Are LinkedIn Paid Features and Advertising Tools Worth the Investment?

Last time we looked at Twitter paid tools: Twitter Cards, Promoted Tweets and Adverts. It’s time to explore the various LinkedIn paid tools and features and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of LinkedIn advertising.

LinkedIn was one of the earliest social media platforms to take off – launched in 2003 – and it benefits from having been around a long time. The platform is well-optimised, has changed very gradually over the years and has an excellent search function. It functions on keyword search: names of businesses, colleges, universities or people. It also holds a lot of content, so topic based search works well too.

This means that you can find just about anyone you want to connect with, research any company you want to work with (or for) and target prospective customers, employers and recruits specifically.

Linked In Free Accounts

Linked In is free to use and you can creat a personal profile, company pages, groups and content (posts and articles).

You also get a free InMail address, allowing people to communicate with you within the platform.

You can publish articles directly on Linked In, post and share video, text, graphics and audio.

More importantly, you can present your experience, skills and recommendations all on one page – making it very easy for potential clients or employers to find you.

Content shared on Linked In is more trusted than on other platforms (including Facebook) and you are ‘hanging out’ with a more affluent set of connections – Linked In is a predominantly ‘white collar’ network.

LinkedIn Paid Features

There are a number of paid-for features available on LinkedIn:

  • Premium Accounts
  • Sponsored Content
  • Display Ads
  • PPC – Pay per Click ads
  • Sponsored InMail

Premium Accounts

Paid accounts are great if you’re working permanently or temporarily, maybe in business development or recruitment, if you’re working on something specific in your business (such as a recruitment drive) or you’re looking to target people outside of your networks, including geographically.

There’s a lot more information available about people, and you’re allowed to send a certain number of “InMail” messages to people who are beyond the second-degree circle of connection.

Sponsored Content

You may have a post, a video, an event or a download that you want to promote so Sponsored Content could be a good way to present it to a wider, paid-for target audience. As it is a ‘post’ or status update, your word count is not as limited as it is on other ad formats and is ideal for raising awareness and spreading the word.

They are straightforward to set up: simply paste a link to the appropriate page into a box, and it pulls across all of the meta tags, images and information needed – then the advert is ready to go. It’s up to you to decide who you’re targeting, so you can target based on location or job title.

Advertising Tools

There are two “classic” types of advertising you can do: you can set an ad with an eye-catching image or graphic and a few words (Display Ad). Or you can set up a text only advert (Pay per Click).

I recently worked with a client moving across from agency recruitment where they were spending in excess of £50,000 a year. LinkedIn has provided them with a cost-effective targeting and recruitment channel.

Again, you can test the water and see if there’s a market, what the numbers are like and if it’s worth it, and worth spending the money on advertising. The options are CPC – cost per click – or pay for impressions (cost per 1,000 impressions = 1,000 people will see the ad). It doesn’t mean that they’re going to do anything with it, but they have the chance to see it.

You can set your budget on a daily basis or with a total, and set how long the advert will run. It gives you a snapshot of your overall campaign and make decisions from there on whether or not to go ahead.

Sponsored InMail Campaigns

Paid InMail campaigns are still relatively new and tap into the huge amount of data LinkedIn has to help you target based on profile data, contact details and so on.

You prepare the copy for your campaign and identify the type of people you want to target, LinkedIn will send it to them on your behalf. You don’t get the mailing list or the data, but they send it and it’s then up to you to manage the responses.

Advantages of LinkedIn Advertising

  • You have a much higher value audience on LinkedIn.
  • There’s also a level of seniority or degree of professional development above which people feel Linked In works for them. Members tend to be above a certain educational level, and they have a higher net worth. They’re going to have a business budget to spend and may be earning more money.
  • LinkedIn is also a big recruitment tool, so they know what average salaries are by industry, what people are worth and what their spending power is. Its targeting and search functions are fantastic, so you can find any needle in any haystack.
  • The ad platform is user friendly and the customer support is great. You can email them with issues and queries and they’ll come back to you the same day, with a response from a named person, so you feel that it’s a business service.
  • LinkedIn is also more cost-effective, particularly for recruiters – traditional ad channels can be expensive.

Disadvantages of LinkedIn Advertising

  • If you set up an ad campaign, whether stand-alone or sponsored content, you’ll get clicks and a count for how many you received, but you won’t get the contact data. It’s up to you to make sure that the secondary data capture is set up. If you’ve redirected them to a landing page on your website or data capture form, that’s the ideal method. Otherwise it’s just a number on an analytics page.
  • It’s more expensive than Facebook, with average cost-per-click being around $6 (compared to 50 cents). Minimum daily budget is $10, compared to £1 on Facebook. However, if it’s a more valuable sale (or recruit), it may be worth the investment.
  • Lastly, InMail has become a bit spammy, and more often than not people are trying to sell you stuff, rather than reaching out with anything of particular interest. If you choose to do an InMail campaign, how are you going to stand out and get people’s attention?

Remember, while there are some helpful paid features, you don’t need LinkedIn paid features to do well, or to build your network.

Now for the fun bit

You now need to decide which platform is best for you and what type of advert to do. Over the To Pay or Not To Pay series, we focus on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and YouTube, because they’re likely to be the platforms where you’re already most active and they are a good place to start.

In our next blog we look at the pros and cons of YouTube advertising.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thought leaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

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