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Forget Facebook: Why LinkedIn is Better for Marketers

By Colin Ryan

Industry News

LinkedIn has enormous potential for marketersRecently, much of the focus in the tech and digital marketing world has been on Facebook: high profile acquisitions, an upcoming (and likely record-setting) public offering, etc. But amid that media frenzy, another, less glamorous social network should be grabbing the attention of marketers everywhere. I’m referring, of course, to LinkedIn.

Sure, there’s something to be said for a huge IPO. But what happens next is never certain. Consider formerly much-hyped, now much-maligned Groupon, whose $20 opening share price in November 2011 went on to fall considerably in the ensuing weeks. Amid plenty of griping from customers, the company hasn’t recovered: at press time, Groupon is trading at just over $10. By contrast, LinkedIn’s stock price more than doubled on its first day of trading last May—and if the company’s first-quarter numbers for 2012 are any indication, that was no bubble. Indeed, LinkedIn’s 1Q profits are up 101 percent from last year. Moreover, LinkedIn has shown it can compete in the acquisitions department by purchasing SlideShare for $119 million.

But enough big-picture financials. This isn’t about LinkedIn’s future as a business: it’s about yours. On that front, the question is not whether LinkedIn is a good place to market yourself and recruit great talent—that much is certain. The question is whether LinkedIn is a good place to market your products and services and recruit customers, and the answer is emphatically yes. Here are three reasons why.

Less Noise

LinkedIn has worked hard to bolster the comparatively low engagement numbers that are so often the focus of the marketing conversation: piggybacking on high-engagement networks like Twitter via syndication tools, promoting LinkedIn Answers and Groups, etc. But the truth is that LinkedIn will never catch up to Facebook on this front, and it shouldn’t aim to. That’s because people who visit LinkedIn are in business mode, with a specific goal or task in mind.

This is a good thing for marketers because it means there’s less noise to compete with. No status updates from Spotify. No silly memes. No photos from your friend Lisa’s “amazing” trip to Spain. Provided you put your best foot forward, your marketing posts will stay at the top of people’s feeds longer and get serious looks from more people than they would on Facebook.

More Leads

Of all the major social networks, LinkedIn has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate. In other words, more people who arrive at a company’s website from LinkedIn fill out a contact form, sign up, or request more information about that company’s products and services—many more, in fact. At 2.74%, LinkedIn’s conversion rate is almost three times higher than those of both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%).

This makes sense, of course, because LinkedIn’s user base automatically filters for the kinds of people businesses are looking for. Over two-thirds of LinkedIn’s users are between the ages of 25 and 54, and because LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional development and networking, more of its users are actively searching for business synergies and investment opportunities. Whether you’re selling real estate, software, widgets, or expertise, that means someone is out there searching for you.

Going forward, the fastest-growing membership segment of college students and recent graduates (18-24) also ensures a steady stream of young professionals who will be looking to social media to look for homes, products, and solutions.

Slideshare

There are plenty of guides out there for using Slideshare as a marketing tool, and many of them focus on its potential for repurposing your existing blog content in presentation form. But Slideshare is also a way to fold a new voice into your marketing campaign, an ideal medium for approaching an audience made up of not just consumers, but peers and professionals. Additionally, images and videos increasingly make the web content world go ‘round, and when it comes to businesses, those visuals are usually delivered via presentations.

Slideshare’s new partnership with LinkedIn will only make the service more useful, for two main reasons. First, LinkedIn’s support translates to massive growth and a bigger megaphone for you; and second, deep technological integration with LinkedIn’s tools and data means new possibilities for design, sharing, search, and capture.

LinkedIn’s $11.63 billion market cap and 160-plus million users may be dwarfed by Facebook. But bigger isn’t necessarily better, and when it comes to marketing, LinkedIn’s future is looking pretty bright.

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