Learning about LinkedIn Ads: 2016 Social Media Series

Learning About LinkedIn Ads
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Hello and welcome back to the 2016 social media series for relative beginners to business social media. Today we turn our attention to LinkedIn Ads.

Small biz, local biz, franchisees, every flavor of private consultant from estate planners to wedding planners, massage therapists to art therapists. “Social media is not for everybody” in the same way that “This office will never use email for important business transactions and documents. That’s what we have manilla interoffice memo envelopes for.”

If you’re too young to remember those raggedy folders kept private by a thread wrapped figure-eight style around two circle things…

With the list of names on the back, so you could almost literally watch how news traveled in your org chart — downhill, namely…

And, for that matter, if you’re too young to remember being taken aside by the boss’s secretary and told, “Ladies in this office wear pantyhose”…

…then welcome, dearie! We’re so glad you could make it. Get yourself a name tag. Drinks in the cooler, maybe even some pizza left, and find a seat. We’re about to start.

 

Don’t be the old codger who sniffed that “Our office will not get into this electronic mail fad.”

While the digital “social media” are still relatively new, they have been and will continue to reshape how we conduct every aspect of our daily lives. (“Social media,” as a practice of using whatever medium is to hand to communicate a message socially to other humans… Well, that goes back to fire, cave paintings, and trees trained to point toward the meeting place.)

Time for a Brave Full Disclosure about LinkedIn Ad Campaigns

Believe me, I’d rather tell you not to look at the chick behind the curtain. But, thanks to L. Frank Baum, Dorothy, and her little dog, too, we all know that the curtain gets pulled aside anyway. And the wizard is just another lost dude with cool gadgetry and an amplified voice.

You see, well, derp. I’ve never run a LinkedIn advertising campaign. I’ve only watched one unfold. And the goldarnedest thing is that when I wrote our series here on Facebook, I skipped — er um “saved for later” — writing about Facebook ad campaigns because they’re so much more tangly and like Tolkien’s Mirkwood. (To me, at least.)

Ain’t that embarrassing?

And so, dear reader, here’s what I propose: I will give you resources for set-up and best practices. I will share links to Other People’s Content (OPC) and thought leadership. And, I will continue to share what I know about crafting a social footprint that welcomes, educates, invites, connects, encourages, nurtures and generates leads. Deal?

Use LinkedIn Advertising to Target Your “Prosumers”

Many times in job interviews, I’ve been asked if I have any experience with B2B writing. (Business to Business, as opposed to this very obviously “just us folks” vibe that I prefer.) I’ve tried in vain to make this assertion: Business people are consumers, too. But, LinkedIn just says it better, that business people are consumers with buying power.

Nothin’ But Ambivalence for LinkedIn Ads

Not everybody’s buying what they’re selling, literally.

Recent commentary from the social media intelligentsia on the utility of LinkedIn ads seems to run from the slightly apologetic to the downright annoyed.

In the former, Jamie O’Brien of Sprinklr opens with this caveat:

Why Companies Don't Use LinkedIn Ads Very Much

Given the timestamps of each post, O’Brien is probably responding to latter in which Larry Kim published a manifesto at WordStream about LinkedIn Ads a few months prior.

8 Reasons Larry Kim Hates LinkedIn Ads

Experiment with LinkedIn Ads on Their Dime

Viveka von Rosen, writing for Social Media Examiner, has put together a helpful how-to do LinkedIn Ads post. And she reminds me, when you first open your LinkedIn Company Page, you’ll receive come-ons from the platform, like a mark visiting the circus. Only in your inbox. Like so,

LinkedIn Ads: Advertising on Their Dime

Here’s what I would do… Sponsor an Update

  1. Set aside a few hours for the next rainy day or the next two or three not-yet-committed lunch hours.
  2. Read the outbound links I’ve provided here. See, I saved you all that research. If Kim or O’Brien go over your head, forget about them. Move on to Ms. von Rosen.
  3. Get your code for LinkedIn play money and go play.

After all, the first taste is free.

Depending on what kind of buzz you get from that, you’ll know whether you want to make a habit of it or not even hit it again.

Which update should you sponsor?

Basically, your favorite. More to the point, your audience’s favorite. (Should be same-same.)

By now, I hope you’ll have a half-dozen or so under your belt. You’ll have been watching how they perform. You have begun developing a sense of when is the best time to post for your audience, as well as what materials resonate best with them.

You already know not to broadcast spam or talk about yourself too much. Nobody wants to hear that. Not at a cocktail party, and not in the social feeds. Your social currency is only in the value you can add to their day. Value can be humor, information, insight, heads-up, news, encouragement, beauty, and inspiration.

Caught a double-rainbow across Main Street the other day after the rains? POST THAT! (It could be a triple.)

Whereas the other ad formats may lend themselves to broadcasting, when you sponsor your best performing update you get to target and reach more people who might like to follow you. You also get toshow them the content that did well among the people who already follow you.

Bing bang boom — you’re already delivering value. Who doesn’t want in on that?

Don’t let the fine print scare you.

LinkedIn Ad Set Up Fine Print

You’ll need your credit card for this. LinkedIn will charge you $5 to make sure you’re legit. Eventually, they’ll refund it back to you, if you don’t use it towards future ad spend. I just double-checked my credit card statements. They didn’t refund it for five months and ten days. I congratulate them for collecting on the float.

But, in the end, friends, I got my latte money back.

Coming Soon: Instragramming for the Rest of Us.

Stay tuned as our series travels back to terra firma with a long(ing) look at Instagram for small business marketers. See you then.

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Suzanne Hoenig is a strategist and writer helping small businesses, nonprofits, and private practitioners craft their marketing copy, grow their online and offline community, and navigate the changing tides of social media and digital content marketing.

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