When you think about social listening, which platforms spring to mind? Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, maybe even TikTok or YouTube?
But what about LinkedIn? It’s easy to dismiss the platform as a channel for job-hunting and professional networking, and therefore not relevant for consumer insights or marketing applications, but it can be a valuable source of data.
LinkedIn is a highly successful social media platform:
- 774 million registered users
- 57 million business profiles
- $10 billion annual revenues in 2021
Founded in 2002 and acquired by Microsoft in 2016, the platform continues to grow significantly in user numbers and revenues each year. In terms of functionality it offers many features similar to those found in Facebook:
- Personal profiles
- Company profiles
- Discussion groups
- Text, image, and video content in posts
- Events pages
- Direct messages
However, there are also some key differences between LinkedIn and Facebook that make it particularly useful for social listening projects.
Benefits of LinkedIn for Social Listening Programs
Firstly, on Facebook an individual’s personal profile is largely kept private, so it’s impossible for social listening platforms to collect data from people’s posts; we can’t look at the conversations they’re having and analyze them, even in an anonymized way.
But LinkedIn is mostly open, although it’s possible to make an account completely private, almost all users leave theirs open. This means it’s possible to view people’s profiles and posts even if you are not connected to them, or without being signed into the LinkedIn platform at all. Profile data is openly available to view and analyze.
So that’s one big advantage, all those conversations taking place on LinkedIn are publicly accessible, the same as on Twitter profiles. But there’s another big advantage that LinkedIn has over Twitter.
On Facebook people tend to use their real names and they’re connected to people they know in real life, which has an impact on the kind of conversations they have. On Twitter people are often anonymous, using a screen-name instead of their real identity. The way people talk when they are amongst friends and family is different to the way they talk when they are speaking anonymously, and that impacts the way you interpret that social data.
Consumer conversations on Facebook are more genuine, in some respects, because it’s a place where people talk to other people in their social circle. But those conversations are also private.
On Twitter, the conversations are public, but because they are often anonymous, we can’t be as certain that we’re seeing the full picture.
LinkedIn is a platform where people use their real identities and the conversation is openly visible, which makes it somewhat unique amongst social media services.
When people post on their LinkedIn profiles, we know that they’re speaking in a way that is visible to their colleagues, current and former employers, and a wider network of professional contacts. This means, broadly, that the quality of discussion on the platform is relatively high. Yes, there are a lot of sales and marketing messages, but people also post their thoughts and opinions on a wide range of matters which could be of interest to insight professionals.
Primarily LinkedIn social data will be useful to B2B marketers, but B2C brands shouldn’t ignore the platform because every professional is a consumer too, and not everything they post on LinkedIn is strictly work related.
Finally, because of the very nature of LinkedIn, analysts have access to better information about users. Typically, we can see a LinkedIn user’s job title, which company they work for, their geographic location, and education level, plus their profile picture can give us an idea of their age and gender. All this information can help us to build a more detailed picture about a particular audience than would be possible on most other social platforms.
So when you’re planning social listening projects, don’t neglect LinkedIn, because it provides much richer social data than most people give it credit for.
If you need help understanding how to analyze social conversations on LinkedIn, we can help. Our platform provides access to LinkedIn post data, so contact us for a demo to find out more.