5 Themes Behind Engaging Sponsored Content Posts

August 29, 2017

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. 

89% of marketers and are now utilizing content marketing, but the majority of them are still struggling to achieve sustained success. Why? There's a big difference between posting content and content marketing. Having a defined strategy that's executed consistently is vital.

But above and beyond that, the best marketers are taking content marketing a step further and striving to create more differentiated, impactful content. Below are five content themes that emerged in Q2 that resulted in the most engaging sponsored content on LinkedIn.


  • Impressions – only posts serving more than 25,000 impressions were reviewed
  • Target audience – posts targeted to audiences throughout North America were eligible
  • Engagement rate- posts earning a higher-than-benchmark engagement rate were considered

Tip #1 - Demonstrate in-depth subject matter expertise:

LinkedIn members are aiming to become more productive and successful when they're on the platform. You need to give value to your audience to get them to take more valuable actions. Go beyond the commoditized industry best practices and guides that they can get elsewhere and invest in deeper, more differentiated content.

  • MathWorks created in-depth training materials on Machine Learning to take someone from novice to advanced on the topic:

Tip #2 - Add context to industry trends and news:

According to a recent LinkedIn study, industry/trends and news is the #1 topic that drives member engagement. But don't just report on what you're seeing, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your subject matter expertise. For instance, is there a topic in your industry that there is a consensus opinion on that you disagree with? Representing the minority point of view can be a great way to attract engagement and demonstrate your subject matter expertise.

  • Barracuda believes that the term “MSP” should be retired – and they showed quantitatively why they think so by conducting a Google keyword analysis that backed up their claim:

Tip #3 - Remember that professionals are people too:

Members are operating on LinkedIn with a professional, aspirational mindset, but it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for entertainment and humor within your context mix. Use it to drive top-funnel engagement and breakthrough within the newsfeed.

  • Workday makes light of relatable, but humorous, office scenarios to showcase how there has to be a better way to run your business:

  • The Neo-Sage Forum and WebEx both used entertaining imagery to help standout within the newsfeed, while still communicating a relevant, serious business challenge:

Tip #4 - Put business challenges in context:

Help your audience put their business challenges in context. Conducting surveys and providing rankings are great ways to show them where they stand amongst their peers, while also enabling you to demonstrate authority on the topic with an impartial angle.

  • McKinsey uses this method to illuminate which industries are the most digitally savvy:

Tip #5 - Explain WHY your content matters and what it will help them achieve:

Rather than use the precious intro copy real estate to try and cram everything that your content will cover, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate WHY it is critical to hear what you have to say.

  • Concur drives engagement by leading with a little-known fact about how much money is wasted processing employee expenses.
  • Cornerstone on Demand teases their content by sharing the negative impact that toxic employees can have on the retention rate of quality employees:

To learn more tips and see other best-in-class examples, check out the SlideShare deck below: