Advertising on LinkedIn: Serious Business or Business as Usual?

  • 5 min. reading time
  • 13 october 2017

When speaking of social media advertising, it’s often Facebook or Instagram that come to mind. LinkedIn (like Twitter) seems to belong to one of the lesser gods of social media. Because the social media channel is used only for professional purposes, the average user is also older than on channels like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. Nevertheless, advertising on LinkedIn can be very effective for many companies. This blogpost discusses the pros and cons of advertising on LinkedIn. In addition, we’ll dive into the latest developments in LinkedIn advertising.

Why Advertise on LinkedIn?

Advertising on LinkedIn isn’t relevant for every brand or product. If your target audience consists of mainly young people, or if the style of your brand isn’t ‘business’ but ‘playful’, LinkedIn might not be the best channel to advertise on. However, it might be very valuable if your product mainly focuses on b2b, or if your target audience consists largely of business professionals. In addition, LinkedIn is of course the best online network when it comes to recruitment. If you are looking for personnel, advertising with your vacancy might just bring you that top contender.

Different Types of Advertising

Although advertising on LinkedIn has been around for quite some time now, the advertising possibilities are still rather limited (especially when compared to other social media channels). For example, you can place only a few types of advertisements. Regular ads (Link Ads) are displayed very small, and therefore don’t catch much attention. Besides, there’s only so much room for text, so it’s important that the message of your ad is short and snappy. In fact, there’s only enough room for one small visual element, a title, and a short call-to-action. So make sure your call-to-action is convincing!

Another way of advertising, which will draw more attention, is through promoted posts. Just like with Facebook, these are normal updates that will appear more frequently in users’ timelines, significantly increasing the post’s range. When promoting your content, keep in mind it’s important the content contains a clear call-to-action. This can, for example, be a link to your website or blog, or a link to a vacancy, as shown in the example below (by the Rabobank Group).

Serious Business?

Even though LinkedIn is used for different reasons than, let’s say, Facebook, that doesn’t necessarily mean that LinkedIn requires a completely different approach. LinkedIn is known for its professional purposes, whereas Facebook is used more for entertainment and social purposes. However, this can also apply to LinkedIn. So don’t be too formal with your target audience, but try to find a balance between formal and informal, and don’t be afraid to experiment with this. Despite LinkedIn’s professional character, it’s important to make use of personal content that resonates with the target audience. Research done by Cisco has shown that people using LinkedIn are interested in content corresponding with the following elements:

• Professional value (eg. promotion)
• Social benefits (popularity)
• Emotional benefits (confidence)
• Improving self-esteem (pride)

So when designing ads or creating content, consider molding it around one or more of these values. People, through LinkedIn, like to display their knowledge on specific subject matter, or their professional achievements, or sociability. In short, content marketing plays a huge role on LinkedIn as well. So don’t just try to ‘advertise’ your company or product, but rather add something to make a user more interested in your content.

Specific Targeting

It’s possible to target specific target audiences through LinkedIn. In addition to the standard gender, age, and location options, LinkedIn offers targeting opportunities that other social media channels don’t or almost don’t offer. This enables you to target specifically based on a user’s position or skillset, being a member of a certain group, or even companies operating within a specific professional field. What’s more, with some of the new features LinkedIn offers an opportunity for more personalized retargeting.

Recently LinkedIn introduced Matched Audiences, making it possible to (re)target even more specifically. For example, you can now target LinkedIn users that have visited your website, or LinkedIn users who are part of your customer base and/or part of your marketing automation platform. This allows you to create highly specific and personalized advertisements. Using Account Targeting for example, you can import a list of companies and create ads specifically for them. Contact Targeting allows you to import a list of email addresses, in order to show ads to the LinkedIn profiles corresponding with these email addresses. In short, these new LinkedIn features significantly improve targeting possibilities of advertising through their platform.
Generating Leads

Recently it was made possible to, just like on Facebook, generate leads directly from LinkedIn. Using the so-called Lead Gen Forms you can, for example, acquire subscriptions to your newsletter, webinar or other type of event. Because users won’t have to leave the LinkedIn interface, and only have to perform but a few simple actions, the conversion threshold is made significantly lower. Additionally, after a user has completed the form, you can always refer them to your website. These ads are a good way to generate business leads, something other social media channels are much less suitable for. As a result, leads generated through LinkedIn are often of better quality than those of other channels.

Experiment and Learn

LinkedIn allows running multiple ads at the same time. This makes it easy to compare and contrast by running multiple types of copy, images, or videos to see what type is the most effective. It provides you with valuable insights on what kind of content to use (and what not to use) for any future ads.

Like any other advertising platform, LinkedIn offers access to a lot of data, data that can help you figure out how your advertising campaigns are performing. For example, by giving you insight into who’s interested in your ads, and how the target audience reacts to those ads. Study what they click, and use this data to make your advertising campaigns even more effective.

Keep in mind that it’s important to create a separate landing page for each ad on your website, and that the page reflects the message of the ad. By designing a landing page based on the content of the advertisement, visitors will more easily find what they were looking for, thus increasing the chance of conversion.

Business As Usual

Although LinkedIn has more of a professional and business-like character than many other social media channels, advertising on LinkedIn shows many resemblances with other social media channels. Just like with other channels, the effectiveness of your ad will predominantly be determined by the target audience and the message. In addition, it’s important to create content that interests your target audience. You might have less reach than with for example Facebook, but with the right targeting you’ll be able to very effectively connect with a target audience consisting of business professionals. Downsides to advertising on LinkedIn are that it’s rather costly compared to other social media channels, and that the advertising possibilities are more limited. Still, a well targeted campaign on LinkedIn can be very effective for many companies. Need help with advertising on LinkedIn? At Be Socialized we’ve created many successful LinkedIn advertising campaigns, and we’d be happy to help!

all blogs


Need tailored advice for your project?