The subtlety of sharing business stories that illustrate the benefits of a product or service with audiences that are actively seeking ways to improve their companies or themselves, is a potent formula. It gets right to the old adage that nobody buys a drill because they need a high-speed, 450w, handheld tool—they buy a drill because they need a quarter-inch hole. Content marketing is all about the quarter-inch hole.
For B2B marketers, every LinkedIn post has potential for lead generation or influence with decision makers. Many companies employ the platform for exactly this type of tactic, and it’s been possible for the past year to utilize sponsored updates and other site tools to target geographies, types of companies or job titles on LinkedIn. But until today, the system has been somewhat closed.
“That’s why we say this is an ecosystem play,” explained Legrand, LinkedIn’s senior director of marketing solutions, Asia Pacific and Japan, speaking about two new programmes just out of beta.
LinkedIn’s just released Sponsored Update Partners program opens the site’s API to select companies including AdStage, Brand Networks, SHIFT, the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud (which includes Social.com) and Unified Social. The main benefit is wider integration. Previously the social network was not connected to these firms and clients would have to manage content for the site separate from other social campaigns. Opening the API means brands can now distribute across multiple sites and track everything from a single dashboard.
“Its really about creating efficiencies for our marketers,” Legrand said. “Any marketer that’s using Social.com, for example, now can directly post and manage their campaign from Social.com onto LinkedIn.”
Each partner also offers more layers for analysing, scheduling and measuring, which Legrand emphasised as another benefit for marketers. He also said the companies that used the program during beta saw much higher engagement overall. And many creative and media agencies, he added, use these partner platforms “so it’s another way they can manage and optimise a campaign on behalf of a client.”
But the content itself, not just how you manage it, is of course vital for engagement. To that end the other just-released programme, Content Partners, gives brands access to companies with expertise in creating compelling posts. LinkedIn asserts that during the pilot phase, several beta customers performed in the top 1 per cent for all Sponsored Updates campaigns using content from these partners.
A 100-page white paper, Legrand reasoned, may not have a wide audience. But it would certainly contain key details that are relevant to different professionals in a given industry. He explained that LinkedIn’s content partners understand how to break down that kind of content into the “snackable bits” that engage people on social media.
Publishers such as The Atlantic, Bloomberg, CBS Interactive, and IDG Communications; content platforms Newscred and Percolate; and custom content creators like Atlantic Media Strategies, Contently, Freshwire, and Group SJR are all among the content partners.
For a broader view, Legrand drew attention to the fact that the two new programs “play into our mission of becoming a publishing platform, so we want to make sure we create the right ecosystem for marketers to use it more, and to use it more efficiently”.
He also highlighted that both programs are not about revenue streams but rather about growing the user base for proven strategies and feeding that back into the quality of the site’s offering to both networkers and marketers.
Campaign Asia-Pacific’s May issue has more content-marketing best practices from our coverage of the Content Marketing Conference held in Singapore at the beginning of April. A second event takes place this October in Shanghai.