Content marketing: what the Microsoft – LinkedIn deal really means

It will take some time to digest the full implications – both positive and negative – of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion and what it means for users and audiences of both company’s platforms. But one thing’s for sure, the content marketing playing field suddenly just got a whole lot bigger!

As content marketers, we strive to provide our clients with solutions that bring their key branding messages to life. We build strategies based on business objectives, create quality content to a specific brief then distribute that content through the platforms we know to be relevant to target audiences, enticing them to engage with the brandin a new or innovative way.

Content helps gain influence

LinkedIn plays an ever-increasing role as a content marketing platform – helping build the thought leadership status and personal brands of professionals across the world – around 433 million of them to be exact. This, in turn, drives awareness and recognition of wider brand messages.

Content – created by individuals, companies or groups within LinkedIn – has the proven potential to influence, and it’s not just limited to the Bill Gates of the world (although, perhaps not surprisingly, he is ranked as LinkedIn’s #1 influencer of the year).  Us ‘regular people’ have been able to build our circles of influence and in turn, be influenced by others.

The LinkedIn of the future, the one now owned by Microsoft, will surely provide scope for a whole range of opportunities for the targeted distribution of both organic and sponsored content.

Joining forces

Just think of the possibilities if LinkedIn becomes integrated with Microsoft’s products, which are used by more than 1 billion people worldwide! It’s a huge network, which could bring together a more detailed picture of individuals based on both professional and educational attributes (Linkedin) and geographic, socio-economic, gender and age attributes, mixed with knowledge about frequently used search terms, interests and shopping habits (Bing). The mind boggles.

In a letter to all Microsoft staff, CEO Satya Natella stated: “It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.”

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner told his employees that the two companies joining forces had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities by “Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory.”

What’s next?

Simply put, LinkedIn has a wealth of content and Microsoft has the distribution platform – the recent acquisition of the former by the latter has all the hallmarks of a match made in heaven for content marketing savvy individuals and agencies.

Without a crystal ball it’s impossible to know what the two heavy weights will focus on first – assuming they even know – but there’s one prediction we can safely make – the future of content marketing stands to be disrupted. As practitioners, we need to be ready to adapt, take hold of the opportunity, and turn it into something amazing that connects us all for the better.

Clare Murphy is the founder and managing editor of Content Empire– a leading content marketing agency based in Melbourne, Australia.

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