By: Mary Hoffmann, Will Johnston, Kelly Kunkel, Annie Vallie, Justin Zeid
LinkedIn was founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman who had previous experience with Google, Ebay, and PayPal. It was later officially launched in 2003 which makes it older than any other social platform such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Five years later LinkedIn was able to open its first international office in London. At the start of 2009, the member count had reached 55 million and Jeff Weiner, who would eventually become the CEO, joined LinkedIn. In 2011, LinkedIn had its first listing on the New York Stock Exchange for about $45 per share. In March of 2015, LinkedIn had more than 364 million users in over 200 countries/territories. They have reported to have 65.6 million unique users in the U.S. alone per month. It is also offered in 24 different languages. The following are some key industries that have seen success by using LinkedIn: Technology, Retail, Financial Services and Education.
LinkedIn differs from other social media sites as it is for professional and business use as opposed to personal use. Whereas on Facebook, most of the people who you would have connections with are family and friends, your connections on LinkedIn are people who you have a business relationship with, such as coworkers and like-minded professionals. There are about 3 million organizations on LinkedIn, so it is almost too easy to be able to connect with others and share information. LinkedIn profiles are more likely to appear at the top of search engines.
Another opportunity provided by LinkedIn is for businesses to create a Company Page, which provides a brand-based environment that showcases services or products. It also has recommendation capabilities where members can share their opinions in their own network and on the Company Page.
When searching for investors, every single Fortune 500 company is represented on LinkedIn, so it is very easy to find those with expendable cash or those looking for new opportunities to donate. They also have added a new section called the Volunteer Marketplace where volunteer opportunities can be posted. Nonprofits can also use this tool to be connected to other volunteer websites like VolunteerMatch or Taproot Foundation.
LinkedIn offers many case studies on their website from various organizations detailing their LinkedIn campaign goals and how these goals were achieved. One example of this is Holiday Inn Express’ “Stay Smart” campaign. Holiday Inn Express used LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates with videos to target members in sales and business consulting to achieve their ultimate goal of increasing brand awareness. They also set up a LinkedIn Showcase Page to “share content with followers and keep the brand top of mind with travelers.”
As a result, Holiday Inn Express was able to increase their followers from 7 to 1,622 in just 40 days. Along with click through rates and engagement at two times the LinkedIn benchmarks, Holiday Inn Express was able to achieve greater brand sentiment from members through this campaign.
Microsoft had the same initiative when promoting OneNote to educators. Sponsored Updates were targeted towards educators so it’s reaching a more relevant market. The case study brought more traffic and awareness than high-traffic press releases and product updates while outperforming other Microsoft promotions. Over the course of a month, their click-through-rate grew by an average of 46% with their top performing post at a whopping 84% while engagement rate increased by 54%.
Sponsored Updates are great for businesses because it is an easy way to target your posts to a relevant audience to get more immediate feedback and better results.
Comparison to Other Social Media Sites
LinkedIn was started with the idea of having an easy marketplace to network with like-minded professionals, so it will differ from what other popular social media sites have to offer for their users. It is more reputable when looking for donors, board members, volunteers, or looking to create partnership with other companies. In comparison to Facebook which is more of a platform, LinkedIn is an application. In term of revenue, LinkedIn makes more from “premium services” and Facebook makes more revenue from games and advertisements. Over 380 million users are members of LinkedIn and growing, with Twitter not far behind at 316 million and Facebook at a whopping 1 billion users. Another difference is that Facebook and Twitter can be considered “time killers” because users can look at what their friends are posting whether it is pictures or just status updates; however, LinkedIn has a greater utility because it can connect you with people to further your work.