“As a private equity professional, how do I use LinkedIn?”
Is this 2023’s most frequently asked question by our private equity clients? It might be. Everyone in investment management has a gnawing sense that LinkedIn is going to be very important very soon (or maybe it is already?), but almost nobody seems to know what it means for them or their firm or what they ought to do about it.
The answer to the question is a vaguely unsatisfying “it depends” – but let’s look at the factors that get us to a better prescription:
What objectives might you achieve by stronger social presence?
- Staying top-of-mind with institutional LPs and educating them regarding your firm’s differentiators, activity, and value proposition
- Making impressions with investment bankers, sellers, and management teams who do not yet know your firm
- Growing your firm’s or your personal following to amplify reach of announcements and accomplishments
- Reaching high net worth or retail investors and making them aware of your fund product
- Positively influencing your firm’s brand perception in the minds of the above transaction partners who do know you
- Simply achieving best practices for your firm’s communication program
What is your firm doing today with LinkedIn? Is the company page set up properly?
Who are the key external-facing voices of the firm and is this a programmatic effort to help several or all to develop LinkedIn brand reach?
How will a proactive social media effort integrate with investor relations, media relations, business development, and other marketing efforts?
Answers to the above will inform how we might approach and tailor a program specifically for you and/or your firm with careful consideration of your audience hierarchy and business growth objectives. Two firms of similar profile might require completely different approaches based upon what they ultimately seek to leverage LinkedIn toward.
Proactive LinkedIn usage is, ultimately, a form of content marketing. The crux of a successful program is the ability to create authentic, literate, industry-appropriate content in a repeatable and sustainable process. An unspecialized social media marketing vendor might struggle to understand how to message to your constituent audiences and to craft video, copy, and longform posts that capture your firm’s USPs and navigate legal and compliance.
Okay. So what is “Content Marketing”?
Simon Kingsnorth’s Digital Marketing Strategy offers that content as defined in digital marketing “is very broad…[and] can take many forms…content is anything that can help engage the end users of your product or service.” Importantly, he also states that:
Great content needs to be all of the following:
- Useful or fun
- On brand and authentic.
So, once you’ve established topics on which you and/or your firm are qualified to opine, the only challenge is consistently creating content that hits the above criteria on a regular basis and following best practices for publishing on LinkedIn, other social media, your website, and perhaps reversioning for email marketing. Easy, right?
We can readily see here why more private equity firms, particularly in the middle market, are not doing any sort of content marketing. This stuff is hard, and firms lack the internal resources to execute on about seven different parts of the process.
And yet you might see people you know on LinkedIn who have somehow cracked the nut and are posting regularly and generating engagement, or peer firms who somehow post timely blog-style content or videos on their website with regularity. And you’ve certainly noticed that the largest managers such as Blackstone, KKR, EQT, and others are publication machines, generating massive amounts of content across mediums.
We aren’t Blackstone. What can we do?
Content marketing is a discipline like any other. You can’t build it overnight, and if you want to have a robust platform, you must start somewhere. As the Chinese proverb says, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Darien Group’s content marketing offering is highly customized, typically involving some combination of written blog-style content, video production, LinkedIn marketing program, search engine optimization, and email marketing. We use the same capabilities that we bring to bear on brand and website development and investor presentation amelioration to create industry-literate and -relevant programs that actually work for our clients.