How Do I Use LinkedIn and Does LinkedIn Advertising Work? 

I have had a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn. LinkedIn to me is more of a marketing tool for professionals than anything else. Here is how I use the tool. When I am talking to a client or a prospect, I check LinkedIn to understand their job titles, their previous employers and get some information about their interests. It gives a perspective on how senior they are in the organization and it helps with the conversation. This has been my best use of the tool so far. 

Do not wait for things to be perfect: 

We have also posted jobs over LinkedIn for recruiting. At times, they had a broken User Interface. When I contacted support, they reverted to an older version and apologized. Oftentimes, they ship a buggy product with a lot of user experience lapses. One would wonder why they do it with so many resources and money. I also wrote a blog about this in 2013 (which I could have articulated better) as a frustrated user.

However, later I also took one of Ried Hoffman’s courses at Harvard (Mastering Growth, November 2019) and shared my experience with him. We laughed about it. If you also listen to his podcast (Master’s of Scale) one thing he advocates is to not wait for things to be perfect. Just ship things and fix them later. If you use the LinkedIn product, you will be clearly able to experience this. 

Paid Jobs: Did it yield the desired results? No: Not for us. 

How can LinkedIn help then?

LinkedIn can be a great brand-building tool. If you post good content and people like it. It helps spread the word and your brand. This also applies to companies. People read more about your brand and want to work with you. 

Paid Advertising: We have experimented with LinkedIn’s paid advertising on and off. They say one lead can pay for the whole expense (which may be true). However, our experience has not been great. We try paid campaigns, do not get the desired results, stop and then try again after a few months.

LinkedIn Outreach: LinkedIn provides you an option to send bulk InMails to your target audience. Our team tried but they did not generate the desired results. This time, I used my account to run a parallel experiment to see if I can do something better. I ran the campaign, spent money, and would have sent out hundreds of InMails. Here is an interesting response I got:

Response from LinkedIn outreach
Response for the LinkedIn outreach feedback

I laughed at receiving this response – However, I did build a connection with this person who contacted me and it could turn into something later. 

Algorithms: I am not sure how the LinkedIn algorithm works. However, ever since I have sent InMails, I receive a lot of InMails every week. It never used to be this many until I started paid campaigns. 

I laughed at all this. I am fascinated by how much LinkedIn charges for advertising – we spent quite a lot for the size of the company we are, hoping that it will turn into something. This is by no means a post I am writing because I am disappointed. What amazes me is how much they charge in spite of not so great results. One of the big learnings for people running products is that you should raise your prices.

What has worked for me on LinkedIn?

LinkedIN also offers a subscription you can pay every month to send messages to people and also offers other benefits. One of the features on the monthly subscription is that LinkedIN lets you search for your connections by location. This comes in handy when you take business trips. 

In summary, LinkedIn is not a great sales channel. It is just one of the channels to help build your personal or business brand. Also, for hiring, some of the best people may not even be on LinkedIN, and referrals may work even better. However it is one of the touch points or brand awareness tool.

Thanks to Microsoft and LinkedIn. There are great product, marketing, pricing, and sales lessons we can all learn. Yes, they do have the network effect, and it makes all the difference to their business to charge high prices.

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