State of Social Q4 2014: LinkedIn is the real MVP

With unemployment nearing all-time lows, how is LinkedIn faring? Are job seekers still using the site? Does it have any relevance in the new labor environment?

In a word: yes.

LinkedIn’s performance was stronger than ever to close out Q4 2014, with some astounding numbers. Let’s jump into the details.

First, user growth has been stable:

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LinkedIn now has 347 million monthly active users, surpassing Twitter and Instagram. Growth is plateauing, but still strong at 5% quarter over quarter:

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Marketing Solutions, which is the advertising part of LinkedIn that marketers and communicators use, showed astonishing growth, hitting $153 million in revenue:

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While LinkedIn always sees a bit of a bump in Q4, Q4 2014 was exceptional, at 40% quarter over quarter:

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In the call notes, LinkedIn attributes this growth to its continued integration of Bizo, its marketing tools suite for B2B marketing. This strong growth has powered LinkedIn to new heights in terms of revenue per user:

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LinkedIn is just pennies away from crossing $2.00 revenue per user, and the trend for growth continues upward:

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What does all of this mean?

For marketers and communicators, the momentum has reversed in terms of balance between corporations and job seekers. Job seekers are now in the driver’s seat of the economy as unemployment scrapes new lows. As a result, employers are using LinkedIn more. This perspective is confirmed by 10% growth in LinkedIn’s corporate customers portfolio.

Employer growth is good news for marketers and communicators because corporate employees are very often the people we’re trying to reach. While job seekers and people making career transitions provide marketers with an opportunity to glean intelligence about a company, it’s the employees of corporations who are decision makers, especially in B2B marketing. Now that the pendulum has swung to employees using the network to source candidates (or possibly switch jobs), marketers will enjoy more fruitful marketing potential on the platform.

The major announcement that B2B marketers are waiting for, the relaunch of Bizo, appears to be coming in late Q1 or early Q2. In the earnings call, CFO Steve Sordello said that the salesforce was being retrained in Q1 to sell Bizo’s services as part of an integrated marketing suite.

For middle of the funnel marketers, LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator mobile app may also be worth a look. It requires the $80/month subscription, but for anyone needing outbound lead generation for social selling, the service could pay for itself in one deal. Even communicators could potentially use the service for pitching, if your media targets tend to be active on LinkedIn.

Overall, LinkedIn’s strong Q4 performance and upcoming product launches make it an essential part of any marketer’s toolkit, especially on the B2B side. Pay careful attention to their blog for announcements about the Bizo relaunch!

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology

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Posted on February 9, 2015 in Advertising, LinkedIn, Marketing, Social Media

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About the Author

Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson, and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. Christopher is a highly-sought keynote speaker thanks to his energetic, informative talks. In 2015, he delivered insightful, innovative talks on all aspects of marketing and analytics at over 30 events to critical acclaim. He is a founding member of IBM’s Watson Analytics Predictioneers, co-founder of the groundbreaking PodCamp Conference, and co-host of the Marketing Over Coffee marketing podcast. Christopher is a Google Analytics Certified Professional and a Google AdWords Certified Professional. He is the author of over two dozen marketing books including bestsellers such as Marketing White Belt: Basics for the Digital Marketer, Marketing Red Belt: Connecting With Your Creative Mind, and Marketing Blue Belt: From Data Zero to Marketing Hero.
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