Last week, I delivered a keynote presentation at LinkedIn #ConnectIn16 in Sydney, Australia. It was a fantastic event where I had an opportunity to interact with many clever marketers to learn how they use LinkedIn to reach their audiences.
While there, I worked with Edward Bray, director of marketing for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Asia Pacific. I probed Edward because I wanted to learn more about how marketers use LinkedIn Sponsored Content services.
LinkedIn Sponsored Content offering is a way for marketers to increase the reach of content that they create on LinkedIn by targeting specific audiences. While I’m normally not a fan of paid advertising, LinkedIn Sponsored Content is an exception when used to enhance the reach of the valuable information that your organization creates.
“The paid aspect really helps you amplify content,” Edward told me. “When you see your organic content getting traction, the content that’s resonating most with your audience, a lot of advertisers decide to double down on it. They extend the reach of their content through paid solutions.”
Extend the Reach of your Existing Content
Edward and I talked about my own work, the inforamtion I publish, and how I could use Sponsored Content.
For example, I could use LinkedIn Sponsored Content to push my existing SlideShare The New Rules of Selling out to more people. It currently has something like 260,000 views, but I could create programs to reach even more people. For example, I can specifically target sales managers on LinkedIn and get my content in front of people who do not yet know me or my work.
LinkedIn Sponsored Content, if it is used to promote quality content, is valuable for LinkedIn members because it appears as updates in their feed.
This approach would also work great for Newsjacking, the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story to generate tons of media coverage, get sales leads, and grow business. When you create content around a breaking story, a blog post for example, it is essential to get it out right away – in real-time. LinkedIn Sponsored Content would be a channel to get your newsjacking into the market quickly and to the right people.
“As the LinkedIn product portfolio has matured, our customers have gotten a lot of success out of content,” Edward says. “The content offering that we have now has been transformational. Sponsored Content at LinkedIn that appears in the feed is now the most successful product in the history of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and the fastest growing product in LinkedIn. And the reason it's been so successful is because it drives success for our customers.”
If you’ve used Google AdWords, you’ll find the LinkedIn Sponsored Content app to be similar to use. You set a budget, work out how many people you want to distribute the content to, and set up the program using a simple interface.
More information on Sponsored Content including cast studies can be found here.
“One of the benefits of LinkedIn is that we know exactly who our members are,” Edward says. “We know what they do for a living. We know a lot of information about where they've worked, what their interests are, what groups they're interested in. So the targeting capabilities of LinkedIn Sponsored Content are only limited by your imagination. You can think about all the different ways you can cut this data and use that targeting to reach your audiences. While we love to use targeting we also don't encourage micro-targeting because you might be missing out on people who would be relevant to reach.”
Quality Content is Essential
Just like any content marketing program, using LinkedIn Sponsored Content must start with creating something that’s valuable and relevant for the audience.
LinkedIn members aren't stupid,” Edward says. “Members can see when something's an ad and they know when something is valuable and they want to engage with it. If you want to increase your chances of engagement, you've got to create something that's going to be valuable to the member. Then as they develop a relationship with your brand then the sales person gets involved, also on LinkedIn. You can take them through the entire funnel and purchase journey on one platform.”
Photo of me on the stage at #ConnectIn16 in Sydney on July 14, 2016 by Dan O’Brien and used courtesy of LinkedIn Australia