linkedin sponsored postsLinkedIn has announced yet another new feature that B2B marketers should be paying attention to—sponsored posts. On the heels of lots of changes, including new personal profiles and revamped company pages, this new functionality is interesting and sure to be something that smart B2B marketers will put to use as part of their integrated marketing strategies.

The new ad tool is similar to Facebook sponsored posts in that users can publish sponsored content in status updates that are delivered to a select group of followers.

LinkedIn’s sponsored posts are currently being tested by a small number of corporate partners, and the site expects to introduce them to all users some time this year. For the time being, sponsored posts will only work with desktop users.

In the testing period, companies like GE, Xerox and BlackBerry are using the opportunity to reissue research and other related content, delivering it to a targeted group of users that are expected to find value from those updates. As the LinkedIn user base continues to grow, it only makes sense to find ways to cut through the noise and serve your audience the information they want and need. Of course, LinkedIn will benefit, too, since sponsored posts introduce a new revenue stream for the company.

We haven’t yet had a chance to explore LinkedIn’s sponsored posts, so we can’t make a determination on this particular feature. We do, however, like the sound of it, perhaps as an alternative to targeted advertising.

Targeted advertising on LinkedIn is expensive. When we recently explored it for a client, there was a required spend of something like $20,000 to $25,000 per quarter – too much for this particular client to take a risk with. This is an enterprise-level client, but an ad spend like that on something that is, for them anyway, pretty much uncharted territory, required more of a leap of faith than they were willing to take. As an alternative, we opted to experiment with LinkedIn’s DIY targeted advertising, which basically gives you remnant space for your targeted ads. As you might imagine, the results were underwhelming at best.

Just like our client mentioned above, many brands and businesses can’t afford to funnel huge amounts of money into online advertising campaigns. Tools like the new sponsored posts, however, might give these companies the ability to extend their reach in a more meaningful way without bankrupting their budgets.

And assuming brands and businesses use sponsored posts in a smart way (we know, we know—that’s a lot to ask), users will benefit from a more customized experience. Of course, that brings up another valid point—before you dive in to something like sponsored posts, make sure you have strategy that supports your decision. Who are some of your key audience members on LinkedIn, for example? What sort of message do you want to deliver to them? What do you want that end result to be? We tend to not be very patient, so we’re always eager for features like LinkedIn sponsored posts to be released as fast as they can. There is, however, an upside to the delay—it gives you time to think and plan so that, when you get the green light, you’re ready to make full use of the new functionality.

What’s your take on LinkedIn sponsored posts?

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