15 Oct Your Top 7 countdown for good LinkedIn publishing
If your boss catches you on a social network while you’re at your desk, at least let it be LinkedIn – perhaps the only work-appropriate social platform (your boss, however, might think you’re looking for a new gig).
Whatever you’re doing on “business Facebook” – reading posts, replying to messages or writing articles – the general idea is that you should be getting some professional benefit from it. If it’s fun, well, that’s a bonus.
That in mind, in this article, we’re going to look at 7 things you can do to make your LinkedIn articles more useful, more readable and more fun.
7. Follow the news cycle
Every article you publish is effectively a new product launch. Timing matters. The problem is that writing articles is often treated as make-work when you don’t have anything “better” to do.
This means articles get hashed out on a Friday afternoon or posted in that glorious lassitude that follows the delivery of a big project.
Yet, if you post as soon as you finish writing – which is tempting – you might end up posting your stuff when none of your network is on the other end. By the time they eventually appear on LinkedIn a slew of newer articles will have pushed your stuff way down the line.
The general advice is to only hit ‘publish’ on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but please find out what the peaks and lulls are for your specific industry.
6. Stick to your topic
Your articles are there to build your brand. They should talk about things relevant to that goal. It’s tempting to share your opinion on whatever floats your boat when you have an open platform. Don’t.
LinkedIn is not your personal blog. It’s an information distributor where you are invited to demonstrate and share your professional or enterprise-level USP.
Everything you post must support that goal. For me, I’ve encoded this into SASA’s vision statement “find and share what is meaningful to inspiring people”. I am writing this very article because it’s about how anyone can share better – so this article fits my “thing”.
5. Speak with your ears open
Your LinkedIn articles are the start of something . Ideally, they advance a point or argument to a point where someone, somehow, somewhere responds. This response might not be in your LinkedIn article’s comments – though that would be ideal. Even if the response is from someone who has been social-stalking you who comes up at a networking event eight months later, it still counts.
So, your blog post should not be thought of as the final word. It is, rather, the first word and the context for what comes next. And if someone does comment on your piece, be grateful that they took the time not just to read, but to write in response. Thank them, understand their message and reply appropriately and swiftly.
4. Talk about what you care about
Look at that guy there. It’s a stock photo, sure, but so what – he really means whatever he is doing with his fancy guitar. What has this got to do with LinkedIn? Well, the professional social network is, like the rest of the net, awash with meaning-deprived content. And your readers know it.
Subconsciously, online readers are looking for reasons NOT to read your stuff. One of the fastest ways you can get ignored is to blend in. Your readers will only engage with something when they have an internally consistent narrative for doing so. (This narrative might not be fully conscious or literal.)
Your content must be meaningful and distinctive. There is an entire multi-billion-dollar industry out there to help businesses fake identity and heart, but really, these things are free if you have honesty.
If you can be real with your audience they’ll be more able to generate an internal narrative – the “story of why” – about you because you are a singular characterisation of something they care about.
3. Be valuable, be free
The craziest thing about the online attention economy is you lose by being stingy with your IP. When you clam up, no one will be fascinated by you. When you are profligate with your info though, people tune in.
Some online business people – including Gary Vaynerchuk and Anthony Metivier – often point out that they give as much away “for free” as they can. What remains, the stuff they can’t give away to the online mass market, is what they charge for. For example, it’s impossible to broadcast tailored advice or one-to-one coaching.
The real value of information in the Google age is how it is made relevant in individual cases. People by the thousands go to see Gary in person. People all around the world tune in to Anthony whenever he does a podcast or webinar. Most of what each presents is stuff they have already given away before, but at that time they are putting it in a unique context.
The freely available content acquires valuable immediacy because a cohesive audience at a unified time is placing their full attention upon it.
2. Preview it and re-review it
Before you click ‘publish’, take a closer look. It’s amazing how things that looked fine on Google Docs or MS Word or even directly typed into a publishing platform – such as LinkedIn or WordPress – will look different once you’re viewing from the audience’s point of view.
Change the font, zoom in, look at the piece on your phone. Pay special attention to the details, headings and paragraph spacing. Do a spell check.
I suggest you even use my favourite writing app of all. No, it’s not Grammarly (which I use even though I am a professional writer), it’s a little site called ttsreader.com.
This free service plays back any text you input as natural-sounding language. You can even choose the gender, accent and speed of the narrator. I use female, UK and ‘very fast’ because I find it the clearest and usually have a lot of text to get through. In fact, she just read that line back to me.
1. Love your skim readers
People reading on their phones or laptops don’t absorb words in the same way they do when they read on a printed page – they skim.
They don’t necessarily read less deeply. You don’t have to dumb things down for online readers, but their inability to interact with the text as a physical object means that shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs and lists suit screen-based reading. These formatting styles serve as signposts that readers can use to orientate themselves within a piece of text – and this goes double for people reading on mobile.
For a bit of fun, try bringing the online reading experience to the real world. Grab a book off your desk, make a tube from a piece of paper and now try to read while looking through it. Easy to get lost, huh?
Why stop at 7 LinkedIn publishing tips?
There are hundreds of ways to publish better on LinkedIn. I chose to stop at 7 because 7 is an eye-catching number in a way, say, 6 isn’t. I wrote my points in a list because people like skimming lists. I used a flippant tone because it makes things more entertaining. Reading about writing might be work, but it doesn’t have to feel like it.
This brings me to my final point: no one has a duty to read your LinkedIn articles no matter how vital your content, so making them engaging really is in your interests.
(Article originally published on LinkedIn).