Why I don't believe in Linked In advertising (and what to do instead).

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference. I was expecting to walk into a room full of savvy digital marketers and learn a bucket load! Instead, I walked away frustrated. You see, one of the panelists was from Linked In, really skewing the conversation towards the power of Linked In advertising.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fantastic platform and there’s a tonne of opportunity on there. In fact, a lot of my first clients came from Linked In! The problem is, online advertising has become incredibly intelligent and complex…. But Linked In advertising just hasn’t. It’s the kid at the party with baggy jeans and globe shoes… you know, stuck in 2006.


You see, when you advertise on Linked In, you have two options:

1)    Sponsored content - essentially 'boosting' a post

2)    Text ads - super simplistic, limited text ads

The targeting is incredibly limited. This is in part, due to the fact that people just aren’t super engaged or active on Linked In UNLESS they are trying to build a personal brand or are job hunting. The user base in Australia is currently 3.6 million people but bear in mind, this qualifies those who even log in just once a month.

It’s not that the targeting is bad, it’s just that it’s very much that old-school mindset of ‘put an ad out there and see what happens’. It’s the digital equivalent of putting up a billboard. Yes, people see the ad, but they aren’t likely to click through or take action. In fact, we pretty much subconsciously block out advertising on Linked In. This means that Linked In tends to miss the mark when it comes to getting the right message to the right people at the right time. 

Facebook and Instagram on the other hand, allow you to build up a warm audience by providing valuable content THEN go in for that hard sell. It allows you to create custom audiences and only spend your money on people who have shown some sort of interest already.

During this conference, the MC asked people to raise their hand if they’d rather market/advertise their business on Linked In for a B2B business rather than Facebook. 80% of the people in the room (supposed digital marketers) raised their hands. When the opposite was asked, ‘Who would use Facebook and Instagram over Linked In to market B2B’, I was just one of THREE in a room of hundreds who raised my hand. You may be thinking that if that’s the case, majority rules and I’m wrong in this situation but here’s why I don’t think it works:

1.     At the end of the day, it is people making decisions behind company buying decisions, not other companies. People are hanging out on Facebook FAR more than they are on Linked In.

2.     Facebook allows you to target by income, location, job title, industry and more. Far more options than Linked In.

3.     The demographic hanging out on Facebook now is people aged 35 – 55. I don’t know about you, but this sounds awfully like your B2B decision maker target market.

4.     The average click-through rate on Linked in for sponsored content is 0.35-0.45%. For text ads it’s just 0.012% - 0.03%. IE SHOCKINGLY BAD. On Facebook your CTR (for a good ad) averages between 1 and 5%. Talk about night and day!


5.     The data you get from campaigns is very high level and often not enough to really know what’s working and what to change.

If you have your heart set on advertising on Linked In though, here’s who it works for (must tick all three boxes):

1)    Businesses with an average customer lifetime value of over $10k

2)    Businesses in the higher education, recruitment and software as a service industry

3)    Businesses with a BIG budget. It’s going to take a long time to test and refine campaigns so they start to convert.


The best way to go about marketing your business on Linked In is to actually utilise your personal profile. Set it up so your job title is clear and succinct. State exactly who your company helps and use the bio/description as a funnel towards people taking a specific action. Include testimonials and examples of work in the media sections. Get recommendations from others in the industry and clients. Write articles regularly and provide VALUE. Even if you’re what I call an ‘unsexy’ business such as a commercial cleaning, find a way to make it valuable and useful.

Don’t turn up your nose at the idea of using Linked In as a tool to reach out to your target customers directly either. This is how I got a lot of my first clients. A simple message stating who you are, an observation about their business and requesting a time to talk is all you need. Whatever you do, make sure it’s not a generic copy and paste job though.

In short, there’s a place for Linked In but their advertising tools are average at best.