In case you haven't noticed, professional network LinkedIn has added "content network" to its resume. To beef up that credit, the site has added a partners program to help companies create sponsored content.
Sponsored updates are LinkedIn native advertisements, where company created content is distributed to targeted audiences on the site. To assist companies with creating and distributing sponsored updates, two new kinds of content marketing partners have been created – sponsored update partners and content partners.
Five Updates Partners
Sponsored update partners provide tools to help manage sponsored update campaigns via LinkedIn's APIs, such as solutions for bulk updating across campaigns, audience targeting, scheduling and performance tracking. These partners also offer a single dashboard for keeping track of content marketing across social channels, and LinkedIn said that companies utilizing partners' tools during the pilot showed engagement rates that were about a third higher.
Five partners are currently signed up – AdStage, Brand Networks, SHIFT, the Salesforce ExactTarget marketing cloud (including Social.com), and Unified Social. In addition to tools, the Partners can also manage and strategize entire campaigns.
A LinkedIn spokesperson told CMSWire that "the tools our Sponsored Updates API Partners have can rarely be replicated in house." She added that "their tools offer efficacy, expertise and efficiency for companies really looking to maximize the LinkedIn platform."
Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn
Content partners have content that companies can buy or license, which is then delivered under the brand name. LinkedIn said that, during the pilot phase, several customers using partner supplied content performed in the top one percent of all sponsored update campaigns. Ten companies have been certified as content partners – publishers The Atlantic, Bloomberg, CBS Interactive and IDG Communications, content platform Newscred and Percolate, and custom content creators Atlantic Media Strategies, Contently, Freshwire and Group SJR.
LinkedIn provided us with the example of global manufacturing and technology company Emerson, which sought to engage the business community about empowering women in the marketplace. The site said the company wanted to become better known as an employer for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematical professions.
Emerson utilized The Atlantic's editorial content on their LinkedIn company page, and also reached a larger audience by promoting through sponsored updates.
The new partners program is the latest addition to LinkedIn's growing emphasis on turning its 300 million member base into a massive professional audience for content. Last month, it launched a content marketing score to measure member engagement with a brand's sponsored updates, as well as with company pages, LinkedIn groups, employee updates and influencer posts. The Score also presents recommendations for improving reach, posting frequency and engagement.
In February, LinkedIn unveiled its publishing platform, which allows a member to post and distribute long form content to associates, essentially turning LinkedIn into a giant publishing network with targeted channels.