Social media’s most professional site is joining the native advertising bandwagon. LinkedIn is rolling out sponsored updates as a way for users to reach an audience beyond their followers. The sponsored updates appear in members’ news feeds much like Facebook’s sponsored posts.

Misty Faucheux, who owns her own online marketing company, says her clients are already asking about the potential of LinkedIn’s new advertising platform.

“My clients are certainly curious,” Faucheux said, who has handled content creation and marketing for top companies like CenturyLink and Earth Fare. She expects small businesses to reap the rewards of this new feature, too.

LinkedIn’s sponsored updates are easy to use, according to Faucheux. Even people without advertising experience can create a successful sponsored ad.

“Literally anyone can do this,” she said. “You don’t need a design team or an ad agency, you can create a well-worded update that directs viewers to things like new products, upcoming webinars or recently-written white papers.”

LinkedIn members can select the group of people they want to see their sponsored update.

“Small businesses can really zero in on specific groups,” Faucheux says. “Your audience already exists, now with just a few clicks your message will end up on their homepage.”

Since the sponsored updates look just like normal updates, Faucheux says more people are apt to click on them.

“They’re not intrusive like a giant banner,” she says. “Viewers aren’t turned off by these updates, they’re tasteful, and so they’ll get more clicks.”

With 225 million members on LinkedIn, there’s huge potential for marketing success. If the Facebook news feed ads are any indication, this could be a potential boom for businesses looking to gain more followers, says Faucheux.

“The Facebook news feed ads have been providing nearly 50 [times] the clicks than right-hand side ads,” she says. “That can add up fast.”

If you’re looking to give LinkedIn’s updates a try, here’s how to get started:

1. Create a campaign

For starters, you’ll need an advertising account and a LinkedIn company page. Once you sign in, you can hit “Sponsor an update” from your company page. LinkedIn will also offer a list of your recent updates that could be sponsored.

To get the most out of your update, Faucheux says business owners should take some time to write a quality message.

“Remember to follow good content etiquette when creating a post,” Faucheux suggests. “Don’t put spam out there. Create a catchy title and make sure the linked content is of high caliber.”

2. Target your sponsored update

Once you’ve clicked “Sponsor an update,” click “Next” to select who will see your update. You can get as specific as you want. Choose a location, an industry, specific job titles and seniority levels.

“For most advertisers finding the right audience can be tough, but with a few clicks you can introduce a select group of people to your business, brand or product,” says Faucheux.

3. Set a budget

After targeting your message, you’ll need to decide how much money to invest. You can select between cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM). According to LinkedIn’s website, cost-per-impression is ideal for brand-oriented campaigns, while cost-per-click is ideal for performance-based campaigns. You’ll also need to set your budget and the duration of your campaign.

“To start, keep your budget modest and sponsor a few different kinds of updates to see which one has the best response for your business,” Faucheux said. “Don’t be afraid to try something new here, we’re all learning about this platform so there aren’t any right or wrong answers.”

Want more info on LinkedIn for your business? Grab our free guide, 5 Ways to Take Advantage of LinkedIn and Help Your Business Grow

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

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