LinkedIn: Social Network or B2B Marketing Tool? | Randall Reilly

LinkedIn: Social Network or B2B Marketing Tool?

Being a social media platform itself, it makes sense for people to compare LinkedIn to its social media counterparts. The trouble with the comparison is that LinkedIn is unique in its own right. LinkedIn’s 500 million users may pale in comparison to Facebook’s billions, but is that an accurate comparison?
Most popular social media sites cater to people of all walks of life. LinkedIn, on the other hand, caters solely to business professionals, and its attention to the needs of its niche audience makes it a great resource for that audience.
To see LinkedIn’s true value, it may help to redefine it. LinkedIn is the largest professional network site worldwide. Its social networking capabilities not only connect business professionals to each other but connect companies to other companies. It is the very definition of B2B. So its potential for B2B marketing is obvious, right? Well…perhaps not as obvious as it should be.
In addition to providing industry specific audiences to the world of B2B marketing, LinkedIn’s advertising features make it a good source of leads for B2B marketing. So let’s take a look at a few of LinkedIn’s features that can connect you to your audience:
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Targeting Options

Targeting Options
You can find new prospects by using LinkedIn’s targeting options to narrow down who sees your message to those who fall into your prospect criteria. You’re connected to your targeted industry and the specific companies you want to reach through options like company industry, company size, and company name. And you can specify the job details of the type of professionals you want to reach with options like job title, job function, and job seniority.

Matched Audiences

LinkedIn’s Matched audiences are a powerful advertising feature, because it removes the guesswork from who sees your ads, content, and messaging and ensures you solely reach those on your uploaded lists.

Contact Targeting:

This allows you to upload contact email addresses. These email addresses are matched to LinkedIn contacts and allow you to target these contacts with your advertising on LinkedIn.[/two_third][one_third_last]Custom Targeting[/one_third_last]

Account Targeting:

This form of targeting provides access to LinkedIn’s 8 million+ company pages. Like contact targeting, you upload a contact list, but this list is centered around specific companies. Your list of companies is matched with companies represented on LinkedIn providing an audience of known prospects to target on LinkedIn.
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Ad Formats

LinkedIn ad formats give you multiple options for how to display your message to prospects on the site.

Sponsored Content:

These are native ads that contain both images and text which appear alongside the news feed content of LinkedIn’s prospects. These can connect a prospect to a pre-filled lead gen form encouraging conversion. As well as being a strong lead generator, sponsored content helps build brand awareness and can be used at any point in the buyer’s journey.

Sponsored InMail:

These are personalized messages sent directly to active LinkedIn members. These can also lead to a pre-filled lead gen form. Sponsored InMail is great way to promote content. You can add links to your InMail that direct a prospect to your downloadable content (e.g. white papers, infographics).

Text Ads:

These ads are displayed on the side rail or inline. Text ads work on a pay-per-click or per impression basis allowing you to pay only if someone clicks your ad.
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Don’t count LinkedIn out.

What LinkedIn lacks in user volume in comparison to top platforms, it makes up for in the quality of potential leads it provides for B2B marketers. Before you rule out LinkedIn as an underperforming social media platform, think of it for what it really is…the top professional networking site in the world.

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