As more social networks roll out advertising features for businesses, you may find it too overwhelming to explore the options each one offers. If you’re like many advertisers, that could be reason enough to stick with the larger networks and ignore the rest.

With 259 million members worldwide, LinkedIn doesn’t have quite as large of an audience as Facebook (1.4 billion) or Twitter (883 million), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable marketing tool. It can be just as effective as its larger counterparts – and even more so if you are a B2B company.

LinkedIn caters to businesses and professionals, making it ideal for advertisers who want to reach that audience. So how can you start using the platform to connect with business owners and working professionals?

Create a Company Page

In order to advertise on LinkedIn, you’ll need a company page. If you don’t already have a page for your company, creating one is a pretty quick process. As long as you’re already logged into your personal account, just go to LinkedIn’s company page and follow the instructions.

From there, spend some time setting up your page. Include basic information like your website and location, as well as your specialties, industry, and company size. You should also encourage your employees to connect with the page. It’s important to do this before advertising, because ads coming from a complete page will look much more reputable than those coming from an empty profile.

Once you’ve finished the setup process and are ready to start advertising, go to LinkedIn’s campaign manager. Here, you have two choices: “create an ad” or “sponsor content.”

ad or content

The one you choose will depend on your advertising goals, but we’ll start by going through the process for setting up a regular ad.

Regular Ads

This option is for creating sidebar ads that display next to users’ feeds and the pages they visit while browsing LinkedIn.

sidebar ads

They are small, brief ads that include a thumbnail image and are designed to get users to click through to your website.

Create Your Ad

If you choose this option, the first step is to create your ad campaign.

ad creation

You can create up to 15 different ads, which LinkedIn recommends, and each one includes a headline of up to 25 characters and a description of up to 75 characters. The real challenge with these is to get your message across in 100 total characters, so LinkedIn suggests that you use strong call to action phrases like “Try,” “Download,” “Sign up,” or “Request a quote.”

Targeting

After you’ve created your ads, you’ll need to specify who you want to reach with them. LinkedIn’s targeting options are tailored to advertisers trying to reach professionals, so after choosing a location, you can opt to target users based on their company by size, industry, or name, and job title by title, category, or seniority.

ad targeting

They also offer options like age, gender, school, field of study, degree, skills, and LinkedIn groups, as well as “audience expansion,” which allows you to reach members similar to your target audience.

Pricing

LinkedIn offers two pricing options: cost per click (CPC) and cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM).

ad pricing

With CPC, you pay every time someone clicks on your ad. This means that even if thousands of people see it, you won’t be charged until someone actually clicks through to your site. With CPM, you pay every time LinkedIn shows your ad to 1,000 users, regardless of whether or not anyone clicks on it.

Both pricing models operate like auctions, and you compete with other advertisers for impressions and clicks. Your bid is the max amount you are willing to pay for whichever action you’ve chosen.

After setting a bid, you’ll need to determine your daily budget. Your campaign will stop when you hit this amount, although LinkedIn warns that your spend could actually be slightly higher because the process isn’t instantaneous.

The final step in creating an ad is to determine the length of your campaign. You can either select an end date or opt to have it run until you manually stop it. From there, your campaign is ready to launch.

Sponsored Updates

In addition to sidebar ads, LinkedIn also gives businesses the option to sponsor updates. Instead of creating advertisements, you simply pay to increase the reach of your organic posts. If you’re familiar with Facebook’s sponsored posts or Twitter’s promoted tweets, this is a very similar feature.

google sponsored update

Sponsored updates appear in line with other posts in users’ feeds, and the only way they are set apart is by the word “Sponsored” under your company’s name.

Choose a Post

If you want to sponsor an update, the first step is to choose an existing update from your page.

select sponsored post

LinkedIn will provide a list of your most recent content, and you simply have to check the boxes of one or more posts.

Targeting

The targeting options and process for sponsored updates are the same as regular ads.

Pricing

The pricing model and process for sponsored updates are the same as regular ads, but the suggested bids are slightly different.

sponsored pricing

PPC option suggested bids are relatively similar ($5.55-9.33, minimum $2 bid for ads vs. $5.67-10.09, minimum $2.50 for sponsored updates), but the difference in CPM pricing is huge. The minimum bid for 1,000 regular ad impressions is $2 (although LinkedIn suggests $2.85-4.62), but the minimum bid for 1,000 sponsored update impressions is $10.50 (with a suggested $18.55-28.91).

This means that a sponsored update impressions costs about five times as much as regular ad impressions. That being said, it also takes up much more space on users’ screens and does not have the extremely short character limitations of a sidebar ad.

Guidelines

LinkedIn’s guidelines for advertisements and sponsored updates aren’t anything out of the ordinary, but it is still wise to look them over before starting a campaign. They do not allow false information, improper grammar, or inappropriate language in any paid content, and businesses can’t advertise illegal products, dating sites, gambling, hate or violence, weapons, multi-level marketing programs, or inflammatory religious or political content.

Is LinkedIn advertising right for you?

LinkedIn advertising isn’t for every company, but it can definitely be useful if you are trying to reach professionals. Companies seeking applicants for open positions might see success with it, as well as businesses who offer products and services to other businesses.

This doesn’t mean that the platform can’t be useful for B2C companies, though. LinkedIn could be part of a wide variety of industries’ social strategies, but it will likely require more testing and direct targeting for those who are not trying to reach the platform’s core demographic.

This post on LinkedIn advertising is the fourth and final in a series about paid advertising options on social media. Check out our previous posts about Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! Curious to know about advertising options on any other network, or additional social media advertising methods I didn’t explain? Leave a comment and maybe I’ll write a post about it!