I. In the Beginning, There Was This Cool Thing Called Facebook
Like millions of others, my first experience with social media was setting up a personal Facebook page for myself when I was a high school freshman. Yeah, there were tons of pictures of me with my BFFs, photos of my favorite desserts and the all-too-predictable posts on my teenage crushes (The Jonas Brothers, if you must know).
But I learned the true power of social media when I created a Facebook page for my charitable organization, Students Supporting AIDS Awareness.
By attracting over 1,000 likes to my Facebook page, I came to understand that social media could open up vast portals to attract like-minded people. This led me to create my own blog, NicolettePost.com. I selected a WordPress template that would allow me to express my view on politics, culture and current events.
II. Hello, World – Please Read My Blog
Remember that 2011 amateur music video by a high school student named Rebecca Black called “Friday?” It was a huge so-bad-it’s-good music video that it turned into a massive internet meme with hundreds of millions of view. I wrote an article about the song on NicolettePost.com, telling all her detractors to “admit it,” they secretly loved the song. A weird thing happened. Once I tweeted a link to the piece – my own article went viral and appeared on hundreds of other blogs and websites over the course of a few weeks.
This encouraged me to post regularly. I’m convinced that NicolettePost.com was the factor that provided me the opportunity to participate as an intern on Congressman Jim Himes’ re-election campaign, and I do believe it helped my application to Villanova University.
So, as I started to think about what I was hoping to do the summer after my first year at ‘Nova, I thought, why not take the power of the internet to the next level?
III. Note to Self: Forget Facebook – LinkedIn Rules
A few years ago, my stepfather told me about LinkedIn (he has over 3,000 people in his network). I joined LinkedIn and peeked around the site.
Three things jumped out at me right away:
- The powerful search tool allowed me to discover and meet hundreds of dynamic and accomplished ‘Nova alums
- The LinkedIn Group function provided an amazing opportunity to interact with ‘Nova alum all of whom were eager to connect with others from the school
- LinkedIn Ads are an exceptionally precise way to target people with your message
Then I plunged headfirst into learning everything I could about LinkedIn’s ad campaigns. It was surprisingly fun, familiarizing myself with terms such as “click-through rate (CTR),” “optimization techniques” and “conversation rates.”
I learned that the average CTR was 0.025%. I figured I could do much better than that and decided to gamble $200 of my summer lifeguarding savings on a LinkedIn Ad campaign. At a bid of $2 per click, I researched ways to maximize the effectiveness of my ad among the target audience:
- don’t go for the hard sale — the sole objective of the ad is to get someone to click the link to my blog post
- appeal to my target audience with the most compelling brand name possible, hence, VILLANOVA UNDERGRAD INTERNSHIP!
- join only those LinkedIn Groups with successful people from ‘Nova Nation in the Northeast (New York and Philadelphia, especially) and in the professions in which I’m seeking an internship (media, finance, politics, and law).
IV. The Bottom Line on My $200 Ad Campaign
I began running my campaign in early March. How have I done so far, you may ask?
Amazingly well. . Out of 49,623 impressions, my average click-through rate since the beginning of the campaign is….(drumroll)…. 0.197%. That’s nearly 800% better than the average campaign! In fact, LinkedIn is telling me I keep hitting my maximum daily ceiling on clicks:
Ads Optimization Report
Account: Nicolette Weinbaum
I downloaded the cool stats that LinkedIn Ads provide on who clicked on my ad. I found that 48.4% of those who clicked on the ad were senior executives. Here’s the breakdown of the clickthroughs by profession:
But here’s the really amazing part. Back on March 16, I refined my target audience by selecting members of seven Villanova groups in LinkedIn related both geographically and professionally to my search. This means my target audience went down from 48,000 to about 14,750 LinkedIn members. I was concerned that reducing the size of my potential audience would reduce the effectiveness of the click-through rate.
Boy, was I ever wrong about that.
Immediately, my CTR exploded. It went from a respectable 0.149% to 0.522%! The rate was now 2000% over the LinkedIn average CTR of 0.025% More to the point, I hit my maximum daily click rate for 11 consecutive days so far. No wonder LinkedIn wants me to raise my budget – I’d bet my ad has just about the highest clickthrough rate of any ad currently on Linkedin!
Of course, it’s not all about the CTRs. It’s about the follow-through. So, from the 98 clicks, I’ve gotten about a dozen fan letters (“how clever of you, Nicolette!”) and, most importantly, five warm leads for internships (I’ve interviewed with two of them so far). All in all, the $200 I spent in savings from last summer’s lifeguarding job looks like a smart investment.
So, what is my take away so far on using targeted LinkedIn Ads? I would emphatically agree that this innovative and targeted approach in using social media can be an exceptionally powerful way to stand out in a crowd. There are many talented and highly educated competitors I have nationwide in Class of 2016. With a little ingenuity, a modest LinkedIn campaign budget and some loyal alumni out there in the ‘Nova Nation, I just might wind up with a terrific summer internship
I’ll let you know how it all turns out!
 Although this might have been some cut-and-paste virus, because the same paragraphs appeared all over the web. But , for a short while it appeared on thousands of websites!).