Over 30 million companies have an official page on LinkedIn, and 92% of marketers include LinkedIn in their digital channel mix. However, many marketers are missing a huge content opportunity on LinkedIn: long-form articles.
LinkedIn originally introduced the long-form publishing functionality in 2012 to a few hundred targeted influencers. Those LinkedIn power-users could pen articles of several thousand words, with additional features like image embeds, formatting options, and the ability to interact with commenters.
Fast-forward a few years, and LinkedIn made those editorial opportunities available to its entire user community.
Benefits of Publishing on LinkedIn
Company pages cannot publish long-form articles to their pages, but they can share articles authored by and published to employees' personal pages, which translates to excellent opportunities for brand-building, awareness, and conversations for employees and their organizations.
The benefits include...
- Reaching a new audience. Employee networks increase the reach of content.
- Drive authentic conversations. Your employees are a trusted source of information for their networks because they have a personal connection. They've got a name, face, and unique reputation without the usual spin that's associated with a brand. Having employees write and share content on LinkedIn drives deeper discussion and authentic conversation.
- An inside look at projects, company culture, and problem-solving. Most owned channels have a specific audience, narrow purpose, and, often, a sales motive. But what about the great stories of company culture that drive recruiting efforts? Or the excellent technical solve that shows customers how smart your solutions are, outside of the traditional product feature checklist?
Ultimately, companies are made up of people—and the ideas and work they produce. Empowering your employees to write on LinkedIn allows them to share all the smart ideas behind the products or services, the outstanding moments that make a great team, and ins and outs of a smart solve.
Your Three-Step LinkedIn Content Strategy
1. Re-Using Content from Another Channel
LinkedIn can be used as a second-run platform for content published elsewhere—to improve reach and increase referral traffic to the original piece of content. Here are a couple of approaches to republishing content on LinkedIn:
Publish content in its entirety. Simply copy and paste the entire piece into LinkedIn. Add a note at the top or bottom of the piece with a link back to the original.
If you are re-using content in its entirety from a third party, make sure you understand your republishing rights. Some outlets will only allow a portion of the text to be published, while others may require you to wait for a specified amount of time before republishing to another channel, so double-check your agreement before republishing. Make sure to set the canonical link when you originally publish.
See a real-world example: 5 questions about the potential (and limits) of AI with John Maeda.
Summarize content with a link back to the original. Use the original introduction to the piece, and include a summary of the key takeaways from the original content.
For example, if you have an article with three points, you might write a one-sentence insight for each point on LinkedIn, instead of a paragraph for each point in the original piece. Alternatively, you might pose some questions that people should ask themselves when considering a problem, with a link to the original piece that includes answers or more questions.
Although the goal is to generate referral traffic to the full piece on another site, ensure the article can stand alone on LinkedIn and that it adds value for readers, even if they do not click through. It should not be thinly veiled clickbait for your main piece. Refer and link to the full piece of content.
See a real-world example: The Science of the Deal.
2. Promotional or Company-Focused Content
Promoting a product, service, or company-focused information can be tricky in a LinkedIn article, which should not be used as sales enablement/product feature datasheet. Though you can share information about what our company does/sells, you should focus on educating the reader in some other way.
For example, what did you learn while you were building the product? What process did you use to get the project to come in on time and under budget? What workarounds/tools/hacks did you use to create the product? The piece should stand on its own and add value, whether the reader clicks to do a product tour, or starts a trial.
If you simply want to announce a new feature, that information belongs as a status update in your LinkedIn feed. Republishing press releases about features or partnerships should be shared as links in a status vs. posting it on LinkedIn as an article on someone's profile.
See real-world examples of product announcements: Fixing Online Learning One eCourse at a Time and The Most Overlooked Vehicle for Making Ideas Go Viral.
3. Cross-Linked Content or Back-Linking Content
Post the problem or "why it matters" statement on LinkedIn, cross-link to the solution published on an company-owned property. Sharing a detailed article to help your audience define the scope of a problem or understand why a problem matters is a great way to give value, while also piquing their curiosity about solutions to the solve the problem.
The alternative is to post the details of a solution on LinkedIn and link to the "why it matters" on a company-owned property. In this case, the value to the reader is the unique insight into a creative solution.
See a real-world example: How to Make Yourself Look Like the Most Obvious Fit for the Position.
Post a summary of the problem and solution; cross-link case studies or research that proves this works. Many companies sponsor or commission research to bolster their claims that a problem matters or a solution works. Often, "download the report" is the key success metric.
In addition to sharing the link to download as a status update, consider posting a short summary of the problem and solution, with a few insights from the report that support the conclusions for why this challenge is worth solving and why your solution proves useful. Then, link to the full download of the report for additional insights.
See a real-world example: New data reveals where we really stand with diversity in the tech industry.
Audience and Tone
For the LinkedIn audience, you need to make connections to the "lessons learned" from each experience, story, or exercise showcased in the article. A couple of distinctions from posts you might publish on Medium or a personal blog:
- Personal posts are more narrative-driven (hero, obstacle or challenge, special skill or lesson, overcoming or arriving) vs. linear "arguments" (the traditional thesis or hypothesis, supporting points 1-5, and conclusion at the end)
- Is the key takeaway obvious to readers, or are they supposed to come to their own conclusion? LinkedIn readers want actionable steps, so posts should aim to make the takeaways obvious to the reader vs. personal posts that leave it open to interpretation for the reader.
- Is it just supposed to "resonate" with the reader, or provide practical or actionable advice? Most LinkedIn posts try to provide tactical tips, so what's the "so what" for your post?
See real-world examples that give actionable insights or tactics to the reader:
- A product marketer walks into an analytics team... (builds common ground, offers practical advice)
- You are what you eat, and you are how you meet (principles + behaviors to execute)
- A True Believer's Ode to ShipIt (steps to replicate the author's experience)
* * *
Incorporating LinkedIn articles into your content strategy yields significant benefits for both the employee and the company. So grab an exec, influencer, or great storyteller, and give it a shot: you might be pleasantly surprised at the results!
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