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LinkedIn Challenges TikTok and Instagram in the Influencer Arena

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 26, 2024
LinkedIn Challenges TikTok and Instagram in the Influencer Arena

LinkedIn Challenges TikTok and Instagram in the Influencer Arena

LinkedIn is taking a bold step into the influencer marketing arena, traditionally dominated by Instagram and TikTok. The Microsoft-owned platform introduced its “Thought Leader ads” last year, initially allowing brands to amplify posts from their own employees.

This feature has recently expanded to enable advertisers to promote posts from any LinkedIn user with the author’s permission. This strategic move comes as LinkedIn seeks to invigorate its revenue growth, which has been languishing in single digits since 2022.

Influencer marketing, where creators help brands market products, has proven lucrative on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, where high-profile creators have become brand ambassadors. These platforms, according to eMarketer, will continue to attract the majority of U.S. social media marketing dollars, with a combined expected market share increase of 2% by 2026. In contrast, LinkedIn is projected to hold a steady 4% of the market, translating to $4.5 billion in marketing revenue.

What Makes LinkedIn’s Advertising Unique?

Despite the competitive landscape, LinkedIn’s unique position as a network of over a billion members, predominantly professionals, offers a distinctive advantage in targeting business-oriented advertising. Its focus has historically skewed towards business-related products and services, making it a valuable platform for companies aiming at professionals in specific roles such as CFOs or HR managers.

The Thought Leader ads leverage LinkedIn’s strength in data precision, allowing targeted advertising based on detailed employment information provided by its users. This precision is particularly effective for B2B companies, as noted by LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky. The introduction of these ads responded to the observation of marketing clients promoting screenshots of other users’ content, which sparked the idea to formalize the process.

The Cost of Influencer Marketing on LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s Vice President of Product Management, Abhishek Shrivastava, highlighted the effectiveness of the Thought Leader ads, noting they typically engage users more than standard image ads. The potential for these ads is significant, particularly as they allow for a more “humanized” branding approach that has been somewhat underutilized in the B2B space.

This approach could be more costly than on other platforms due to LinkedIn’s affluent user base, but the focus for advertisers is on the value of the leads and sales generated rather than the cost per impression.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Influencer Market

While LinkedIn is enhancing its ad offerings, it faces the challenge of building a robust roster of creators. The process of connecting advertisers with influencers through agencies is not yet automated within LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager system, but this is an area the company is exploring to improve.

Additionally, LinkedIn plans to make more data available to advertisers, including allowing them to view any company’s collection of ads and Thought Leader ads in the coming weeks.

This expansion into influencer marketing comes at a time when social media platforms face varying challenges, including potential regulatory changes. For example, TikTok faces uncertainty in the U.S. market due to legislative pressures, which could impact its operations and market dynamics.

Despite these challenges, industry analysts like Max Willens from eMarketer see no immediate threat to the influencer marketing ecosystem but acknowledge that agencies are closely monitoring the situation.

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Featured Image courtesy of David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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