. @LinkedIn's new showcase pages allow companies to get specific: http://www.fastcompany.com/3021859/linkedins-new-showcase-pages-allow-companies-to-get-specific by @SarahFKessler via @FastCompany

LinkedIn's New Showcase Pages Allow Companies To Get Specific

With a new type of branded LinkedIn page, users can choose to follow updates specifically about a company's products or initiatives.

In the latest of many recent moves to expand its content marketing business, LinkedIn released a new format for branded pages on Tuesday called Showcase Pages.

Instead of following all updates from a company—which may include everything from job opportunities to news about charitable initiatives—users can now choose to follow pages focused on a specific product or initiative they are interested in. The idea is similar to Pepsi having both a general brand page on Facebook and a page specific to its Pepsi Max brand, or to Google having Twitter accounts for AdWords, Android, and Google Doodles. "It’s about having the presence, but it’s also about being targeted about who sees the message," says David Thacker, LinkedIn’s Vice President of Marketing Solutions Products.

Brands can make up to 10 Showcase Pages, which are free—but can be promoted to LinkedIn users using the company's advertising products for a fee.

Making brand pages more specific is just one of many ways LinkedIn has worked to build a better home for content marketing. Previously its most visible efforts have focused on attracting other types of content to the platform. In 2011, for instance, the company launched LinkedIn Today, which served up top news stories for individual users based on their interests and what their connections shared. Last year, it introduced a blogging program with the help of well-known users like Bill Gates and Martha Stewart, and over the past two years, it has acquired two content-related companies: a news reader called Pulse that replaced LinkedIn Today and presentation-sharing company SlideShare.

All of this work to get people using LinkedIn as a source of information and insight ostensibly supports advertising products like Sponsored Updates, a promoted post the company launched in late July that, much like sponsored Tweets or sponsored Facebook Posts, puts updates from brand pages in front of users who haven’t followed them yet.

As Facebook has demonstrated, this can be quite a profitable business. The company relies almost solely on in-stream branded updates for its mobile revenue (it recently began offering ads that promote apps as well), which has grown to $882 million last quarter from $152.6 million during the same quarter last year.

LinkedIn has yet to see the revenue from its sponsored content come tumbling in. Advertising represents 22.5% of its business, slightly less than it did a year ago, before sponsored updates launched, and it still makes the majority of revenue from its product for recruiters. One thing that should help LinkedIn’s content marketing business grow, says Thacker, are that users often go to the site to learn about companies in the first place. "Our users come to us in a professional context," he says. "They’re coming to see news, information, and insights that will help them be more successful in their careers. And a big part of that is getting content from companies."

[Image: Flickr user Victor Bergmann]

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  • Jurre

    0.027% CTR on ads? Try sponsored Updates then on your company profile, if targeted to the right audience it easy to get a 1-2% CTR and then it starts looking like an average Adwords campaign. Don't blame Linked In it for it, maybe your ad is not interesting enough, it is all about the right content and the right target group. Maybe Linked In Ads is just not the right channel for you, depending on your strategy/ expectations. Sponsored updates will definitely perform better if you make the update rich and newsworthy, but also take more time and effort to produce. Have a try..

  • CrisisCast

    Not surprised advertising revenue has dropped: When I complained to LI about the paltry and utterly irrelevant NINE responses we received from a £2,000 spend on Linked In Ads, I learned from my Linked In Ads specialist that a 'healthy' CTR is 0.025% and as our campaign had received a 0.027% CTR we were deemed to be above healthy. She hoped I was having a good day and enjoying my Linked In Ads experience. My customer experience with Linked In ads is equal to, if not worse than that which I might have experienced during a mugging. Which is a shame, because as a start-up we have come to rely on LI connections as a way of growing our business ... that might be something for them to REALLY build an advertising model on.

  • Abacus Coins

    Years ago I tried branding my business, but LinkedIn insisted I branded myself.... oh then I could talk about my business.
    The have the WORST Customer Support on the planet, no wonder they are lagging far behind the others!