Have you seen the magic “pencil icon” in your LinkedIn status update? Are you even watching for it? If you have something to contribute to the professional dialogue in your field, you won’t want to miss the chance to publish your thoughts on LinkedIn.
Previously reserved for a limited number of “influencers,” including CEOs and other thought leaders, LinkedIn’s publishing platform will be rolling out to all users. You can request access by submitting a request to: http://specialedition.linkedin.com/publishing.
Why would you want to publish on LinkedIn?
First things first: if you already have a thriving blog or publishing platform, you’ll want to be strategic before you start to post content on LinkedIn. While LinkedIn allows you to duplicate content you’ve already written on your own site to publish on LinkedIn, it is possible that Google may penalize you for duplicate content and you may lose some search traffic as a result. Keep abreast of Google’s recommendations regarding cross-posting, which include posting a link to the original post in the duplicated blog.
However, if you have never blogged, there’s a lot of upside to posting on LinkedIn’s platform. It allows you to:
Demonstrate your expertise. When you write an article on LinkedIn, it is tied to your profile and available to anyone reviewing your information there. When you articulate complex concepts or describe strategic ways to address problems in your field, you can enhance your status and stature as an influencer in your field.
Expand your network. If what you write resonates with your audience, they have the opportunity to follow your updates, which could potentially increase your network, especially if they share your insights to their networks, which potentially expands your audience.
Who sees your posts?
Assuming you mark your post as public, LinkedIn notes that your posts will initially be distributed to your connections and followers via their LinkedIn homepage newsfeeds. As noted, your posts will also be linked in the “posts” section of your profile, which is under the top section of your profile with your headline and photo.
As more people read, comment, like and share your content, LinkedIn may pick up the article for broader distribution. They may distribute your posts as part of aggregated LinkedIn content (e.g., “Best of LinkedIn”) or on their trusted partner sites. You may find your posts featured on their news service, “Pulse,” which allows people to subscribe to topical news items.
Tips to extend your reach.
Consider the audience. Investigate topics in LinkedIn’s Pulse. (Found under the “Interests” tab on LinkedIn’s toolbar). Review “all channels” and identify what channel your content would most likely fit. Note that LinkedIn readers tend to be focused on business oriented topics; this isn’t the place for you to share your essay waxing eloquent on why the color green makes you feel peaceful. Keep your audience in mind and target your posts for the best chance at wide distribution.
Engage and interact. LinkedIn also notes that the more you engage and interact on LinkedIn by reading and commenting on posts, the more authority and influence you’ll gain. They note, “Your activity on LinkedIn will affect distribution. The more you engage with the platform the more reputation you’ll build, and the more likely members will follow you and your posts. Liking and commenting on other posts are good ways to engage.” In other words, don’t just drop off content and expect it to skyrocket you to fame and fortune. Be a contributing member to your community and you could be rewarded with higher visibility and influence. And, don’t forget to revisit your post to respond to comments and acknowledge people who reply to you.
Cross-promote. Don’t forget to share your post in groups and other social networks. Post links on Twitter and Facebook; turn to your most supportive networks. I’ve seen colleagues post specific requests to comment and share their latest LinkedIn posts, often resulting in the posts’ resounding success.
What should you write?
The best content taps your professional expertise. LinkedIn suggests you write about, “Challenges you’ve faced, opportunities you’ve seized or important trends in your industry. This could include your most memorable work experiences, lessons you’ve learned along the way, or topics you’re most passionate about.” You’re encouraged to write about your opinion; use your own voice; these posts can be conversational as well as offer strategic insights and actionable information. Obviously, LinkedIn advises you to avoid posting anything “obscene, shocking, hateful, intimidating or otherwise unprofessional,” or LinkedIn may revoke your publishing rights.
Before you take up the digital pen, be sure to read posts, with a discriminating eye. The platform is very transparent, in that you can immediately acertain how many views, likes and comments it has. It’s easy to see how often it’s been shared to other networks. Seek posts with lots of engagement and emulate them in your own way.
How often to contribute?
Don’t overdo it. Many influencers write once a week. Quality is more important than quantity, but if you really want to gain a following, be sure to be consistent.
How long should posts be?
This depends on your audience, but most people prefer short, but insightful posts. There are no word limits, and LinkedIn says posts of more than three paragraphs do best.
Decorate your post.
You can include uploaded pictures, videos, presentations and other documents to add to your content. If you hope to gain any traction on LinkedIn’s network, absolutely include a photo with your post. Be sure you have authority to distribute the picture and that you source it appropriately. Morguefile.com is a good source of free images to research.
There’s nothing more credibility killing than a poorly written post laden with typos. If you’re not detail oriented, employ a friend or editor to review the content before you post it online.
LinkedIn could disable posts that are extremely and overtly selling a service or cause. (That’s what ads are for!) However, you can include links to information about you online, insert a bio and let people know if you have other publishing platforms, such as a blog or business site.
If you’re picky about what happens to your content, be aware that, while you own the rights to any posts you publish, LinkedIn’s terms say they may “distribute your content, annotate your content (e.g., to highlight that your views may not be the views of LinkedIn) and sell advertising on pages where your content appears.”
It can’t hurt to try your hand at publishing on LinkedIn if you are a strong writer and have something to say — or if you can hire an editor to help craft or hone your message.
Visit my first post on LinkedIn about appreciating employees. Stay tuned for another post breaking down my experience publishing on LinkedIn.