LinkedIn – for all of your targeted and personalised B2C advertising

When it first emerged as the serious business antidote to Facebook, logging into LinkedIn on a weekend was usually the preserve of people applying for jobs (in the wonderful days when it was an all-in-one integrated, fully featured app).

Of course many and most of you reading this will regulally check LinkedIn 24/7/365 like you do Facebook, Twitter, ‘that snapchat’ for the now-initiated, VERO or even for the super cool amongst you.

So, on this fateful morning, as I waded through ample posts on GDPR (OMG.. so last May), cloud architecture and digital transformation posts I was presented with the below promoted adverts in my stream:

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A Goodwin Smith ad on Linkedin

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A Hugo Boss carousel ad on LinkedIn

I saw a lovely Hugo Boss gallery encouraging me to try more cream menswear this summer (hmmm, not with my pasty Welsh complexion) and a really nice piece of short-form video content from the sharp footwear label Goodwin Smith.

Now, intriguingly, both of these items happen to be personalised to my personal menswear clothing preferences; they both caught me at a great time for extended browsing and to achieve the holy-grail of a ‘learn more’ click through.

I guess they also know I mostly work in cities, and also clearly that I am very stylish (ahem). Impressive stuff – and also judging by the likes and views on the Goodwin piece, something that was popular that day. This is exciting innovation and a potentially game-changing new channel.

Since then, the experimentation has obviously continued, as I write this on a balmy June evening, a new Ford video clip has appeared in my stream (weirdly, I’m in the market for a new hybrid car also) – all very interesting and again, interesting use of ‘timing’ to target an audience during what should be their leisure time:

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The ‘LinkedIn is the new Facebook’ bit

There is a rise in LinkedIn users writing “I know this is not Facebook…” as an entrée to a post that then still produces comment strings containing outright outrage that the post is not “what LinkedIn is for”. But (at least in my personalised keyword-driven stream), usage increasingly mirrors the typical behavior associated with Facebook in its early days, with people keener than ever to share both personal and business content.

LinkedIn does not seem to be clamping down on personal content – so this blurring is clearly something it’s happy to see there.

I’ve also experimented with a couple of my own LinkedIn hacks to ‘bend and break the rules’ to see if I can understand what is at the root of this growing movement on a couple of occasions by placing some more personal-facing content on there, while making sure I was keeping true to my own ‘brand’ in doing so.

There were some interesting and surprising results. I can say without a shadow of a doubt my most popular posts of the last year were these: a picture from a gig (the band Weezer) which got rave reviews, and a nice picture of a rose that I found inspiring which proved very popular one beautiful Saturday morning.

I’d advise carefully considering if revealing more of your ‘personal self’ is consistent with who you are and the personal brand you wish to project. As with any and all of your social channels, I would regularly suggest looking at your posting history, and confirming to yourself whether you still stand by everything you said, posted, retweeted or endorsed. Would you feel comfortable discussing it in a job interview if a good litmus test!

So – is LinkedIn right for your brand?

As with posting personal content on LinkedIn, the key to effectively testing the potential of this incredible new channel is to find where your business brand content sits amongst this still more business-skewed audience and have a clear view on what brand image you want to project to this audience.

I can’t prove it of course, but I’m guessing that the LinkedIn audience are a little bit more ‘no nonsense,’ ‘get to the point’ less tolerant of cliché (and definitely not blunt stereotyping) and slightly less frivolous than some platforms and your average consumer profile. They may be unforgiving if they do not see the relevance of your promoted ad to their business life first, and probably personal life a close second, weekend, evening, leisure time or anytime.

For companies looking to target the good old high-affluent, ‘professional’ segment in a post-GDPR world, then LinkedIn definitely can help answer that challenge for marketers when spending those previous dollars. It is however crucial to be clear on the objective of your test; are you looking for insight into engagement and interest, or are you actually targeting an audience with a view to them buying from you? It’s too early to rule either out, and of course as with all digital advertising, the brands that combine both targeted offers with original and compelling content will win.

The key is always being true to yourself and to your brand – be proud of who you are and what you believe in. If you feel something personal is important to share, share it. I love finding out about cool things my colleagues do or are interested in; it makes them and all of us so much more rounded and can help spark incredible ideas and collaborations. The same can be completely true for LinkedIn Advertising also, so let’s all experiment away and share what works and what doesn’t – after all, we are all learning together in this crazy digital age.

Good luck!

social media and online pr training