B2B marketers will soon have another way to reach audiences via LinkedIn. The question, though, is when it will launch, who will have access and what it will look like.

LinkedIn has created a new publishing platform for its members, allowing them to essentially blog within LinkedIn and create a following. When members publish a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile and is shared with their trusted network, according to a LinkedIn blog post.

LinkedIn members can follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. 

A caveat: LinkedIn now is only allowing 25,000 members to publish content on LinkedIn through its new platform. "We’ll be steadily expanding the capability to all members in multiple languages over the next few weeks and months to come," according to LinkedIn. You can apply here

What it Does

Essentially, this will be the same experience LinkedIn Influencers have today -- only now LinkedIn is opening it up to people beyond Bill Gates and Richard Branson, according to Michael Idinopulos, chief marketing officer for PeopleLinx, which helps companies develop strategies for collaboration on LinkedIn. 

"It's blogging integrated into their platform," Idinopulos told CMSWire. "It's not really a replacement for the status update box. That's not going to go away. I suspect people will continue to use that by sharing interesting links, links to press releases or product announcements."

It's also a way for LinkedIn to keep more content inside of LinkedIn. Rather than leading members off their site via links to other sites, the publishing posts will keep members under the LinkedIn umbrella longer.

"They're trying to become more like a media company, and to do that, you need content," Idinopulos said. "Why stop with the influencers? Let's just give it to everybody. It's very clever."

Learning Opportunities

Opportunity for B2B Marketers?

The new publishing platform allows B2B marketers to showcase the influencers inside their companies, Idinopulos said. 

"You may not have a Bill Gates or a Richard Branson, but you probably have people who are influential in your industry and in your product category or in your partners network," Idinopulos said. "It's really an opportunity for those people to talk about what they're doing and what they're thinking about and what their companies are doing. It's an opportunity to do content marketing in a slightly different way."

Asked if he sees companies posting straight press releases and product announcements via the publishing tool on LinkedIn as a successful marketing strategy, Idinopulos said probably not. See this actual example of a publishing post on LinkedIn.

"Companies need to be careful," he said. "It is designed to be more of a thought leader program. Posting things that are obviously promotional may turn off some readers."

Further, the publishing tool will be better suited for what Idinopulos calls "top of the funnel marketing content." Remember, he said, if you want to capture metrics, traffics and customer behavior patterns, you probably want them "on your own real estate."

"LinkedIn," he added, "is still the big opportunity for B2B marketers. Twitter is definitely No. 2, but LinkedIn is so powerful because of the level of familiarity there and the true one-to-one platform."