What content marketers should know about Sponsored UpdatesThe LinkedIn Sponsored Updates program is still young. Some brands (like Adobe and Lenovo) are naturals at early adoption. Others need some time to justify the budget allocation. Wherever you fall, you’ll need to understand how the program works. Here’s an overview of LinkedIn Sponsored Updates at a glance. What your audience sees: Naturally, a good native advertising program doesn’t mislead your audience with poorly marked ads. Mishaps like the Atlantic’s Scientology debacle can demolish the viewer’s trust. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn doesn’t put reader trust at risk. Identifying sponsored updates is simple. They’re clearly designated with the tag “Sponsored” next to the brand name. They blend into the newsfeed, yet are still easy for users to recognize. Sponsored updates appear in the natural flow of a member’s newsfeed among other shared pieces of content and profile updates. They include a call to action to “follow” the brand behind the update or interact with the post in the usual ways (“
). LinkedIn members also have the ability to hide Sponsored Updates they don’t find relevant to their browsing experiences by clicking the “hide” button in the upper right corner of the post. How to define your target audience: Targeting your audience through LinkedIn Sponsored Updates is simple. Here’s how it works:
- Choose whether you want sponsored updates to display to everyone, non-followers, or current followers of your company page.
- Target based on location, filtering by continent, country, state, or metro area.
- Decide how to narrow your sponsored content based on industry and company size. You can also target based on actual company name — if you want to ensure people who work for IBM see your content, for example.
- You can also narrow your search by the viewer’s role at her company by title, function, and seniority.
- Use targeting options like “school,” “skills,” and more. (You can target based on any field a LinkedIn member uses to identify himself in his profile.)
What we learned in our Sponsored Updates trial runOver the course of CMI’s Sponsored Updates campaign, we saw engagement rates as high as 2.45 percent for one post. The program’s success taught us some crucial lessons. Based on the experience, here are four simple tips to help get you up and running with LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates program: 1. Include compelling and relevant images: Your content should already include great images. Recycle them as a part of your LinkedIn Sponsored Updates strategy. Like any status update, a compelling image that matches the article topic gets more eyes. Including those images in the stream of information flowing through a given member’s feed helps differentiate your post from others. 2. Incorporate various content types, including rich media: Rich media formats like large photos, video, and SlideShare presentations offer content marketers a larger canvas within LinkedIn’s feed. As with all of your content, diversification is essential. 3. Educational and insightful content performs the best: Glance at your timeline and you may notice that some Sponsored Updates are more promotional than informational. These ads don’t qualify as native because they interrupt the user experience instead of complementing it. Which ad type performs better may depend on the unique expectations and behavior of your audience and your brand. CMI’s top performing posts were heavy on content and education-oriented (not surprisingly), rather than sales focused. In general, it’s a good rule of thumb to focus on engaging the audience as a thought leader on how employers and employees can optimize their professional lives. During our test period, CMI found that the best performing posts were focused on careers, and on ways that content marketing could improve or enhance their professional development. 4. Pace content, and keep share-of-view in mind: Finding the right pace for your content is critical to a successful Sponsored Updates campaign. We had the best luck running three to five posts to a target audience at a time. We changed those posts every three to five days. Don’t forget to promote content over the weekend, too. We saw high engagement rates on Saturdays and Sundays.
Weigh inHave you tried LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates? What was your experience? Or, if you are thinking about trying Sponsored Updates, what questions do you have? Let us know in the comments.
For more tips and tools to help your audience find and engage with your content on social networks, read “
,” by Michael Silverman.