By Amanda Walgrove, from The Content Strategist – http://bit.ly/1mgeTsW

LinkedIn is now promoting itself as “The Definitive Professional Publishing Platform“—and it’s way more than false bravado.

With 277 million users on the platform, LinkedIn is making a serious investment in new features that give brands the tools to emerge as thought leaders in their fields. And brands are catching on, especially as other major social networks like Facebook and Twitter largely offer opportunities for promoting B2C content.

Just look at BlackRock, a global investment management company that boosts its name on LinkedIn by sharing e-books, infographics, and articles that serve everyone from students to newlyweds to retirees. At a LinkedIn conference last year, Eileen Loustau, BlackRock’s Global Director of Social Media, estimated that LinkedIn was driving $17-18 million dollars of annual revenue for the company.

So why has LinkedIn become so valuable for publishers? Let’s examine.

1. Everyone’s a publisher

LinkedIn recently invited all users—including brands—to publish content directly to the platform, allowing them to tap into a built-in audience of people seeking professional content.

This development gives LinkedIn the opportunity to position itself as the go-to social network for B2B marketing, giving every LinkedIn member and business the opportunity to showcase their thought leadership through articles, images, videos and SlideShare presentations.

Brands can also spread that content on LinkedIn by joining or creating a group, such as the Content Marketing Group and B2B Marketing.

2. LinkedIn Influencers

For brands, one of the biggest opportunities is getting their CEOs to be featured in LinkedIn’s Influencer program—which includes pioneers like Richard Branson, Martha Stewart, and Bill Gates. LinkedIn’s Head of Content Products, Ryan Roslansky, reports that the average Influencer post drives more than 31,000 views, 250 likes, and 80 comments.

For example, Contently co-founder Shane Snow is a LinkedIn Influencer. While he doesn’t post Contently content directly to his LinkedIn, the engagement around his own posts (like this very popular ode to Ryan Gosling and the power of storytelling) helps build the Contently brand. His posts regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views, thousands of shares, and hundreds of comments. We also often repurpose Shane’s LinkedIn posts here on The Content Strategist.

3. Showcase Pages

LinkedIn recently bagged its Products and Services pages in favor of Showcase Pages, which essentially lets brands build out a full website on LinkedIn for separate brand initiatives, making it easier for people to see what they have to offer.

Each Showcase Page hosts its own set of LinkedIn followers, website links, industry information, and posts, offering brands the opportunity to target consumers with more specified interests.

For example, Microsoft’s company page branches out into Showcase Pages for Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio, and more.

4. Content Partners

Just to prove how serious they are about brands doing well on their platform, LinkedIn is hooking up brands with content experts to help them get the most out of their marketing spend. Full Disclosure: Contently is one of those partners, and you can read more about the program here.

5. Sponsored updates

With sponsored updates, brands can hyper-target their audience based on location, company name, profession, industry, job title, seniority, and more. Have an e-book about retail marketing? Target content creators at major retail brands. Courting a new client? Publish a piece related to their work and make sure it gets seen by their employees.

To help brands measure the reach and impact of their posts, LinkedIn also launched a native Insights tool to help brands make sure that they’re reaping true rewards from their efforts on the platform. (Pro tip: Tying Ryan Gosling to your business seems to work really, really well.)

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