When it comes to growing your brand and boosting your revenue, social media matters.
Here's why: More than three billion people worldwide now have social media accounts, and 54% of those users leverage social media to research products.
The biggest challenge? Finding the right platform for your social media posts where you can connect with your ideal audience.
While many businesses leverage sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to promote their content and increase conversion rates, there's also a case to be made for more business-focused frameworks like LinkedIn.
In this comprehensive guide to LinkedIn sponsored updates we'll tackle the big questions — what are LinkedIn sponsored updates, how do they work and how much do they cost?
We'll also offer a list of sponsored updates best practices to help your brand make the most of this social content solution.
What are LinkedIn Sponsored Updates?
Let's start at the beginning: What exactly are LinkedIn sponsored updates?
Also called sponsored content, the official LinkedIn help page says a sponsored update is, “a LinkedIn Page update that is sponsored as an advertisement and is delivered to the LinkedIn feed of members beyond those who follow your company.”
In practice, LinkedIn sponsored updates are advertisements created by your company or marketing team which are then served to LinkedIn users who either follow your page or follow pages in a similar content space.
These ads are served as part of the native LinkedIn feed and typically include a combination of relevant text and contextual images or videos, in turn helping them blend in with similar user content rather than stand out as paid-for advertisements.
When designed and deployed well, LinkedIn sponsored updates can help drive organic interest in your brand from both current followers and a wider audience of LinkedIn members. Worth noting? While these posts are designed to follow the format of familiar user updates, they're always labeled as “sponsored content” to ensure there's no misleading users or confusion.
What Types of Sponsored Updates are Available?
Brands can create four types of direct sponsored updates:
Single Image Ads
Single image ads include one image and text that are displayed directly in targeted member LinkedIn feeds.
Carousel Image Ads
Carousel ads contain multiple images in succession that users can scroll through to get a better sense of your products or services.
Video ads offer a way to include multimedia marketing with in-feed videos that users can watch on-demand.
Single Job Ads
If you're looking to expand your team, you can create single job ads for your targeted audience. They must promote a single job opportunity and be linked to an active job post on LinkedIn.
You can also create what's known as “direct sponsored content”. These ads won't display on your LinkedIn Page or Showcase Page before being served as advertisements.
As a result, they're often used by companies to test several marketing approaches and see which one produces the best results and use it as the basis for more robust sponsored content updates.
How much do LinkedIn sponsored updates cost?
The short answer is that more resource-intensive ads — such as videos or carousels — will cost more than their single-image counterparts.
The long answer is slightly more complicated. First, it's important to understand that LinkedIn uses a bidding model for sponsored ads; you select and create your ad type and then specify how much you're willing to pay — a minimum price exists to ensure advertisers are fairly paid, but you'll never be charged more than your maximum upper limit. Differing ad providers then bid on the service and the lowest price wins.
Ad price is also determined by your target audience and relevance score. If your target audience is in high demand, you'll be charged more because there's greater competition to capture user interest. You can also lower your ad costs by creating relevant ads. The more relevant and content-rich your ad, the less you'll pay — because there's a better chance of engaging LinkedIn users.
It's also worth considering the best cost model for your ad: Cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM). CPC means you only pay when users click on your ad and visit your site, while CPM means you pay for every 1,000 views or “impressions” of your ad.
If your goal is generating brand awareness, opt for CPM. If you have an established audience and are looking to drive click-throughs and conversions, choose CPC.
LinkedIn Sponsored Updates Best Practices
Want to get the most from your LinkedIn sponsored updates? Keep these best practices in mind:
1. Follow LinkedIn sponsored update specs.
Each type of sponsored content comes with its own specifications.
Single image ads: Up to 255 characters for the ad name, 150 characters of intro text to avoid truncation, URLs with “http://” or “https://” and JPG, GIF or PNG files that are 5MB or smaller.
Carousel ads: Use a minimum of two cards and a maximum of ten. Each card has a maximum file size of 10MB and dimensions of 6012 x 6012px. Supported formats include JPG, PNG and non-animated GIFs.
Video ads: Video ads must be three to 30 seconds in length, between 75KB and 200MB and in MP4 format. They must also be less than 30 frames per second (FPS).
Single job ads: Single job ads should be concise, relevant, and clear and follow the same image guidelines as single image ads. They must also link to an active job posting on LinkedIn.
Failure to follow these guidelines may result in ads being rejected. If ads contain misleading or inappropriate content, LinkedIn may choose to remove the ads or terminate your LinkedIn account.
The service also makes it clear that “spam” posts are not permitted: According to their Best Practices for Sponsored Content page, “Businesses that post updates excessively are subject to review by LinkedIn and could risk having their LinkedIn Page deleted.”
2. Don't overshare.
While targeted, relevant content can help drive user interest, too many ads too quickly can result in over-saturation.
LinkedIn recommends regularly tweaking your content strategy to deliver analysis rather than simply news, include curated content (with credit) from other sources, and repurpose older content where applicable.
3. Test, test, test.
As noted above, direct sponsored content is a great way to try out new advertising efforts and see what sticks.
With the social media market continually evolving, it's worth evaluating ad performance every few weeks to see what's working, what isn't, and where specific changes can help.
4. Spend wisely.
Sponsored updates can get expensive as you incorporate new advertisements and use multiple ad types.
Here, it's worth tracking your ad spend and switching from CPC to CPM models once click-through rates start to rise. If ads begin losing steam, consider moving back to CPM to generate increased awareness.
5. Find new markets.
While engaging your target market is critical, diversify ad objectives is also important to expand your overall impact. LinkedIn recommends using tools such as Lead Gen Forms to find better leads, assess ROI and manage your advertisements at scale.
LinkedIn's sponsored update model offers a streamlined solution to help brands reach their target market, expand brand awareness, and boost ROI. Best bet? Start with direct sponsored content to see what sticks, then choose the cost model that makes the most sense — CPC or CPM — and adjust as needed to reach the largest LinkedIn audience.