Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Caitlin covers social media, marketing and technology and is BRW's social media editor. She has worked as a journalist in Sydney, London and San Francisco, writing for titles including The Guardian and The Australian Financial Review.

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LinkedIn joins ‘sponsored update’ trend

Published 24 July 2013 11:02, Updated 26 November 2013 12:10

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LinkedIn joins ‘sponsored update’ trend

LinkedIn’s local chief Cliff Rosenberg: his company has followed Facebook and Twitter into offering sponsored updates. Photo: Jim Rice

LinkedIn is following the likes of Facebook and Twitter by introducing sponsored updates to its network, with Telstra one of the first companies worldwide to use the new advertising product.

The sponsored updates allow companies to promote their posts to LinkedIn members beyond their own fan base, with tools to target the audience by profile segment. The posts are marked “sponsored” but appear alongside organic content in the member’s home stream where they can like, share or comment on the update or follow the company.

The product is a similar concept to sponsored or promoted posts in other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which have been aggressively ramping up their commercial offering this year.

The move positions LinkedIn as a network for companies embracing a content marketing strategy, especially for brands targeting a business or professional audience.

LinkedIn passed 4 million members in Australia earlier this year and has 1000 corporate customers here, including 75 of the ASX 200. The bulk of its revenue comes from its talent services division, which is focused on recruitment tools. The sponsored updates fit into the marketing solutions division, which to date has accounted for 27 per cent of revenue.

Over the past year, LinkedIn has expanded its features to become more of a content platform, including offering the ability to follow individuals in the Influencer program and companies. This attempts to make the site stickier for users, and a more engaged audience in turn opens up opportunities for marketers.

The marketing director for marketing solutions in Australia and New Zealand, Matt Tindale, says in a statement that the sponsored updates support content marketing.

“Our goal is to develop a definitive professional publishing platform and create opportunities for marketers to drive business results by sharing relevant content with our members,” Tindale says.

Telstra was the first Australian brand to trial the new product. Telstra general manager of digital marketing, Harry Lowes, says in a statement that the company used the system to share content with targeted segments of the LinkedIn audience.

“We accelerated the rate at which we attract new followers on LinkedIn by about 12 per cent,” Lowes says. “We are now approaching 50,000 followers, making us the third most followed company in Australia on LinkedIn.”

The product is now available to customers with an account representative and will start becoming available to all businesses with a LinkedIn company page by the end of this month. Both cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand (CPM) models will be available via a bid-based auction, as well as more than 20 languages.

Aside from Telstra, the launch partners for sponsored updates include Adobe, Charles Schwab & Co, General Electric, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, The Wall Street Journal and Xerox.

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