Microsoft purchasing LinkedIn has been bubbling under the surface for a while.
But the acquisition makes a lot of sense. 80 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are on Microsoft Cloud and Outlook has over 400 million active users.
Partnering with a B2B social network is a no-brainer for Microsoft, while the existing LinkedIn team gets the backing of one of the world’s largest companies.
LinkedIn is a phenomenon in its own right. The ‘Facebook for professionals’ has more than 433 million people using the service to meet with like-minded people in an online environment.
The acquisition is certain to see some tweaks to LinkedIn. We’ll deal with those as they come; right now professionals can be using LinkedIn to open up an enormous world of opportunity for their business.
Using LinkedIn to grow your business
LinkedIn’s rightly usually grouped amongst other social big-hitters like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram because of its professional leanings.
And, like those other networks, you can sign up for free right now and immediately begin to grow your network.
But, also like the other leading social networks, LinkedIn keeps its best features to one side for people willing to keep a bit of social budget to one side to invest in their paid outreach services.
That’s good, though. As we’ve underlined with Facebook, today’s social networks have evolved to create incredible targeted outreach options, and LinkedIn’s no different.
Only, users are spoiled for choice with those paid targeted social options and can boil search criteria down to an incredibly specific level. We’ve written before how we believe we’re in a silver age of social targeting; we’ve never had it better.
LinkedIn users can create sponsored posts that show up on the network or even go as deep as targeting specific people working in certain departments in Fortune 500 companies to try and open a dialogue with them.
Remember too, these people and businesses are on LinkedIn for a reason. To meet new people and explore new mutually beneficial business opportunities. Targeting the right campaign can open a whole world of exciting B2B opportunities.
Targeting professionals with LinkedIn
LinkedIn is fantastic at fulfilling a number of professional needs be it recruiting somebody new to your business, discovering freelancers and potential interns, connecting with others in your industry, proposing B2B opportunities, promoting your company and much more besides.
If you put some budget aside LinkedIn can be used to:
01: Generate leads
Like other social networks LinkedIn can be used to direct relevant, targeted traffic to optimised landing pages on your website to collect data and generate fresh leads. Sponsored banner ads can lead back to websites, while companies can also sponsor updates already posted to their pages.
LinkedIn is very helpful on the ad creation side and allows up to 15 ads to be created for testing purposes to help people decide which ad is the most effective. LinkedIn also has its own analytic software and can provide data on how ads are performing and where your budget is going.
02: Promote your company
Funnily enough, Microsoft is a company that does this extremely well on LinkedIn; arguably much better than the LinkedIn efforts of its major competitor, Apple. Businesses looking to attract new talent can create their own company page and promote products and services through showcase subpages.
Using custom images, producing unique and shareable content, calls to action, contact details and more are all key ways to boosting a page’s effectiveness. Content can be pushed through dedicated showcase pages, and sponsored targeting doubles their effectiveness as a landing page.
03: Engage with prospects
LinkedIn’s groups are arguably the network’s most powerful feature, allowing you to discuss topics with highly-active influencers in specific sectors, share content and more. Being part of a group also opens up your network and opens you up to more potential prospects relevant to your growth plans.
Where last week we mentioned about not letting your professional mask slip on Twitter, you have to be almost doubly professional on LinkedIn. You’re essentially putting yourself in the shop window and need to be consistent with your message.
Sponsored posts for B2B success
Growing your network is essential to success on LinkedIn and there are numerous ways to do it. Once it looks healthy, you can use LinkedIn Pulse as another way to reach out to people, posting blogs through its WYSIWYG editor to instantly reach out to them with creative content.
In March of this year LinkedIn also announced a new service called LinkedIn Account Targeting which allows brands to target up to 30,000 companies in one fell swoop. They’ve also recently updated their Sponsored InMail features, too; possibly with the foresight of the Microsoft deal with LinkedIn adding some polish before its completion.
Speaking of Sponsored InMail, LinkedIn features countless case studies of businesses that have grown using its paid-for ads. One we particularly enjoy is Duke University’s story, with their social team using the system to target people based on their seniority, geographical location and even the degree they had.
The results were impressive with campaign figures including a 68% Sponsored InMail open rate, a cost per lead rate of 10% less than other channels, and a 400% increase in conversions compared to their 2013 campaign.
Driving B2B leads for business growth
Again, as we’ve mentioned with other social networks, you’re effectively throwing your budget away if you haven’t taken the time to think about your message and deliver it in a creative way.
Like other social networks LinkedIn commands a lot of personal time and attention to grow your network, join the relevant groups, communicate with people, cultivate your profile, manage your business pages and keep a consistent tone of voice for serious business growth.
Those that have got it right, though, will extol the impact it has on short-term business growth and the almost-immediate B2B opportunities LinkedIn can present – if a campaign is executed in the right way.
To that end a lot of small businesses and SMEs prefer to hire a social media management company experienced with LinkedIn to grow their personal and professional through the network and target potentially lucrative prospects while they concentrate on the day-to-day running of their business.
If you’d like to know more about growing your business through LinkedIn marketing and other forms of paid social media advertising, contact the Webpresence team today and speak to our specialist social team.