How to use LinkedIn’s publishing platform
It’s been over a year and a half since LinkedIn began offering all users the ability to publish and promote their own blog-length content within the platform. Here’s how you can use it to amplify your brand’s message
More than 1.5 million such posts have now been written and shared among the 230 million English-speaking members according to LinkedIn, with more than 100,000 original posts published every day.
Why has LinkedIn expanded its publishing platform?
LinkedIn aims to position itself as a market leader in delivering not just relevant, but personalised, business news to its users, now aggregated from its own organic content as well as a wide range of online news sources and established influencers. It has previously stated that its goal is to be “the definitive professional publishing platform – where all professionals come to consume content and where publishers come to share their content”.
(The branding of the publishing feature seems a little bit fuzzy. In its own user guidance, LinkedIn sometimes calls them ‘long-form posts’. It’s variously referred to online as ‘Pulse’ (which risks confusion with Pulse’s iteration as an aggregator of articles by selected Influencers) or simply ‘LinkedIn’s publishing platform’; I’m going to use the latter.)
Despite its awesome content marketing potential, the LinkedIn publishing platform is still new and understanding what makes a post on the platform perform well is relatively unknown. So why use it?
Develop your professional reputation
Regularly publishing on the platform allows you to:
- Establish professional credibility and build influence
- Position yourself, and your business’ brand, as an authority
- Expose your work to potential clients and key decision makers in your industry
- Develop relationships with your network by sparking discussion (and expand it by encouraging new Connections and Followers)
- Add weight to your existing LinkedIn profile by bringing to life the skills, achievements and experience you’ve listed
Note that while you can currently only publish as an individual, not as a company, it’s still possible to use it as an amplification platform for your company’s brand messages.
Massive exposure & powerful targeting capabilities
Posting on LinkedIn allows you the potential to reach a professional audience of around 230 million in English speaking countries.
But what really sets LinkedIn apart from other social networks is user intent. While users generally spend less time on there overall than, say, Facebook or Twitter, that time is likely to be spent focused on a professional or business goal; they’re actively looking for insights, advice or solutions to enhance their business or career (rather than, for example, stumbling across it on Twitter or you having to entice them to click on a link in your newsletter). That’s in addition to the slice of audience who have already previously engaged with you by following or connecting with you.
According to HubSpot, LinkedIn generates a visitor-to-lead conversion rate of about 2.74%, which is around three times more than that generated by Facebook and Twitter.
It’s free and effective
As well as the potential to bring your content to the attention of a relevant, receptive audience, the platform has an intuitive, easy-to-use interface, automatic promotion mechanism (your Connections and Followers are notified whenever you publish something new) and in-built analytics; plus your content will be searchable both within LinkedIn and search engines.
Of course, with 230 million users able to publish, there’s potential for your voice to be lost in a sea of low value, low quality content. So it’s vital you give yourself the best chance of success, engagement and the opportunity to feature in Pulse (LinkedIn’s tailored news app). Here are some mistakes to avoid…
Mistake 1: It’s all about me!
Yes, LinkedIn posts are primarily for enhancing your professional reputation and increasing exposure for your brand, but you need to offer readers something of value. Demonstrate your industry knowledge and expertise by sharing your insights, observations and experiences.
- Suggest solutions to problems or barriers in your industry
- Give advice on how to be more successful or productive
- Talk about a failure or challenge you’ve faced at work and how you overcame it
- Explain a complex topic or subject in an innovative way that makes them easier to understand or puts it into context
- Use an item that’s in the news as a springboard, giving your own perspective
- Take inspiration from discussions in you LinkedIn groups
- Use a tool such BuzzSumo to research popular topics
- Write about what you know; be authentic (it’s a cliché because it’s so important). If you’re having difficulty ‘finding your voice’, the chances are you’re trying too hard
- Be helpful and transparent
- Go for an informal yet professional tone, like you might speak at an interview. Resonate and engage with your audience
- Just because you’re writing for a professional audience doesn’t mean you have to cram in lots of big words you’d never normally use or unnecessary jargon (unless of course it’s relevant to your subject and target audience)
- Your posts don’t need to be perfect, particularly if you’re just starting out and finding your flow, just the best you can make them. It’s better to post something slightly imperfect than spend so long deliberating you never end up publishing anything at all. You can always save your post as a draft and go back to it at a later time, or choose to edit or delete posts after publishing
Mistake 2: Not optimising your post
LinkedIn’s publishing interface is really user-friendly and is WYSIWYG (what you see as you’re writing is how the post will appear when live).
If you already blog, you’ll be familiar with the main elements to pay attention to.
According to LinkedIn “readers are 14 times more likely to click on blogs that include a compelling image”. The optimum size is 700 x 400 ps
Aim for 40-49 characters long and strike a balance between making it catchy and ensuring it’s clear what your post is about.
Research has found that ‘how to’ and list posts perform better than those which pose a question, so bear this in mind when coming up with your headline.
Follow web content best practice in terms of break up blocks of text with subheadings, bullet points, images, etc. People tend to scan a webpage before deciding whether to read on and long blocks of text can look daunting and off-putting.
Call to action
What do you want your readers to do after they’ve finished reading your post? Aim to keep your readers engaged by encouraging discussion and interaction, which creates and grows relationships and build trust.
You can add keyword tags to each post so that LinkedIn can index your post correctly and effectively, and users can find it when they perform a relevant search. You’re limited to 3 tags, so choose wisely.
Mistake 4: Failing to engage
The work doesn’t stop after you after you’ve hit ‘publish’.
Your LinkedIn posts automatically appear in the newsfeeds of your Connections and Followers and become part of your profile, but there are other ways you can maximise engagement with your posts.
Within the LinkedIn community
- Build a relationship with your audience by replying to comments
- Share in groups (no more than 1 or 2 to avoid being perceived as spam)
- Respond to comments on your posts to build relationships (members can opt to follow you directly from your post)
- Comment on others’ posts and participate in Group discussions without promoting your links to build your reputation as a trustworthy authority
- Tell the LinkedIn editorial team why your post is useful to its readers and it may be featured on Pulse by tweeting your headline and some context to Tip @LinkedInPulse
Keep an eye on comments, likes and shares to monitor the success of your posts; identify which topics and styles are generating the most interest and interaction and do more of what’s working. Also look at the times and dates that bring most success.
Other ideas for making the most of the platform
- Share the links across other platforms and mediums
- Schedule/plan time for future posts. Perhaps make a note of ideas when inspiration strikes, wherever you are
- But don’t post just for the sake of it, only if you have something meaningful to share or say; as with so many things, quality over quantity
- Don’t neglect your own blog (remember the LinkedIn platform is essentially ‘rented land’)
The question of duplication
Tempted to copy and paste posts from your personal site or company blog but worried about the implications of publishing duplicate content? The jury’s out on what constitutes best practice on this one, but our SEO team agrees with the Social Media Examiner (as long as you’re not infringing anyone’s copyright):
“…There is really nothing wrong with duplicate content. You are using LinkedIn for engagement and if you are not concerned with it showing up on page one in the SERPS then don’t worry about duplicate content.”
However, if it offends every moral fibre of your being to re-use your previous blogs in their entirety, or want to add target the post more specifically to your LinkedIn audience, here are some suggestions:
Repurpose. A top content marketing strategy in its own right, this means taking material from your original post and presenting it in a new way. For example, turn a blog into a top tips feature or Q&A; or go into more depth on points you’ve highlighted in an infographic.
Promote with teaser text. Use LinkedIn to publish a brief intro to an older blog post, perhaps summarising the key points or bullet-pointing the takeaways that encourages people to read more and link back to your site. Craft a unique headline with your LinkedIn readers in mind.