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LinkedIn Launches Direct Sponsored Content: What It Means For Marketers

Posted on the 31 July 2014 by Shellykramer @ShellyKramer

LinkedIn Launches Direct Sponsored ContentLinkedIn’s latest initiative to attract brands to the platform is all about direct sponsored content. It’s kind of a big deal, because in the past the only option for a brand to “promote” content was to share something on its corporate page and then pay to promote, or sponsor, it. That meant that that message was blasted out to all followers of the brand’s company page, with no targeting.

LinkedIn’s direct sponsored content offering is different. Direct sponsored content affords the opportunity for a brand to identify and target a specific audience and pay to promote content specifically to that audience.

An Example of How Direct Sponsored Content Works

Here’s an example of how direct sponsored content could work for you. Say you’re an engineering consulting firm and a market you serve (and want to build more brand awareness in) is the booming oil and gas industry. You could develop content for your corporate blog specific to the trends, concerns, issues faced, etc., of the audience in that industry that you’d like to serve and publish it. Of course you’d also share it on your LinkedIn company page (and in other social channels) and the hope would be people will see the post you’ve shared, be interested enough to want to read what you’ve written, and find their way to your site. And that tactic? It’s not necessarily a bad one and not one to stop doing.

But if you really wanted to power that piece of content (and your reputation as a thought leader, problem solver and, even better, potential solution provider in the oil and gas industry), you could explore using LinkedIn’s direct sponsored content offering. This would allow you to identify a specific audience for which that content would potentially resonate most with using keywords, company names, titles, etc., and then pay to promote your content specifically to that target audience using the LinkedIn news feed.

Why Targeting is Important

This could be a huge benefit to brands, especially in the B2B space, and a way to dial in to specific target audiences, develop content intended for those audiences, then test the effectiveness of that content.

This could also be extremely beneficial to large companies who serve many industries. Using that same engineering consulting firm example above, that firm likely serves clients in the aviation, energy, transmission and distribution and water industries, in addition to the oil and gas industry. Thus, a large part of the audience they might’ve amassed as a result of their community building efforts relative to their LinkedIn Company Page might have little to no interest in what’s going on in the oil and gas industry. In fact, many of their own employees probably also have little interest in content specific to the oil and gas industry; they probably only have the bandwidth to care about their own niches within the industries they serve. As a result, content the brand develops and shares on that topic is likely passed over by many for whom it’s just not interesting or relevant enough to what they do for them to stop, read, investigate, share, etc. This is true as much internally as it is externally – we all only have so much share of mind we can devote to consuming content and when something is not particularly relevant to what we need or do, it rarely is enough to garner our interest.

When it comes to consuming content, most people will agree on two fundamentals: here’s too much noise and not enough time. Targeting your content marketing efforts is not just smart marketing, it’s a critical component of your overall success if lead generation is your ultimate goal. And who’s not in the business of lead gen?

Want Better Results: Budget For Them

Whether your company is large or small, it’s important to understand that just like the “social media is free we all can do this ourselves” mindset, when it comes to content marketing today, everybody’s in the publishing business. Every brand has become a publisher (or wants to) and people are spewing out content right and left, then wondering why it’s not delivering those magical results (leads, leads, leads) they’re expecting overnight. As mentioned above, there’s more competition for eyeballs than ever before and just because you write it absolutely does not mean they will come.

Smart brands will learn that just as they have to spend money on advertising if they want success with social media, they’ve likewise got to be creative when it comes to getting the most out of their content marketing efforts. That means they’ve got to use data to drive their strategy, get smarter about targeting, and understand how to more effectively measure the ROI of their content marketing efforts. Without question, that also means that they need to allocate a budget to support their content marketing efforts and this new offering from LinkedIn might be something worth considering.


LinkedIn has long been a very profitable business social network, and this move into targeted updates has been in the works for a while. According to the LinkedIn blog, their Sponsored Updates product offering accounts for almost 20% of revenue for their Marketing Solutions division, and at just a year old, that’s nothing to shake a stick at. This is yet another move by LinkedIn to leverage the power of the business professional networking site to deliver results. Will it work for you? I don’t know. But I do think that there are more reasons to check it out and experiment for yourselves than there are not to. Especially for those of you in the B2B space, this could be a great way to develop a competitive advantage. Is it cheap? I doubt it. But since when did any kind of effective business development tactic or marketing campaign come without a price tag attached?

What do you think? Does this make sense to explore as part of your corporate content marketing and business development initiatives or is it something you’ve just got no interest whatsoever in? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Also, if you try LinkedIn Direct Sponsored Content, please know that I’d love to hear your feedback and what kind of results you see, good, bad, or indifferent.

Want More Info?

If you’re serious about either learning more or exploring this, you’ll need to be equally serious about allocating a budget to these efforts. You’ve got to be a current LinkedIn Marketing Solutions customer or be willing to become one. To get started, you’ll need a LinkedIn company page and an advertising account. It is fairly easy to set up, but here’s a short video from LinkedIn on how to get started:

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

More resources on this topic:

LinkedIn Opens Ad Platform
LinkedIn Ads Can Be Tested and Targeted Like Never With Direct Sponsored Content
Facebook Unpublished Page Posts

photo credit: clasesdeperiodismo via photopin cc

LinkedIn Launches Direct Sponsored Content: What It Means For Marketers is a post from: V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency

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