In their most recent earnings report, LinkedIn CFO Steve Sordello noted that Sponsored Updates has been one of the company's strongest performing ad offerings, contributing 45% of overall Marketing Solutions revenue. To capitalize on this, the professional social network has released a new guide to help marketers 'drive killer ROI' through Sponsored Updates, with collected knowledge and learnings from hundreds of brands over the last two years. Here are some of the highlights.
"You know the story. The B2B buyer's journey is 90 percent complete by the time he or she engages with sales, and on average, buyers will consume 10.4 pieces of content on their way to a purchase decision. That's why savvy content marketers use Sponsored Updates to keep their brand in front of prospects at every stage of the buyer's journey."
This is the sales pitch from LinkedIn, and it's a compelling one - data shows that 77% of professionals expect to find professional content on LinkedIn, and 74% believe it's the place to get content relevant to their career and professional interests. There's little doubt that LinkedIn is a great place to reach professionals and B2B customers, but the part that Sponsored Updates play in this process is, of course, largely dependent on the content of each specific update.
To help with this, LinkedIn has provided a series of lists that show what information your LinkedIn audience is seeking from your company page and updates.
This is great info, great insight into how to best utilize the LinkedIn platform, even if you don't opt-in to Sponsored Updates. One of the key lessons of social media marketing is that every platform is different - what resonates with your audience on Facebook won't necessarily do the same on Twitter. The data highlights this, and provides a guide point, of sorts, as to what your brand should be looking to share on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn then takes this data a step further, providing specific info on the most popular topics, industry-by-industry, on the platform:
Obviously, recruiting is a big one, and is popular in all sectors, but it's interesting to see the variations by sector, and the topics which are generating the most engagement.
The guide also provides info on 'best in class' posting frequency and tips on how to maximize the reach of sponsored updates.
The Value of Advocates
The guide also recommends re-purposing and carving up larger content ideas into smaller posts and updates to maximize their value, using the example of LinkedIn's "Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn". Also highlighted is the value of employee advocacy in the content dissemination and sharing process.
"One of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to spread the word is through your own employees. Take advantage of earned media opportunities by encouraging your employees to mention, share, post, or link back to the content you create. There's no easier way to get exponential exposure for your brand. By leveraging your employees' own professional networks, you can expand the reach of your Sponsored Updates campaigns."
This is a key point - though 'encouraging' employees to share content can sometimes be ineffective, particularly if they're not overly inspired to do so and are only sharing content because they feel they should/have to. Often times, people will be connected to more than one of your employees on any given social network, which means when your employees send out an update, they'll likely see it from two or more sources - if those sources are sending out the exact same messaging, it can seem robotic, and not overly engaging.
The key point here is that your employees are one of the key elements of your social media marketing campaigns - the more they're invested in the outcome, the more they understand the purpose and are able to invest in the mission they're working to achieve, the more likely they'll, independently, share brand messages and advocate on your behalf. Those updates - the ones that people post because they truly believe in them - are by far of the most value.
LinkedIn also provides some examples on how to maximize your copy in Sponsored Updates, with three different options to spark interest and get clicks.
These recommendations are based on what's working currently on the platform, which adds extra weight to their applicability and relevance in this context. The guide also provides tips on optimizing for mobile, including great images, when to contact people and how to expand reach.
It's a helpful guide, and worth a look for anyone looking to better utilize LinkedIn - even if you're not considering using Sponsored Updates, the information is still widely applicable to LinkedIn marketing more generally.
The full LinkedIn '10 Ways to Drive Killer ROI with Your Sponsored Updates' eBook is available here for free (with sign-up).