On Monday, Microsoft announced a $26.2 billion deal to acquire professional social platform LinkedIn. The acquisition is Microsoft’s biggest to date, topping the $8.5 billion it spent on Skype in 2011 and the $7.2 billion it paid for Nokia mobile phone unit in 2013. Microsoft is paying $196 per share in an all-cash deal that represents a 50% premium on LinkedIn’s share price.
Microsoft’s vision is to empower every individual and organization in the world to achieve more. LinkedIn’s vision is to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. As these two technology giants come together, there are many potential opportunities that will be created for brands and marketers.
- Big Data will enable Personalized Marketing:
What happens when Microsoft’s ecosystem of over one billion customers integrates with LinkedIn’s power of social and engagement? Marketers will have the opportunity to leverage big data to enable hyper-targeted marketing initiatives. There is a likely scenario in the near future, where marketers will have unprecedented access to decision makers. A decision maker’s data will be unified and the right data will surface at the right time on either LinkedIn, Outlook, Skype or Office giving sponsored content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem. Additionally, a brand’s sponsored content could be interwoven into the decision maker’s LinkedIn newsfeed beautifully with the happenings at her workplace, her projects and her professional initiatives. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft and LinkedIn navigate the complexities of privacy and data sharing with respect to this particular advertising offering.
- Opportunities for HR Marketing:
In today’s global economy, there is a growing concern among organizations about finding, motivating and retaining the best talent. In a 2015 PWC survey, a whopping 73% of CEOs reported being concerned about the availability of key skills in the workforce. The last decade has seen many companies invest efforts in the development of an Employee Value Proposition and the production of employer brand guidelines with the aim to the company’s recruitment advertising. However, all these efforts are in the nascent stage as many HR and Marketing leaders still struggle to understand how digital can be leveraged for employer branding.
This merger has the potential to change this scenario. Now, Microsoft has the opportunity to educate and enable its 70 million+ Office 365 clients by offering them an integrated digital HR Marketing solution. In turn, LinkedIn will be able to maximize on Microsoft’s reach with small, medium and large organizations to market its social networking platform for employer branding and its learning and development solution, Lynda.com/LinkedIn. Organizations, irrespective of their size, will have the opportunity to establish themselves as attractive and relevant employer brands.
Social CRM for B2B Marketing:
Social Selling has redefined the B2B marketing journey. Social selling is about leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and ultimately, achieve your sales goals. 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespersons that connect with relevant insights and opportunities.
LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator and Microsoft’s CRM software, Dynamics, have the potential to create a powerful social CRM that will allow businesses to interact and engage with investors, clients and customers through meaningful insights and content marketing.
To conclude, the Microsoft and LinkedIn deal has the potential to unleash a whole new, personalized, communication channel for companies and brands to reach out to clients and potential employees to market their brand offerings, employer value proposition and promos. I encourage marketers to immediately start having discussions with their internal stakeholders and external agencies to start preparing for the exciting days to come.