Using LinkedIn

Social media network LinkedIn celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and has launched sponsored updates, a new content marketing strategy for brands who wish to target members. So what could the LinkedIn scorecard look like where is the value and potential?

Ten years after the launch of LinkedIn, how has professional social networking evolved?

LinkedIn has revolutionised the way professionals network. The brand has 238 million members worldwide – and it allows them to differentiate themselves from the competition and establish a professional identity online. It has become a personal search engine optimisation tool and it is now really important that a LinkedIn profile is up-to-date. Before meeting new people at a business meeting or an interview, professionals Google their LinkedIn profiles. This means that rather than updating a CV every couple of years or so, people need to manage their LinkedIn profile in real time. From a revenue and monetisation standpoint, its emergence has disrupted the human resources and recruitment industries, as well as the way brands engage with consumers in the social space and specifically within a professional context. It has disrupted the way people sell to customers too.

What is the strategy behind the recent launch of sponsored updates?

This is a content marketing product that enables marketers to put relevant content about their brand within the news feed of our members. We conducted research with market research firm TNS to better understand the mindset of people on the LinkedIn platform when compared to a personal social network. One of the main findings is that members on a professional social networking platform expect to hear from brands 26 per cent more than when they are on other social networks. Sponsored updates allow members to opt-in to receive information from, for example, the Microsoft company page in the form of status updates, and the brand will put relevant content in that member’s news feed. The brand can also message people who are following that member as well. This allows brands to put advertising on a news feed via mobile and tablet devices as well as a desktop. Traditionally, when brands advertise on LinkedIn, it would be done on a desktop but now advertising can appear on three platforms simultaneously.

How does it work?

The content can range from a text-based status update to a video of an infographic, blog or a white paper. It enables brands to really think about what is relevant for their target audience – the most engaging products are associated with the brand but not necessarily promoting a specific product. If brands can deliver added value in a member’s newsfeed, it helps members to become more productive and successful. We have got great case studies so far from brands such as Hubstar and Adobe. Following exposure to Adobe’s sponsored updates, members were 50 per cent more likely to agree that the company is shaping the future of digital marketing and 79 per cent more likely to agree that Adobe can help optimise media spend. With Hubspot, the targeted nature of the updates ensured that the LinkedIn campaign generated 400 per cent more leads for the brand when compared to other platforms among the target audience. The engagement rates have so far surpassed our expectations particularly on mobile sites.

How has LinkedIn developed its business model?

As a business we have three revenue streams. Our talent solutions business helps brands to pinpoint the perfect person to join the company. Secondly, we have a subscriptions business where brands can take out a premium subscription. The third area is marketing solutions, which is an advertising business. This is split into three units. The first offering is a media standard display that is highly targeted at specific businesses – it is the largest, richest and cleanest data set of professionals anywhere in the globe. The second unit focuses on social engagement in LinkedIn groups. We have a million and half groups on LinkedIn today. It is good for a brand to have an ongoing relationship with a very specific group in its target audience. Statoil is a great example – its goal is to be seen as a thought leader on the future of energy. In order to stream over 30,000 people into a group, Statoil invests with LinkedIn on display advertising. A display advert is placed in front of its target audience, which allows members to click and accept, join the group and participate in the competition. The third offering focuses on API’s – this allows organisations to leverage LinkedIn’s data set to make a third party app or to enrich its website.

You have lowered the minimum age for LinkedIn members in the UK. Why so young?

We looked at the local laws and regulations that apply in each market and made our decisions based on those. We believe that by doing this, we can provide teenagers with a more informed choice about university education. LinkedIn can add tremendous value to young people who are starting to think what their next steps should be when planning for university. If they know or have an idea of what type of profession they want to go into, they can research data online. This allows them to look at university pages to see the types of jobs the alumni ended up doing. In this way, they can get a more informed offer about their future university education.

How can marketers use LinkedIn more effectively?

Sir Martin Sorrell, one of the world’s most famous marketers, has joined our Influencer Programme – a set of 250 thought leaders around the globe who recognise the value of LinkedIn and are using the platform to communicate with professionals as well as their teams. Brand marketers realise that in an increasingly competitive age, they need to gain cut-through in a market. They can do that by advertising their own personal brand as well as their own company. If you have a profile already, ensure that it is 100 per cent complete. Ensure that you are posting relevant content about achievements. And – if you want to comment on the marketing industry or specific trends that are taking place again, then LinkedIn is a great platform to do that