LinkedIn continues to develop into something different to what it started out as. It’s a strange phenomenon, because when LinkedIn first arrived, it had simply marketed itself as a business social networking platform, or perhaps more appropriately, a professional networking solution. It was slightly elevated when compared to other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. They were more fun and aimed at a younger demographic (and LinkedIn executives would probably be the first to agree that this was the case).
However, LinkedIn seems to be changing. It looks different now, with a cosmetic update recently, and one that genuinely does make it look more attractive. Then you have the consistent pushing of ads on the platform. LinkedIn really wants companies and brands to advertise and it has created an effective ad suite that provides value.
If there is one thing that is perhaps a little hard to swallow though, it is LinkedIn’s recent move towards e commerce. While it may not be offering Instagram levels of ‘see it, buy it’ shopping, it is definitely moving somewhere towards that.
In December 2020 LinkedIn announced ‘Product Pages’, which is a way for brands to showcase their products. There is no move towards having a similar page for the service industries, but this is bound to happen.
A Product Page is reached by a tab in a Company page. There, you can display testimonials and endorsements for your products. Essentially, it’s like having a portfolio of your products, with social proof attached.
With Product Pages you can spotlight product endorsements and testimonials by your users, gather ratings and reviews from current users, and generate leads with a custom call-to-action button, such as a demo request or contact sales form. In the new “Products” Tab, you can add new products you want to feature and include rich media like videos or product screenshots, descriptions and more.
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog, December 15 2020
The new tab will open an alphabetical list of your products (if you have more than one). The aim of the exercise seems to be to create a kind of marketplace based on social proof. This is illustrated by the fact that the reviews and endorsements on the page link back to actual LinkedIn members.
Within the Product Pages, calls to action can be included too. This means that the feature is built around conversions.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
LinkedIn became more about marketing and personal branding a while ago, but it has never been explicitly about sales. The idea of ‘developing relationships’ that were mutually beneficial has kind of held true over the years. This new feature seems to be pushing LinkedIn ever closer to being able to buy a product within LinkedIn. By default, this could mean being able to buy a product within the LinkedIn app, which is not a million miles away from being able to buy via the Instagram app.
Okay, we are not quite there yet, but if you are able to click on a call to action for a software platform that a company is selling (which is something you can do at the moment thanks to Product Pages), how long will it be before you can do the same for a shirt, or drinks coaster? And yes, we are being a little flippant here, but it’s interesting to see how far LinkedIn has moved away from what it was right at the very start.
Marketers can use a Product Page to create attractive, engaging offers, but will they? There are over 700 million users on LinkedIn, and in the B2B space, that’s impressive. However, whether or not markers and their brands will see the benefits of Product Pages remains to be seen. If they have a solid presence on LinkedIn, there could well be value there with some calls to action and some engaging content around them.