For our first three years of running lead generation programs for B2B companies on LinkedIn (we started in 2011), I advised clients – and anyone else who asked – to think of company pages as a defensive play. Yes, you should have one because prospects will expect to see it; but they aren’t any good for lead generation.

We tested company pages, but they just didn’t deliver much in the way of clicks (traffic) or even shares and likes. This is probably because the company pages themselves don’t get much traffic unless you’re Hewlett Packard and can spend untold resources on collecting company page followers as a branding exercise. My theory, and I used it a lot, was that people come to LinkedIn to connect with other people, not with companies.

LinkedIn has long been saying that 80% of its members in fact want to connect with vendors and they are almost 50% more likely to buy from a company they engage with on LinkedIn; but I took this to mean they were connected to a vendor via someone who works there. I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm for spending much time on company pages. In fact, they are one of the few places on LinkedIn that I advocated auto-posting.

Then along came Oktopost with an eye-opening stat. After looking at over 100,000 posts via the Oktopost application, they found this to be true:

 

LinkedIn company pages account for 10% of leads generated from LinkedIn

while less than 1% of content is actually posted on company pages.

 

Whoa. That’s a heavy tilt toward active visitors – and a very good reason to pay more attention to LinkedIn company pages. I started visiting highly rated company pages expecting to find some breakthrough layout or call-to-action uses. Instead, I found content that is highly inwardly focused (some would say boring) — product releases, feature updates, corporate social responsibility updates, “look what our execs are doing” posts.

As someone who has seen content like this completely ignored by – and even irritate – prospects, I asked myself why this kind of information would drive convert-able traffic. And that’s where I had an aha moment. These are the topics that are interesting to recruits, investors, researchers, existing customers and – here it comes — potential new customers that are further along in the buying process.

My working theory now is that visitors to a company page are beyond their initial research and beginning to look at specific solutions and their providers. These are the people who actually want to see product information. It seems so obvious in hindsight, but my head was in the wrong place.

Maybe that huge number of companies that still don’t get the need for business-value content and who continue to try and ram product information down everyone’s throat have accidentally hit on the right place to post their content. I’m going to pay attention.

We’re going to be spending more time with our own company pages and those of our clients. Feel free to contact me if you want to know how it goes.