LinkedIn Publishing Platform: User Review, Tips and Some Wishes for its Next Iteration, Part 2
In part two of this multipart series, I discuss the impact LinkedIn's publishing platform has had on my business, as well as offer some tips on how you can make the most of this new online marketing tool.
Without sounding too clumsy, being a thought leader in your industry is a good thing. In online retailing, it's about building a buzz around your brand, products or service. The easiest way to build thought leadership is to generate content for your target market that resonates. Here are some tips to help you get your message read by a wide audience on Linkedin:
1. Publish quality content. No fluff, just publish content that resonates with your target market. Be helpful. Give deep information and background. Provide instructions, how-tos that benefit people. Before you publish anything, ask yourself, "is this shareworthy?" In fact, your objective with posts is to provide such great info that people are compelled to click the sharing buttons (e.g., LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). Likes and comments are your goal, too (more about that in No. 5 below).
2. Carefully consider your headline. Spend as much time as you can on coming up with the best post headline you can. Headlines grab peoples’ attention and generate readership. Here are some ideas for your headlines: provoke; ask a question; mention a hot topic in your industry; be controversial. When I write headlines, I'm always thinking, "What will get someone to read on?" Its kind of like a subject line in an email, or the copy on the outer envelope of a direct mail piece. You can't spend enough time here. (Note: you can change a headline after the fact on LinkedIn's platform. When you do so, there's a radio button that allows you to inform your following of the change. Make sure you check that button and also tweet the article and share via other social sites.)
3. Don't be self-serving. Think give to get here. Don't sell, inform. Self-serving or sales pitches won't get you anywhere and may wind up hurting your credibility in the long run.
4. Think keyword rich, but don't publish for SEO's sake. Linkedin has an algorithm that helps spread posts to the appropriate people in your "following" (i.e., connections and follows as defined above). Articles that resonate will go beyond your following and make it to Linkedin's Pulse, a modern day publishing platform broken into categories. You can choose the categories you want to follow by clicking on "Pulse" in the "Interests" menu on LinkedIn's navigation menu. Hopefully you'll be discussing items of interest to your target market so search engine optimization will happen organically, but it doesn't hurt to make sure your SEO folks have a look at articles before they're published. Your posts on LinkedIn are searchable by Google and other search engines; they're not just limited to LinkedIn.
5. Build your LinkedIn following to increase the reach of your posts. Import your address book (it's safe), connect with all new contacts you meet (virtually too), and even accept link requests from people you don't fully know (a bit of a paradox I know, but the more people you have as connections on LinkedIn, the more your message gets seen). Another tip: Add your LinkedIn profile to your business card and email signature. In fact, add it anywhere you can think people will see and connect with you.
6. Stir the pot. I like to serve up my opinions in addition to being informative. I've found that the more I offer opinions that polarize people, the more comments, tweets, likes and shares I get. Some of my more informative posts don't get as many views, etc., but I don't discredit them as failures either. For instance, when I publish a catalog marketing article and it doesn't go viral like my aforementioned slam on Mark Zuckerberg, I know I'm reaching less people overall, but a more highly targeted group (who are more likely to use my services). I aim to write a balance of articles between controversial, think pieces and how-tos so I can reach the widest possible audience in my target market.
7. Share your posts on other social networks. Tweet them (if you connect your Twitter account, a pop-up launches after you post) and post on Facebook and Google+ too. And by all means, click the button to share your post on your LinkedIn's news feed. Once shared there, post it to groups you belong to as well. Note: LinkedIn's best practices say not to post to more than a few groups. I typically share my articles in all 50 groups I belong to. Turns out that "oversharing" in this way got me dinged, marked as spam (I think there's some overlap in groups I belong to) and now I have my posts being moderated individually in some groups — something I need to now contact group owners and fix which ticks me off as I'm not a spammer.
8. Respond to comments. This one really helps amplify your posts. When someone comments on a post, it's broadcast to the commenter's followers. Always respond to comments. Duh, right? Well, you'd be surprised how many people don't do this simple task. To me it's a sign of respect and a thank you to the commenter. Another BIG benefit: When you respond to someone's comment, check the Twitter button and your message will get tweeted with a link to the original article. I get plenty of comments, more views and retweets from doing so. Another tip: Don't just thank commenters; add value by responding to the specific comment with either additional information or your "respectful" opinion.
9. Use images in your posts. Images, charts, products shots, etc., all help you get noticed and break through the clutter. This is the same as in other social media channels. Use images wisely!
10. Use links. Add external links to your posts. Reference sources, other articles you've written, etc. In essence, provide credibility and links in your post to build credibility with readers. And doing so helps with SEO too!
11. Add a footer. Make sure you add at the bottom of your post more information about you and what you do. Include links to your Twitter and Facebook pages, your email address, and a description of what you do. A few sentences and/or links will do. Since some of my articles are repurposed from my ROI column, I always reference and link back to my column (it helps the magazine with a backlink too).
Check back next week for the third and final part of this series, when I give suggestions for how LinkedIn's publishing platform can be improved on for its next iteration.