As an earnest young digital marketer walking around with the power of a super computer in my pocket, I am constantly using social media to build my own brand on both a personal and professional level. My personal feeds are mainly used to share mountain road trips, local Denver eateries, and career updates, while for the businesses I market for I use it to share industry knowledge, new product announcements and insight into their company.
Beyond regular posting, the main social media platforms vary in ways in which they can be a piece of a successful promotional campaign; you can now reach potential customers through paid Instagram ads, and promoted posts on Facebook are a vital way to reach a specific target audience. Likewise, LinkedIn has moved up the proverbial marketing ladder as the top B2B social media marketing platform with 400+ million users. This professional network was just purchased by Microsoft, which strikes an interest from me as a marketer because it will undoubtedly lead to new ways to converse with your audience.
The business software giant announced in June that it will purchase LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion in cash, following suit of a long line of social media buyouts by larger companies. Big money has been the name of the game; Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, and Google bought YouTube back in 2006 for $1.65 billion. Similar to how these larger tech companies have been "monetizing" their social media purchases, we can expect Microsoft to integrate LinkedIn’s vast data stores within their existing software and create more ways for marketers to reach their audience.
Tracking Location Micro-trends
One of the many chunks of data that Microsoft will gain from its purchase of LinkedIn is access to its user-specific location information. This will allow Microsoft to see who logs in to LinkedIn and where they are, which will lead to tracking the latest business trends. For example, if there is an upticking trend of users accessing LinkedIn from Nantong, China one week, and then the same users logging in from San Francisco a week later, we could assess that there is a growing connection between these regions. Furthermore, it would be possible to detect what industry the majority of these users work in. A micro-trend like this affects how a business markets their product or service; allowing us marketers to know if someone is a frequent traveler, the places they travel to, and how our messages should be tailored.
Utilizing LinkedIn's Abilities
Without disclosing any specific details, LinkedIn’s official blog states that Microsoft and LinkedIn have “a common mission centered on empowering people and organizations” and together they will be “Creating more connected, intelligent and product experiences.” Time will tell what exactly this will entail, but we can make assumptions based off of what we know about the two companies.
Outside of location data, Microsoft will have access to the rest of the LinkedIn analytics and data that it collects. Besides continuing to grow the LinkedIn platform and improve their advertisement options, we can expect Microsoft to integrate these analytics into its current business software. Microsoft already has an array of business apps and programs that over 1 billion people use, and you probably use at least one daily. They likely will not change its core software, but the door has been unlocked for customization of communication between people in their professional lives (much like CloudMagic’s sender profile). This could give you access to someone’s LinkedIn profile, job title and more, right inside a Microsoft program.
Improving B2B Marketing
If you market for a B2B company, Microsoft owning LinkedIn promises to bring innovative ways to communicate outside of just a generic advertisement. With access to LinkedIn’s data, we can expect to have more marketing channels opened through the rest of Microsoft’s products. There probably will not be banner ads at the top of your Word document, but it is not so crazy to think that Microsoft will use what they know about your audience to help businesses communicate outside of just on the LinkedIn platform. LinkedIn already offers the ability to send sponsored InMail that goes straight to a users' inbox, so an expansion of this direct communication advertising into more of Microsoft's products is not unlikely.
Microsoft’s access to demographics, device preferences, and organization affiliations will give even more insight into habits of a certain individual at a company. Say you want to market towards an individual at a cloud software company; LinkedIn could pull device usage information from everyone working at a certain set of companies within this industry, which would help you tailor your marketing messages a bit more towards that industry. This raises some privacy concerns, but Microsoft is a security leader and we can expect them to continue to give users the privacy they expect within their workplace communications.
Yammer, which is owned by Microsoft, is a team messaging tool that connects Office 365 with a powerful communication channel. The groups feature allows you to share ideas with coworkers and give you the ability to upload files into conversations. This functionality already makes Yammer is a promising tool for many businesses, but with Microsoft owning both Yammer and LinkedIn, we can expect there to be cooperation and collaboration between the two.
Overall, LinkedIn brings people together while Microsoft gives professionals the tools they need to succeed at what they do. The combination of these two robust platforms not only will enable marketers with more information at their fingertips, but also allow smoother communication and work between businesses. Keep your eyes open in the ending months of 2016 and beginning of 2017 for some exciting capabilities that will no doubt arise from this.