A Guide to LinkedIn Advertising, Part One

Understanding LinkedIn and Leveraging it for Success

So you want to place an ad on LinkedIn. That’s a good choice, and it can be the right choice for your business, but do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?

Social Media for the Business World
LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn for a long time was thought of as simply “that place to hang your resume online.” The network grew, however, and in December of 2016 was acquired by Microsoft. According to Hootsuite’s statistics, LinkedIn now has over 450 million users, with almost three-quarters of them outside the US and Canada. Data from Pew Research shows that LinkedIn’s membership skews male, educated, wealthy, and urban – not surprising, for a social network based on professional connections.

The business oriented nature of LinkedIn has definite implications for its use as a marketing tool. First, LinkedIn has a large user base – not as large as Facebook, but significantly more than Twitter – but more importantly, it collects information that makes it invaluable for B2B marketers.

LinkedIn as a Data Mine
That database of information that LinkedIn gathers on its users holds more than just a name and a CV. It includes work and educational history, and business and employment recommendations, as well as the more typical social media fare of posts and blogs liked or commented. In all, LinkedIn’s data gives a more rounded, more professional, picture of each user than is likely to be found on Facebook.
The next important point about LinkedIn users is that they are, by dint of being on LinkedIn, almost certainly going to be working professionals. Right there, you have started to refine the audience for your ads – an important factor in marketing successfully.

Finally, LinkedIn doesn’t just gather data; it allows advertisers (that’s you) to use that data creatively, in parsing their audience into the just that right demographic to give a favorable response. At risk of getting ahead of ourselves, take a look at this screenshot from LinkedIn’s own ad creator:

LinkedIn has been known to update their ad targeting, but for now you can choose from 16 categories that will let you fine-tune who will see your ad. Do you need to reach the decision makers right away? Adjust your targeting to account for job seniority and years of experience – member age will be less important. Are you trying to reach influencers? Use the company connections and company followers filters to target your ads. LinkedIn has realized that its high-quality database is valuable to marketers, and has adjusted its ad tools accordingly. Now it’s up to you to take advantage of that.

Three Important Miscellaneous Points
Before we take a look at how to use the LinkedIn ad creator, however, there are few last points to go over.

First, remember that LinkedIn is above all else a professional forum. Users tend to show more decorum, comments tend to be more focused, and posted links and articles tend to be more relevant to the topic at hand. In other words, LinkedIn is more polite and workplace-oriented than other social media.

Second, when building a LinkedIn ad campaign, you’ll create the ads through your LinkedIn personal account – NOT through a business page. As you build the ad, you’ll be given an option to attach a page; that is your chance to link the ad to the business or company that will benefit from it. In the meantime, make sure that you log in through your regular LinkedIn account.

Finally, and with this we start to get back a bit to the audience parsing that we talked about, LinkedIn shows its highest traffic Mondays through Fridays, between the hours of 8 and 4. That’s no surprise, really; it just shows that professionals are using a business-oriented social network while they are at work.

In Part Two, we’ll use this background to understand the basic steps of building a LinkedIn ad campaign.

For more tips about social media marketing see:
A Beginner’s Guide to the Instagram Advertising Landscape
Guide to the Facebook Advertising Landscape
How To Get Twitter Followers

With more than 10 years’ experience in marketing communications and online content writing, and an academic background in political science and creative writing, Michael brings a sharp eye, an analytical mind, a creative turn of phrase, and great grammar to BlueJay’s content marketing.
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