Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 | 10 min read
Let’s be honest: The coolest TV show on the Discovery Channel is, without question, Myth Busters. The hosts blow stuff up and delight viewers with crass honesty and a love of breaking things, all in order to disprove myths and superstitions. What we’re going to talk about today, though, are some myths that hosts Adam and Jamie can’t help us with.
LinkedIn is somewhat of a jack of all trades. It’s a job search portal, a professional networking tool, and a place to publish thought leadership. Perhaps because the company has innovated so quickly over the past few years, people are a little confused about how to best utilize its advertising options.
LinkedIn ads have a reputation for being one of the more expensive options out there. At a quick glance, it would seem that reputation is justified.
But take a closer look at the different ad models, and you’ll realize that the discrepancies in pricing aren’t all that drastic.
While Facebook’s minimum bid is set at $.01, you are encouraged to bid higher. In fact, if you bid only the minimum, “in most cases, this bid will not be high enough for your ad to be shown,” the network advises.
Twitter has similar recommendations. For a campaign to generate clicks, for example, the network suggests bidding between $1.68 to $10.00.
It’s also important to remember that pure cost is not always, or often (or ever) the right metric. ROI, or return on investment, can be a better comparison. This is where the “sweet spot” nature of the LinkedIn audience—stable, mature, solvent—may make a big difference for certain advertisers.
In the end, the cost of an ad (on any network) will depend on the type of action you’re trying to accomplish and the demand for your audience. If other advertisers want to target the same people at the same time, you’ll have to pay extra to stand out from the crowd—much like you would have to pay extra for a spot during the Super Bowl.
A superficial glance at the minimum bid for LinkedIn can be misleading, especially if you look at typical actual costs across all major networks. Moreover, when the audience is as valuable as the LinkedIn audience is, the return on investment at any level can be substantial.
LinkedIn, with its community of high-achieving, high-earning professionals, is a B2B marketer’s dream.
According to a recent Content Marketing Institute study, LinkedIn outperforms all other social networks in terms of achieving B2B business goals. More than 60% of B2B marketers rated the network as either effective or very effective, compared to 55% for Twitter and 32% for Facebook. A recent poll by Regalix echoed those findings: LinkedIn was rated as the most effective social channel for engaging customers during both the pre-sales and post-sales stages.
But it’s not just B2B companies that can benefit from LinkedIn’s advertising options. Consumer brands can’t forget that LinkedIn’s professional audience is also an audience of consumers—“prosumers,” if you will. In fact, LinkedIn’s average consumer has more buying power than the average consumer on any of the other social networks.
And B2C companies are starting to take advantage of this social network. Last year, 71% of consumer marketers in North America used LinkedIn to advertise their content. Additionally, the best-performing LinkedIn Sponsored Updates of 2014 included a slew of B2C companies, including L’Oreal, P&G, Luxottica, and Secret.
When Levi’s CEO, Chip Bergh, published an article on LinkedIn about people washing their jeans too much, it got a lot of attention. He titled it The Dirty Jeans Manifesto, and it highlighted Levi’s’ ability to withstand the rigors of life without requiring extensive washing, as well as the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
The attention that the article garnered convinced the higher ups at Levi’s to use LinkedIn for more than finding new employees. They launched a full-fledged content marketing campaign, with thought leadership contributions from their executives. Rather than pushing sales, they talked about how they run their business; they also used LinkedIn Sponsored Updates to reach people who weren’t following Levi’s on LinkedIn.
While the audience of prosumers is a powerful resource for consumer brands, marketing campaigns with LinkedIn require more finesse than the other social platforms because people go to LinkedIn for a very specific reason: professional development. Brands should be purposeful in their campaigning and make sure they’re providing customers with professionally focused material.
Imagine a typical LinkedIn user. Who comes to mind? A suited professional seated in a cubicle, typing away on their computer? If this is true, and LinkedIn’s audience is largely desktop based, mobile advertising on LinkedIn isn’t worth your time, right? If that’s what you think, you’re not alone—but I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.
LinkedIn’s mobile experience is actually pretty rich. On November 9th they updated their mobile app, and it’s been enhanced to give mobile users an even more complete experience.
LinkedIn’s audience has also stepped away from simply using the platform at work. In fact, customers are 60% more likely to browse professional content from the comfort of their home, where they’re likely using laptops, tablets, or mobile.
So, you don’t have to worry about prioritizing desktop advertising just for LinkedIn. Their community, like the other social platforms, is largely mobile, and they’re making the appropriate accommodations. Your mobile advertising strategy can remain seamless across all social platforms, including LinkedIn.
While 400 million users may not seem like a lot compared to some of the other social platforms, LinkedIn’s global growth won’t stop anytime soon. Strategic company acquisitions and new features have helped the platform become a full-service destination for professional development. Naturally, the LinkedIn audience has grown to include people not only interested in networking, but also in consuming thought leadership, writing thought leadership, and taking online classes.
LinkedIn now attracts a wider spectrum of career-oriented people than ever before, but what is the implication for advertising?
It’s true that LinkedIn took a bit longer than the other channels to launch their own paid advertising initiatives (a whole five years post launch), but they seem to have adopted the familiar saying: if you’re going to do something, do it well. LinkedIn’s rich selection of advertising options come with robust targeting capabilities. Advertisers can specify which LinkedIn members view their ads by selecting a target audience based on characteristics like job title, job function, industry, geography, company size, company name, interest group, and more.
Moreover, the platform’s four different types of ads cater to a variety of advertising needs. Sponsored Updates, LinkedIn’s flagship advertising format, allow you to target people with selected job functions and titles, at certain companies, and with selected skills. Sponsored InMail allows brands to send targeted, personalized, private messages to customers. TextAds allow you to place text-based ads on prominent pages across LinkedIn, and Display Ads live on the side of a user’s feed and come in a variety of formats.
LinkedIn’s growing professional audience and suite of powerful ad types make the platform a compelling advertising option for both B2B and B2C brands.
Well, now you know the truth.
While the starting bid to advertise on LinkedIn may seem like a lot more than other social platforms, it all evens out in the end—other platforms admit that in order for a campaign to be seen, starting bids have to be much higher than the lowest option.
And while LinkedIn’s advertising has historically worked well for B2B companies, 71% of consumer marketers in North America have seen success using LinkedIn’s paid advertising options. The platform also has mobile covered—and its audience is becoming increasingly mobile, so marketers have an opportunity to reach professional consumers from the comfort of their own devices.
Lastly, their wide range of advertising options and sophisticated targeting capabilities allow brands to reach their increasingly diverse audience.
About the Author: Shauntle Barley is a Content Marketing Intern at Sprinklr, based in New York, NY. She recently graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies and a minor in German.