This is the final part of our four part series on LinkedIn. As well as today’s post on LinkedIn Posts you can catch yesterday’s post on best practices for LinkedIn Groups, and our earlier posts on making connections and perfecting your profile, too.
Back in October 2012 LinkedIn launched a new feature on their site: LinkedIn Influencers.
LinkedIn Influencers were a group of the most influential business and thought leaders on the planet, all of whom shared their knowledge, wisdom, and insight with LinkedIn’s audience of hungry professionals. The influencer posts – sometimes short, sometimes long – ran the gamut from genuine posts-on-the-run between business meetings, through to interviews, book extracts, and sneak previews of things about to launch in that influencer’s business.
Needless to say, LinkedIn users loved it.
Even today the Influencer posts are shared by thousands every time a new one hits LinkedIn’s Pulse content network, and influencers like Bill Gates and Richard Branson are each followed by millions of LinkedIn users. Indeed, Branson’s personal following easily outstrips President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron, and businesswoman Arianna Huffington combined, with more than 8 million LinkedIn users having his every post pushed to their feed.
But while LinkedIn Influencers was a successful program for building the LinkedIn brand, and while it remains one of the most popular features on the social network as a whole, it also offered LinkedIn an insight into a new opportunity for the company when it came to content. In the same way as Influencer posts could be pushed to a wide network of LinkedIn users, why not allow individual users to post their own original content to the LinkedIn network?
Thus was LinkedIn Posts born.
LinkedIn Posts and the LinkedIn Publishing Platform
Together with LinkedIn Influencers, LinkedIn Posts represent part of the larger LinkedIn Publishing Platform. Though both the features fall under this one umbrella, there are some significant differences between then two.
First and most importantly, LinkedIn Influencers are invited to join the Influencer program. Invitation only means exactly that: it’s not like waiting for the first ever Gmail invitation from your buddy with a hookup in Mountain View – it’s a true invitation. Of the more than 350 million LinkedIn users only around 300 are invited to be Influencers. if you aren’t Richard Branson, Bill Gates, or Arianna Huffington, you might be waiting for a while to find that magic invitation email in your inbox.
LinkedIn Posts, on the other hand, are open to anyone. If you have something to say, something to sell, and idea to share, or content that you think will benefit the LinkedIn network, then you can make a LinkedIn Post. All it takes is a couple of clicks of the mouse.
The second major difference is in terms of automatic reach. For LinkedIn Influencers the reach extends to each and every one of their followers. Hence, a Richard Branson article gets pushed to 8 million people automatically, appearing in their primary feed and inviting them to click to read the entire thing. When it comes to reach, then, influencers like Branson rival a major newspaper, and Branson’s own reach represents something like 6 times the circulation of the New York Times!
The automatic reach of a LinkedIn Posts is far more limited. It will appear in the feeds of all of your connections, again with an offer to click through and read more. If you have only a handful of connections then, sadly, that’s going to be the extent of your reach except – and this is important – your post gets some attention from those who read it. Remember that LinkedIn remains a social network, if a professional one. If a post gets read, liked, shared, and re-shared, LinkedIn will take notice and push it to more people in the networks of your connections. Write well enough and push the right sort of content and you’ll quickly go from sharing with friends to sharing with the world.
A Blogging Platform – But So Much More
LinkedIn Posts allows you to add text, pictures, links to videos, and do some basic formatting. You can use h-tags to head and sub-head your posts, you can place pictures (including animated GIFs) in the body of your work, and you can block quote important material that you want the reader of your post to take special notice of. You can prepare posts in advance, save them as drafts, and publish when you feel is best. You can even track the performance of your posts either live and on the site or by regular email updates from LinkedIn.
In some ways, then, LinkedIn Posts resembles a blogging platform: you can post content, it will be read by those who know you, but you rely on sharing of your work or searches for keywords in your work to bring it to a larger audience. While this is all true, at its heart LinkedIn Posts is more than just a blogging platform: it’s a way for professionals on LinkedIn to grow their influence, to demonstrate their thought leadership, and to establish a personal brand in a professional thought still social setting.
Grow Your Influence
We’ve already explained how to go about making connections and the best practices to employ to avoid accepting valueless invitations (and by implication, how to avoid extending valueless connection requests of your own). We’ve also looked at the best practices for joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups, and how to avoid being a self-promoter, perhaps the worst sort of LinkedIn Group member. Following the guidelines that we’ve laid out, growing your influence on LinkedIn is likely to be a slow and steady pursuit.
LinkedIn Posts, though, give you a fast track to that influence.
Unlike your status updates or updates to your profile that are shared – or can be shared – with only your own connections, your LinkedIn posts have the possibility of going viral. Should the post be valuable enough, well written enough, thought provoking enough, or (let’s face it) controversial enough, then it will get liked, shared, and shared again. Every time it does your name, your picture, and your LinkedIn profile is shared, too.
In addition, there’s a box at the bottom of each post where even people who are not your connections can ‘follow’ your future posts. All of these people will find your future posts in their feed without having to connect with you (you really didn’t think that Richard Branson approved 8 million connection requests personally, did you?). You will have grown your influence measurably through simply reaching out and publishing a LinkedIn Post, and on a social network where networking is king, this is the first of the three great advantages of the publishing platform for users.
Demonstrate Thought Leadership
When you post a status update you have a couple of lines to get a message across, caption an image, or headline a link you are sharing. When you participate in LinkedIn Group discussions you are usually responding to others or, where you are posting your own discussion, keeping things short enough and on-topic enough to pass moderation muster.
LinkedIn Posts, on the other hand, are an opportunity to embrace the sort of longform content that allow you to truly explore an idea. You can present a statement, tease out the implications, explain how it makes something new, better, out of date, or changes the world, and then you can tell people what will come next.
The longform format allows you to tell stories instead of just passing on information. You can set up the challenge, explain the pain-point, draw on your personal experiences to provide a solution, and explain why it will work – or even how it is already working for you.
In other words, LinkedIn Posts provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate real thought leadership in your field.
You shouldn’t be afraid of thought leadership and – whatever you do – don’t assume that only a CEO or an upper level manager can be a ‘thought leader’. Even if you are working in the metaphorical mailroom of your organization, you can demonstrate leadership in addressing the challenges that face an industry you know well.
And, as explained above, if you make good points and people share them with others, you’ll find your way out of the mailroom real quick.
Establish a Personal Brand on a Professional Network
There’s a good chance that if you built yourself a blog you’d have the chance to grow your influence (eventually) and demonstrate some thought leadership (to the readership you attract, anyway). While LinkedIn Posts do both of those things in a particular way, it is really this last point that separates LinkedIn Posts from other blogging and publishing platforms.
LinkedIn’s fundamental nature as a social network for professionals presents all users with a secure, high-profile space to build their personal brand. Yet a LinkedIn profile – even a perfect LinkedIn profile – is not enough to truly establish a personal brand. In marketing terms, having a LinkedIn profile is like having a website: it is a great start but it can’t be your only tool for building your brand.
LinkedIn Posts are the means by which you develop and support your personal brand.
For example, if you mention in your profile that you have interests in marketing? LinkedIn Posts allow you to write and publish on this theme, and prove to anyone visiting your profile that it is more than just talk.
Or if you added a bunch of causes that you believe in to your profile, a longform LinkedIn Post on the topic can reinforce this in the mind of recruiters as something that truly matters to you.
If you’ve claimed experience in project management then reviewing a new book with a LinkedIn Post will help demonstrate your knowledge of this field in the minds of your readers.
All of your LinkedIn Posts are available to anyone who visits your profile right under your name and summary, and the images that are attached are a great incentive for those visitors to click through. As such, they represent a clear opportunity to and obvious path towards building a personal brand – and doing this on a social network for professionals is incredibly useful for your career, both now and in the future.
LinkedIn Post are more than a simple blogging platform. LinkedIn Posts allow you to reach your peers, colleagues, and network, and – with well written content – extend that reach across the entire LinkedIn network. They allow you the chance to grow your influence in ways that other blogging platforms can imitate and perhaps overpower in gross numbers but without the targeting potential and networking links that LinkedIn provides. More than that, unlike other blogging platforms LinkedIn Posts allow you to develop a personal brand in a professional space, supporting very line in your perfect LinkedIn profile with evidence that you’ve shared yourself.
Making a LinkedIn Post is simple, and after it is drafted it is only the work of just a few minutes to publish – so what are you waiting for? Get posting on LinkedIn Posts today!
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