“LinkedIn? Nah, I already have a job.”
A few years ago, that was a popular response to questions around the business world’s largest social network. If you were looking for a new job, you polished up your profile page and started pinging your connections. Once the new gig was in the bag, LinkedIn got tossed into a drawer alongside your elevator pitch and your networking power tie, not to see the light of day until the next job change.
Fast forward to 2015, and not only is LinkedIn an absolute must for all serious professionals at all stages of their careers — it’s evolved into a content powerhouse that rivals many established media outlets.
Sure, LinkedIn is still as powerful as ever if you need to find a job, and now it’s so much more. If thought leadership plays any role at all in your content marketing strategy, it’s time you added LinkedIn Publishing to you repertoire. Here’s why.
In 2002 — back when a certain Mr. Zuckerberg was just another student at Harvard — Reid Hoffman gathered up some colleagues from PayPal and Socialnet to do what had never been done before: create an online network just for business professionals. As Hoffman told CNN Money in 2009,
The mood in the valley in 2002 was dot-com winter. Consumer Internet ventures were scoffed at, but that just added to the competitive advantage. We could show them we had something interesting.
We started slowly in the first few days because we wanted to make sure the systems worked. I think the 13 people associated with the company invited 112 people.
By 2006, the network had launched public profiles, staking its claim as “the professional profile of record.” Before the year was over, LinkedIn’s user base had grown to more than 20 million.
The Influencer Factor
The turning point began in 2012 with the launch of the LinkedIn Influencers program.
With Jeff Weiner at the helm, the network offered more than 150 top business personalities — including Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and President Barack Obama — the opportunity to share their insights with its (at the time) 259 million members. As LinkedIn stated in
the blog post announcing the program,
Everyday (sic) we are focused on helping our members to be great at what they do and today marks another exciting step towards making this possible for millions of professionals. For some time, you’ve been able to follow news by industry and sources, companies, and groups — these updates have seamlessly become part of the discussions you’re having everyday on LinkedIn with your peers. And now, you can follow other professionals on LinkedIn.
And with that, LinkedIn officially entered the online content business. By early 2014, the average Influencer post was drawing more than 31,000 views and receiving more than 250 likes and 80 comments.
With LinkedIn firmly established as a premium content platform, it was time to launch the next phase of the Influencer program, which the network announced in February 2014:
The valuable Influencer posts and the wide range of professional content from millions of publishers that we currently aggregate on LinkedIn are powerful, but only the tip of the iceberg. Combined, our members have extremely valuable and varied experiences; however, their knowledge and expertise has not yet been captured and shared.
Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand.
Why Publish on LinkedIn?
Sure, you can publish on LinkedIn … but with an existing blog on your website, a million other content projects, and only so many hours in the day, why would you want to?
Reason #1: The Influencer Brand. By launching the Influencer program with a few select luminaries — and keeping it limited for over a year — LinkedIn immediately set itself apart from other open publishing platforms such as Medium and Tumblr. Users have been conditioned to view LinkedIn publications as impactful, authoritative, and well worth their time and attention. Each time you publish on LinkedIn, you associate yourself with a brand that’s known worldwide for quality and integrity.
Reason #2: Audience Reach. In December 2014, more than 40 million people in the United States visited Linkedin.com. Alexa currently ranks the network as the ninth most popular website in the United States, ahead of Reddit, Craigslist, and Netflix. Unless your blog can drive a comparable volume of traffic, you owe it to yourself to give LinkedIn Publishing a try.
Reason #3: Audience Quality. Unlike many other social networks, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to get your ideas in front of an A-list audience. According to a 2013 survey, the average LinkedIn user has an average household income of $83,000 per year and twice the purchasing power of the average U.S. Consumer. The network’s worldwide membership includes
- 7 million C-level executives
- 3 million MBA graduates
- 1.3 million Ivy League alumni
How to Get Started With LinkedIn Publishing
Okay, okay, I get it — LinkedIn Publishing is too good of a deal to pass up. So, what do I need to know to get started?
If you’ve written a blog post, you know everything you need to know to publish on LinkedIn.
- From your home page, click the pencil icon in your “Share an update” window, which takes you to the Create a Post screen.
- Insert an image (not required but recommended) and start writing.
A few best practices to keep in mind:
Stick to Business. Remember that LinkedIn is a business community, and readers expect insightful, relevant content that helps them to be better informed, to do their
jobs better, or to manage their careers more effectively. Save the off-topic, just-for-fun posts for your company blog or your Facebook Page.
Repurpose What You’ve Got. You don’t need to create from scratch every time you sit down to publish on LinkedIn; it’s perfectly kosher to repurpose posts from your current blog. Just make sure to link back to the original post each time.
Keep It Brief. LinkedIn publications tend to be on the shorter side, around 500 words. If you want to repurpose a longer post from your blog, consider breaking it up into two or more posts, or post the highlights and direct users back to the original for the “uncut” version.
Remember Your Keywords. Publications feed into LinkedIn’s highly effective — and frequently used — search engine, so make sure to include keywords that will attract searchers to your post.
Speak to Your Audience. Remember, LinkedIn is a place to grow your influence among current and potential customers, so make sure your content speaks to their specific needs, concerns, and interests.
In today’s noisy, crowded marketing environment, producing quality content is no longer enough. As content marketers, we need to give equal weight to positioning — appearing in the right place, in front of the right audience, at the right time. By adding LinkedIn Publishing to our strategies, we can accomplish all that while enjoying one added benefit: associating our content with one of the strongest brands the Web has ever known.