This year LinkedIn is set to reach half a billion registered users. That’s a fairly significant number for a social network that, for a long time, had a reputation of being a bit…dull. Since Microsoft’s purchase of the platform in 2016 for the princely sum of $26bn, LinkedIn has undergone, and continues to undergo, a series of user interface changes to bring it more in line with the other major platforms. This is likely to increase the level of daily and monthly engagement on the platform which will, in turn, increase its already significant value as a platform for PR.
Apart from professional networking (and checking what people from school have ended up doing, obviously) what value does LinkedIn hold in the world of PR?
Anyone working in PR, marketing, or anything to do with social media, will know that paid social media advertising is ubiquitous now. If you want to reach more than a fraction of your organic audience, you have to put money behind your posts. This doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon. Facebook and Twitter allow you to hone your target audience by standard demographics and by interests and key words, but LinkedIn is unique in that it allows you to target people by their job description. This is a hugely valuable, and I suspect sometimes overlooked, feature.
Say you have a client who is looking to strengthen its B2B sales pipeline by upping its social media game. It’s well established that social media has this ability, but for the most part you’re playing a numbers game. You set your budget, segment your audience as best as you can, and hope that you’re reaching the key decision makers in organisations. It’s a brute-force approach; you’re hoping that if you reach a few hundred thousand people statistically someone in there has to be relevant to your client.
On LinkedIn you can take the majority of the guesswork out of the equation. If your client is offering financial services, you can target directors of procurement and accounting departments. If it’s selling cyber security services, you can make sure its messages are being seen by the heads of IT. Is the company offering digital solutions? Make sure communications and marketing directors are the first people who see your posts. You’re forgoing brute-force and instead taking a more targeted approach. This could potentially save you and your client money, as you can spend less to reach more relevant people, and increase the chances of a click leading to a conversion.
This does not necessarily make LinkedIn a foolproof lead-generating machine, however. Your content still has to be of exceptional quality, the client’s website still has to sell the product, and your conversion rate will still be minuscule in comparison to your reach, but you’re tipping the odds significantly in your favour by putting your clients directly in front of the people who make the final decision. This, along with snooping on people you haven’t seen in years, is the real value and power of LinkedIn.
garlandpr is an independent PR agency that delivers strategic communications services across a wide variety of sectors from our Edinburgh offices. We work with clients to develop their business stories and help make an impact with their audiences.
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