LinkedIn sponsored updates offer a powerful tool for B2B PR and marketing. Content pages on LinkedIn receive six times the number of page views as job pages, according to LinkedIn. The sponsored updates are company updates that appear in users’ feeds. The promoted updates are technically ads, a form of native advertising.
PR professionals have the journalism and storytelling skills to produce the most effective sponsored content on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, together with PR and marketing experts, offers these tips to produce outstanding updates.
Offer helpful material – not marketing literature. Professionals want content that helps them perform their jobs better and provides new information about their industries. They quickly spot marketing copy and avoid obviously promotional posts. Promote content that your audience finds valuable. The most worthwhile content to promote is advice and education, and interesting facts related to the readers’ occupations.
Analyze and provide commentary on industry news rather than just sharing it. Human interest stories related to your brand can develop emotional connections to your audience. Writers don’t have to produce all content themselves, but follow journalism standards to cite sources. Starting with a question or quote can gain the reader’s attention.
Be succinct. Concise headlines lead to more engagement. LinkedIn recommends headlines under 60 characters and descriptive copy under 70 characters. Keep in mind that copy over 100 characters may be truncated on desktop computers.
Include quality images. Sponsored content with images and video tends to perform better. LinkedIn recommends bright visuals and pictures of people. LinkedIn automatically scrapes the image from the post that the update links to. However, if you don’t like how that image appears, you can upload an image manually.
Pursue a clear goal. Goals could be gathering sign-ups for an ebook, establishing thought leadership, promoting an upcoming conference, or gaining new LinkedIn followers.
Precisely target your audience. Take advantage of LinkedIn’s hyper-targeting capabilities. You can narrow your audience by location, age and gender as well as job title, industry, location, seniority, field of study, degree of study, and specific skills. “For B2B marketers, targeting options don’t get much more thorough than this,” says content marketing expert Amanda Walgrove in a Sprinklr article. However, don’t get so specific your audience becomes too small. LinkedIn recommends
Expand your audience. By enabling the Audience Expansion feature, promoted content can reach a larger audience that shares similar attributes with their target audience. Example: If you select professionals who list “online advertising” as a skill, you can extend reach to those with the “interactive marketing” skill.
Make landing pages mobile friendly. Use responsive design so content scales appropriately based on the user’s device. Mobile-friendly design also includes images that appear on-screen as at least 10mm x 10mm large, fast-loading pages, extremely concise copy, and call to action above the fold.
Plan your budget. To stretch your budget across a work week, set a daily cap at one-fifth of the total budget. For time sensitive messages, skip a daily budget, but expect to quickly exhaust the budget. For greater awareness, pick CPM. For leads, pick cost per click. “A truly valuable lead in a small target audience might be worth a higher CPC spend, especially considering LinkedIn’s sophisticated audience targeting,” Walgrove says.
Consider lead generation forms. LinkedIn recently introduced lead generation cards to sponsored content as well as sponsored InMails that allow advertisers to collect sales leads directly on LinkedIn when offering ebook downloads, webinars or other resources. Because many fields include LinkedIn profile data, the forms return higher conversion rates, LinkedIn says. The forms can include up to seven fields, including up to three questions. Disadvantages are that currently, lead gen forms for sponsored content are available only on mobile and they don’t offer conversion tracking, Marketing Land points out.
Monitor performance through the LinkedIn ads Campaign Manager to track performance by monitoring impressions, clicks, costs, and other metrics. With each new campaign you’ll learn what’s working and what’s not. “The cost of LinkedIn ads tends to run a little higher than other social media platforms so you will want to pay close attention to your analytics,” points out Rob Mathison for Hootsuite.
Bottom Line: Public relations professionals possess the skills and training to produce excellent sponsored content for LinkedIn as well as nonpaid posts. By writing like a journalist rather than a marketing copywriter, PR can create articles that gain readers’ interest and even go viral.