There could be a lot of potential for improved B2B communications for small and medium sized businesses with Microsoft’s acquisition of the business social media site, LinkedIn.

Microsoft anticipate an improved engagement level between LinkedIn and Office 365, and as a result new business opportunities will be created where there may have been none or very little before.

So, what can we expect to happen?

For most medium and large businesses Microsoft Outlook is still the preferred email provider, so this could mean the opportunity for placing sponsored ads inside Outlook. Sponsored ads is something that Google are already very successfully running within their Gmail system, so it only seems logical that B2B companies would take advantage of this option too.

With regards to businesses using LinkedIn for B2B networking, we could also see LinkedIn ads expanding into the whole Microsoft suite, including Skype, Office 365 and MSN. This will offer increased ability for small and medium sized businesses to engage with other professionals in their sector or niche for either business collaborations, networking or marketing opportunities.

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, welcomes the new opportunities for business that the takeover will offer and said that this includes, “Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory.”

It is also thought that Microsoft could merge Bing search history with LinkedIn to enable businesses to improve their lead generation and enable them to re-target their advertising. This would be a very welcomed step for social medial marketers who use account-based targeting as part of their strategy.

B2B Lookalike Audiences on LinkedIn

Microsoft Dynamics users could benefit greatly from merging CRM data with LinkedIn data as this could generate lookalike audiences for them on the LinkedIn platform. This information would be based on highly accurate social graphic data from both systems producing very high quality audiences to target. A great bonus for B2B businesses who rely heavily on demand generation.

There is certainly a lot to look forward to for B2B companies using both LinkedIn and Microsoft software. This step is sure to provide plenty of unique social data about professionals using LinkedIn, and will be a win-win opportunity for social media marketers using the new ad platforms to target fresh leads.

What about Skype? How does this fit in?

Skype really has opened the door for people wishing to connect over the internet, and since Microsoft’s purchase of Skype in 2011, the system has really evolved under the influence of the the software giant.

The $26.2 billion deal for Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is the largest since their purchase of Skype, which was purchased for $8.5 billion. Since the takeover Microsoft have been quietly working on Skype and also launched ‘Skype for Business’ in an effort to keep the chat system competitive and versatile. Skype for business is separate from the main system and focusses more on company wide conference calling and is aiming to encourage businesses to change their telephone systems for Microsoft’s Skype and other cloud-based services.

Competition is rife though with Facebook-owned Messenger and WhatsApp, so whatever Microsoft plan to do with Skype they will face challenges from the ever evolving tech industry and other big players in the market.

Will we use Skype through LinkedIn?

There are clues circulating about how Skype is going to be integrated with LinkedIn, and industry analysts are predicting good things for their future. In the five years since Microsoft purchased Skype it has been carefully re-engineered and intertwined with MS Office in an effort to create more intelligent software for future use and to improve its overall quality.

The past five years has seen the average number of monthly Skype users rise from 170 million people per month to 300 million per month, nearly doubling their original customer base in that time. However, when compared to the explosion in web-native chat providers such as Facebook’s Messenger app, which was launched in the same year as Microsoft purchased Skype, the figures pale in comparison with one billion active monthly users.

Skype will be fully migrated to the Microsoft cloud – a process that has taken the last two years to re-engineer – and they have added many new features currently being enjoyed by businesses such as Office productivity software and the option to tack on other MS products.

Very much being engineered for business use, Skype being integrated with LinkedIn will see cross-company collaboration as well as bringing a new level of convenience and opportunity for B2B companies to connect with each other through LinkedIn.

It looks like there are very exciting times ahead indeed for B2B companies!