It’s been really interesting watching the subtle (and not so subtle) changes that LinkedIn have been making over the last six to 12 months. It goes without saying that in Australia, the usage numbers are through the roof. Now with 4.5 million users locally and some 230+ million globally, LinkedIn sees a new member joining every three seconds!
For us, it’s a great source of sales leads, helps with our recruitment and of late it’s been a great generator of information as brands and experts use LinkedIn to amplify their content. I love the fact that I can, in one place, hear from all of the leaders in content marketing as I’m either connected with them directly or following them or their business.
The mainstay of the LinkedIn business has been recruitment, which accounted for approximately 57% of their revenue last year. There’s no doubt that LinkedIn has disrupted the recruitment advertising business and drawn revenue away from the traditional online players. It also gives company owners and HR managers another viable option to recruit staff. In fact, after seeing some of their latest recruitment tools, which allow you to tap into any of its members and even manage contract projects, I have no doubt this side of the business will continue to grow at a rapid rate.
I’ve also noticed they have started to bolster the content they are feeding to us. I think part of the challenge of social media is scrolling through the truckload of rubbish to get to some pearls of wisdom or entertainment. Thus far, however, I think LinkedIn has done a good job of understanding what I want. The first move was to introduce their influencer program with the likes of Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Tony Robbins. The best thing about this is that the content is well-written and relevant to me.
This got me thinking that LinkedIn’s business strategy goes far beyond recruitment – it’s looking to become a content marketing platform. In the words of Jay Baer, it’s giving us something of terrific value for nothing. There’s obviously also a great upside for them as they will commercialise our patronage with ads.
While up until recently it was just traditional banner advertisements, there have been whispers lately that LinkedIn have embarked on a “sponsored updates” trial with a couple of major brands in the US.
The brands include the usual suspects like GE and American Express – content producers who are always looking to expand their reach. So they are now following the same monetisation path that Facebook did with sponsored stories using organic content. We know there is sometimes a backlash to changes such as this, so how do they remain a media darling while filling our feed with content from brands?
I know I’m biased here, but it will require some quality content marketing to ensure that the content is relevant, engaging and not just a puff piece with a set of steak knives at the end of it.
It also shows that brands want to drive new traffic to their content. This is seeing the rise of blogger outreach networks and communities, content amplifications services like Outbrain and now social networks like Linkedin.
What does this mean for the content marketing agencies out there? It means that we are perfectly positioned to ensure that LinkedIn makes the transition to sponsored posts easily by encouraging our clients to get involved and by producing great content that adds value to the user experience. Quite simply, it’s just another day in the life of a content marketing agency.