The people at LinkedIn have been busy making some huge changes to their platform, not only the introduction of native LinkedIn Lead Generation ads. Fresh from their acquisition by Microsoft, they rolled out a new look and feel. Something received with mixed feelings by their users.
One of the loudest criticisms the new interface has come under is it’s likeness to Facebook, and it’s easy to see why.
LinkedIn Vs Facebook
Both interfaces feature a large, central newsfeed that cascades down the centre. Above the news feed is the submission area. This is for sharing articles, photos and status updates.
To the right, a smaller column. For Facebook, this column is an activity feed, trending topics, and most important, room for ads.
For LinkedIn, their activity feed is called ‘What you need to know’ but sits above an ad unit. Much the same as Facebook’s.
Comparisons to Facebook don’t stop there. LinkedIn’s feed algorithm is now more focused on person to person engagement. Before, it prioritised content sharing and status updates.
I find myself spending a lot more time there – although I’d often rather not. Engagement on my posts is also a lot higher than it used to be.
To me, LinkedIn used to be a ghost town. Now, it feels like it’s thriving.
LinkedIn’s messaging feature has also received an update. Again, it’s like Facebook’s. The messaging of old was more like an email client rather than a modern chat interface. Now, it’s as good as Facebook, WhatsApp and iMessage messaging services. If not missing a few features that help maintain the professionalism of the network.
What does this mean?
If you think that LinkedIn are making these changes because it’s a nice thing to do, think again.
There’s been a shift in digital ad spend over the last few years. Facebook Ads have begun to challenge Google’s stronghold on PPC advertising.
Everyday 1.2billion people spend an average of 35 minutes browsing Facebook. They have a massive scale in reach and engagement. They have a remarkable amount of data about user demographics and web activity. And yes – they even track you when you aren’t using Facebook.
This has resulted in great success for Facebook. They’ve been able to grow their ad revenues 56% year on year to total $26bn in 2016.
What Next For LinkedIn
LinkedIn wants to take a bite out of Facebook’s pie.
But they need to increase engagement and offer new opportunities to reach audiences. Engagement creates more time on site and more new, interesting stories to share. This opens up new space for ad units and greater inventory size.
The redesign of LinkedIn Messenger was a perfect example of how they’re doing this. LinkedIn introduced Sponsored InMail not long after they launched the new user interface. This is the first of many changes LinkedIn is due to make to their advertising solutions.
We were lucky to get hold of their road-map for 2017.
Introducing LinkedIn Lead Generation Ads
One of LinkedIn’s first forays into advertising in 2017 was the introduction of the native LinkedIn Lead Generation ad unit (and yes, it’s almost exactly the same as Facebook’s).
Native LinkedIn Lead Generation ads allow users to submit their details without leaving LinkedIn, as well as having all of the form fields pre-populated with their data. The combination of a reduction in friction (the user continues browsing LinkedIn rather than being taken off-site) and allowing advertisers to piggyback off of the visitor’s trust in LinkedIn means they’re a lot more likely to perform better than adverts that send people to a landing page.
Setting up a LinkedIn Lead Generation ad is easy, and it’s likely that you probably already have access to them, even if you didn’t know.
Step-by-Step: How To Create a LinkedIn Lead Generation Ads
Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Advertising Account
Step 2: Create a LinkedIn Lead Generation ad form
In the top right of your Campaign Manager, there’s a menu item labelled ‘Tools’, hover over this to dropdown and you’ll see an option to create Lead Forms.
Creating your lead form is relatively straight forward. Once you’ve configured it how you’d like, hit Save and head back to the Campaign Manager.
Step 3: Promote Your LinkedIn Lead Generation Form
Once you’ve created your LinkedIn Lead Generation ad form, you’ll need to associate it with sponsored content in order for it to be delivered in the news feed.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Ads forms only work with Sponsored Content campaigns. Once you’ve started creating one, make sure you’ve selected Collect Leads using LinkedIn Lead Generation Ads Forms.
It isn’t necessary to choose a conversion (the form submit is the conversion).
Step 4: Create/Select Accompanying Content
Now, this step had me lost for a while. I’d created a form which I expected to select, but that isn’t until the next step. So go ahead and create new sponsored content or select an existing post that could work. You’ll add the form on the next step.
Step 5: Targeting
This is no different to LinkedIn’s existing ads. I won’t go into this in detail, but you’ll be able to find lots of useful information already published.
Step 6: Set your campaign live
Set your bids, hit Launch Campaign and off you go!