If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably been on LinkedIn for a long time. If your company does content marketing, then you’ve likely shared your fair share of links with your connections or in LinkedIn Groups.
When LinkedIn launched its own publishing platform and opened it up to all members in 2014, you may have wondered what the point of it was. Sure, for LinkedIn it makes sense. More content that lives within their website means people spend more time there. But why should the average business owner or professional publish content there?
Why Publishing on LinkedIn is Worth It
A common recommendation you come across in content marketing is to avoid digital sharecropping. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s one that gains steam every time a social media network (most often Facebook, it seems) makes changes that push more business and publisher content out of sight.
The gist of the idea is that, the more you build up your business on any website other than your own, the more control you lose over your content and the way you interact with your audience. To give a timely example, many brands that put a lot of emphasis in building up a following on Facebook have recently seen their organic reach plummet due to Facebook giving more priority to user posts.
That seems to create a pretty open and shut case for LinkedIn Publisher. It’s “rented land,” so why use it?
Because even some of the experts that generally advise against digital sharecropping publish posts on LinkedIn.
Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose talked about the risks of publishing content on “rented land” a couple of years ago, and both have dozens of posts published on Linked Pulse.
Greg Ciotti has warned against digital sharecropping in the past, but has also written a post about how beneficial LinkedIn publishing has been for him.
Ciotti’s article really gets at why using LinkedIn Publisher is worth it. By loading 35 previously published articles into LinkedIn’s publisher, he gained over 250,000 views and more than 3,000 new followers.
And many of those views came from people in high-level positions at companies likely to be in the target audience of HelpScout, the company he writes for.
In summary, there are three strong reasons that publishing on LinkedIn is smart:
- You can tap into a much larger audience than your own website likely has.
- You can tap into a valuable audience – especially if your business is B2B.
- You don’t have to create all new content for LinkedIn, they don’t expect exclusivity. You can use it as a distribution platform for content that already exists on your website.
How to Publish a Post on LinkedIn
Now that you know the why, the how of publishing on LinkedIn is fairly simple.
1. Log in.
You already have a LinkedIn profile, right? If not, you should get to work making that happen ASAP. If you do already have a profile, then this first step should take a matter of seconds.
2. Choose “Write an Article.”
In the default screen you see once you’re logged into LinkedIn, you should see the option “Write an Article.” Click on it to open a fairly intuitive editing screen.
3. Add your image.
Every post you publish on LinkedIn should have an image. If this is a post you already published on your own blog, then you should already have one ready.
Simply click on the box at the top of the post and select the correct image from your desktop.
4. Paste in your headline and content.
LinkedIn’s editor really talks you through each step. Type or copy-and-paste your headline where it says “Write Your Headline.” And add the content of your post where it says “Start writing.”
When you’re done, press the publish link in the top right corner.
Easy enough, right?
How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Publisher
Obviously publishing on LinkedIn is easy. Anyone can do it. So how do some people get truly impressive results from it?
One of the biggest markers of success on LinkedIn is becoming featured on a social channel on LinkedIn Pulse. You’re limited in what you can do to make that happen, as the ultimate decision is up to someone else (or rather, an algorithm), but there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of becoming featured and get more out of your post.
1. Identify the right social channel(s).
LinkedIn offers a number of different channels that members can follow. You can see them listed on the Pulse Discover page. Browse the list of options to find the ones most relevant to your business and the types of topics you write about.
The list on that page is ordered by how many followers each channel has, so any relevant channels that are high up are the ones you should give the most focus to in your efforts.
(Note: be sure to click “See More” to browse the list, so you’re not just viewing the first few channels.)
2. Pay attention to what articles do well there.
Spend some time reviewing the featured articles in the channels you’ve chosen. Look for trends in the types of topics and posts that get a lot of traction there. Do they tend to cover useful skills for getting work? Newsworthy trends? Tips for hiring and managing people?
Jot some notes on what the top-performing posts covered and keep those handy when you’re brainstorming what to write about. And pay attention to the people commenting as well. What are their typical roles in the industry, and what kind of reactions do they have to the posts?
3. Write industry-specific content that will benefit those that follow the channels you’re targeting.
Use what you learned in #2 to craft blog posts that are likely to appeal to the people following those channels. LinkedIn decides who to feature based on factors like the number of shares and comments from the followers in that channel, so you need to gain some traction in the community before you can even be considered. And naturally, you’ll want your post to be good enough to impress the audience there if it does get featured.
Pro Tip: You can’t actually specify the channel you’d like to be featured in anywhere within the LinkedIn Publisher editor, but you are able to add tags to your post. Tag it with the name of the channel you want to be considered for.
4. Spend time working on a strong headline.
Having a strong title that people want to click on is important to getting noticed and shared enough to get on the radar of the algorithm that decides which posts get featured. If you’re treating headlines as an afterthought, this is a good opportunity to change your approach.
Again, use what you’ve learned in studying the posts that do well to help point you in the right direction. As in general on blogs and social media, list posts and how-to guides tend to perform well. So do titles that include the words who, what, where, when, why, or you. But even though words often associated with questions perform well, posts that have questions as the title don’t. Writing a post that answers a question is a good thing, just make sure your title puts the question in statement form, such as “Here’s Why Good Employees Quit,” rather than “Why Do Good Employees Quit?”
5. Include a CTA back to your own site.
The point of using LinkedIn is to get more eyes on the content you’re developing. The point of the content you’re developing (at least the top-of-the-funnel content) is the get more of the people likely to buy what you’re selling to your website. Getting more attention on LinkedIn therefore isn’t worth much if it doesn’t help point people toward your website.
Make sure you include a strong CTA at the end of the post that will point people toward something you’re offering on your site, like a free ebook or guide. If you have something to offer that directly relates to the topic you covered in the post, even better.
Tom Fishburne the Marketoonist includes a link to a landing page to sign up for his email list, as well as a link to a page that allows you to browse the cartoons available to license from him. The post on LinkedIn may be on rented land, but if you like it, you know just where to go to find his “owned land” and potentially make a purchase.
6. Promote on social media.
As previously mentioned, the factors that determine which posts get featured are based on people starting to notice and engage with your post before LinkedIn features it. To give it an initial boost, do what you can to promote it yourself.
Share it in relevant LinkedIn groups and on on all the other social media networks your brand has a presence on. Share it through your personal accounts and encourage your employees to do so as well.
If you really think your post is a great fit for a particular social channel, copy @LinkedIn with hashtag #LinkedInPulse when you share it on Twitter to increase the odds of getting it noticed by the right people. Don’t overuse that tip though or you may train the people behind the account to ignore you. Save it for your best posts.
7. Respond to comments.
The community on LinkedIn often has a lot to say, and that’s a good thing. Posts that get a lot of comments will both show up in the feeds of more people and are more likely to get featured. When people comment on your post, treat it like a conversation.
Respond frequently and always try to say something meaningful in your comments. If someone asks a question, answer. If they pull out something meaningful they learned in the post, see if you can expand on it in your reply or point them toward a useful resource with more information.
Do your part to get a real conversation going in the comments. It’s a way to reward the people that show they care about your work and it will increase the reach of your writing to boot.
If you’ve been avoiding LinkedIn Publisher out of concern that it means building on borrowed land, here’s your nudge to reconsider. You can use it strategically as a tool to encourage more engagement with your content and draw more attention to your website.
Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.