A story about our putting LinkedIn to the test and what we learned as a result.

LinkedIn is considered by many as the leading B2B social media platform among its peers in Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. LinkedIn users often point to the lack of politics, pets and crazy stunt videos as proof that this platform is made for business. We decided to put this assumption to the test — twice.

Test #1

Our first test of LinkedIn as a competitive B2B marketing platform was done through a closed audience promotional campaign. We asked 1350 of our friends to participate in a simple campaign in which we asked them to follow us on each of our social media channels — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Each follow was an entry for an opportunity to win a new Mac Air laptop computer. Two hundred of these friends already followed us on these other channels, so the target number is 1,150. After inviting our friends to participate in the contest three different times over two weeks, only 65 participated in the campaign or 0.05% of our LinkedIn friends. This rate is as poor as the digital banner advertising we steer our clients away from using. Our postmortem of the campaign found our friends visit LinkedIn only once every seven to ten days and have limited engagement with the posts. Multiple third-party research reports show the same results for frequency of use and engagement.

Test #2

Our second test was a targeted paid campaign on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. We targeted specific demographic audiences over an eight-week period. The content was campaign specific. We measured both the paid campaign results and the organic posting performance results during the same period. The results by LinkedIn were staggering and not in a good way. LinkedIn scored worst by all measures including cost per result, cost per click, cost per one thousand impressions, click through rate, cost per engagement and engagement rate. If you are interested in learning about the performance of the other social media platforms in this test, send us a note.

Today’s Rolodex

We are finding LinkedIn is typically used as a professional contacts database (aka old school Rolodex). There are opportunities for sharing and learning through general posts and select groups. LinkedIn is essentially one-way engagement limited to reactions (aka, likes), a few comments and even fewer shares. Our two tests suggest it is not the content people are not responding to but simply how LinkedIn is preferred to be used. In many ways, LinkedIn is like a dating app with profiles of people you would like to start a relationship. Thus, the idea of #LinkedInIsForLovers.

What Does This Mean?

First, embrace LinkedIn as the valuable and important professional directory that it is and does so well. Exchanging contact and background information is easy to do with LinkedIn. It is convenient to access on your phone, laptop or desktop. Users can update their information quickly for all to see and you can add examples of your work. Use LinkedIn for what it is best at doing.

Second, embrace the potential LinkedIn has for training and education and sharing insights and best practices. We suggest this is an avenue for LinkedIn to embrace and promote. Imagine finding an expert within your current connections or even prospective connections and gaining access to their expertise through LinkedIn. Think of the opportunity for you to gain and build new relationships demonstrating the skills and experience you outline in your profile.

Third, the strength of LinkedIn for sales and marketing is the opportunity for referrals and recommendations it can help facilitate. Referrals and recommendations remain the most influential means to being discovered by new contacts. LinkedIn provides the opportunity to share and acquire recommendations and endorsements. We believe there is an opportunity for LinkedIn to makes these proactive in connecting people and businesses.

All three of these advantages of LinkedIn leverage the strength of the platform and the preferences of the users. We recognize our tests are not definitive, but they are meaningful leading to these logical conclusions. LinkedIn has a place in your marketing and social media strategies and plans. Knowing how to best use LinkedIn is important to getting the most from your investments of money and, most importantly, time.

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A Side Note

As far as #LinkedInIsForLovers, we were concerned the title may be considered a little to provocative and not taken seriously until a conversation we had yesterday with a leading marketing executive. Here is what she shared with us:

During the course of our conversation, this executive shared men are reaching out to her and other women professionals on LinkedIn requesting to connect. Upon agreeing to connect, these men are soliciting personal and intimate requests of these women (i.e., asking to get together for a drink). Apparently, this is happening frequently and often by the same people. This executive stated “It seems like LinkedIn is becoming a dating app.” Was her statement a coincidence considering the title of this post? Maybe but it is a good one based on our experience with LinkedIn.

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Draper DNA is a consultancy and full service marketing agency specializing in helping home and building products companies challenge the industry.