LinkedIn has a user base of over 500 million professionals including 61 million senior-level influencers and 40 million decision-makers. It is, perhaps, the single best social media platform to reach an audience consisting entirely of business professionals looking for advice, peer insights and professional recommendations.

 

Promoting Your Business Organically

Before we go into LinkedIn’s paid advertising products, we want to cover a few different approaches you can take to promote your company on LinkedIn for free.

First, you should create your company page. This step is mandatory for some paid ad products since your company page will be associated with the ad (e.g., “Sponsored By Acme Widgets”). Company pages are free to create and allow you to feature your company in its best light. Employees can connect to company pages and anyone can follow them as well. Companies can promote updates via sponsored posts (not free) and encourage employees to connect to the page and help with overall promotion.

Here are some additional approaches you can take which are absolutely free:

1) Join a group – LinkedIn has many different groups across all industries and interests. You can browse groups by searching for a topic (e.g., digital marketing) or select the Work icon at the top right of your LinkedIn profile then select Groups and click Discover to view suggested groups.

2) Engage with people – spend some time each week commenting and liking other people’s content on LinkedIn. This can be particularly helpful in a group since people in groups don’t need to be directly connected to you.

3) Post content directly to LinkedIn – You can post short status updates on LinkedIn that contain images, links, and videos as well as longer blog-length content directly to LinkedIn via their publishing platform. Publishing articles directly on LinkedIn shares this content with all your followers in their newsfeed, but this option isn’t available to everyone. If it’s available to you, you’ll see a “Write an Article” option in the status field at the top of your feed.

Paid Ads on LinkedIn

LinkedIn offers a wide variety of advertising products for businesses and targeting and analytics that help advertisers reach their specific niche with precision and confidence. Targeting can be refined in a few different ways.

Demographic

LinkedIn’s user base can be filtered by job function, seniority, company name, geography, and industry.

Interest

Target by groups, the field of study, skills and more

Persona

Reach key segments of LinkedIn’s audience based on their persona: job searchers, opinion leaders, business travelers, etc.

Matched

LinkedIn’s matched audience targets lets advertisers remarket to existing customer lists and website visitors. You can also match your account lists against millions of company pages to reach similar businesses to your existing (or prospective) clients.

LinkedIn provides businesses with six different paid advertising products – including text ads, InMail sponsorship and programmatic display ads, among others. We’re going to briefly summarize each product, but LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions website provides in-depth information on all of its paid advertising options.

1) Sponsored Content enables advertisers to run native ads in LinkedIn’s newsfeed on both desktop and mobile devices. Content can be targeted to desired segments and via matched audiences. Companies must create a company page before they can leverage this advertising product.

2) Sponsored InMail allows advertisers to send personalized messages to prospects through LinkedIn Messenger. You can only send InMail messages if you pay for one of LinkedIn’s premium services in which case you get a certain number of “free” InMail credits. Here’s an example of a sponsored InMail message:

3) Text ads on Linkedin are similar to sponsored search listings on sites like Google and Bing, but they are targeted to specific audiences rather than keywords. Text ads are served on a self-service pay per click (PPC) platform and enable you to drive traffic to your website or landing page. LinkedIn text ads feature a small 50×50 pixel image along with a short headline and description. Ads appear at the top or to the right of the main feed.

LinkedIn text ad specifications:

(Source: LinkedIn)

Example of text ads that appear on the right side of the newsfeed:

Example of a Programmatic Display Ad:

(Source: LinkedIn)

4) Display ads come in two flavors – good old fashioned programmatic display ads and dynamic ads. Programmatic display ads are essentially run off-site banner ads within the platform. Ads are purchased using a demand-side platform for companies who want to advertise directly with LinkedIn or via an agency trading desk (this allows an agency to buy the ads on behalf of your company). Programmatic display ads use auction-based pricing and can be targeted in a variety of ways including predefined audience segments or your own retargeting data.

Dynamic ads are personalized ads that appear on member profile pages. Advertisers submit their copy and images and LinkedIn automatically personalizes the ads based on individual member profile data. There are three dynamic ad formats: Follower, Spotlight and Job Ads.

Follower ads help increase company followers directly from the ad.

Spotlight ads promote a company’s product, service, event or content. These ads send members to your website.

Job ads are placed in front of members for recruitment purposes and feature job opportunities which are targeted to qualified candidates.

LinkedIn also offers a program called Elevate which is a content marketing product that focuses on getting your employees to promote and share content.

Conclusion

At its core, LinkedIn is a social media network. As with all social media, you’ll get the most out of it if you connect with people, engage with their content and post your own content. All of its networking features and ad products are created with one goal in mind – to connect business professionals to each other.

It is possible to use Linkedin for generating B2B leads, but to do so you’ll need a sound B2B marketing strategy that includes creating high quality, engaging content that’s worth sharing.