You’ve been using LinkedIn as a professional resource for a while now. As a business owner, you use it to connect with others you know and have worked with—and it’s a great tool for networking.
But have you ever noticed the sponsored content pop up toward the top of your LinkedIn feed as you scroll through?
Probably so. You may have even clicked through to read more about a relevant piece of information or discovered a new product.
Like many other social networking platforms, LinkedIn has opened up advertising for businesses small and large. And with over 313 million users, sponsored posts on LinkedIn offer an opportunity to leverage and share content with a massive professional audience.
The question is: How do you create sponsored posts on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Sponsored Posts: The Who, How, and What
First, let’s look at the most basic elements of a LinkedIn Sponsored Post.
Who creates sponsored posts?
Sponsored posts are created by businesses to reach professionals who might be interested in their product or content.
How does LinkedIn advertise?
LinkedIn, a network with millions of professionals in every possible industry, connects the business with those potential leads by placing the sponsored posts in targeted users’ news feeds.
What happens next?
The business reaches new potential clients and shares content with relevant professionals.
The steps look like this:
Create a sponsored post with text only, text and an image, or text and a video
Set a goal for your campaign
Determine your budget and billing type
Target a specific audience
Study the results
Bottom line: It’s a simple process that can get great results for your small business when crafted correctly.
With millions of users and a professional demographic, Linkedin offers an opportunity to connect with a different type of audience than other social networks do. The benefit to that: Your audience is already semi-filtered and comes to this platform seeking business information.
How is that helpful to you?
If you’ve ever scrolled through your LinkedIn feed and noticed a job posting, an interesting article, or a great infographic, you know the power of sharing here.
Keep in mind that in order to create a sponsored post, you’ll need to create a Company page for your business (which is really pretty simple).
If your goal is to reach a wide variety of professionals, LinkedIn is the place to look. Now that you’ve made the decision to give it a shot, you’ll need to determine what your goals are.
Goals: What Do You Want to Accomplish?
As with any marketing effort, you need to set goals so you can gauge the success of your campaign. This step will also help you figure out how to fine-tune your promoted post and make it work toward the goal.
Possible goals might be:
Promoting products or services
Attracting new leads
Building brand awareness
Encouraging website visits
Promoting an event
Recruiting for an open position
For example: Say you offer business consulting services and your goal is pretty general—you want to encourage visits to your website. You decide to promote a blog post on your site about “10 Ways Biz Consulting Can Increase Your Profits.” In this instance, your goal is oriented toward website clicks.
However, if you are promoting a specific product (like a new book you just released), you might be more inclined to work toward a product promotion goal—like making sales of the book.
Regardless of your goal, you should figure out what you want your sponsored post to achieve. This way, when the campaign is complete, you can evaluate what worked well (and what didn’t).
Budget: What Should You Spend?
When it comes to figuring out a budget for your sponsored post on LinkedIn, the ball is 100% in your court.
That means you can test the waters with a smaller budget (to see small-scale results), or jump right in with a larger budget (to see what a more robust investment can bring).
There’s no magic number we can suggest for your budget, but some A/B testing with a few different types of sponsored posts will help paint a picture of what works best for your business.
Your sponsored post can be billed in two different formats:
Cost Per Click (CPC): You’ll only be charged when someone clicks through on your sponsored post.
When to use CPC: This type of billing works best for businesses whose goals are website visits and sales of products.
Why? Because you need the reader to actually click-through to achieve the goal.
Cost Per Impression (CPM): You’ll only be charged when someone sees your sponsored post.
When to use CPM: Impression-based billing is best for reaching a broad audience.
Why? Because you just need people to see your content (i.e. sharing general brand information, job postings, and event information).
The good news: You won’t be charged for social actions such as likes and comments to your sponsored update.
One of the best ways to help add some parameters to your budget is to determine numerical goals you’d like to achieve. For example, say your goal is to get 100 new website clicks. Or maybe it’s 50 impressions to your job posting. Once you have those numbers in mind, you’ll have a point to work toward with your budget.
Targeting: Whom Do You Want To Reach?
Targeting your sponsored update is another important facet you’ll want to consider when fine-tuning the delivery details of your campaign.
Ways to target include:
By geographic location
Job title or seniority level
School attended, skill set, or group membership
When you can narrow down your audience to the most relevant professionals you’d like to reach, your sponsored post’s budget will be directed toward only those who are most likely to help you achieve your goal.
For example: If you want to build brand awareness through your business’s blog about marketing best practices, you’ll want to target your sponsored post to marketing professionals and business owners. You wouldn’t necessarily want that sponsored post being delivered to accounting professionals or grade school teachers because the subject matter wouldn’t be as relevant for that audience.
Case Studies: Does It Work?
There’s probably still one main question you’ve had lingering in your mind: Have others found these types of campaigns to be successful?
You’ve heard the answer before: It depends. There are so many variables with each different business and its goals that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But we’ve gathered a few case studies to share their insight and let you decide for yourself.
HubSpot builds brand awareness through sponsored posts in the LinkedIn feed and has seen great results. This form of lead generation brought in 400% more leads in comparison to other platforms.
NewsCred found that using sponsored posts on LinkedIn, their posts got 4.2% more views (which, in turn, created more leads and boosted ROI.)
Still, some with smaller budgets have tested out sponsored posts on LinkedIn but found that the cost was high while the results were rather underwhelming.
The verdict: You won’t know until you try.
If you’re looking to target professionals or B2B opportunities, LinkedIn sponsored updates might be the place to look. If you’re still unsure, follow LinkedIn’s guide and start small. Do some experimenting to find out what works best for your business.
Your turn: Have you experimented with LinkedIn sponsored updates? What results did you have?