However, that’s about to change with LinkedIn announcing plans to make the platform available to everyone, following a staged roll-out later this year.
This will give brands the ability to publish long-form copy, images, videos, slide decks and more straight to their profile. But the publishing platform is more than simply another broadcast channel and can be used as a community management, content publishing and influencer engagement platform.
Here are five ways brands will be able to use the open Professional Publishing Platform:
1. Affirm brand identity
One benefit of publishing content directly to LinkedIn is that your full company information page is never more than a click away. You can therefore create content which specifically complements your LinkedIn brand presence. Richard Branson does this extremely well, creating content which affirms himself as a business expert while also directly complementing the Virgin brand presence.
2. Identify key influencers
With the publishing platform open to LinkedIn’s entire 277m users, there’s going to be a huge amount of content created and published across every conceivable sector.
This will create a great opportunity for brands to monitor who’s posting relevant content and identify authoritative users who could become potential brand ambassadors and advocates. With the ability to follow and read content from users outside of your network, the potential to identify and connect with key influencers is huge.
LinkedIn already offers opportunities to build long-term brand relationships through a number of long-term methods such as the brand descriptions, posted content, experience areas, skill sets, interest, etc, as opposed to Twitter which only really offers the user a bio plus 140 characters.
The publishing platform will enable brands to take this engagement a step further by using rich content to build honest, interesting and mutually rewarding relationships.
Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Japanese retailer Rakuten, adds credibility and value to his brand through his current content contribution as part of his participation in the LinkedIn influencer programme. Content like "How to delight the customer" builds depth of affinity with Rakuten amongst LinkedIn’s membership.
4. Turbo-boost your content strategy
By making LinkedIn a key pillar of your content strategy, you can open up opportunities to reduce your internal workload and combine bespoke content created solely for LinkedIn with links to other content around the internet in a natural, authoritative manner. It still needs to be great content that interests users, and there should still be plenty of original content in the plan, but including existing content in the mix is perfectly viable too.
Making LinkedIn a core component in your content strategy will further boost your reach whilst enabling you to have a slightly different conversation with your customers. For B2B brands or brandsfrom a more conservative industry like financial services, the different user base and tone of voice of communication on LinkedIn (more formal, professional, intellectual) is potentially a match made in heaven.
5. Strengthen B2B relationships
Creating a content strategy has mostly been viewed as a B2C endeavour, but making the platform open to all users could be the torch that finally shines the light on this fact. As a result you can expect to see budgets for B2B social content increasing, as B2B brands become much more switched on to how content can be used to strengthen and add value to their business relationships.
Once the rollout to all users is complete it will be interesting to see how LinkedIn handles the huge volumes of content that will inevitably hit the platform. Particularly, what processes it puts in place to ensure that great content reaches the right audience without users getting excessively spammed every time an article is published which falls within their denoted preferences.
Either way, LinkIn’s Professional Publishing Platform represents a significant evolution for the social network which could have implications for traditional publishers down the line.
John Murphy is senior strategist at Bloom Worldwide