Why companies with big ticket items need to pay attention to LinkedIn

Is LinkedIn an opportunity for marketersAfter spending the last few weeks telling brands and start-ups to consider LinkedIn as a marketing opportunity, I thought it could be helpful to post some of the hard numbers that make this a compelling channel and social network to sell higher-end products and services.

While many Global 1000 marketing departments currently have a reasonably mature Facebook and Twitter strategy, only a select few are working on a robust LinkedIn marketing strategy.  Considering the demographics of the audience that makes up this social network, it is surely an untapped channel that can provide deep targeted messages to reach an affluent audience with the power to spend money.

According to a compilation from the LinkedIn Ad Platform at the beginning of Feb 2012, LinkedIn has over 147 million members of which 44% work in companies that have more than 10,000 employees.  Within these members, about 40% are Managers or higher and 25% have the title of Director, Owner, Chief Officer or Vice President.  More than 26% of the members are in the high-tech and finance industries, and in fact, every single member has identified what he or she does for a living.

As the level of conversation and number of participants across social networks increases, marketers are having a harder time finding and advertising to the right people who may actually be interested in their products and services.  LinkedIn is a simple way to tap into the interest graph, and as a marketer, this is going to tie together ability-to-purchase with demographics and/or interest.

A simple use case could be for a technology brand.  You sell CRM solutions, and you want to market to people who are authorized to buy these tools for their company.  On LinkedIn, you can buy ads that directly target the roles and types of companies that you are looking for.  On top of that, you can create and contribute content to conversations through  LinkedIn’s Company Pages, Groups and Answers.  If the content is engaging, you can get people who actually buy CRM solutions to talk more about your company with other people who are also in the market for buying CRM solutions.  It’s a way to use a single social network across the entire customer decision journey.

But this also works for other scenarios, where you, as a marketer, are not necessarily looking for an interest that is directly related to an individual’s job.

Imagine running a campaign for a luxury car.  While you could advertise on Facebook, to people in a certain age group or maybe even individuals who have included a reference to cars in their profiles, is that really the right set of people to target for your campaign?  Instead, you could show your campaign ad to every member on LinkedIn who is a Director or above.    Luxury cars are not necessarily for car enthusiasts or people over 50.  Luxury cars are for people who can afford them, so use the tools and channels that can better help find these people.

This is not to say that Facebook advertising does not work, but rather that LinkedIn as an advertising platform is too often ignored.  While a number of technology companies are already trying to figure out how they can use the channel, there are still too many companies with big ticket products and services who are not paying enough attention.  This is probably not the best channel to sell Hanes underwear or Cherry Coke, but it is worth looking into for any company or start-up that wants to target an affluent audience with the ability to spend money.


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Filed under Brand Management, Corporate Social Media, Product Marketing