Forbes’ Expert Advice for Creating Effective Sponsored Content on LinkedIn

As part of our Ask the Experts series, we’ve been learning from the world’s leaders in content marketing and sharing their advice. In this interview with Michael Monroe, former VP of Marketing / Head of Forbes BrandProductions, we chat about the value of premium branded content partnerships and the best ways to create content for LinkedIn.

Editorial note: This interview took place before Michael Monroe’s transition into a new role as VP, Marketing / Head of Re:think at The Atlantic. 

Pressboard: What’s your role, your background and what first attracted you to branded content?

Michael: I am the VP of Marketing and the head of Forbes BrandProductions. My team creates custom content on behalf of marketing partners, distributed natively through the Forbes BrandVoice platform online and in Forbes Magazine. This amounts to hundreds of pieces of content a year. I learned the ropes of branded content at Condé Nast Media Group, before “native” was a buzzword. Then and now, my job combines the best of the editorial and the advertising sides of publishing: solving business challenges through storytelling. I feel incredibly lucky to be in our industry at this exciting time and surrounded by such creativity.


Forbes BrandVoice microsite with Gap International

Pressboard: What’s the main reason brands come to Forbes to partner on branded content, instead of creating and distributing the content themselves?

Michael: Whether you’re talking about a magazine with more readers today than in our 98 year history or a wildly popular website, there is no doubt that Forbes knows how to attract and keep an audience— and that is simply through world-class storytelling. Through experience and data, we know the topics our readers enjoy as well as the formats and platforms they consume. Finally, from a distribution standpoint, few environments have the same level of trust as Forbes, particularly in the business and entrepreneurship space. Instead of feeling like an advertising campaign, native content that is shared on Forbes feels like a valuable story.


A typical LinkedIn update from Forbes

Forbes has an incredible following on LinkedIn. Do you have any tips on creating content that performs well on LinkedIn? 

Content that speaks directly to a specific business audience does especially well on LinkedIn, since it’s a site where professionals go to seek out insights in their industry. The top BrandVoice post for LinkedIn referrals in the last six months was The Top 4 IT Jobs For 2016 infographic with Microsoft—that’s a perfect match because it hones in on a specific industry and also offers employment insights (which people obviously seek out on LinkedIn).  In terms of tips – focus on specific takeaways and unique data points that are useful to the business audience or industry you’re trying to reach with your content. But don’t be too dry! All the rules for creating great content still apply—use an accessible tone, tell a story, share examples.


Part of Forbes’ branded infograpic with Microsoft Cloud

Which will have the most profound effect (either negative or positive) on native/branded content in the next 12 months?

Ad Blocking is making our whole industry take a hard look at what is and is not working across the web. Forbes BrandVoice content is published through our site’s CMS, so it is discovered, read and shared like editorial— not like an ad. This works because of the high quality of native content on Forbes, often times appearing organically in our most-read and most-shared lists. Users choose to block ads when they are not seeing value from those being served, so we feel tremendous pressure to deliver BrandVoice content our readers truly enjoy reading.

In 140 characters or less, what is your favorite tip for creating great content?

Have a point of view. Great content should impact, inspire or move the reader. Fight the urge to play it safe.


Pressboard would like to thank Michael Monroe and Forbes for speaking with us and contributing to our latest e-book. You can find him on Twitter at @M_Monroe

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