As the competition for eyeballs continues to intensify, marketers have begun turning away from Zuckerberg’s family of networks to reach their target audiences. And while micro-social networks platforms like TikTok may be grabbing headlines, LinkedIn (arguably the original micro-social network) has been slowly capturing more and more wallet-share from marketers.
No longer a space defined by just its job searching capabilities, LinkedIn has added loads of new features that have helped establish a network of influencers and professionals that gives it a true competitive advantage over other social media networks.
Although the introduction of features replicated from social media networks like Stories and post Reactions has been largely critical, users haven’t seemed to mind. During its most recent earnings call, Microsoft reported that LinkedIn’s on-platform sessions grew by 24% and the platform was generating “record levels of engagement.”
To get a better understanding of how these new features can be leveraged by both B2B and B2C marketers, we caught up with Sam Parker, Partner Manager at LinkedIn. He has been working at the company since 2015 and is responsible for helping marketers to identify, target and engage with the world’s most influential professionals.
Sam will be speaking at our digital marketing conference in November. As a prelude to his presentation, we asked him a few questions around the platforms’ latest marketing features. Here’s what he had to say…
Q: LinkedIn’s user base has been growing significantly over the past few years, and now counts 645+ million members as part of its network. Beyond reaching a much larger audience than a few years ago, what do you think is the main value proposition LinkedIn offers B2B marketers today?
A: In my opinion, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to have conversations with both audiences in a business context—and this is more important than many folks realize.
It’s a question of mindset: people are increasingly using the LinkedIn news feed as a source of information in their professional lives, and since they are already in this mindset while on the platform, the impact of relevant business-related information cannot be overstated.
LinkedIn is a sweet spot for B2B organizations.
Businesses can easily find the key stakeholders that they need to reach and engage with. Oftentimes, these stakeholders are buying committees comprised of multiple decision-makers and influencers responsible for taking decisions on issues related to purchasing. Being able to reach these committees in an efficient way is a very attractive proposition for businesses.
Q: And, what about marketers operating in the B2C space?
A: Historically, LinkedIn has been overlooked when it comes to B2C marketing. But the reality is that even business professionals are interested in products.
Several brands have discovered meaningful ways to engage in conversations with these individuals on LinkedIn, which is particularly valuable because businesses have come to learn that professionals have the means to buy their products—especially luxury goods.
For example, car manufacturers can identify people who have recently changed roles or been promoted and may be very receptive to the offer of rewarding themselves with a new car. The same can be said for items like watches, business travel luggage, and so on.
Q: LinkedIn has rolled out a lot of new features recently, but through the addition of some of the features (reactions, hashtags, etc.), LinkedIn’s platform is increasingly being compared to other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. How will LinkedIn ensure it remains the go-to network for professionals?
A: The product roadmap has been getting a lot of attention recently and it’s encouraging to see so much investment at such an important time. I am delighted that features like these are emerging.
LinkedIn’s news feed is increasingly becoming a place where members are actively engaging with content, so any feature that makes it easier to discover the most relevant content is a good thing. As for the future, we have a team working on features that will ensure that LinkedIn is the natural place for professionals, and I’ll talk about some of this during my presentation at Spark.
Q: Out of all the new features that have been added to LinkedIn (live video, objective-based targeting, matched audiences, etc.), what new feature has you most excited on behalf of your customers and why?
A: I think live video represents something really important. It’s fascinating to see how different brands are using this medium to communicate so many kinds of messages. I’m genuinely excited to see how this develops in the near future.
Q: From groups to hashtags, LinkedIn is recommending its network focus on engaging with audiences around more niche topics (e.g. use #performancemanagement instead of #management). Why do you believe marketers should embrace these suggestions? What examples of brands already doing this successfully come to mind?
A: I think the motivation for this is coming directly from the member who is looking to find increasingly specific, highly relevant material in the fastest way possible. So, of course, we are facilitating that with the use of hashtags.
To me, it makes complete sense for marketers to embrace this and to meet this need.
Q: What advice do you have for marketers just getting started with LinkedIn on how to identify their target audience?
A: It all starts with the company page. It is incredibly intuitive and can help marketers gain a better understanding of their current audience.
Then marketers need to develop a plan to move towards their target audience. Next, I would encourage the use of data by sourcing website demographics via the LinkedIn Insight Tag. At this stage, I would encourage using the expertise of local experts. For example, in Scandinavia, we work with AdColony who can advise organizations of all sizes when it comes to taking the right next steps.
AdColony will also be speaking at Spark on November 14, 2019. Step up your LinkedIn game by getting a ticket today.
Q: If you were to give our readers one piece of advice on how to optimize their personal LinkedIn profile, what would it be?
A: Be authentic! I see too many profiles brimming with buzzwords, and I don’t think that this does anything to help optimize a profile and it certainly does not make a profile stand out.
Q: Mindfulness and wellbeing are both popular topics in the workplace today. How do you believe technology is changing wellbeing (for better or for worse) in the workplace?
A: Mindfulness is something that I personally engage with on a near-daily basis as part of my morning rail commute. I do this thanks to technology (an app), however, I also see the impact of technology.
We encourage organizations to be “Always On” for the customers, and I think this does have an impact on the individual. It’s important to have routines and tools to preserve wellbeing and I think technology has a role to play there.
- LinkedIn shouldn’t be ignored by B2C marketers – especially those operating within the luxury goods market.
- There are a number of new features that marketers can leverage to craft relevant content for their target audiences.
- The LinkedIn news feed is an ideal place to reach audiences and engage with influencers
- Make sure you know who your current audience on the platform is and have a plan around reaching your desired target audience.
This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.