LinkedIn is copying Facebook with its new B2B advertising model as it bids to become the content destination of choice for business professionals.
You might not have noticed, but in the past 12 months LinkedIn has radically relaunched itself. No longer the tired, atrophying online CV where people go when they need a new job – the platform is starting to hum.
Last year it’s Founder, Reid Hoffman, and his team launched LinkedIn Today, a news subscription feature which added some much-needed stickiness to the site. This was followed by a smartly angled ‘influencers’ feature, which enables us mere mortals to subscribe to (or follow) thought-leaders, such as Richard Branson and, um… Reid Hoffman, to read their latest musings. It’s been enthusiastically adopted by the huddled masses.
The platform has combined these launches with a cull of less valued – though some would say more useful and social – features, such as Answers and Events, but it’s goal is clear, LinkedIn wants to be the content hub of choice for the forward-thinking business professional. It’s recent acquisition of Slideshare was another statement of intent: “If you want presentations, white papers, webinars and other business-related content, LinkedIn should be your destination!”
The result is likely to feel rather familiar.
LinkedIn is already testing Facebook-style promoted content adverts, which companies that want to target you with their white papers and webinars will soon be able to pay to have inserted into your Newsfeed. By targeting users by role, interest and location, LinkedIn ought to be able to maximise the value of high quality content to deliver some useful lead generation results for B2B organisations. Nice!
LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, is unashamed of his goal for the company:
“We think that’s going to create a very strong platform and very valuable context for large enterprises, for small-medium businesses who want to target [and] engage with professionals.”
In one sense this move to promoted content is a blessing. LinkedIn has long been riddled with spam and LinkedIn Groups are frequently unusable because of it. Getting companies to pay to promote their wares can only help to reduce this deluge. And yet, of course, paid-for spam is still spam, albeit rather more targeted than emails that start “Dear Beloved”.
Sponsored content ads are still in “early testing” and there are rumours that they might appear on mobile before going live on the web. Apparently, 27% of LinkedIn’s traffic is on mobile devices and sponsored content is deemed more acceptable than display ads on the smaller screen. Expect to see it on a screen near you sometime during 2013.