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LinkedIn’s ‘Open For Business’

LinkedIn's New Features For Users & Advertisers Alike

LinkedIn latest product release and Microsoft’s latest quarterly results demonstrate the platform is both literally and metaphorically ‘open for business’.

Microsoft’s latest data shows continued growth in user sessions, revenue and on-site engagement.

LinkedIn’s heritage has long been in recruitment, with its Talent Solutions being its main cash cow. However, following its 2016 Microsoft acquisition, this has subsequently been overtaken by its rapidly improving Marketing Solutions.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, July 2019:

Marketing Solutions is now our fastest growing business, with new brand and community building tools that make it easier for marketers to connect with LinkedIn’s 645 million members

LinkedIn revenue increased 25% with continued strength across all businesses, highlighted by marketing solutions growth of 42%. LinkedIn sessions grew 22%, with record levels of engagement and job postings again this quarter.’

LinkedIn’s 2018 revenue was US$5.3bn; by 2022, revenue is forecast to have climbed to $9.6bn.

Whilst LinkedIn has income streams outside of Marketing Solutions, this is the growth engine which will power much of the forecasted increase.

LinkedIn Doesn’t Need To Be Facebook To Succeed

It is worth noting, however, as pointed out by Search Engine Land, that LinkedIn’s growth rates are lower than in previous years.

However, given LinkedIn’s business focus, it is unrealistic to expect consistent 30 – 40% annual growth rates, as per entertaining social destinations like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Snapchat.

Similarly, business-to-business marketing spend is dwarfed by business-to-consumer. Eventually, if LinkedIn continues to improve, it is quite likely that brand dollars will gradually start to shift across.

To be fair, that is probably some time away yet, due to LinkedIn being still over-priced and the herd mentality of brands.

Although once a few brands break ranks, more will follow.

For example, what high-end brands would not want to reach LinkedIn’s 10 million-strong C-level execs?

Better LinkedIn ads and better tools

LinkedIn’s ads have been getting better month on month for some time now.

That said, they were coming from a *very* low base, in terms of performance and campaign tools.

In October last year, it launched its new Campaign Manager, which is a vast improvement on the cumbersome prior iteration.

Earlier this month it introduced new ad campaign objectives:

  1. Brand awareness
  2. Website conversions
  3. Job applicants

Basic stuff for 2019 really, but features previously missing or under-developed.

Likewise, it finally got its act together with billing, now optimising click pricing to align with your objective.

For example, if you select website visits as your objective, you will only be charged for clicks that go to your landing page. For social engagement campaigns, pricing will be optimised to include all social actions (likes, comments, shares, etc.).

LinkedIn’s New Service Feature For Users

Despite LinkedIn coming on leaps and bounds as a marketing channel, it still often pays to lead with company figures, rather than LinkedIn Page content.

On the organic front.

Posts from other LinkedIn users get significantly better results than Pages do. Perhaps a legacy from LinkedIn’s original ethos of inter-personal business networking?

This may change in time, a few algorithm tweaks can go a long way to manipulate user behaviour, but this is how it's worked for the past few years.

In an attempt to perhaps bridge this divide, LinkedIn has this week rolled out an update whereby users can add the services they provide to their personal profile (see above screenshot). Showing they're 'open for business', as LinkedIn calls it.

From now on, members looking for help will be able to filter their general LinkedIn searches for service providers. When you add services to your profile, you’ll show up in these search results. 

For example, if you’ve noted that you provide marketing services, and a member searches for “marketing,” they’ll now be able to see you in their search results with a highlight about the services you provide.

From there, LinkedIn prompts the searcher to message you directly to enquire about your services.

The feature roll-out began this week with small business leaders and freelancers who have a Premium Business subscription in the U.S, before a wider launch later this year.

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