It was about a year ago—March 12, to be exact—when I first received an email inviting me to blog on LinkedIn.
“Be the first one to publish on LinkedIn,” the invitation read. “Strengthen your reputation by sharing your perspectives with your network.”
I was already a big fan of LinkedIn, so I decided to take the plunge. I like experimenting with anything social anyway, so I couldn’t pass up on the offer.
Since then, I’ve published 35 LinkedIn blog posts, amassed over 2,000 followers, and gone “viral” once. In January 2015, LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform to all English-speaking countries, while continuing to add new features.
If you’re thinking of blogging on LinkedIn, here are six lessons I’d like to offer—all learned from my year of using the professional social network’s publishing platform.
It’s ok to republish your own posts…sometimes.
One thing I immediately noticed when I first published on LinkedIn was that other people were simply reusing their own content on the site. They were doing it word for word, even down to the call to action at the end of their posts.
I hesitated to do this because I knew Google hates duplicate content. I didn’t want blog posts on my own site to be dinged because they were available somewhere else.
Thankfully, other people have done the research about republishing on LinkedIn, and the verdict is that it’s ok. After doing a data-driven analysis, Scoop.it says repurposing blog posts on LinkedIn doesn’t hurt SEO provided you change the title. I’ve tried that and it works fine. I suggest going further, shortening your original post and perhaps even writing a different intro.
That said, I wouldn’t suggest republishing ALL your blog posts on LinkedIn. While Google isn’t penalizing people yet for posting the same content, it could happen in the future. After all, it’s not a good experience for Google users when they find identical articles on search results.
Also, it’s critical to consider your audience. If you think most of your readers are not on your LinkedIn network, then republishing is probably ok. But if they already subscribed to your blog, it will irritate some of them that they’re seeing the same content twice.
Quality is not a predictor of virality.
This one was a hard pill to swallow. Some of the posts that I worked really hard on—some of the ones that I was so very proud of—did terribly on LinkedIn.
Unfortunately, there is a little bit of luck involved in terms of going viral on LinkedIn. Getting featured in one of the “channels” helps a lot. But there aren’t clear rules on which posts get featured, so that’s out of your control.
“Likes” do not always correlate to views either. My post on why I leave work at 5 pm got a lot of likes and comments but it has fewer page views than other posts with less engagement.
My recommendation? Write content that you’re proud of, but drop the expectation that everything will always reach thousands and thousands of LinkedIn readers. Going viral means nothing. And if it doesn’t get traction on LinkedIn, rewrite it a bit (especially the headline) and try posting it somewhere else like Medium. Or submit it as a guest post on other blogs like Business2Community. LinkedIn isn’t the only way to get your message out there.
Provocative posts win.
If content quality can’t always predict the success of a post, then what does?
As it turns out, it’s your stance. Whenever I offered insight that contradicted many people, that’s when I got attention on the site. For instance, my blog post on Ello and how it’s already a success got people talking. My article on why social media engagement is overrated easily crossed the 2,000 mark.
I’m not alone in this observation, by the way. The folks at iDoneThis shares the following from their own experience blogging on LinkedIn:
For upstarts in content, extreme outcome distributions call for extreme arguments. Being a polemicist—backed by quality—is an extremely effective way to get attention, and it’s 100x better than being boring.
Because [LinkedIn Influencer] Tomasz [Tunguz] has 52,759 followers on LinkedIn and I have 3,543, Tomasz doesn’t need to be extreme to get distribution. If my article doesn’t do something different and extreme from Tomasz’s stuff, my article won’t get beyond the small network I have and I won’t get an extreme result. (Tomasz may be a bad example — think Richard Branson: his content does not have to be good, extreme, or even interesting to succeed.) That’s critical to understand in putting the successful content of others in the proper context for yourself.
If increasing your posts’ reach is important to you, you better dig deep and say something different. Be prepared to back up your opinion with facts though: People on LinkedIn aren’t shy about voicing their opinions.
It’s still about the influencers.
The only sure way to consistently get many views on LinkedIn is to be invited as an influencer. Influencers have their own LinkedIn channel, and I notice that they tend to get a lot of real estate on my LinkedIn newsfeed even if I’ve never subscribed to them. For example, content from influencers tend to be recommended as the next article at the bottom of each post.
It works both ways though. These influencers often bring their own audience to LinkedIn. They already have a built-in community before they started publishing on LinkedIn.
So the lesson here is this: Building your reputation outside of LinkedIn could help you get more eyeballs on LinkedIn. The key to growing your LinkedIn audience is to grow your audience in general.
Publishing on off-office hours is a terrible idea.
Just for fun, I tried publishing one of my posts on a weeknight. It resulted to one of my worst performing posts ever. I wouldn’t recommend it. (But if you try it, please let me know how it goes!)
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, most people are on LinkedIn during office hours. It makes sense to publish a post during those times as well.
Your LinkedIn blog should not replace your blog.
LinkedIn is just another place to distribute your content. It shouldn’t replace your own personal or corporate blog. It’s basically a rented space. LinkedIn is allowing you to reach a bigger audience with its platform; in exchange, it reserves all the rights to (possibly) monetize your content. And while there aren’t too many restrictions right now on what you can blog about on LinkedIn, I suspect there will be firmer rules soon. Not to mention that using LinkedIn’s publishing platform means you don’t have much control over your posts’ appearance and over SEO.
To Recap: How To Succeed On LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform
If you want to rock LinkedIn publishing, keep these six lessons in mind:
- Republish some of your posts, but not all. Reserve some posts for your personal and corporate blog.
- Do not expect your LinkedIn posts to go viral. But make sure you write the best content possible.
- Offer provocative insight. Contradict conventional thinking. Be original.
- Build your community and audience outside of LinkedIn. Doing so will help you incrementally increase the reach of your LinkedIn posts.
- Publish during office hours only, Monday to Friday.
- Keep working on your personal and corporate blog.
LinkedIn’s publishing platform provides another way for you to show your professional network that you’re an expert and to share your opinions and point of view. For companies, it’s another content marketing platform—a way for you to reach a bigger audience through the experts in your organization. It’s not a surefire way of reaching thousands of people, but it could help get your content in front of the right people.
As always, I want to hear from you. What’s your experience so far with LinkedIn publishing? Share your thoughts below!