Is LinkedIn the future of eCommerce marketing?
Social media is an important part of any eCommerce marketing strategy. You might use Instagram to highlight your most visual products, Facebook ads to reach new customers and Pinterest to drive traffic to your website.
But LinkedIn? That’s for people looking for full-time office jobs, right?
Not anymore. The platform isn’t just buttoned-up job postings anymore.
“There’s been a fundamental shift in how the world is using LinkedIn,” says Lirut Nave, social media team lead at Wix. “COVID-19 turned everything virtual overnight, and there were fewer job ads or calls for candidates.”
People also leaned into real, honest conversations more than they did before, she adds.
In a sense, as the working world transitioned from suits to slippers, so did LinkedIn. Bloomberg reports that the number of LinkedIn profiles with “creator” in their job title increased by 16% from 2020 to 2021. In this same period, LinkedIn saw a 50% increase in the number of conversations on its platform, and nearly 5 billion successful connections, according to LinkedIn.
Big companies have taken notice, too. Global ad agency Ogilvy, which has nearly 1.3 million followers on its corporate page, is building a B2B influence specialist team with the hopes of influencing executives in charge of purchasing decisions. As Rahul Titus, Ogilvy’s global head of influence, told Bloomberg: “The idea with B2B influencer marketing is not to generate immediate sales, but to nudge the key executives who manage business spending in the direction of certain products.”
So, what does this mean for eCommerce businesses in the near—and far—future? For starters: “LinkedIn allows brands to reach both consumers and B2B prospects, and it’s just as valuable to maintain as other platforms,” Nave says. “LinkedIn can elevate your brand and market your business just like any other social media platform, and being on LinkedIn gives your company more credibility.”
Still, you’ll need to keep LinkedIn’s unique traits in mind if you’re going to succeed in this world. Here are some tips to get you started.
Play the long game
LinkedIn isn’t a “hard-sell platform,” Nave says, meaning people aren’t there with the intention of making an immediate purchase. So, if you’re posting direct links to your products, you’ll be disappointed in the results.
But if you think beyond your products and instead think of how your brand and learnings can help others—ideally your target audience—then you’re on track to building brand awareness among potential customers, including those key executives mentioned above.
Take Patagonia, for example. The company’s LinkedIn page is focused almost entirely on promoting positive environmental and social changes. It reflects the brand’s commitment to activism, empowering consumers to make their voices heard.
“LinkedIn is about strengthening your brand’s perception and building an online community,” says Nave.
That means you’ll need to embrace real-talk even more than you do on other platforms.
“Share the ‘why’ behind your brand, why you do what you do, and give people insights into your life as a leader,” Nave says.
To do this, you’ll need to be transparent and share the struggles your company has faced and how you’ve overcome them.
“The tone should be natural, mature and focused on meaningful insights more than visuals,” according to Nave.
On that note, engage in the conversations you start. You wouldn’t give a talk at a conference, then ignore everyone’s questions, right? The same goes for LinkedIn. You’re adding a human face to your brand, so be a good human and respond to comments. You could also identify companies you’d like to partner with, then engage with posts written by their executives.
Tap the network right in front of you
Nave admits that LinkedIn partnerships are still in the initial stages (though sponsored content is still an option). But early LinkedIn adoption can mean more potential for sellers.
“Trust is a key factor when making purchasing decisions, and LinkedIn isn't encountering the same trust issues as more established, commercialized platforms,” Nave says. “So that can be a huge advantage.”
When spreading the word about your brand on LinkedIn, tap your staff first.
“Your employees know your brand best and can help establish a unique perspective to boost its reputation,” Nave says. Their voices are also more authentic and trustworthy, because presumably, they know your company better than a paid influencer posting about a one-off promotion.
If you’ve noticed a theme here—that LinkedIn can boost your brand’s credibility and reputation among decision makers in the long-term—you’re right.
But to tap into the advantages you’ll need to think beyond your products and focus on transparent learnings that captivate your target audience. That means being honest about your experiences as a leader, tapping your staff to create buzz among their network, and being patient while building a strong brand with staying power.
Kiera Carter Editorial Director, Wix
Kiera is the editorial director of Wix. In a past life, she was the executive digital editor of Shape magazine and has held positions at Women’s Health, Fitness and Men’s Health. She lives, runs, boxes, and hikes in New York.