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Ever since Microsoft purchased LinkedIn for a hefty $26.2 billion in 2016, the online giant has been steadily working to break free of its type casting as just a job search community, and instead evolve into a social media tool users can point at more aspects of their business. It’s released new features intended to move it towards this goal, including new content and storytelling tools for digital marketers, as well as the re-branded Pages platform last year.
Today, LinkedIn announced a further enhancement to Pages intended to let users build a social media presence and community around not just their companies, but also individual products or services. The new feature is called the LinkedIn Product Pages and will take the form of a new tab on your company’s Page, appropriately titled Products.
A Product Conversation
Once Page administrators fill out the information in the new tab and have it vetted by LinkedIn, the new view will become available to LinkedIn Pages visitors. Here, they’ll find specific information about your company’s individual products and services. From the company’s side, this can include marketing and sales spotlights, as well as testimonials and reviews from users. From the visitors side, they’ll see LinkedIn members from inside their own networks who have connections to both the Pages company as well as specific products under that umbrella.
“We see Products as the next horizon for Pages,” says Dacheng Zhao, Principal Product Manager for LinkedIn Pages. “How do we foster community around not just Pages customers, but what those customers sell so they can use LinkedIn to actually grow their business? That’s Products.” He likened the new feature to a digital storefront with which LinkedIn intends its users to drive “direct business outcomes.”
“Say you’re thinking about buying into Microsoft Azure SQL Server,” explains Zhao. “By visiting the Product Page, you’ll see detailed information about it from Microsoft as well as who in your network has expertise in Azure SQL Server so you can start a conversation about it right there.”
Call to Action for Lead Generation
All this will serve to create conversations around a business’ products in addition to the business itself, but LinkedIn is taking this one step further. The company is also including a custom call-to- action (CTA) capability that will let Pages owners ask visitors for lead information (name, email, phone, and the like) right off the page, or take them to an entirely different site away from LinkedIn to enable different kinds of actions. The company feels this is the first step in taking it beyond social media marketing and into an active lead management tool.
“You can add links to take visitors from your company’s LinkedIn Page to an off-LinkedIn CTA site right now,” says LinkedIn’s Sr. Director of Product Management for Pages, Rishi Jobanputra. “But we felt it important to add a directly accessible and customizable CTA capability to Product Pages because our data tells us users see a very steep attrition rate when they move visitors to another site.”
Asked whether Pages will evolve beyond lead generation and into other aspects of closing a sale, Jobanputra replied, “We intend to keep evolving this capability in the future with an eye towards closing the full business loop.” Depending on the features LinkedIn intends to include, this might mean a future where the social property feeds leads directly into your customer relationship management (CRM) tool or can even act as the CRM tool itself.
The new Products tab is currently still in broad final phase testing, but Zhao says the company is aiming for a full release by mid-January 2021.
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