LinkedIn Aims To Challenge TikTok and Instagram’s Place in Influencer Marketin

Influencer marketing is when famous people on platforms like TikTok and Instagram get paid to promote products. Now, LinkedIn wants to do the same thing.

LinkedIn recently started letting companies pay to boost posts from users, even those with lots of followers. They call this feature “Thought Leader ads,” and it was tested out last year.

LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, wants to grow its business because its revenue hasn’t been increasing much since 2022. They have over 1 billion members now and hope this will help them make more money.

Most influencer marketing happens on apps like Instagram and TikTok, where fun and attention-grabbing content can turn regular people into internet stars with millions of fans.

About two-thirds of money spent on social media marketing in the U.S. goes to Meta (the company that owns Instagram) and ByteDance (the company that owns TikTok). By 2026, Instagram and TikTok are expected to get even more of this money.

LinkedIn, which started a year before Facebook, only gets 4% of this market, which is about $4.5 billion. And it looks like their share won’t change much in the next couple of years.

Implemented innovative strategies resulting in a 20% increase in revenue of LinkedIn within six months. (Credits: Kinsta)

“It takes a long time for ads and new ad formats to become popular,” said Max Willens, an analyst at eMarketer, talking about LinkedIn’s latest attempt at influencer marketing.

LinkedIn launched Thought Leader ads last year, but they were only available for limited use. Brands could only boost posts written by their employees.

For example, Mastercard promoted posts written by its leaders in Singapore, and one of them got over 500 notifications on the first day.

LinkedIn itself used Thought Leader ads for some posts from its operating chief, Dan Shapero, but not yet for its CEO, Ryan Roslansky.

Now, LinkedIn is allowing anyone to boost a post with Thought Leader ads, as long as the original author gives permission. Social media marketer Brendan Gahan is excited about this format and is focusing a lot of his efforts on helping companies use Thought Leader ads.

Last year, X experienced a loss of leaders involved in brand safety, coinciding with an uptick in hate speech on the platform. (Credits: Business Today)

“In a time when brand safety is a big concern, LinkedIn has an advantage, especially compared to Twitter,” said Gahan, who started an agency last year called Creator Authority, referring to the social media platform now known as X.

X lost some leaders who worked on brand safety last year, just when there was a rise in hate speech on the platform, which Elon Musk owns.

LinkedIn has always been good for advertisers because members share their job details, making it easy for brands to target ads to the right people.

Most advertising on LinkedIn is for business-focused products like software and computer infrastructure, but car companies, universities, and banks also use it to reach potential customers.

In a conference in 2022, Roslansky said “If you’re looking to sell a high-end B2B product, and you know the buying group is a CFO and someone in finance and like someone in HR, we can put ads in front of those specific people on LinkedIn, because the first-party data is so strong.”

Thought Leader ads started because employees noticed that marketing clients were sharing screenshots of other users’ content. Since they introduced this feature last fall, these ads have gotten more attention than regular ones with just images, said Abhishek Shrivastava, a LinkedIn vice president.

While expressing the excitement of the clients Shrivastava added “It’s really important for business-to-business (B2B) companies to make their brand more human, and this hasn’t been used enough in that area.”

It might be expensive, though. Getting a thousand people to see an ad generally costs more on LinkedIn than on Instagram or TikTok, partly because LinkedIn’s users tend to have more money.

Shrivastava said that instead of comparing costs to other sites, brands will focus on how many sales and business leads they get from running ads.

ClickUp, a startup that makes project management software, has been promoting posts from its executives on LinkedIn for a while now.

An analyst from eMarketer, Max Willens asserts that agencies are watching over every change and there’s no immediate threat to the other social media platforms. (Credits: Pexels)

Chris Cunningham, who handles social marketing at the company, thinks that regular ads on LinkedIn can be a bit repetitive and not very unique. He’s excited to see how boosted posts will do when influencers are involved.

According to Cunningham, ClickUp has had more success promoting posts from creators on other social networks than with standard ads. Plus, he says it’s really easy.

Betsy Hindman, a marketer in Tennessee, helps companies make the most of their LinkedIn presence. She believes that having a brand ambassador with their audience can make a bigger impact than a typical ad.

“It’s part of a complete strategy that involves engaging people with different types of content,” she explained.

It might take some time to build up a group of creators to work with. Agencies represent some influencers, and LinkedIn’s advertising system doesn’t automatically connect media buyers with these agencies.

“We’re looking into that,” said Shrivastava.

Soon, advertisers will have access to more data. In a few weeks, LinkedIn members will be able to see any company’s collection of ads, including their boosted posts, according to a spokesperson. This could help advertisers figure out what works best.

One thing that could benefit LinkedIn is what happens with TikTok. There’s talk of banning the app in the U.S. after the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring its owner, ByteDance, to sell it within six months.

Things have slowed down since then, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed for action on the issue.

Max Willens from eMarketer says agencies are watching closely, but they don’t think there’s an immediate threat.

Sajda Parveen
Sajda Parveen
Sajda Praveen is a market expert. She has over 6 years of experience in the field and she shares her expertise with readers. You can reach out to her at [email protected]
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