LinkedIn Introduces New "Sponsored Updates"

Association of Strategic Marketing
July 25, 2013 — 1,535 views  
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LinkedIn recently announced in a blog post that it will be rolling out a new feature called Sponsored Updates. The feature is being hailed as a way to increase the useful content available to users on the site. Currently, content comes from approximately 1.5 million publishers, 300 notable professionals known as Influencers, and about 3 million company pages.

The downside to the current arrangement is that the content will only be seen by users that are already connected to the publisher. Sponsored Updates will allow companies to build new relationships by reaching users who are not currently following them. With today's marketing moving beyond simple ads to useful information such as slideshows, articles, videos, and whitepapers, LinkedIn believes its users will receive more content that they are already looking for.

The Sponsored Updates will be visible on both desktop and mobile devices. They will be mixed in with other organic updates such as a user's connection having a new job title. Each Sponsored Update will have a tag distinguishing it from the other posts. Users will have the option to comment on each post, like it, or share it within their network. Most importantly from the marketing standpoint, they will also be able to begin following the company.

Sponsored Updates are being rolled out in two waves. Companies that currently have an account representative will be the first to get to use the new feature. It will be available to all companies with a company page by the end of the month. Once fully launched, Sponsored Updates will be available to companies in 200 countries, and they will be able to be posted in 20 different languages.

Pricing will be available on a per-click or per-impression basis. To help determine which one is most effective and if the overall campaign is meeting the company's goals, detailed analytical reports will be available with real time data.

A few large companies are already among the early adopters. Adobe has sought to establish itself as a leader in digital marketing and digital media. They have found that marketing decision makers who have seen their updates are significantly more likely to view the company as a leader. Telstra, a telecom company, has sought to increase its standing among Australian professionals and has already seen a 12% increase in the rate at which they attract new followers. HubSpots's marketing software has also seen gains, with a 400% increase in leads from small and mid-sized businesses over their current channels.

Although users may be wary of anything that seems like advertising and the potential for spam, the program will likely solidify its position as a network for professionals. With LinkedIn's serious, professional atmosphere, most companies will probably take great care to carefully target their ads to users that would be truly interested and avoid damaging their reputation by sending low quality content to a network full of decision makers. LinkedIn has also had the dilemma of most social network sites of how to monetize the site to keep it running, and this new income stream will help guarantee long-term stability.


Association of Strategic Marketing