Business publishers are enjoying traffic spikes from LinkedIn

Publishers have their ups and downs with distribution platforms, but LinkedIn is having a moment, at least with business news outlets.

Since LinkedIn overhauled its news feed, added analytics tools for publishers and began testing a trending topics module, business-focused publishers have gotten traffic spikes from the platform, with some of them now drawing millions of readers every month. As for LinkedIn, it said engagement with its news feed is up 40 percent year over year.

Bloomberg has gotten 26 percent more traffic from LinkedIn in the past two months and is now a top-10 source of traffic, even though it’s cut the number of stories it distributes there by 90 percent, sharing only stories that are relevant to LinkedIn users, said Scott Havens, the global head of digital at Bloomberg. Previously, Bloomberg just used automated software to pipe hundreds of stories onto the platform, and it wasn’t even even a top-10 source of referral traffic. Havens declined to provide raw traffic numbers.

“We’ve been seeing this nice uptick,” Havens said.

LinkedIn is still only relevant to a small slice of publishers. It drives less than half of 1 percent of all global referral traffic, according to Parsely, a share that has barely changed in the past year. And not every business publisher contacted for this story has seen its LinkedIn traffic grow, either — the Financial Times and Quartz, for example, remain flat.

But several have seen big gains, partly because LinkedIn has tried new ways to get content in front of readers. For example, when major stories about certain companies are published, LinkedIn has begun sending mobile push notifications to employees of those companies, driving up clickthrough rates.

It’s also helped that a handful of publishers now have platform-specific strategies for LinkedIn, a platform whose interest by publishers has waxed and waned.

Forbes — which has over 4 million followers on LinkedIn and is adding about 150,000 new followers per month — recently had a record month in April on the platform, with over 1 million clicks on its stories, according to Lewis D’Vorkin, Forbes’ chief product officer. This was nearly 120 percent more than the traffic it drove the previous April, he added.

D’Vorkin attributes a lot of that success to sharing aspirational, advice content that’s ripe for the LinkedIn audience. “We over-index, perhaps, on the right content for LinkedIn compared to Facebook,” he said. “People know Forbes is about success, not just in business and entrepreneurship, but in all sorts of ways. That’s so ripe for the LinkedIn audience.”

Elsewhere, Business Insider now reliably draws about 2 million clicks per month from the platform, though in a good month it can garner over 4 million. That’s not a lot for a publisher that gets over 55 million uniques a month, per comScore, but LinkedIn now drives more clicks for Business Insider’s finance coverage than Facebook does. That’s partly because LinkedIn’s audience, while quite a bit smaller than Facebook’s, is much more interested in that kind of information, according to Ashley Lutz, Business Insider’s deputy executive editor.

Business Insider, of course, also has a secret weapon in its founder and CEO, Henry Blodget, who drives traffic because of his 453,000-person following on LinkedIn, three times what he has on Twitter. “I’ve definitely gone to Henry before to see if he’ll share something on LinkedIn,” Lutz said.

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