Companies can now share content such as videos, presentations and product news via the popular LinkedIn business-oriented social network, thanks to the recent launch of sponsored updates, according to Adam Rock of TAN Media, who here examines this inevitable move. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The LinkedIn website, which is widely known as a social networking site for business professionals, has successfully tested the programme over the past few months with brands including Capgemini and Turkish Airlines.

Marked as 'sponsored', the updates appear in member's feeds on their LinkedIn homepage across the desktop, tablet and mobile platforms.

The move allows firms to promote their content marketing to a much larger segment of LinkedIn's 225 million members.

Back in 2010, Twitter launched a similar programme (Sponsored Tweets), while Facebook introduced Sponsored Stories in early 2011, followed by Suggested Posts in 2012.

Sponsored Updates can be targeted to users based on their profile data, and because LinkedIn is a network that consists largely of professionals, businesses are more likely to engage with people who are interested in what they have to say rather than the general public (such as the users of other more generalised social networks).

Members can then choose to engage with the content via 'Like', 'Share', and 'Comment' options and they can also 'Follow' the company that generated it. Importantly, however, users do not have to follow a company to see sponsored posts from it, and members also have the ability to hide specific sponsored updates from their feed.

The Sponsored Updates are available to marketers both on a CPM and CPC basis via a bid-based auction, with companies being able to track post and campaign effectiveness through LinkedIn's built-in analytics tools.

By being able to monitor their performance, marketers will know whether or not the posts are effective in reaching their target audience. If not, they can make any necessary adjustments to ensure that future updates are more successful.

"LinkedIn Sponsored Updates is a good addition to the content marketing mix," concluded Rock. "The key to success is driving engagement using articles, videos and so on, that are hosted on a company's website. We are already seeing strong demand from our own clients for content creation and campaign management relating to the new service."