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Despite a Pandemic-Driven Decline in Usage, LinkedIn Is in a Premium Position for Canada’s B2B Marketers

LinkedIn is the modern professional’s digital Rolodex. Since its launch in 2003, the platform has afforded its users professional network continuity in an era of fluid career movement. In fact, it’s LinkedIn that has helped facilitate greater career mobility from company to company, and even industry to industry. This unmatched utility has led to dedicated usage. For B2B marketers, whose objective is connecting with decision-makers for business purchases, the platform has become a primary promotional and lead-generation tool.

In H1 2020, LinkedIn averaged 8.7 million monthly visitors—or 27.1% of internet users—in Canada across all platforms, including the mobile app, according to Comscore MMX Multi-Platform. Usage peaked in January, typically a strong month for the social network. Since February of this year, however, usage has declined month to month, sinking to 8.3 million visitors in June.

The pandemic contributed to this decline in two notable ways. Employment levels and hiring both cratered in March and April due to government lockdown measures. People also turned to more personal social media for connecting with friends and family and for health and safety information. There was a slight uptick in mobile app usage in May, likely driven by users looking to re-enter the workforce.

According to an April 2020 poll from the Ryerson University Social Media Lab, LinkedIn trails only two other social networks, Facebook and Instagram, in the number of account holders in Canada. Of the adult internet users in Canada surveyed, 44% said they had a LinkedIn account, compared with 83% for Facebook and 51% for Instagram.

In terms of daily use, however, LinkedIn ranked last among the social networks, with only 27% of respondents reporting they visited the platform every day. That reflects the dispassionate utility of the platform, in stark contrast with the emotional conversations, often in reaction to societal trends and developments, taking place on other social media sites.

For B2B marketers, LinkedIn is the top digital channel for executing both organic and paid campaigns. In recent years, LinkedIn has released an increasing number of features that support B2B marketing efforts. Such features include letting marketers share content on a company page to create engagement and offering paid ads that help generate leads. Few would argue that LinkedIn is as feature-rich as other social media marketing platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But LinkedIn is closing the gap, and B2B marketers are starting to take note.

“LinkedIn is included in about 80% of campaigns we run for B2B companies,” said Lisa Shepherd, president of Mezzanine Growth, a Toronto-based B2B agency. “B2B companies tend to have a long selling cycle, involving several decision-makers and influencers. You can be certain that at least one of them is going to check out your company on LinkedIn.”

Some 73.0% of B2B brand marketers worldwide said LinkedIn was the social media platform that generated the most return on investment (ROI), according to an Incite Group survey published in February 2020. Respondents ranked the platform well ahead of Facebook (42.8%), Instagram (25.7%), and Twitter (20.3%).

“The ultimate way to succeed on LinkedIn is to do both organic and paid promotion,” said Steve Watt, vice president of marketing at Grapevine6, a Toronto-based ad tech firm focused on social media content. “You want to empower all of your people to engage as individuals and make themselves magnets. At the same time, you would be wise to do some good account-targeted paid work on LinkedIn, where you’re driving content toward the right people in the right organizations, in the right industries.”