This was originally posted as my 20th piece on the new LinkedIn Publisher platform, making it a great time to review what I’ve learned from my initial posts and experiences with the process. It’s definitely an intriguing option – the positives can be major, while the negatives aren’t significant impairments. My biggest challenge has been trying to work out best practise protocols for the platform, optimum posting times, topics that resonate best, etc. Each time I’ve had post perform well, I’ve felt like I’ve cracked the code and worked out the secret to LI Publishing success, but then others have just performed okay and left me wondering what I could’ve done to improve them. My experiences have definitely taught me a few things of interest, a few notes that will likely be of benefit to anyone considering using the platform. Here are the things that I’ve learned from my first 20 posts on LinkedIn:
1. Getting on The Pulse = Massive Reach
This is the biggest benefit of the LI platform – with 296 million users worldwide, the reach potential is absolutely massive. The key to getting maximum reach, however, is getting onto LinkedIn’s news feed ‘The Pulse’. So how do you get on The Pulse? It’s not 100% clear. In the official notes from LinkedIn, it says:
High-quality long-form posts, as determined by our algorithm and other variables, may enable your long-form post to be distributed beyond your connections and followers, through channels such as LinkedIn Pulse and emails. However, we can’t guarantee that this will occur.”
The basic rundown of the LinkedIn Publisher algorithm (as I understand it) is this:
- Each post is shared with your 1 degree connections and followers (note: all your first degree connections are automatically following you – if you’ve ever clicked ‘Hide’ on anyone’s updates in your LinkedIn newsfeed, you’re no longer following them)
- Your content is then shared further based on likes, comments and shares – if a user likes of comments, it’ll get shared to their 1 degree connections
- If your post hits a certain threshold of likes and shares, it’ll get picked up by LinkedIn’s Pulse algorithm and shared via The Pulse
The key thing here is those initial likes and shares from your connections are crucial – for this reason, it’s of significant benefit to increase your connection count, maximising your potential for further interactions, and thus, reach. To some, that reasoning is counter-intuitive to LinkedIn’s core purpose, with connections seen by many as a representation of your professional standing (i.e. they should only be people you know and have worked with), but definitely, the more connections you have, the better, for the purposes of LI Publisher.
So how much difference does getting on The Pulse make? A lot. I’ve had three pieces picked up by The Pulse so far – here are the comparative numbers between those picked up by The Pulse and those not:
Pretty big difference – a 1000% increase in views, 3000% increase in Likes and Comments. But worth noting also that while getting on The Pulse is huge, the normal view counts for my posts aren’t terrible. Nine hundred views per piece is an acceptable number, so even without getting on The Pulse, I’m getting relatively good reach (if not engagement) with the platform. Getting on The Pulse just supercharges it and gives you a taste of how powerful LinkedIn’s distribution can be, which is a tempting lure for bloggers and brands alike.
2. Timing is Important
LinkedIn’s API is pretty closely guarded, they don’t release a lot of data to work with, making it harder to work out the best times to post relative to your network. The general advice on the best times to post on LinkedIn is Tuesday to Thursday at either midday or early evening. This will vary from person to person, business to business, and there are ways to work this out, though all take a bit of time and effort. Helpfully, LinkedIn has provided some guidance in the form of Trending Content. While there’s not a heap of data on offer, the interactive Trending Content graph highlights the most popular days for sharing content, by industry, as well as a listing of the most highly shared pieces in each sector.
For me, I’ve had the best results – excluding those picked up by The Pulse – with posts I’ve made on Saturdays and Thursdays, averaging just over a thousand views for each. I’ve excluded items picked up by The Pulse because their high numbers skew the data, but interestingly, I’ve had two items picked up by The Pulse on a Wednesday and one on a Monday. Outside of those items picked up by The Pulse, Wednesday posts have performed worst for me, but, in overall results, no one day has obviously stood out.
One thing I have noted is that there is some benefit to posting in the early morning, US time. Your best chance of getting maximum readership is getting on The Pulse, and The Pulse is generally content posted that day, so to maximise your chance of making the cut, posting early in the morning gives your content the longest lifespan to get picked up. And as LinkedIn is based in California, you’re looking to try and post early in the morning Pacific Time (US), as this gives you the best chance of getting on there. While this wouldn’t be the best option to reach your local followers, if you get on The Pulse, you’ll show up in their feeds either way – but it’s a risk. If you don’t get picked up by The Pulse, then your content may not get best reach to your followers, who are on your local time – you can consider posting a reminder update to cover this. This may be specific to me and my connections, and it’s a bit theoretical, but I have found posting early in the morning US time has given me better results, generally.
3. Know Your LinkedIn Audience
In order to know what will get best reach, you have to understand who your initial audience – your 1 degree connections on LinkedIn – are, and how wide ranging their interests may be. Some of them won’t be receptive to the in-depth technical articles you might normally post on a more specialised blog platform – a detailed guide to SEO, for example, might not resonate with that initial audience. I’ve found news items, or pieces explaining how a particular news story is likely to affect your area of expertise, have been popular, as well as more ‘wide focus’ pieces about the industry, rather than specific detail or technical posts. A good way to assess what you should be sharing is to have a look at The Pulse and see what items are getting the most engagement in your area. Several times I’ve scanned through The Pulse and thought of a new idea for a post, just by looking at what people are most interested in.
4. Re-Publishing is Okay (Sort of)
There’s a bit of debate around this, whether you should or shouldn’t re-publish content from your other blogs on LinkedIn. Whilst this would generally be frowned upon, many are seeing good engagement levels with re-purposed content. The audience on LinkedIn is different, so many of them will not have seen your original post, and you can change and update the piece and re-publish it and then there it is, no harm done. Unless, of course, Google penalises you for duplicate content, which could happen, particularly if you’re directly copying large volumes of work and including backlinks to your site. I’d be wary of that.
I’ve re-purposed two pieces – both of which I re-worked quite a bit – and they’ve performed okay. Another thing I’ve seen some bloggers do is post a portion of the original, with a link back to the whole item on their website. The posts of this type that I’ve seen haven’t had a heap of engagement, but it may be something worth trying and it could drive some additional traffic back to your owned properties.
5. People on LinkedIn Like to Comment
Here’s a really key aspect to consider: LinkedIn users like to comment, they like to take the opportunity to put their opinions out there and gain exposure on the platform. So what can you do to capitalise on this? Give them something to talk about. One of the reasons current issue-type pieces do well is because it gives people a chance to have their say and weigh in on the topic with their own thoughts. This doesn’t mean you should be provocative for provocative’s sake, but invite comments with your piece, make definitive statements in support of your opinions and consider content that will inspire some level of debate. If you can write and intelligent, informative piece about a hot topic, it’s likely to generate good conversation.
6. Finer Details
- I highly recommend putting your own by-line at the end of each post, including a brief bio. Importantly, you can create a ‘rel=author’ link back to your Google+ page for Google Authorship – my experience in implementing Authorship on LinkedIn has been mixed (pieces will show up as having Authorship active, but no image in search results), but you should definitely seek to connect Google Authorship wherever you can.
- Occasionally, new comments posted on your piece won’t hit your alerts feed, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the comment numbers of your posts to see if they’ve gone up when you weren’t looking. This has only happened a couple of times, but you obviously want to know when someone makes a comment, so worth double checking to ensure you don’t miss any.
So that’s it – there’s still a lot to be learned about the new platform and what difference it will make when all users have access, but my experience has been largely positive. I don’t see it as a replacement for any other form of blogging or guest posting, it’s more of a supplement to it. The major benefit of guest blogging is getting good reach to a defined, focussed audience. While you can possibly get better reach on LinkedIn, getting on The Pulse is not guaranteed, and often the people you really need to reach aren’t among your initial LinkedIn connections, so focussed guest blogging still has significant benefits. There’s definitely a heap of opportunity with LinkedIn Publishing though, and the changes the network has made in recent months have been great, so I’m really interested to see what happens next.
So what about you – have you used the LinkedIn Publishing Platform yet? What are your experiences? Do you have any additional tips or notes on how to get the most from your posts? Any comments gladly appreciated.
Note: If you’re interested, I wrote another post after publishing 40 LinkedIn posts, available here.