Jason Miller of LinkedIn.
Storytelling Innovator Series

Meet the Brand Innovator: Jason Miller of LinkedIn

Jason Miller, LinkedIn’s senior content marketing manager, started his marketing career with emerging rock bands at Sony Music Entertainment. Today, he runs global content marketing campaigns for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, one of the three businesses within the LinkedIn group. I spoke with Jason, our latest brand innovator, about the changing face of LinkedIn and his approach to content marketing.

Question: What was it about social media that drew you in early on in your career? How has your approach to social marketing changed since then?

Back when social media was just gaining traction, I became interested in it pretty quickly as a new marketing channel. There were only a few blogs that were covering social, and I pretty much dove in and figured out very quickly how to apply it to my industry. As marketers began to jump on board, many of them were focused on broadcast, not engagement. It’s a complete reversal from what successful social media marketers are doing now.

When I started at Marketo, a lot of traditional B2B marketers were saying that social didn’t work for B2B marketing. I saw an opportunity to prove them wrong and turn the B2B world upside down using technology and content to effectively fuel social media and drive revenue. Having always had an interest in up-leveling my social and content strategy, the eventual move to LinkedIn was the next logical step in my career.

Q: Tell me about your approach to tying social media to lead generation at Marketo.

If you are serious about social media marketing, then you are going to need three things to help you tie it back to revenue: technology, budget, and the right content.

I learned to think of campaigns differently while at Marketo—as in, don’t just run social media campaigns, but instead, make every campaign social. The idea is to not only run social campaigns specifically, but to take existing campaigns and add a social lift to them. Adding a social layer of promotion to these campaigns boosts engagement and empowers peer-to-peer amplification. It’s a very powerful combination.

Social media marketing is all about trial and error. I was fortunate enough to have a VP of marketing that understood that and gave me the opportunity to try new things. The agreement was that I must be able to tie these experiments back to a solid metric. The next step was to identify the most successful campaigns and then scale them. To this day, I continue to experiment with new tactics and try new things across channels. I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t after several years, but I think we are all still refining our approach as the technology and needs of our buyers change.

Q: What role does social media play in content marketing at LinkedIn? How much of what you create is based on insights from social?

It’s really a combination of two things: keyword research to identify big-picture topics and social listening for what our audience is talking about in the now. At LinkedIn, we use both to go after our one home run per quarter—we call it our “Big Rock Piece of Content.” That’s the major stake-in-the-ground strategic piece of content that answers the biggest questions our customers and prospects have. In between the “Big Rock” pieces, we do a tremendous amount of social listening to determine what topics to create content around and write about on our blog. We just introduced a new solution called Trending Content that helps businesses identify what types of content to create around relevant topics based on what their target audience is talking about on LinkedIn and which articles they are engaging with the most. It’s a very powerful tool for content marketers who are looking to create relevant, timely content that connects.

Q: What are some of your favorite content amplification channels? What social media networks does LinkedIn use to increase exposure?

We utilize several different channels, including, of course, LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions, in addition to email, Twitter, our blog, PPC, display ads, etc. When we create a new piece of content, we can become our own best practices case study and share our learnings and success with other content marketers. It’s a win-win situation. I mean, I’m a marketer, and I market to other marketers. The better I am at content marketing, the better our customers will be.

Q: LinkedIn is clearly moving toward a content marketing model. How has LinkedIn’s marketing message shifted with the growth and maturation of content creation?

We have observed that professionals act very differently on a professional social network; in addition, they consume content differently while on LinkedIn.

People spend time on other social networks, but they invest time in LinkedIn. In fact, content pages on LinkedIn receive seven times the views when compared to job activity. Our members are seeking professional content that inspires, educates, and ultimately helps them be great at what they do.

LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful. The maturation of content creation and adoption only validated the need for a professional publishing platform, and LinkedIn is evolving to fulfill that need.

Q: You’re on the road a lot, evangelizing content marketing. What’s the major pain point you come across? And what major message do you try to get across to marketers when it comes to content?

Major pain points that I see are where to start, what type of content to create, and who to target. The major message I try to get across is that you don’t need to do this alone. In 2014, if you are serious about content and social, then you are going to need to dedicate some sort of budget and headcount. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but you will need to focus. There are some fantastic agencies that can help with this process as well, but I highly recommend you lead this effort from within the company.

LinkedIn is helping to answer these questions and advance content relevancy for marketers with the introduction of the Content Marketing Score and Trending Content. These two solutions together can quantify your content marketing efforts on LinkedIn and provide recommendations on how to improve.

Q: Are you finding it difficult to change the perception of LinkedIn from a B2B-focused social site to a content hub?

LinkedIn as a platform has evolved in a big way over the last few years and continues to do so based on our members’ interest and need for content. There’s a story to be told about marketing on LinkedIn, and I don’t necessarily find it difficult because I think people want to know more about LinkedIn and how it can help them become more successful from a marketing standpoint as well as a personal branding and networking view. What I’m ultimately here to do is tell that story, and so far, the audience has been very receptive.

Q: What are the top three lessons you’ve learned in business that helped you become a brand innovator?

  1. Have something you’re passionate about: My passion will always be rock ‘n’ roll and heavy metal. There is almost always some element of KISS, Judas Priest, or Guns N’ Roses in my content. If you can take your personality and inject it into what you do and the message you share, you’ll be one step ahead in the content marketing game. Audiences can sense when a person is passionate about something, and I think it adds a certain credibility and trust.
  2. Don’t be an expert in only one thing: Don’t be a one-dimensional marketer—you’re easily disposable. You don’t have to be an expert in any one thing, but you do need to understand how marketing works across multiple disciplines, including social, content, PR, influencer marketing, demand gen., email, and coming soon, coding. I think coding is the next “must-have”skill for marketers.
  3. Relationships matter: Build your network and treasure it. I would not be here today without the relationships I formed with people who took a chance on me early on in my career. Without them, I would have not gotten out of a failing industry and into one that is thriving. Every single day, I take time out to connect, engage, and follow up with the folks who matter most to me both personally and professionally.

If you or someone you know would like to be highlighted in this Brand Innovator series, please send me an email.

Recommended for you