You’re not alone if you waste hours on Facebook each month with very little to show for the time you put in. Likes are nice and all, but they don’t really count as anything useful. Such a pity — those cat photos I just posted were quite popular.
LinkedIn, however, is one of the few social media platforms where you can end up with something much more useful than having to scroll through endless baby and vacation photos. If you put in the time, you’ll have meaningful contacts, promising job leads and a following.
LinkedIn’s publishing platform opened up to everyone a couple years ago, allowing entry-level people just starting their career to be published alongside executives at Fortune 500 companies. It’s a largely egalitarian platform where anyone who writes insightfully can reach a large audience. Even those employees lower on the totem pole can amass a following. It’s a great way to collect your thoughts, share your insights and begin branding yourself. If you already have a blog, LinkedIn is a good place to syndicate your content and attract a larger following.
Regardless of what your industry is, you can bet there are people interested in reading. The subjects written about are vast, from technology to ethics. There are 400 million-plus users on LinkedIn from a variety of different backgrounds, so there really is something for everyone.
The platform itself is really simply to use, even if you’ve never blogged before. While it may be simple, utilizing the full potential of the publishing platform is more of a challenge. Here’s how to make your first post and some best practices that will help you make the most of publishing on LinkedIn.
How to Post
• In LinkedIn’s Pulse section, there’s the option to “publish a post.”
• From there, you’ll see a publishing screen where you fill out a headline, the body of the post and any relevant tags.
• After posting, your connections will be notified of the post and have the chance to read what you wrote.
• Share your post far and wide on whatever social platforms you use. You can also track analytics to see how your post is performing.
Fill out Your Profile Perfectly
You can write a masterpiece about how to succeed in business, be liked by everyone or find true love in the workplace, but it won’t get much traction if your corresponding LinkedIn profile is lacking.
First, you need a really good headshot of yourself. This photo will show up with your corresponding post, so a professional photo adds a sense of legitimacy to your words. A mirror selfie just won’t cut it. You don’t need to be in a suit and tie, but dress well and ensure the lighting in the photo is good.
It’s also important to smile, as studies show that a smile that shows off your teeth makes you seem more likable and competent compared to using a closed-mouth smile. The same study found that a “laughing smile” had a negative effect on perceived competence and influence, so don’t smile too big.
With your photo taken care of, make sure the rest of your profile is in top-notch shape. Filling out your headline and summary in an interesting and accurate way will help people know instantly what you’re all about.
Of course, this advice isn’t helpful just for adding legitimacy to your posts. It helps with making potential contacts or applying for new jobs. Leaving the profile barren or typo-ridden isn’t a good look, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish on LinkedIn. To get an idea of what works, check out some of LinkedIn’s most popular publishers to see what their profiles look like.
Share Your Knowledge
LinkedIn might be full of business professionals in suits, but that doesn’t mean you need to follow the business-speak conventions that dominate offices all over the country. Those types of posts that usually perform well are typically from already established professionals in highly visible companies. For example, this post by the president of the Eurasia Group applies the company’s political knowledge to the recent interactions between tech companies and the government. Because the company has high visibility, this post reaches a broad audience.
For everyone else, it’s the publishers that speak with authenticity that receive well-deserved attention. They’re smart and professional, yet they don’t mind getting personal and discussing hard life lessons. If you look at the some of the most popular LinkedIn posts, you’ll see lots of publishers drawing on their own experiences to share usable knowledge with their followers.
Want a recent example? This middle-aged CEO wrote earnestly about aging and getting in shape through ballet. It includes personal details, but it isn’t self-serving like a typical Facebook post. Instead, the writer tells a personal narrative and shares the life lessons learned.
Not all of the best posts on LinkedIn read like a corporate memo, and that’s why the platform is so popular.
Don’t Forget Photos
Photos are important for any type of article, as visuals are proven to increase reader engagement. Research shows that articles published with at least one photo on websites receive about 70 percent more views than article without an image. Images can help break up lengthy posts or draw a reader’s eye to the article. For example, the president of Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services strengthens posts about company developments with photos highlighting achievements. Not only do these photos show the company’s accomplishments, but they also make the posts stand out. It’s trite to say a photo is worth 1,000 words, but an effective photo can do a better job of showing something than a block of text.
Determine Your Goals
People publish on LinkedIn for different reasons. For some, it’s all about promoting their business. For others, the posts are used to build a personal brand and become a thought leader. Others use it to establish authority on a subject and make key contacts. For some people, LinkedIn is a fun outlet.
Determine what your reasons are, and then write accordingly. Trust me — this is a much better investment of your time than Facebook.