I was planning on writing an article about paid advertising on Pinterest, but they don’t have an established advertising service quite yet. Rest assured, they are working on it. So, I thought I would discuss advertising on another social media site: LinkedIn. Given the fact that we haven’t discussed much about LinkedIn, I feel it is appropriate to outline what it is before discussing the benefits of paying for advertising with them.
LinkedIn is essentially an interactive online resume. Users create a profile for free with their real name and info. Unlike most social media sites, users are not prompted to give the usual “favorite movies”, “favorite bands”, etc. Instead, LinkedIn puts an emphasis on work history, marketable skills, current job(s), professional interests, school history, and the like. Users can also upload a profile photo, resume, or any other document that they feel is worth sharing in a professional setting. It’s Facebook for professionals.
Now, hopefully you are familiar enough with LinkedIn to know how to properly use it. If not, read some past articles and try using it yourself. It really is simple. I say this because reading about their advertising options might not make sense if you are not familiar with the site.
Anyway, lets get down to business. It should first be known that LinkedIn does not supply users with as much help with advertising as, say, Tumblr. It is a purely self-service advertising solution that puts you 100% in charge of your content, placements, and payments.
Their solution consists of three basic steps- create your ad, select your target audience, and set your budget and bid. The first is pretty self-explanatory. Decide what you want your headline to be, what your ad will say, what images (if any) will be put up, and where your url goes. The example given on LinkedIn’s advertising help page looks like this:
Its simple. Because that is the kind of environment that LinkedIn is. Again, it is a networking service for professionals. Here, there is little to no need to be unique or exhaustingly creative with your ads. Your ad is encouraged to be simple, easy to read, and to the point. It is a big step away from the regulations of Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr, which I personally don’t mind. Keeping ahead of the curve and constantly putting out new ideas and content can be exhausting at times. Here, your audience sees the ad, gets it, and knows exactly where to go and what to do.
As far as finding a target audience goes, LinkedIn leaves that mostly up to you. I say mostly because they do provide targeting help once you have created an ad. There are TONS of targeting parameters you can choose from, so to make it easier for users to find an audience, LinkedIn lets users click on various parameters for their ad. Once that is done, they estimate about how many people your ad will reach given the parameters you selected. If its not as much as you would like, don’t worry. Change the parameters and try again. Your ad will not be shown and you will not be charged until you provide a valid credit card at the end.
Speaking of credit cards, payment is not complicated. LinkedIn charges on a Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) basis. CPC charging is the simpler of the two. You place an ad, pay the activation fee ($5), and LinkedIn charges you a pre-negotiated amount per click on your ad.
Earlier I had mentioned that LinkedIn has users bid for advertisements. This is where CPM comes into play. A bid on LinkedIn is nothing more than a maximum amount that you are willing to spend on advertising. No matter how successful your ad may or may not be, LinkedIn will not charge you more than your bid. If you feel confident that your ad will reach 1,000 clicks or more, it is best to place a bid. This way, you set the maximum amount you will pay LinkedIn per 1,000 clicks on your ad.
The main catch with the bid is that you will be competing with other companies for the same targeted audience. If your bid is low, your ad will not run and you will have to reexamine your advertising parameters.
So, is it worth it? Yes. The options that LinkedIn gives you are amazing simply because of the fact that they leave you up to it. In addition, LinkedIn users often visit the site with a “business” mindset. With Facebook or other social media sites, your audience is logging on wanting to socialize. They aren’t looking to be shouted at about goods and services. With LinkedIn, your audience is more likely to be looking for a specific product or service that you might provide simply because of the atmosphere that it encourages. If you have more questions, feel free to contact The Site Vamp at http://centerlyne.com, or check LinkedIn’s Advertising FAQ at https://help.linkedin.com.
By: Alec England, Columnist, The Site Vamp