While LinkedIn has a reputation for having an employment focus, the business-centric platform can offer SME owners more than just a source to verify employees' resumes, as the platform contains a constant stream of discussion.
Many LinkedIn members use the publishing feature as a means to share an opinion, like a professional blog, with over 160,000 unique articles published every week.
The average published post can be seen across 148 industries and 99 countries, which means that even if it is not intended as a direct form of advertising, LinkedIn members can promote themselves as a business owner, and their brand, indirectly through informed opinions.
However, there are more direct forms of advertising a brand on LinkedIn too. Here are three different kinds of LinkedIn advertising open to business owners:
The first of LinkedIn’s advertising methods, sponsored content, uses a more traditional method, appearing outside of a business’ page. As such, it can be seen as a blanket approach to advertising.
Created through LinkedIn’s campaign manager, sponsored content combines a selected image with short test.
Speaking on a LinkedIn webinar, Jennifer Bunting, head of content and product marketing for APAC, said that when advertising with sponsored content, the image is the most important aspect.
For sponsored content, images need to be 1,200 pixels wide and 627 pixels long, and it's generally best to go with images of people over images of objects.
“As people, we're just genetically programmed to react to faces and to people, so if you do have images that include people or models, go with those,” Jennifer says.
It is also important to use bright colours, as to attract the human eye, according to Jennifer.
Along with the image, there is the option of using a heading. Jennifer recommends to use at most 150 characters in order to keep things brief and to the point. Longer ones will be cut off on mobile devices, rendering them effectively useless.
The last thing to consider is whether to include a follow button. Opting in allows LinkedIn members to follow a business on LinkedIn.
If business owners are making a habit of constantly updating their followers on LinkedIn about the business, having the follow button will help in increasing this follow base. However, if the business owner does not provide updates about the business, Jennifer suggests omitting the button.
Unlike sponsored content, sponsored InMail allows for a slightly more personalised approach to marketing.
With LinkedIn, users can send each other private messages, called InMail. In every user’s inbox, however, is a space for one sponsored InMail, which sits above other InMails, and is attributed to the business itself or an employee of the business.
A sponsored InMail is similar to an email, in that there is a title and the potential for entering a large body of text. However, according to Jennifer, sponsored InMails are half to twice as likely to be opened compared to email, with a 30 to 40 per cent average open rate, as opposed to a 20 per cent open rate for email advertising.
Unlike email, users can receive one sponsored InMail every 60 days, which means that InMail will be placed at the top of that user’s InMail inbox with no direct competition for advertisement space.
During the LinkedIn webinar, Jennifer gave her tips on creating an effective sponsored InMail:
The subject line
“Keep your subject line very short on sponsored InMail, under 30 characters. That can be kind of challenging to write, [and] keep it punchy and short, otherwise it'll get truncated on a mobile device.”
Brief and to the point
“It's always better to be really sure and to the point. Don't let yourself be tempted to ramble on. Respect your audience's time and know that you should be able to get to the point quickly – that will have a higher open rate.”
“Have two or three points you want to make. They're very easy for the eye to follow down the page, towards that call to action button, and it just really helps you get to the point quickly.
“I would say keep your bullet point list short, though; don't go beyond more than four bullet points. Three is kind of the sweet point. To get down to four, it's going to feel like you're sending someone your grocery list rather than a dedicated message in a professional environment.
“Another thing to know is don't keep your bullet points written in a paragraph. Try and keep them to no more than two lines, but I would say, try to avoid having them wrap, if at all possible.”
Dynamic Ads combine the traditional form of sponsored content and combine it with a small, personal touch, like sponsored InMail.
Located within LinkedIn, Dynamic Ads take the name and display picture from the viewing user’s profile and integrates it into the advertisement. This type of LinkedIn advertising is rising in popularity, according to Jennifer, with a good clickthrough rate of 0.02 per cent to 0.09 per cent of users.
These advertisements appear similar to sponsored content, appearing on the side of a user’s feed. These kinds of advertisements however, as mentioned prior, include the display picture and name of the LinkedIn user viewing the advertisement and a question or statement meant to cause interest in the business.
Next to the display picture of the user is a picture; this can be either the logo of the business being advertised, or any other sort of image sized 100 pixels wide and 100 pixels long.
Additional text may be included above the display pictures, but a call to action button is required to link back to some aspect related to a business. This button may be to follow or find out more about the business, or it could be to register for an event or to download an e-book or other file.