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By Caitlin Rambo, Marketing Assistant

Arrows

It is no secret: LinkedIn is the largest professional network available on the Internet. As of August 2011, LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, could proudly verify that the global network had over 120 million member profiles – with approximately half of these users located in the United States. In addition to individual user profiles, LinkedIn also offers company profiles. Over 2 million public and private corporations are listed on the network, and this number is growing as small businesses begin to make use of the platform.

In the past, company profile pages were a passive communication tool. Individuals would flock to the listings to pull information and statistics – which proved to be especially advantageous for job seekers.

The addition of the “company follow” feature two years ago provided further value, as individuals were able to become more engaged with the companies. Knowing exactly who their followers were in terms of demographics, companies published content that appealed to their audiences. Alternatively, the users that chose to follow provided social proof of the companies’ value to them.

Now, LinkedIn has again stepped up their level of engagement. Company pages have added a new feature: company status updates.

These updates are a great marketing tool to begin to utilize. Companies can now directly communicate with their audience by posting corporate news, product releases, promotions and other relevant information. The updates are automatically directed to the followers’ homepage news feeds, where the users can choose to engage by commenting, liking and sharing the content with others on their networks.

Updates are a great way to build engagement with current customers, potential employees and prospective clients alike. Many of us have learned to leverage the power of status updates on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. When utilized properly, this dynamic information sharing can lead content to “go viral” – an ambition that all marketers share.

Even more good news: LinkedIn has given us two metrics to monitor these conversations. Page administrators can see the number of impressions (the amount of times the update appears on various users’ news feeds) and the level of engagement (the percentage of users that decided to click, like, comment or share the content). Using these numbers we can see which content posts users best respond to.

There is one limitation. Status updates can only be posted by the administrators of a company’s LinkedIn page. However, if you are not an administrator already it is easy to become one. Connect to one of the current page administrators, and once the connection is made they are able to designate you a role on the page.

Company status updates are a great addition to the professional network. All users benefit from a higher level of interaction. Companies now have a voice that their audiences can engage in conversation with. Increased engagement translates to a more positive user experience as they interact with your brand. And the more positive affect of a consumer, the greater the probability of increased revenue potential with the user.

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by in Social

Written by: Caitlin Rambo, Marketing Assistant

The Technology Shift

In 2000, consumers were awed by the convergence of two useful technologies: the digital camera and the mobile phone. Despite the low-quality images produced by these products, consumption surged for the camera phone in the early 21st century.1

A decade later, we again see that the cell phone has evolved. This generation of “smart phones” has all of the capabilities of a camera phone, but one key differentiator prevails – the Internet! In 2011, the newest trend is not just to take a picture with your camera phone, but to use your smart phone to connect with others on the Internet via email, social networks and more!

We live in a digital world, and technological convergence with the Internet has become a standard. Smart phones, Kindles, iPads and lighter-than-air laptops have made accessing the Internet a breeze – no matter where you are.

According to Online Marketing Trends, the average American spent over 32 hours per month online in 2010.2 If over 1/5 of an American’s life is now spent online, how can we reach them with traditional advertising methods? Just like the evolution of cell phones, we need to evolve our marketing strategies.

It is no secret that the usage of the Yellow Pages is declining, and it makes sense. In a world where information can readily be pulled from online resources, why bother searching through a printed book? Search engines are the modern day solution, and search engine marketing is the future of advertising.

Search Engine Marketing

What exactly is search engine marketing? Unlike search engine optimization (SEO), SEM is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promote websites through the use of paid advertising placements and contextual advertising (advertising that targets users based on the content of the web pages that they are viewing) in search engine results pages.3 There are several platforms for online advertising. The most recognized tool is Google AdWords, but there are also ad opportunities on Yahoo! and Bing, as well as on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Different businesses have different successes with each platform. The first step is to understand your target customers and their online behavior: which websites do they frequent and what time of the day? Once you have created an ideal buyer persona, create advertisements that will accommodate to your customers needs. By showing that your business is the solution to their problems, you can drive traffic to your site and increase your business.

Google as the Online Market Leader

According to market research giant Nielsen, 65.2% of all online search engine queries in the US in February 2010 were performed by Google.4 In addition to the Google network, there are literally millions of Google partners and affiliates. This wide reach has led Google to become the dominant market leader of online advertising with their AdWords service. Creating an account on Google AdWords is free of charge; the only cost incurred comes from the keywords that you choose to bid on. The platform offers pay-per-click (PPC), cost-per-impression (CPM) and website-targeted advertising in the form of text, banners and rich media advertisements.

Users can manage their own AdWords accounts, or outsource to a third-party company that specializes in search engine marketing. Regardless of who manages the account, the key to AdWords success lies in continuous and careful monitoring and adjusting of the advertising campaigns.

Conclusion

If you are still not convinced that advertising your business online is the way to go, consider the last time that you needed to search for a service provider. What did you do?

If you needed to find a power washer in your area, did you type into the search query bar: “power washer in ( your town )? When your child decided that they wanted to start karate lessons, did you search for regional martial arts schools online to find one that was most cost effective? When you needed to find a florist spur-of-the moment in an unfamiliar town, did you use your smart phone and search for flower shops online?

The worldwide trend has revealed that there is a shift to digital medium: from the decline of the Yellow Pages to the uprising tablet era. If information is easily accessible and readily available online, then why not utilize digital technology. As marketers, we must learn how to harness the true power of the online realm. Whether you’re a small business owner with a limited budget or the SVP of Marketing for a Fortune 500 company, search engine marketing is important. If your business is not online, your competitor probably is; and your competitor is reaping the benefits of your lost business.

When it comes down to it, the real power behind search engine marketing is the element of control. Every facet of your Google AdWords campaign can be monitored, measured and altered depending on your goals. Campaigns can be designed to drive new traffic to your website or maximize your return on investment. Regardless of how you choose to measure your online marketing success, the Internet is a vital channel to utilize. Positioning your business against or above the competition through online advertising is a key competitive advantage, and the personalized metrics dashboard provided is a fundamental tool that allows you to track your online success.

Sources

1. Butcher, Dan. “Worldwide Camera Phone Sales to Exceed 1B This Year: Report – Mobile Commerce Daily – Research.” Mobile Commerce Daily. 07 Apr. 2011. http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/2011/04/07/worldwide-camera-phone-sales-to-exceed-1b-this-year-report.

2. “Average Time Spent Online per U.S. Visitor in 2010 | Online Marketing Trends.” Online Marketing Trends. 18 Feb. 2011. http://www.onlinemarketing-trends.com/2011/02/average-time-spent-online-per-us.html.

3. “Search Engine Marketing.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_marketing.

4. “Nielsen Reports February 2010 U.S. Search Rankings | Nielsen Wire.” Nielsen Wire. The Nielsen Company, 15 Mar. 2010.http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/nielsen-reports-february-2010-u-s-search-rankings.

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