LinkedIn – Who is it really for?
As an individual, LinkedIn is kind of the new job classifieds. You can browse jobs to apply to or post up your digital resume and hope a recruiter will notice you’re the perfect candidate for their open position.
Companies have known for a while that LinkedIn is a great place to build their brand reach with the general public, they can connect with and sell to other companies directly, 30 million companies are already on LinkedIn so this isn’t a small pond you’re jumping into.
If you haven’t intentionally moved into the LinkedIn space for your business, it’s time to start. Engagement on the platform has increased 50% year over year (Hootsuite). But what would you do once you got there?! Like all successful ad campaigns, you need to know what your goals are before setting off. Whether that’s increasing brand awareness, attracting possible employees, or directly connecting with other companies to sell your product or services, you’ll want to use a mix of both paid and non-paid tactics to get the most out of your LinkedIn strategy.
Paid LinkedIn Ads
Did you know a LinkedIn ad can reach 12% of the world’s population!? That’s so many people, but it really doesn’t matter how many see it, if none of them are the right people.
Digital marketing used to be a numbers game, the more you could reach, the more you might sell. But now that we can target advertising by user demographics (and more) while serving that user a customized message we’ve moved out of the shotgun approach to advertising. In our opinion, audience and ad quality will always win out over audience quantity.
You can use paid LinkedIn ads to target specific audiences with a message curated specifically for them.
LinkedIn currently has 4 ad format options:
- Message ads: these are the ones you get directly in your LinkedIn Inbox.
- Text Ads: which you can’t see on mobile devices, show up under the “ad you may be interested in” section and you’ll see them as text link ads near the top of your homepage
- Sponsored Content: these ads can be seen on all devices in your LinkedIn feed, as well as on the right-hand side of your homepage, but only on desktop devices
- Dynamic ads: only appear on the right-hand side when you’re on a desktop
You want to use LinkedIn ads to reach decision-makers directly, and you will have to pay for that access. Much like Google ads the costs of an ad on LinkedIn are set by the industry auction. More competition often means higher costs per click. So if you thought you could jump into LinkedIn ads to get cheaper clicks than Google, you’re not here for the right reasons.
When to use them and why
LinkedIn could be the holy grail of social media advertising for B2B companies. If you are selling B2C you should not be spending your advertising budget on LinkedIn. You’re much better off on Facebook or Instagram.
The power of LinkedIn advertising is your ability to create custom audiences based on a wide range of factors that will help make sure you’re showing ads to your ideal target audience such as:
- Location and basic demographics like gender, age
- Company aspects such as specific industries, company size, specific companies by name, or even a company’s growth rate year over year
- The school or university a person attended, their specific field of study or degree received
- An individual’s job title or function, their seniority and rank and the skills they’ve listed on their profile
- Member traits, interests, and groups. This is the coolest one as it’s based on machine learning from the user’s interactions online. Essentially the algorithm is making inferences about what you are interested in and like based on people you connect with and the content you’ve previously engaged with.
Pros and cons
The biggest difference between social media marketing (LinkedIn) and search engine marketing (Google) is that with social media, users aren’t looking for the thing you’re selling actively at that time.
So while you might be able to target your ideal audience, if they aren’t in need of what you’re selling, a simple brand ad is not likely to make them take action. It does, however, start to build brand awareness for your company, so that should that person become in need of X four months from now, you’ll be top of mind as a choice.
Knowing that you’re trying to sell to people who aren’t looking, your value proposition or call to action needs to be VERY compelling on LinkedIn. What can you entice them with, knowing they weren’t looking? Like how you were definitely NOT going to eat ice cream at the mall, but when you walked by and smelled their waffle cones, you couldn’t resist it any longer.
Find ways with your ads to waft that cone smell all over their LinkedIn page. Offer them a live demo, a well-researched white paper, a how-to guide, or a sales promotion to get them on your site and engaging with your brand, when they didn’t even know they were interested.
Non-paid LinkedIn Strategy
As a brand, you should be posting and sharing organic content on your company page at least once a week. This is where you’ll link your company blogs, podcasts, PR etc.
You should also use this page as an opportunity to share content that shows what your values are to potential employees and what kind of culture they might be joining if they apply. Did you do a company-wide volunteer day? Do you go all out for Pride month? This is the type of content that gives your brand personality and helps people know what you stand for.
But for B2B selling, where the power really comes from in an organic LinkedIn strategy is personal connection building.
Personal brand building by key team members
You’ve heard a dozen different versions of “people don’t follow companies, they follow people” the same is said of how people choose to do business when it comes to B2B. This is why (aside from your dedicated sales team) leaders in your company need to be active on LinkedIn.
CEOs, Brand Managers, Marketing Directors, and others need to be growing their connections list, amplifying your own brand content, as well as creating their own personal content. I’m not saying they need to start a podcast, just write a thoughtful post at least once a week.
Even more than creating original content, they need to be engaging with other people’s content, especially with other key individuals who work at companies you’re hoping to get business from. If you want to get Acme Corp to sign up for your reporting software, start by building a connection on LinkedIn.
This does not mean you ask their Marketing Director to connect and then send them a cold sales email! (Seriously, please stop doing this everyone.) I mean you should connect, and then comment on their posts, become visible by sharing content they might find valuable, and start a dialogue online, totally outside of the thing you want them to buy. Show them how you are an intelligent trusted person overall, and that reputation you’ve created will extend to the company you work for as well. When you start serving them paid ads about your product they are now much more likely to click and check it out, since they know and respect someone already at the company.
This is definitely a long game, so reserve this for team members who you know are invested in the company and likely to be around for years. Because if they leave, that connection and trust they’ve built will leave and move to their new company with them.
Dip your toe into LinkedIn Ads
Want to give those super targeted audiences a try, but don’t want to learn how to do it all yourself? Don’t! We’ll do all the market research, build the ads, and run the account for you. You will have to do the organic posting yourself though. Reach out to learn more about giving LinkedIn ads a try.