Should You Use LinkedIn as a Marketing Tool?
LinkedIn was originally designed as a networking tool for professionals. It was a platform separate from your personal social profiles, where you could develop a personal brand, meet other like-minded professionals, and even seek new job opportunities. But like all social platforms, it can be exploited for business gain.
LinkedIn now offers advertising solutions, helping businesses find better candidates for their job openings and sometimes advertising directly to customers. And if you use the platform organically, you can feasibly use it to market your business. But should you? Is LinkedIn an ideal social media platform for marketing your business?
Let’s take a look at some of the unique advantages LinkedIn has to offer:
- A professional audience. LinkedIn users tend to be professionals, in one sense or another. Regardless of whether they’re starting their career or are serving as experienced mentors, they’re business-minded and are looking for success. This has two main perks for marketers. First, if you’re targeting professionally-minded demographics, the LinkedIn user base is a treasure trove. You can automatically assume that your audience is focused on their careers, at least to an extent. Second, you can rest assured that LinkedIn users are trying to preserve a positive reputation for themselves, so you’re much less likely to find harassment or rude comments in response to your content.
- Groups. LinkedIn also offers Groups, which are meant to collect like-minded individuals together to form mini-communities. Often, these groups are focused on a specific industry or a specific goal, but you can feasibly create a group for anything. Groups are valuable because they offer a platform to promote your content and engage with people in a tighter niche than what platform-wide syndication could offer. It’s also a valuable opportunity to learn more about your specific target demographics, by monitoring how they interact with one another.
- Personal networking. The platform is still one of the best for professional networking since that was what it was initially designed to facilitate. If you leverage it in this way, you’ll stand to benefit more than you would by simply running a marketing or advertising strategy. The idea here is to work through the personal brands connected to your company (i.e. your founder, leaders, and salespeople), and build a bigger network of connections who can serve as leads or sources of referrals in the future.
- Long-term growth. With a good strategy, there’s also significant potential for long-term growth. Using a LinkedIn dashboard, you can keep track of things like how many new connections you’ve gotten, how your posts are received, and how much traffic the platform is generating for you. If you take the time to learn from this data and make positive changes for your campaign, you can gradually increase the ROI you get from your efforts.
There are, however, some disadvantages to using this platform, especially when compared to its contemporaries:
- Audience limitations. The professionally-minded audience of LinkedIn can also be a weakness, depending on your target audience. If your main demographics are teenagers or young adults, or if they’re stay-at-home parents who aren’t interested in building a career, LinkedIn may be a desert for you. There are currently 500M LinkedIn users, which seems like a lot, but it pales in comparison to Facebook’s nearly 2B. Much of your success depends on which demographics you’re trying to target.
- Posting requirements. LinkedIn isn’t as liberal with its posting guidelines, and you may find yourself stifled when you want to publish new content. Companies can’t post material as easily as individuals and may be barred from engaging directly within groups. On top of that, the commentary is limited, and you may not have as much flexibility with linking to your site.
- Emphasis on individuals. LinkedIn wasn’t designed as a platform for companies and organizations; it was designed with individuals in mind. Groups, messages, and other features are oftentimes either exclusive to individuals or favored heavily toward them. This can make it hard for companies to get value from the platform unless they also operate through individuals.
- Emphasis on hiring. Much of LinkedIn’s built-in marketing and advertising for companies is centered on hiring. If you’re trying to sell a product or a service, you may be disappointed in the lack of robust features. Other social platforms are much stronger when it comes to consumer-centric ads.
The Bottom Line
LinkedIn can be an effective marketing tool, whether you use it to popularize your content, build your professional network, or publish direct advertising. However, there are some unique pros and cons that make it distinct from competitors like Facebook and Twitter. Not every business will find the value in a LinkedIn strategy since its value depends on your target audience and your intentions, but it’s an important and influential tool if you know how to maximize its strengths.