For the past few months, I have been experimenting with various social media networks. While for the most part, I have been a long time user of sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, I haven’t played around with them much for my own personal brand.

The next three articles are snapshots of my foray deeper into LinkedIn, covering sponsored posts, premium accounts and the pursuit of inspiration.


Sponsored Posts

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.05.45 PM

With LinkedIn’s new Spotlight Pages for companies, another ad experiment was brewing.

Much like past tests of Twitter, Google and Facebook, the spend was limited, just enough to learn how the system worked and see if it was worth pursuing further.

The first thing that became apparent, LinkedIn ads are expensive.

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, for example, LinkedIn charges simply to activate an ads account. For a Canadian company, the fee is $6.

As with other types of online offerings, LinkedIn offers two types of ads: the traditional promotion that sit in the sidebar to the right; and sponsored posts, which appear in news feeds.

Knowing how much I ignore ads tucked away on a sidebar, I opted for the sponsored posts.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.17.55 AM

Now, admittedly, the sponsored post I chose isn’t earth shattering, which could account for the lack of interest in it. It did, however, follow the suggestions LinkedIn offered in creating an add: it included a picture of a woman, which apparently enjoy higher click-through rates and it asked a question.

There are a couple of things to be admired in LinkedIn Ads.

First, the ability to target ads to specific audiences is neat, particularly if you are a business selling to other businesses.  This allows an advertiser to target key decision makers, such as people with the professional title of “owner” managing companies of a certain size in specific sectors and locations (in some cases down to cities).  LinkedIn also enables exclusions – so, if you want to avoid a certain  company, you can leave them out of your target market.

With all good things there comes a catch. The more targeted your ads, the greater the cost per click. In defining my experimental target market down to 863,936 professionals, my minimum bid rose from $4 to $6.50 per click – 38% more than Twitter’s suggested bid.

The alternative is to pay based on impressions, which would cost $29 per 1,000 presumed pairs of eyeballs. I opted for the eyeballs over the clicks, which would not charge based on clicks however many the ad garnered.

With just 3 clicks on the the ad, my total spend per click ended up being $9.67. Guess I lost that bet.

It took roughly 24 hours for the ad to appear in 1,000 news feeds.  With such little traction and a quick run, it’s not surprising how unfulfilling this experiment was.  At least with the Twitter experiment, my account enjoyed some sort of tangible benefit, and continues to gain new followers after the campaign closed.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 1.34.32 PM

Despite my lack of success with LinkedIn ads, the network should be commended for its stellar customer service. After encountering an error when attempting to create my first ad (Note: cookies must be enabled), not only was LinkedIn quick to respond via Twitter, but also in resolving the issue. While I have no hard stats to offer in comparison, LinkedIn stands out in personal experience as the best in customer service among its competing networks, including Google.

So, was my failure with LinkedIn ads an isolated experience? Have you been successful? How much money must be spent in order to see a return?

About Author

La Generalista is the online identity of Alicia Wanless – a researcher and practitioner of strategic communications for social change in a Digital Age. Alicia is the director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. With a growing international multi-stakeholder community, the Partnership aims to foster evidence-based policymaking to counter threats within the information environment. Wanless is currently a PhD Researcher at King’s College London exploring how the information environment can be studied in similar ways to the physical environment. She is also a pre-doctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and was a tech advisor to Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder. Her work has been featured in Lawfare, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, and CBC.