The most effective Sponsored Content tactics on LinkedIn

Here are the content marketing approaches proven to deliver engagement in the LinkedIn feed

November 3, 2016

LinkedIn Sponsored Content

There are lots of things that I enjoy about being a content marketing evangelist at LinkedIn. One of my favourites is the front row seat I get on the most effective content marketing tactics. Tracking the different approaches that businesses take, and analysing which deliver the greatest engagement, is an important part of what I do. It informs the advice that I’m able to give to marketers planning Sponsored Content campaigns – and it provides a fascinating window on how content marketing is evolving.

Based on my analysis of the top performing Sponsored Content campaigns from Q3, here are the approaches that are delivering the greatest engagement for content marketing on LinkedIn, right now. Some of these trends apply equally across all content marketing categories – and some of them are proving particularly effective for technology, financial services and education businesses.

General principles for more effective Sponsored Content
LinkedIn research shows that industry trends are one of the most sought-after types of content in the LinkedIn feed. Our members value staying informed – and so it’s no surprise that Sponsored Content highlighting an important new development for an industry often hits the mark on engagement. It certainly worked for the workplace-sharing space NextDoor, which produced a striking piece of Sponsored Content around how Generation Z would ‘change everything’ about work. The engagement? 457 likes, 40 comments and counting…

 

Two other sound content marketing principles consistently recur as well: combining instant value with a call to action (as with a Zenith Bank mini-infographic on Nigeria), and showcasing the people behind your business proposition (Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi delivered some of the strongest engagement rates in Q3 with a celebration of its caregivers). Whatever category you are in, these are always useful tactics to add into your Sponsored Content mix.

Top content marketing tactics for technology brands
A sense of humour continues to pay dividends for tech brands. Brands like Intel were early adopters of cartoons as the visual element in Sponsored Content, and tech marketers are quick to jump on a witty meme when they see one. These approaches consistently deliver greater engagement. In Q3, WeDo Technologies generated over 250 likes for its comic strip sharing ‘The (Almost) Real Adventures of a Fraud Management Department’.

However, cracking a joke is far from the only tactic able to engage tech audiences. Data and research reports are always valued, especially when Sponsored Content relates them to a particular audience issue or pain point. When Bynder shared Forrester research on Digital Asset Management software it was careful to pitch the content at buyers who might have doubts about their own DAM solution.

Fantastic content tips for finance brands
The top Sponsored Content tactics for finance brands reflect the particular role that audiences expect those brands to play. In turbulent economic times, finance marketers can earn engagement by providing credible guidance and helping audiences navigate change. This was brought home by a Sponsored Content post from the Bank of England that prepared businesses for the arrival of the new five pound note – and generated over 380 likes and more than 33 comments.

Expert guidance is one expectation of finance brands; stability is another. BNP Paribas generated absolutely spectacular levels of engagement (including more than 1,200 likes) for a simple ‘family tree’ infographic showing the 200-year history of the group through various mergers. Telling your brand story is particularly relevant in this category – and finding a visually engaging way to do so is a powerful Sponsored Content tactic.

Large format Sponsored Content images provide a great canvas for Infographics – but there are other uses of this visual space as well. Attention-grabbing images that add context to a headline message can be particularly effective. CurrencyCloud recently ran a Sponsored Content post featuring a striking image of a ‘Bank Closed’ sign, to illustrate its thought-leader post on the changing nature of banking. It’s the type of approach that guarantees a post is noticed in the feed.

 

Smart strategies for education brands
The most effective Sponsored Content for further education brands is specific about the particular value that those brands have to offer. In some cases that value is aspirational – its power comes from the way that it aligns with our deeper motivations. A very effective post for the Said Business School, which addressed the need for ‘validating education’ that helps women take their place at the leadership table, certainly falls into this category. On other occasions, the value is more practical. One of the London Business School’s most successful Sponsored Content posts listed out all of the various types of analysis (discounted cash flow, cost of capital, risk) that its Valuation Programme teaches. Both are equally valid approaches – and both often involve challenging the assumption that Sponsored Content copy needs to be short, in order to engage. If details are what your audience needs to assess the value of what you have to offer, then details are what you should provide. If being short means being generic, then be prepared to go long.

The value of mixing things up – and testing your approach
Every quarter that I analyse the most effective Sponsored Content on LinkedIn, I’m struck by the range of different approaches that can deliver results. All of the approaches that I’ve described here are proven to engage in the LinkedIn feed – but that doesn’t mean that you have to stick to one of them. Mixing up your tactics whilst staying true to a consistent tone of voice and brand style helps to keep things fresh and give your audience new reasons for paying attention. And with so many tactics to choose from, it’s invaluable to A/B test different options so that you can divert budget to the tactic delivering the greatest levels of engagement. This post gives you a great starting list of content approaches to try on LinkedIn. Enjoy exploring the ones that work best for you!

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