Research suggests that LinkedIn may be the "richest" social network in terms of demographics.
According to Omnicore, 44% of LinkedIn users earn more than US$75,000 a year, while 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn. The world's largest professional social network, it's also the top social network for CEOs - 22% of them use LinkedIn. On average, each CEO has about 930 connections on LinkedIn.
To tap LinkedIn's goldmine of opportunities, you need to maintain regular activity on the platform, including publishing long-form posts.
So how can you maximize the performance of your long-form content on the world's largest professional network?
1. Understand Your LinkedIn Audience
The first thing you need to do is to know who you're writing for.
Unlike other consumer-based social networks, your LinkedIn audiences are likely to don their professional hats, and as such, their topics of interest are likely to veer towards professional development, industry news, technical knowledge and skills, personal development, and leadership and management areas.
LinkedIn recently published new data showing which topics generate the most interest on the platform.
Given this, it's fruitful to focus your article on areas related to your profession, trade or business, with an emphasis on leadership or managerial insights.
2. Include Relevant Stats and References
I've noticed through my years of reading on hundreds and thousands of LinkedIn articles that the best performing ones are backed by facts, figures and research.
As a professional network, users on LinkedIn seek useful information that they can use in their jobs or businesses - hence, articles that are grounded in scientific truths or empirical findings tend to resonate better than straight opinion pieces.
3. Consider Newsjacking
Coined by David Meerman Scott, newsjacking is the act of riding a breaking or trending news item at an early stage and "injecting" a piece of content that's related to it.
The chart below shows the approximate best time for newsjacking.
The best way to utilize newsjacking is to weave in your own two cents worth. For example, if a trending news item was that more mid-career professionals are having difficulties finding a job, you can "newsjack" by crafting an article that addresses their concerns.
Like what I did below (original source here).
4. Provide Utility to Readers
The greatest influencers on LinkedIn offer tons of useful tips, techniques and insights in their articles.
Likewise, providing utility to your readers can make your post stand out against the hundreds of thousands of others that LinkedIn serves each day, which also improves the chances of your article being noticed and highlighted by the LinkedIn editorial team on their 'Pulse' channels.
To do so, ask yourself these questions:
- Does my content educate my readers and provide refreshing new insights?
- Does it address a common industry problem, challenge or issue?
- Does it provide a unique perspective or solution that is not easily found elsewhere?
- Is the piece good enough to be shared?
5. Craft Headlines that Grab Attention
LinkedIn users are a busy lot.
To catch their attention, your post needs to have a strong headline to lure them in to read.
High-converting headlines trigger emotions and stimulate interest. They also help your article stand out from the content clutter.
Here are five essential considerations to keep in mind when crafting headlines:
- Curiosity - We're curious creatures by nature, and hence wish to learn more about subjects that interest us. Thus, "How I..." or "How You..." headlines tend to work well
- Reader Benefit - Providing a clear benefit in your headline will help to drive people to your article. Examples include "Five Ways to Maximize Your Productivity Each Day" or "Save 20% of Your Marketing Budget With This One Simple Tip"
- Strong Emotions - Emotional headlines help to trigger action, and can often be used by injecting the right adjective to describe your content. Words like amazing, incredible, easy, fun, simple, excellent, and free are used here. Examples: "9 Easy Ways To Manage Your Schedule" or "How I Used My Retrenchment To Become An Amazing Salesperson"
- Icons and Influencers - This is an important element on LinkedIn due to the target audiences of professionals. Examples include "Learn Investment Techniques Used by Warren Buffett" or "Harvard's Greatest Strategy For Building Its Reputation.
- Expectation - Finally, your headline should set the right expectations and not over-promise and under-deliver. Lay out exactly what your content can provide. For example, "Seven Steps To Becoming a Content Marketing Expert" or "5 Daily Habits to Help You Write a Book in Three Months."
6. Supplement with Strong Visuals
You've probably heard this a thousand times, but I'll repeat it again - a picture really does paint a thousand words.
While LinkedIn may not be as visual-centric as Facebook or Instagram, the use of effective images will still make an impression on your readers.
Ensure that you choose a visual that connects with the professionals that you're hoping to reach out to. Think eye-catching and relevant - with a twist of curiosity.
7. Share Your LinkedIn Article Everywhere
If you want to get your content read on LinkedIn, don't just share it on LinkedIn: Share it everywhere you can.
Other social networking sites and your email newsletter are a great start. This means that you should share it on Facebook, Tweet it, or Pin it on Pinterest (if you've got a great image).
If you're active on WhatsApp or other chat groups, don't be afraid of sharing your LinkedIn articles there. You may be surprised by how an original well-written piece can be appreciated and shared by others.
8. Avoid Spamming Your Followers
Like Facebook and other social networks, LinkedIn's algorithm prioritizes what to show on your follower's news feeds - the more likes, comments and shares your article attracts, the higher its visibility.
Publishing too frequently may hurt your chances of securing maximum impressions for each post.
While there's no definitive measurement on this, a good benchmark would be the LinkedIn influencers. Most of them publish very occasionally - perhaps once a week or a fortnight at most.
9. Don't use LinkedIn Articles to Sell
One of my chief bugbears is seeing LinkedIn connections abuse their blog platform by publishing promotions, advertisements and other sales copy.
Don't do this.
Remember that the purpose of the LinkedIn publishing platform is to provide an opportunity for members to share their thoughts, provide helpful articles, or unveil trending news that's relevant to their networks.
By posting promotional copy relentlessly, you're telling your followers that you have nothing valuable to offer them unless they buy from you. This can be a huge turnoff on social media.