Do you ever wonder how effective your LinkedIn content is at reaching your target audience? Well, wonder no more. The social media giant is rolling out two new features to help small businesses improve content marketing.

One feature is a Content Marketing Score, which quantifies the effectiveness of your content. The second concept lists Trending Content, which will help you write about topics that are of interest to your target audience. (The changes are the latest among several LinkedIn has made recently.)

Intrigued? We thought you might be. Here’s a closer look at each of the features and how they can improve your marketing efforts.

Content Marketing Score
Remember school report cards? Your teacher gave you a grade and wrote a note about how you could improve in certain areas. The Content Marketing Score is similar. You get a grade, which is a score of 1-1000, and LinkedIn tells you how you can improve.

To be more specific, your grade is based on how much engagement your content gets, which is divided by the number of active LinkedIn members that you’d like to reach. You can adjust the score to look at specific areas, too. For instance, you can get a score on just your sponsored updates. You’ll also see how your score stacks up against competitors, but the rankings will be anonymous.

The score is private. It’s for your eyes only, which Stephanie Katcher, a social media specialist at All My Web Needs, says is vital.

“The fact that the Content Marketing Score is private is significant,” she says. “It negates the desire to game the system for popularity and puts the focus on performance.

“The anonymity of competitors is important to letting small businesses focus on how to develop and optimize their content rather than how they are going to compete, or worse yet, who they need to copy.”

For Katcher, the new score is a “huge win for the evolution of digital content.”

Trending Content
To reach your target audience, you need to know what topics interest them, right? LinkedIn will supply a list of trending topics that are pertinent to your target audience. The idea of “trending topics” is nothing new, Twitter has cashed in on this phenomenon, but LinkedIn’s list won’t be as broad. The list will reflect your target audience, not the audience as a whole.

LinkedIn is using an algorithm to evaluate the trends and categorize content into 17,000 topics. The result is a list of trending topics that your audience will want to read about and engage with.

Katcher says this list should point business owners in the right direction, but she reminds everyone that trends can have a short lifecycle.

“Using trending topics to guide content development is only as good as your ability to recognize the life cycle of a trend,” she says. “Content needs to provide value to the conversation in every stage. Early in the trend cycle generalities are okay, but as things accelerate content needs to focus on current solutions or the future phases of a trend.”

With a little practice, you’ll realize the ebb and flow of the trends.

The catch
We predicted that LinkedIn would become a go-to site for content this year, and while the features are impressive, there is a catch. Right now, the features are only available to LinkedIn Marketing Solution customers, who spend some $20,000 a month. The hope is that in the not-too-distant future, these features will become available to rest of LinkedIn’s users.

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