Last month in my exclusive post for HealthWorks Collective, I wrote about LinkedIn's influencer blogging programme, and how it was potentially missing a trick by focussing too much on C-level execs and not enough on the everyday people who are driving change in healthcare.
Maybe some folks at LinkedIn read it, because I got invited to "be one of the first to publish on LinkedIn" about a week ago and can now submit longer posts alongside my updates.
Now I'm not regarding myself as a major influencer in healthcare (something the stats around my first LinkedIn post would reinforce!), but it did see an interesting opportunity to test out the system and see how it works. It sounds like LinkedIn are sequentially rolling this out to more and more users, but at this point in time I'm not sure how many people can also do this (do let me know by commenting).
For my first publication on LinkedIn I chose to republish my most recent column on pharmaphorum, which covered a senior-level pharma interview I recently conducted, and was entitled 'Social media in the pharma boardroom'. The process itself is pretty slick - copy and paste text in (I would never recommend writing straight into LinkedIn in case you lose your connection and therefore your work), add any text formatting and publish. Formatting includes the obvious bold, underline and italics, plus features such as block quotes, bullets, lists and alignment plus, critically, the ability to embed media or photos.
The system itself is therefore simple, but getting your blog posts seen is a little harder, so here are my top tips to any budding LinkedIn Influencers who want to raise their profile:
- Have in mind who you are trying to connect with and write an engaging story that will interest them, rather than trying to shout your message at them.
- Don't try and promote stuff in your posts, people generally don't want to be sold to when reading blogs.
- Keep your posts brief and to the point. The sample I posted was only 800 words and even that is a little lengthy.
- Do include rich media and quotes where relevant, but don't go overboard on them so you lose the flow.
- Include new and exclusive information wherever possible, e.g. new data, exclusive interviews or opinions, which people won't find anywhere else.
- Do use other channels to flag your posts to relevant parties, such as Twitter, Facebook or email (it sounds obvious but people often don't). Perhaps think about adding a link to your latest post in your email signature.
- If you include mention of, or interviews with, other people in your posts then don't be afraid to ask them to also share.
- Post regularly and consistently with a recurring theme to your posts that reflects your passions. For example I tend to write about one of three areas - participatory medicine (especially patient input), social media or pharma's reputation.
However - here's the punchline. I don't think publishing on LinkedIn is the quick answer to becoming popular as a blogger. LinkedIn's major advantage of being one of the world's most used social media sites is also its potential weakness. Getting your post seen, and rising above the noise, in that environment is going to be extremely hard work and will definitely take a long time.
Instead, I would recommend using it to reinforce posts published via more specific, industry- or topic-oriented websites and blogging platforms, where the relevant audience for you is clustered and your posts are more likely to secure relevant eyeballs. In the short to medium term, these channels are more likely to generate the right visibility and connections, where LinkedIn only offers the potential promise of this in the longer term.
For any other bloggers, whether you can publish on LinkedIn or not, let me know if you agree!