Social networking sites continually fight to offer large corporations the biggest PR bangs for their bucks. Facebook offers the widest net of engagement; Twitter lets brands engage in one-on-one dialogues with an audience of millions. Now LinkedIn is showing off their latest weapon: Targeted status updates that let corporations custom tailor updates to specific micro-demographics of LinkedIn users.
LinkedIn's Targeted Status Updates program, which soft launched in April and was announced to the public at the end of June, lets companies with LinkedIn presences customize their target audience for status updates. Participating companies are given detailed analytics of users who see and interact with the status updates.
According to LinkedIn's Alison Engel, companies can post status updates directly targeted to followers based on industry, seniority, job function, company size, geographic location, and numerous other demographics. Once status updates are made, page administrators are given quick access to demographic, growth, and engagement info for LinkedIn followers. Over 2 million companies currently have Company Pages on the social networking site, and the targeted service allows "companies [to] communicate with their followers in a very personalized way and provide content tailored to specific audiences."
For LinkedIn, the move helps build crucial homepage engagement. Last week, Twitter announced that they would no longer allow tweets to be displayed on LinkedIn—a long expected move in line with Twitter's corporate tendencies toward consolidation of content and steering away from support for third-party Twitter clients or social media services such as LinkedIn or Facebook.
The strategy behind the targeted status updates seems to be linked to offering large firms a place to share information such as job opportunities and press releases with highly specific audiences. Rather than employ time-tested strategies such as email blasts, LinkedIn is hoping enough companies will give the service a shot to make it profitable. In an official blog post, LinkedIn's Dina Medeiros suggested that companies use the service to announce expansions, local events, corporate stories, insights, and to engage specific groups of users. Targeted status updates are now available to all corporate users through their home pages.
When the program entered early release mode in April 2012, initial users included AT&T, Dell, HSBC, Microsoft, Philips, and Samsung Mobile. LinkedIn declined to give figures on how many companies are now using targeted status updates due to the terms of their customer agreements.
[Image: Flickr user Hasin Hayder]