LinkedIn, one of the most popular social media network for business-to-business marketers, became even more powerful last month when it announced the opening of its publishing platform with the goal of broadening the reach of their content marketing.
The company began expanding its platform in February with a base group of 25,000 members and says it plans to gradually roll it out to include all members over the coming months. Under the expanded blogging program, posts published by LinkedIn users will be automatically added to their profiles and shared with the members of their network. Taking a cue from Twitter, members will now also have the option of following other users who are not in their network.
With the creation of a new forum for its members’ voices, the company hopes to tap a previously overlooked source of content and create more value for its users.
“Combined, our members have extremely valuable and varied experiences; however, their knowledge and expertise has not yet been captured and shared,” wrote LinkedIn Director of Product Management Ryan Roslansky in a recent blog post.
Since 2012, LinkedIn has limited blogging to a select group of industry leaders, known as Influencers, which company executives say has generated a solid following. LinkedIn plans to expand that group with the addition of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; Susan Lyne, the CEO of AOL Brand Group; and CNBC host Suze Orman.
While users have always had the option of sharing links to external blog posts, the new rules give them long-form publishing tools that previously have only been available to Influencers. With more than 270 million active users in at least 200 countries representing 19 languages and nearly 150 fields and professions, B2B brands have just been given a powerful and cost-effective conduit for broadening their content marketing efforts.
According to a report from Kurt Wagner at Mashable, once a user is granted publishing rights they will see a small pencil icon to the right of their share box that opens a text editing box with a handful of simple word processing tools, including the ability to add links and images. If the comments to Wagner’s article are any indication, LinkedIn users are eager to get started using the new tool.
But using the LinkedIn publishing platform to its full advantage will involve more than just slapping press releases into a text editor and hitting “publish.” A winning content marketing strategy requires a thoughtful approach to messaging that offers both insight and credibility. New users should consider placing a single expert or a small team in charge of blogging to ensure a consistent message. Stick to content that is relevant to your industry, and avoid self-serving or overly promotional copy.
LinkedIn’s new publishing platform can offer the tools and the audience to do just that, but as a third-party forum, be aware of the limitations. Unless LinkedIn has plans for significant technical upgrades, its publishing platform is likely to remain a one-way endeavor, meaning it will lack the type of metrics needed for detailed tracking of reader behavior.