By Phil Laboon, the CEO & Co-Founder of Growth Stackers.

While Facebook and AdWords are getting the majority of attention when it comes to advertising platforms, there is an old familiar social platform that is secretly chipping away market share under the radar: LinkedIn.

Those of us over 30 probably remember LinkedIn as the original social network, launching two years before Facebook and determined to replace the printed resume. LinkedIn became a widely used platform for anyone looking to professionally network or build a career. The only thing holding back this platform's potential was the user experience, which was about as bland a gluten-free rice cake. Because people weren't engaging, marketers found it difficult to run ads that generated any type of return on investment and LinkedIn was quickly abandoned for greener pastures like Facebook, AdWords and Instagram.

Over the last year, LinkedIn has made some major overhauls to not only compete with the top social platforms but dethrone them. Many of these updates are focused on giving away more free views and impressions, which is enticing to smaller marketers and growth hackers who are looking to generate the cheapest sales possible out of every platform they use.

Here are some of the digital marketing pros and cons of LinkedIn:

The Pros:

  • LinkedIn is the only social site that has evolved into a full pay-to-play platform. This means it's possible to generate a massive amount of views, connections and traffic without having to buy ads or boost posts. Basically, if you provide good valuable content, LinkedIn will show it to a massive audience outside your connections. I have had huge success with content that asks controversial questions to get users to have a conversation on the post.
  • LinkedIn now allows 30,000 first-degree connections, which is 600 percent higher than Facebook's paltry 5,000. This means you can build a powerful following without a business page. All you need to do is reach out and provide some type of value. More likely than not, the person will accept your connection request. You can try offering free advice, link to an article or even a free e-book/whitepaper.
  • LinkedIn wall updates display much longer than any other major social platforms, meaning you will see likes, shares and comments on posts for weeks after you post. This allows businesses to keep a thread going as long as there is engagement.
  • Since they are in a professional environment, people are on their best behavior and are much less likely to start a confrontation or be negative towards a post.
  • LinkedIn is less personal than other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram, so people are typically more willing to follow or connect with you, meaning you can grow your network faster.

The Cons:

  • You won't be able to reach younger audiences that haven't started a career or are not looking to professionally network. If you want to appeal to a younger audience you will need to use platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
  • LinkedIn advertising is still fairly expensive and not as dialed in compared to other platforms that have been tweaking their process for several years.
  • LinkedIn has undisclosed rules when it comes to posting. Even the most innocent post can be taken down without any explanation. Several times I had to reword a post and repost until it was accepted, but I never knew why it wasn't accepted. This can be frustrating, as it's often a guessing game as to what's tripping the filter.
  • You can only post a 600-character status update. This severely limits the message you get across with a single post.
  • LinkedIn doesn't allow you to provide much personal information, which limits what you can do in terms of photos and videos. They do, however, let you share in-depth articles that can help you build a rapport with your connections and establish a following based on your industry knowledge.

While every marketer typically has their favorite social platforms to use, it's clear that LinkedIn is becoming a major disruptor in the industry. You can bet Zuckerberg and Pichai are paying close attention.  

Phil Laboon is a serial entrepreneur and currently the CEO & Co-Founder of the fast-growing performance marketing company Growth Stackers.

Published on: Jul 25, 2018