LinkedIn May Soon Be A Professional Publishing Hub


LinkedIn reported fourth-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 35 cents, revenue of $303.6 million, and net income of $11.5 million catapulting the professional social network’s stock up nearly 20 percent Friday morning.

The seventh consecutive quarter since the company’s I.P.O. that it has exceeded projections for revenue and earnings.

CEO Jeff Weiner, in a call with investors, said “One of the things that we’re increasingly focused on in 2013 is going to be the opportunity to support content marketing.”

In this move, LinkedIn hopes to capitalize on professional content marketing tailored for its some 200 million users and 2.4 million companies.

One of the areas where we’re making strong traction in is LinkedIn as a professional publishing platform. You see with the momentum we’re generating now in Influencers, LinkedIn Groups, Slideshare, people are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to publish professionally relevant content…” Weiner said. “We think that’s going to create a very strong platform and very valuable context for large enterprises, for small-medium businesses who want to target [and] engage with professionals.

The company’s intention is to provide academic and industry specific content that isn’t readily available anywhere else.

Something even more intriguing about this announcement is the inclusion of a new LinkedIn ad unit referred to as “sponsored content“. This will allow companies to promote their white papers and industry best practice documentation to specific professional demographics. Some are comparing the new ad unit to Facebook’s Sponsored Stories.

Weiner had to say this about sponsored stories, “Just this last month, we began a test working with some very large-scale enterprises…folks like GE and Xerox, The Economist, BlackBerry… They’re taking repositories of content that they’ve built over time…and they’re now able to serve that content as a status update and target specific followers.

There hasn’t been a time frame announced for a mass adoption of the new ad units, but Weiner has indicated that the new content will be shown to smartphone users instead of showing them display ads. LinkedIn’s mobile users account for roughly 27 percent of the company’s unique visitors, meaning that this ad strategy has substantial revenue potential.

Some analysts in recent months have questioned whether or not LinkedIn can sustain its growth as the U.S. market becomes saturated. But on Thursday’s earnings call, company executives pointed out that the majority of LinkedIn’s users are now based outside of the U.S. and that they’re targeting growth opportunities in Hong Kong and Brazil.

Management is forecasting annual revenue of $1.4 billion this year and that looks conservative. The estimate forecasts an increase of approximately 45 percent, while LinkedIn’s annual revenue in 2012 rose by 86 percent.

Steve Sordello, LinkedIn’s CFO, told analysts in a conference call, “We are trying to utilize a prudent approach to year-over-year growth…