The third bracket in our Reach Expansion Final Four is going to cover a new(er) player in the dance: LinkedIn. Just how beneficial is LinkedIn in the pay per click world? I would be lying if I said LinkedIn was a Cinderella story. However, there are some seriously legit stats when it comes to LinkedIn’s game. Ignoring its possibilities, for future seasons especially, would be amateur.

Oladipo from Downtown
Victor Oladipo with the half-court shot win against NC Central - 2010

LinkedIn Stats

  • Started in 2002 in the living room of co-founder, Reid Hoffman
  • Had 4500 members after only one month in operation
  • Two new professional recruits every second, as of fourth quarter 2011
  • Touts more than 150 million members across 200 countries and territories in the world’s largest professional network on the Internet (February 2012)
  • Includes membership of executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies

What Makes LinkedIn Finals Worthy

As a PPC engine, LinkedIn has proven to be a rather difficult one to manage so far. However, the glory of LinkedIn is it’s targeting capabilities. You can target all the way down to the CEO of a particular company and write an ad text written specifically to them, name included. If that isn’t targeting, I don’t know what is.

Let’s say you don’t need to get down to the CEO level. Maybe you only need to reach those who are in the sales departments of companies with more than 500 employees. LinkedIn is still one of the top choices for drilling down to this level. Plain and simple, if you need to directly target a specific occupation or executive-level, LinkedIn can help you do that quickly and efficiently. Basketball translation: LinkedIn=drilling in for the layup.

Here’s where we start talking about the non-paid stuff you can do with LinkedIn. The more you expand your connections and network, the more people you have to directly send information to. The interface gives you the ability to share industry news, personal blog entries and many other marketing materials to build up your customer base or audience.

What Puts LinkedIn in the Losers Bracket

Free throw line visits with limited points. When you open up your LinkedIn campaigns to more broad audiences, you certainly see impressions. You can tell by the reported stats above that the audience is there, it’s a matter of getting them to listen. What we’ve seen at Hanapin so far is that our impressions are present in LinkedIn, but it’s difficult to get a decent click-through rate when targeting broader audiences. What gives?

More than likely, this is a result of the typical use of LinkedIn by its members.  LinkedIn did not begin as an engine with pay-per-click opportunities, and as such, users of the interface now do not necessarily look to ad space within the engine for information or opportunity. Certainly as ad copy gets more specific and users of the interface become more accustomed to the ads being populated based on preferences, etc., the more successful the engine will be in the future.

There’s Always Next Season…

The audience is there, but no one is participating. It’s almost excruciating to watch as an Account Manager, knowing I’m sending out only LinkedIn ads that are so perfectly targeted, it feels like the user is missing out on this click more than any other. The trick is in the retraining. As LinkedIn advertisers, with such a fresh engine to use, we must take responsibility for maintaining the purity of the targeting available by only truly targeting those members who are relevant to our goals. One thing we have seen success with here at Hanapin is frequent ad copy updates to keep messaging new and engaging, even if your target audience has not changed. This keeps the already skeptical LinkedIn audience more involved in what you have to say.

Quite frankly, LinkedIn reminds me of the early stages of Facebook’s PPC offerings. Difficult to manage, but the benefits could be worth it. Stay tuned, as the crew here at PPC Hero will update you with performance we have seen on LinkedIn!

Tell us about your experiences! What have you seen using LinkedIn as a PPC engine? What about for branding more than actual clicks? We’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts or stories in the comments section below! And make sure you wrap up the Final Four tomorrow, with Sarah’s post on Amazon!