How LinkedIn Has Evolved from Job Search to the #1 Marketing Tool for Business
LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool for business, and it remains underutilized
- Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for more than $26 billion in 2016.
- Organizations consistently posting content on LinkedIn contribute to content seen 9 billion times each week.
- LinkedIn reaches 10 million c-level executives and 63 million decision-makers.
Look no further than the theory of the six degrees of separation if you want a scientific explanation for why social media is a powerful way to market. The theory proposes that everyone on the planet can meet anyone they wanted with a maximum of six or fewer mutual connections.
Imagine being able to connect with decision-makers at every organization your company wants to do business with. Now stop imagining and head to LinkedIn.
The theory of six degrees of separation was proven to be valid in 2008 by Microsoft. All the more fitting for the company to purchase LinkedIn for more than $26 billion in 2016. LinkedIn was created by its founders to operate on the principles of six degrees of separation. Today it’s a powerful way for B2B marketing.
Forbes first reported on the potential B2B value of LinkedIn back in 2004, calling it “corporate inter-face-time” saying that the key to finding a job, an employee, or a business partner is getting a high-quality referral. You know who your connections are, but you likely don’t know who they know. LinkedIn gives you the ability to see the network of your network.
LinkedIn didn’t come up with the idea from scratch, but they did pivot it to focus on professional networking. The original version was a social networking site called SixDegrees.com. It is widely regarded as the first social networking site, founded by Andrew Weinreich in May of 1996. It was gobbled up by Youthstream Media Networks for $125 million in stock
The idea was alluring, but the site ultimately failed, in part because it leaned too hard on users to recruit others. It became a spam-a-palooza of requests from strangers. Youthstream Media eventually went out of business.
LinkedIn’s founders believed the six degrees core concept was valid – but it needed a pivot. So they purchased the patented intellectual property from Youthstream for $700,000.
LinkedIn would be a business-centric networking platform. Unlike other social networking platforms of the time, users could only connect with others they personally knew or who were referred to them through people in their network. It introduced a level of professionalism and exclusivity that drastically reduced unsolicited invites.
User acquisition was slow, but the founders were Silicon Valley titans such as Reid Hoffman (PayPal). They used their own personal network connections to drive adoption. LinkedIn became known as a quality source to find knowledge and information related to technology at a time when technology was spawning the world’s most successful businesses in the new millennium. Jobseekers were the first to see the networking potential, followed by recruiters.
Today, LinkedIn is a key component of successful B2B marketing. Microsoft reports that revenue from the platform grew 24% in its second fiscal quarter of 2020. Here’s what makes it such a powerful marketing tool:
- LinkedIn is the world’s biggest B2B-centric content channel. The platform reports that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a primary content distribution channel. YouTube and Facebook snag only 77%, while Twitter garners 89%. It makes LinkedIn where you want to be if you want your content discovered and consumed by other professionals.
- Grab your share of 9 billion impressions. Organizations consistently posting on LinkedIn contribute to content seen 9 billion times each week. Do the math. You’ve got the opportunity to benefit from a platform serving up 36 billion monthly impressions.
- It’s easy to punch a signal through to prospects. Yes, the LinkedIn platform is huge and still growing – but right now, only 3 million of its 250 million monthly users share content. You can be among the 3 million businesses benefiting from 9 billion weekly impressions.
Meanwhile, only a very small percentage of LinkedIn’s half-billion users have published an article using the platform’s publisher platform. LinkedIn gives these native posts shared through its publishing platform more promotional attention.
- Who’s sending you the most traffic? Combined, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn drive about 90% of social traffic to B2B sites or blogs, but more than half of these eyeballs are directly from LinkedIn.
- Get in front of the decision-makers. LinkedIn’s own statistics report that four out of five of its members drive business decisions. Your ability to target prospects by their job title makes LinkedIn one of the most precise marketing tools out there. Create content that grabs the attention of LinkedIn’s 10 million c-level executives and 63 million decision-makers.
What type of content works best on LinkedIn?
Successful content marketing on LinkedIn requires understanding what type of content performs best, and how to replicate that magic formula for LinkedIn content success in your posts.
Decision-makers make LinkedIn their preferred digital destination to find information and connect with others who can help them grow their business. It’s where you need to be, with content and engagement.
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