan, Spain and Tanzania
✒️ Your favorite author/poet is: Brad Meltzer
🛫 Last place you’ve traveled to: Boston for CustomerX Con!

Tell us a little bit about your career journey. 

Lauren Turner: I was a product manager for several years in consumer electronics and pro audio. When the economy took a downturn in 2008, it became clear that product managers in my field also needed to be engineers. But I wasn’t an engineer; I did research by interviewing customers. I transitioned out of product management into product marketing. I’ve taken that thread of customer research and getting customer feedback into all of my roles.

I moved to a company that was rebranding as a massive end-to-end CX company. The company brought in Influitive to encourage employees to share blog posts and other assets to social media because there wasn’t budget for an agency. 

That was my first exposure to a platform that could be used for customer advocacy, and I found an opportunity down the line to build a community using Influitive. That was how I transitioned from product marketing into customer marketing.

One of the great things about customer marketing is that you’re essentially “promoting” people–their experiences and successes– rather than products. It’s an opportunity to combine elements of human behavior, research and relationship building, with the creativity of finding new ways to engage customers. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years or so.

I saw #improv on your LinkedIn profile. Does improv ever benefit you in your professional life? 

Lauren Turner: Yes! I have an undergrad degree, I have an MBA, and I went through ImprovBoston’s comedy school, and honestly, that’s the education that I rely on the most. I use improv every day. Life is unscripted. Improv works those muscles of being able to think on your feet, to react in real time, and listen actively.

I’ve learned to hyperfocus on what’s going on in a conversation, to really take in what a customer is saying, and to evaluate where to go from there, rather than going in with a clear script.

So much of what we do is iterative, and you can plan everything a million different ways, but you never know for sure what the outcome of any initiative is going to be. Improv can also help with not beating yourself up over everything and trying not to analyze everything to death.

What was your motivation for diving into the world of ChatGPT?

Lauren Turner: I have always been interested in technology. When ChapGPT came out, I immediately thought about the opportunity it offered and how cool it would be to be among the early adopters. It’s fun to play with—I usually spend an hour or so at night asking it questions, trying to see what else I can make it do.

If I were to provide any ChatGPT tips, it would be to experiment with it. For work, I use ChatGPT to help create content and analyze data. It’s fantastic for condensing the time it takes to complete a case study. I use it to create customer email campaigns, and it helps me segment customers. 

It’s also helpful in giving me CliffsNotes versions—for example, I could ask it to explain in simple terms what a company does, how it makes money, and the top 3 concerns that somebody in a specific role would have. That gives me a quick and dirty summary of what I need to know to quickly relate to my customer.

What opportunities does ChatGPT offer customer marketers?

Lauren Turner: ChatGPT is pretty much only limited by your imagination.

As an example, here are my ChatGPT tips for how I used it in building a community. First, I asked ChatGPT to pull together arguments and statistics about the ROI of having a community site. Because ChatGPT can occasionally hallucinate things, I clicked on all the links to verify that all sources were real and accurate. It spat out useful, relevant and recent statistics as well as studies that talked about the value of community, which I turned into a PowerPoint about the business case for why we should have a community.

I then used ChatGPT to help plan strategy and goals. I asked for examples of content and ways that I could better engage with X, Y, Z. I provided themes and I prompted ChatGPT to use those themes to craft invitations to the people I want to invite to the community and to explain the value proposition.

ChatGPT has also been helpful for demand gen. I taught ChatGPT how to scrape a website. I could go to a conference website and, with a series of prompts, cut and paste the list of speakers, have ChatGPT filter out all the information that I don’t need, and format that into a spreadsheet. Otherwise, I would be cutting, pasting, cutting and pasting with my mouse. It would take a huge amount of time. This way it got it all done in maybe two minutes.

What are some of the dangers and limitations of ChatGPT in customer marketing? 

1. Privacy and data security

Be aware of proprietary data. If you’re going to be using real numbers, you need to make sure that your company is OK with that. An important ChatGPT tip to remember is that any text or data you enter becomes publicly available. You don’t know who might be able to see that data if it’s getting stored and being spit back out. 

So, for example, before I upload any proprietary data (like a transcript of a customer interview) into ChatGPT, I do a search and replace–changing the name of the company to ACME and the name of the person to John Doe. I add the correct names back into a Word document after ChatGPT is done doing its thing.

2. Accuracy

Be careful not to take what ChatGPT gives you verbatim. If you have a thorough prompt, ChatGPT will probably get you 75 to 80% of the way to a finished document. You still need to edit it. You still need to fact-check URLs and statistics because sometimes it makes stuff up. You need to supervise–think of it like a really smart intern! You can get great ideas and output, but it’s critical you provide the right context, guardrails and oversight.

And you need to iterate. To put in a prompt and take what ChatGPT spits out verbatim? That’s how you get yourself in a heap of trouble.

3. Human connection

You still need to think about what you want to say to customers. You still want to have human conversations and find interesting ways to connect. Maybe, with the time you’re saving by using ChatGPT to help generate customer-facing content, you can schedule another 2 Zoom calls with customers that week and build upon that relationship. Or maybe it gives you more time to help with another project that needs an extra pair of hands.

What ChatGPT tips and advice do you have for a customer marketer just getting started with the tool?

Lauren Turner: Here are my ChatGPT tips. It’s like any other skill: the more you do it, the better you get. No one comes to ChatGPT out of the gate with the perfect prompts that are going to give perfect output. It hasn’t even been around a year yet. We’re all new at this.

Learning what you can do with ChatGPT can be fun. Get in there and try it. Start with a prompt. If it doesn’t give you what you want, then tweak the prompt. Always be as detailed as possible—the more detail you give, the more thorough and on-the-mark the output is going to be. If you’re putting together a prompt for an outbound communication, explain what it is you want, who your audience is and what you’re trying to say. And maybe give it a couple of bullet points:

  • What format do you want?
  • How long should the response be?
  • What tone are you looking for?
  • Do you have a theme?

If you want to use puns, say something like: ‘Use as many dental puns as possible because you’re speaking to an audience of dentists.’ And you can ask for suggestions like: ’Give me 10 name suggestions for a customer-facing community of people who will be doing X activity.’ That’s how I got the Alyce Gifting Gurus as the name for our customer community.

You can also ask ChatGPT if anything is unclear as part of your prompt. You have to be creative in what you’re asking it to give you to get creative in the output that it gives you.

What do you say to people who feel like they don’t have time to experiment with ChatGPT? 

Lauren Turner: Ultimately the amount of time you save being able to get good prompts and good output is going to be so much more than the time that you invest in learning the basics. There are LinkedIn courses you can follow, and YouTube videos about it. 

But the best way to learn is by doing. Just jump in and ask for something simple and low-stakes. Maybe you ask it to recreate a campaign you’ve already done and just see what the difference is between what you came up with and what it came up with.

Several times I’ve given it an older campaign and I’ve outlined what I like about it, and what I don’t, and I ask it to rewrite it in a particular way. See what it does with what you already have, rather than creating something from scratch. That gives you something that you can compare against. 

Thanks for spending time with us!

Thanks to Lauren for her insights and ChatGPT tips—and thank you, reader, for spending part of your day with us. I hope you enjoyed my interview with Lauren as much as I did. 

Here’s how you can connect with Lauren:

Want to read more about customer marketing?

Check out these related Uplift blog posts: 

P.S. Want more customer marketing insights?

If you’d like access to more customer marketing insights like this, sign up for our newsletter to catch all of our interviews with customer marketing leaders. 

No spam, we promise—just two value-packed newsletters about customer marketing and case studies every second Monday. 

Plus, if you’re also interested in content marketing, you can opt-in to receive two more monthly newsletters on alternating Mondays where we chat with leading content marketers.

And just in case you missed it, check out our 2024 Customer Story Trends & Insights Report, where we surveyed 115 customer marketers to gather their insights and experiences with customer stories.

Here’s a preview:

Content Marketing Writer: How to Find One

If you’re buried in demands for content, it’s time to find an external content marketing writer who can help you with these important, yet time consuming, projects. In this video, we’ll walk through how to find a writer who can help you save time and deliver quality content.

Updated November 2023: Working with an external content marketing writer can save you time (and your sanity), especially when you’re overloaded with projects and demands. And it’s a common solution, with the Content Marketing Institute finding that 47% of B2B content marketers plan to hire or contract their work to a content producer, such as an external content writer. 

In this video, learn how to find a content marketing writer who will be a great fit for your team. Then get answers to the following questions:

This is the third post in a 7-part series on how to find your next B2B SaaS writer and work with them successfully.

Want to hire an agency?

Check out our list of 11 top content marketing agencies for tech companies in 2023.

What is a content marketing writer?

A content marketing writer is a professional and experienced writer who produces engaging and relevant content to help brands showcase their products. To accomplish this, a content writer needs to conduct research to understand the target audience for the content, and also figure out a unique angle for each piece of content, ensuring it’s on-brand and aligns with marketing messages. 

Content can come in many forms, including: 

  • Blog posts 
  • White papers 
  • Email marketing 
  • Web pages 
  • Guides 
  • eBooks 
  • Social media posts

Why hire a content marketing writer?

Hiring a professional content marketing writer lets you make a positive first impression on potential customers and helps you get noticed online. 

Bad content that misleads readers or doesn’t match the intended user’s search intent increases your bounce rate and hurts SEO. 

A content writer will produce highly engaging content that helps you attract more visitors, keep them on your site and ultimately get more clients. 

What skills should a content marketing writer have?

You shouldn’t just hire any writer. The best content marketing writers are skilled at producing valuable content that generates leads and sales. 

Here are the skills and characteristics to look for when hiring a content writer for your company:

Skills and characteristics of a good content marketing writer

1. Writing skills

A great content marketing writer should have a good command of language and must be able to convey complex ideas using simple words. They should be able to write clearly and concisely to best communicate with their audience. 

Besides foundational writing skills, content writers need to be able to write engaging headlines and compelling calls to action that inspire readers to take action.

2. Experience

B2B content writing is a specialized skill that differs from other forms of writing. Unlike traditional writing, B2B content must be clear, solution-based and speak to a professional audience with a higher degree of business acumen. 

When vetting content marketing writers, check their work history to ensure they have industry-specific experience, as writers should have some background knowledge of your niche. 

3. Understanding of your brand and audience

Successful content takes an audience-centric approach. It’s important that your content marketing writer understands the pain points of your target audience so that they can produce content that resonates with them. That allows writers to create compelling content that offers solutions to alleviate those issues. 

Also, your content is a reflection of your brand. Your content writer must be able to write in your brand’s tone and style, which helps maintain consistency across all marketing communications. 

4. Technical knowledge

If your brand focuses on highly technical topics, you should look for a writer with subject matter expertise. Their technical knowledge, combined with writing skills, will allow them to write content from an authoritative position. 

This comes in handy, especially when writing specialized content formats like white papers and ebooks. For B2B SaaS companies, a content marketing writer should clearly understand your product. Ultimately, they should be able to turn complex technical concepts into digestible content that resonates with readers. 

5. SEO knowledge

It doesn’t matter if you’ve produced the best piece of content in the world if nobody reads it. A content marketing writer can write content that is optimized for the search engines so that your page climbs the ladder of Google rankings. They must have a strong understanding of SEO principles to ensure the content outranks competitors and generates organic traffic. 

How to find a content marketing writer (transcript from the video)

Hi SaaS marketers! Emily Amos here from Uplift Content.

Finding an external B2B content marketing writer doesn’t have to be a chore. In this video, we’ll walk through a few of the key places to start your search.

how to find a content marketing writer

#1: Word of mouth

The benefit of looking for a B2B marketing writer through word of mouth is that it’s personal. You can ask current and former colleagues for referrals, as well as any of your professional networking groups. They’ll likely give you an honest, reliable recommendation, and you can find out about their experience with the writer.

The drawback here? Well, it’s personal. If your experience with the B2B content marketing writer isn’t as positive as your colleague’s was, you may not want to ask for their recommendation a second time.

#2: LinkedIn

You may be able to find a B2B content marketing writer through LinkedIn by simply posting that you’re looking for one. You can join groups for freelance writers and marketers—and share your requirements there. LinkedIn also allows you to find out more about a writer’s experience by viewing their profile.

The disadvantage of LinkedIn is that not all of its features are free to use, so unless you pay for a premium membership, you’ll miss out on detailed profile insights, and the ability to send In-Mails to other LinkedIn members who aren’t in your network.

#3: Facebook or Slack groups for writers

If you want to find the best content marketing writers, you’ll want to spend time where they hang out online. Lots of writers belong to copywriting and digital marketing groups to get support from each other, ask questions and look for projects to take on. 

It’s a good idea to network with freelancers even if you’re not ready to hire. That way, you’ll have multiple people in your back pocket should a new project arise. 

The downside is that you may receive a lot of inexperienced applicants applying for the job, so be very careful in your job posting about the kind of writer and experience you’re looking for. 

Here are some Facebook groups to check out:

And here are some Slack groups to explore:

#4: Google search

One of the simplest ways to find a content marketing writer is through a quick Google search. The writers you’ll want to work with know their way around SEO and the mystical Google algorithm. As such, they should be showing up on the first couple of pages of the search results.

Think about it: if a content writer appears among your top search results, you can bet they know how to get themselves found. That means they’ll know how to help you get found, too.

#5: Freelance writing platforms

There are lots of places online to post job opportunities or to search for a content marketing writer who’s accepting new work. A few examples include

One upside to looking for a content writer this way is that many of the platforms are free or low-cost, and some offer multiple pricing options. Using these websites also allows you to find writers who may not be on LinkedIn. 

The downside here? Some of these websites have pricey subscription fees, such as Contently. On other sites, like Indeed, where anyone can apply for your job posting, the quality of the applicants may be lower than what you’re looking for.

These websites also don’t give you the benefit of a trustworthy personal recommendation. Be sure to ask any writers that you connect with for writing samples. Also interview them and call a few of their references.

Find out what questions to ask in the interview

Hiring the best in-house writer or freelancer comes down to a successful interview. Find out EXACTLY which questions you need to ask.


Our B2B content marketing writers have you covered

If you need a hand with your SaaS content, check out our experienced B2B content marketing writers.

Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn—Here’s How

LinkedIn is no longer just a digital resume repository—it’s a vibrant social networking site for professionals and an ideal place to build your personal brand. Meredith Metsker of uConnect offers insight into the biggest challenges to personal brand-building, and 5 steps to help you get it right.

Interview with Meredith Metsker of UConnect

In our conversation, Senior Content Marketing Manager at uConnect, Meredith Metsker discusses her foray into personal brand-building and why she thinks you should build your personal brand on LinkedIn.

She also offers her thoughts on how to overcome the 3 biggest challenges of building a personal brand—and details 5 steps for those looking to get started.

Meredith Metsker interview

Meredith Metsker, Senior Content Marketing Manager, uConnect tells us how to build your personal brand on LinkedIn

Name: Meredith Metsker
Job title: Senior Content Marketing Manager
Company: uConnect
Hometown: Berthoud, Colorado, USA
Degree: BA, Journalism

Fun facts about Meredith Metsker:

💖 The person you most admire is: My younger brother (he’s a smokejumper with the Forest Service)
🥙 Food you’re craving right now: Ice cream, always!
📺 The show you’re binging right now: My annual Fall rewatch of Gilmore Girls 😅
🎵 Your favorite musician/band is: On opposite ends of the spectrum, Machine Gun Kelly and Brandi Carlile
🎁 Your most treasured possession is: My bookcase full of books
📚 My late grandma had a room full of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves full of books, and someday I want a room just like hers 😊

Tell us about how your life’s journey has led you to your role at uConnect.

Meredith Metsker: I started my career as a journalist. But after a couple of years as a reporter at a daily newspaper, I was feeling really burnt out. I knew I couldn’t do it for the rest of my life; I needed to do something else where I could still tell stories, still do interviews, still read and write. 

Marketing was a natural fit—and it was the perfect transition. I still use all of my journalism skills to this day. 

Since I’ve been in the marketing field, I have worked at a university, a labor data analytics company and an international tech startup. And now I work for a small ed tech company based in Boston. I thrive when I can create different types of content and use those journalism skills to tell great stories.

You started to build your personal brand on LinkedIn about 4 years ago. What was your motivation?

Meredith Metsker: I saw other people having success on the platform—I was lurking on LinkedIn at first, like a lot of people do. I saw other marketers posting on LinkedIn like it was Facebook for business. I didn’t realize that you could post pictures and videos or just text only—it’s a true social networking platform. I was used to it just being a digital resume, which it was for a long time.

That got the gears turning. My boss didn’t really think that LinkedIn was the place for us to be; he didn’t see the potential ROI. But I thought it was that we could be reaching our customers directly on LinkedIn where they were already hanging out. 

I started to build a personal brand on LinkedIn almost as a way to prove him wrong. I started building relationships and networking with our customers, and they started engaging with my posts.

And soon, my posts were where our customers were getting information for our company. Then other people in the company started asking me for advice about how to get started on LinkedIn—or started getting more active on LinkedIn themselves. 

Also, I’ve lived in small towns my entire adult life. I knew that if I wanted to advance my career, I needed to make my world bigger. LinkedIn has allowed me to network and learn from millions of other professionals all over the world. If I had just stuck with in-person networking, I’d be limited.

Why did you build your personal brand on LinkedIn instead of another platform?

Meredith Metsker: Initially, it was because I saw a lot of thought leaders in marketing and sales using LinkedIn effectively and thinking, okay, I want to learn from these folks.

A lot of my early posts and styling was based on what I saw marketer Dave Gerhardt doing; he used to do walk-and-talk videos a couple of times a week. I realized you can be casual and personable on this platform too. You don’t have to be super laced-up, formal and professional all the time.

Customers at the companies I was working for were also active on the platform. It made sense for me to learn this platform a little better so I could reach those customers better. 

Also, I saw value in trying to build a personal brand on LinkedIn, that same platform where my professional profile/resume/portfolio lives, so people could get to know me as a person and a professional, and then also go to my profile. 

They can see my work experience, they can see work samples, they can learn about my skills and they can see recommendations I’ve gotten from other people. There’s a lot of value in all of that being in one spot. I didn’t want to build a professional brand on Twitter or Instagram and then make people go back to LinkedIn to see my profile. 

Should you build your personal brand on LinkedIn, even if you don’t anticipate moving up the ladder or changing jobs?

Meredith Metsker: Yes. If you are interested in growing at all as a person or a professional, you should build your personal brand on LinkedIn. You never know. You might get laid off, especially if you’re working in tech. If you get laid off, if you get fired, or maybe there’s turnover at your company and all of a sudden it’s not a great place to work anymore and you want to leave, building your brand on LinkedIn gives you options. 

Because of the personal brand that I’ve built on LinkedIn, I am confident that if I were to get laid off or (hopefully not!) fired, I think I’d be fine. I think I’ve done enough work that I could find another job or go freelance full-time because I’ve built a lot of connections through LinkedIn. I have a big enough network that I think people would put in a good word. 

It’s thinking ahead, it’s giving yourself a little bit of a buffer, almost recession-proofing yourself because you never know what’s going to happen. 

What are 3 of the top challenges when you build a personal brand on LinkedIn?

1. People think they have nothing to contribute to the conversation

That’s wrong. You have a voice. It’s important and it matters. Everyone’s voice contributes something valuable to the conversation. It’s just a matter of having confidence and being willing to try. I know it takes courage and it’s hard, but you’ll figure out what resonates and there will be posts that fall flat. It happens to the best of us. 

2. People don’t know what to post 

I usually tell folks to post about a project they’re working on at work. Maybe it’s a lesson you’ve learned, maybe it’s a big win you just had or possibly an epic fail. Maybe it’s your favorite business book or podcast. And takeaways from each of those things. 

3. People don’t know which platform to build a brand on 

The answer depends on your goals. For example, maybe if you are an artist or in real estate or anything that’s highly visual, Instagram might be the platform for you. I think it’s a matter of figuring out where your target audience lives, and which platform makes sense for your content.

What are the steps to take to build your personal brand on LinkedIn?

1. Choose a platform that fits your goals 

For me, the platform that fits my goals is LinkedIn. I knew I wanted a professional social networking site that was also tied to my professional profile, resume and portfolio.

2. Decide which topics or niches you want to talk about 

This depends on your goals. I talk a lot about marketing. I’ll talk about the journalism-to-marketing transition. I talk about podcasting because that’s something I do in my job. I talk about a lot of different things just because I don’t really need to niche down just yet.

If I ever did want to freelance full-time, my strategy would change dramatically. I would start posting in a way that shows that I have subject matter expertise in certain topics. 

3. Post regularly

This will depend on your capacity. Some people will post every day. I usually post two to three times a week. Just try to be consistent and make it a habit. 

4. Focus on adding value

That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a little goofy or a little silly sometimes—that can be valuable as well. But, in general, I think we want to avoid being the LinkedIn bros with their single-line posts. It’s high-level fluffy. And that doesn’t add a ton of value. 

Whatever you post should showcase what you’re doing or your research or maybe teach something.

5. Engage with other people’s posts and leave thoughtful comments

This is especially important if you are having trouble writing your own posts. Commenting and engaging with other people’s posts can be a great way to be active on the platform, get your brand out there and maybe jog some ideas for your own posts.

Is there a distinction between personal posts and those made for a company?

Meredith Metsker: Yes. A company does not own your personal brand. They certainly can benefit from it, but they don’t own it. I feel like it’s okay to ask your team to like a company post and maybe comment on it if they want, but I don’t feel comfortable requiring someone to post about company-related items on their personal page—unless they want to.

I share company-related things on my personal page because a lot of the content work I do is for my company, and I want to show off what I’ve been doing. A lot of our uConnect target audience is on LinkedIn, and I know I can start building some personal relationships with them by sharing things I’m doing on LinkedIn.

Thanks for spending time with us!

Thanks to Meredith for taking us into the nuts and bolts of how to build your personal brand on LinkedIn—and thank you, reader, for spending part of your day with us. I hope you found my interview with Meredith as insightful as I did. 

I’d encourage you to connect with Meredith on LinkedIn.

Want to read more about personal brands and LinkedIn?

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