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LinkedIn Is About To Up The Ante For Marketers And Brands

While Facebook and Google+ continue to try and one-app each other and marketers and brands continually look for ways to leverage them for maximum effect, one social media network which boasts "only" 120 million members is poised to make some changes of its own... and marketers and advertisers would be wise to take notice. 

The changes to Facebook continue to take shape and marketers and advertisers, as well as consumers, sort through all the options now available. Google+ continues it's incredible ascent as a major player in the social media space. Twitter shows no signs of slowing down. Hell even Amazon and Microsoft are reportedly toying with the idea of joining the social media party. But this post is about LinkedIn, the "business" social network... that is how you, as a consumer, thinks about it, right? Perhaps not as a marketer or advertiser but the consumer in you sees it that way I'm guessing. 

Facebook is for personal use. Twitter is where you get information. And LinkedIn is where you network on a professional level. That sound about right? And I'm also thinking that many of you equate LinkedIn as a social network for B2B companies only. After all, 58% currently use it for marketing relationship building and lead generation. Of course one must never lose sight of the fact that even though it's called B2B, there's still a "C" on the other end. It would be wise for ALL marketers and advertisers, be they from the B2B marketing world or B2C marketing world to remember that, not just in the context of LinkedIn but the whole world as well.

However for today, we'll keep it in the context of LinkedIn. 

The "Follow Company" Feature...

About a year and half ago, LinkedIn introduced a new feature that allowed users to "Follow" companies on LinkedIn. Along the same lines of the Facebook "Like" feature, users who follow a company can receive updates about the company such as recent news, job postings, promotions, etc. The feature works fine from that regard, however it didn't provide much value for the companies themselves. Well that maybe all about to change. 

From an article in Ad Week...

"Mike Gamson, SVP of sales for LinkedIn, said now that the company has achieved brand-friendly scale (with a membership of 120 million professionals globally), it plans to make a major push with advertising. And, he added, the next step in engaging customers on LinkedIn will involve the “Follow Company” feature it launched last year."

Gamson went to say that he believes "there’s an incredibly important moment right now in the world of online advertising" and that "right now is the moment of acquisition of a [LinkedIn] follower base." He predicted that for the next 12 to 18 months brands will be investing in their followers and fans and that those who don't act now, will be left in the proverbial dust. Gamson also believes people will be very selective in which companies they choose to pledge their allegiance to on LinkedIn, “We believe there is a finite number of brands that any single LinkedIn member will follow."

Ok, what does all this mean to marketers and advertisers?

Well it's obvious that the “Follow Company” feature is about to carry a lot more weight, hence Gamson's urgent message to companies/brands to get more followers now. Why? Well as the Ad Week article puts it "Attracting followers now, while the feature is still relatively new, will cost much less than courting them down the road, when brands might have to lure them away from rival companies they’ve already decided to follow."

But What About Facebook & Twitter Advertising?

Obviously marketers and advertisers will have to make the ultimate decision as to what social network platform or platforms they choose to spend their media dollars on but if you listen to Gamson, if your target audience is well-educated, more affluent professionals, with a business-first mentality, then LinkedIn may be the way to go. “Facebook or Twitter, [that’s] a very, very broad segment of the population,” he said. But for companies trying to reach consumers about IRA rollovers, business class airline tickets, or small business credit cards, “the perfect lead for those marketers is on Linkedin.”

Of course he (Gamson) is just slightly jaded toward his own company... imagine that?

Either way, it will be very exciting to see what LinkedIn has in store for it's “Follow Company” feature when it announces the changes later this week. 

Sources: Ad Week, socialmediab2b.com, Google Images