Influence is earned. It can't be bought, swindled, or given through some anointing process. It's a reputation, and reputations must be earned through experience and interactions. Blogging can help accomplish that goal, and social media is an incredible tool for becoming an influencer as well, but you have to build a readership and work to gain followers before they can become effective for you.
Enter LinkedIn's long-form publishing tool. LinkedIn is social media, true, but it's also a platform for connecting with others in your industry (or related industries) in a more professional setting. No cat videos or pictures of last night's meal allowed. Because of the specificity of the setting and the groups you can join, becoming a person of influence within your sphere of expertise is much easier than on Facebook or Twitter.
Now that the publishing platform has been open to all users for more than six months, the data is in and the results are clear. To increase your influence online in your field, it's an indispensable tool.
The Two Keys for Influencing
There are two key things that make someone an influencer: great content and an effective distribution network. One without the other is an exercise in futility. The best content ever written will lie endlessly in obscurity without a readership that will view and gain from it. The best distribution channel available is worthless if the content distributed isn't worth the reader's time. First let's discuss what good content is as it relates to LinkedIn.
The Right Content for the Platform
Good content can be a highly subjective term depending on the audience you want to reach. No one could argue (and still remain intellectually honest) that War and Peace isn't good content, but it wouldn't get many eyeballs on social media even if the length was allowed. Your world-class poetry might get some attention on LinkedIn, but only if you were already a member of poetry groups with members who chose to follow you. 5 Tips on Getting Your Poetry Read, however, would be much more likely to attract attention from the right crowd.
According to data from the first six months of the platform being available, the best headlines are between 5-8 words long and include words like 'success', 'career', 'interview', or numbered tips like '13 Ways...', and they are between 800-1000 words. Articles with these lengths and headline types get shared more than any others. The exception is the 2000+ word piece that is expertly crafted, but if it isn't really, really great, that length will glaze eyes and involuntarily move a reader's hand to click away before they get halfway through.
The highest performing types of content on LinkedIn are advice and tips for business, career, and self-help and development. It is a professional networking site after all. Broad topics that span the business world spectrum are fine, but the most effective pieces will fall into a specific niche. This is where your opportunity lies. An influencer has things to share that readers haven't seen everywhere else. What have you learned through your own experience that would help others? What insights have you gleaned that others may not have considered?
The Usual Rules Still Apply
SEO isn't dead, it's just changed. Optimizing your profiles and posts for search results should always be a priority, just not one that supersedes great content. Using optimal keywords in your headlines and posts is ideal, just don't compromise your writing to try and fit them in, and use them sparingly.
LinkedIn publishing allows for rich text formatting, images, videos, and all the usual aspects you would expect from a blog or website. Use them. Format your posts as you would for your own blog or site, with sub-headings, bulleted lists, images, and any other aspect that will make the post more visually appealing and easier to read.
Landing and squeeze pages are the proper place for self-promotion and selling, not here. It's fine to mention your product or service, and to link to them, as long as it's more of a side note to the content. People will read. like, and share your content because they gain insight and information from it, not because of your product. Keep the promotional aspects minimal and subdued, and give them a reason to want to find out more. That reason should be that they consider you to be knowledgeable about the subject and that they can gain from more of that knowledge in their feeds. It's always what they can get out of it, not you.
The Jumping-Off Point
Once your content is great and you've optimized it, it's time to take advantage of the opportunity. This is the brilliant part of the platform's distribution power. Your audience will consist of three types of readers. Primarily will be the people you engage with on the site, especially in groups. They are much more likely to read what you write, and because they are already engaged individuals, they are much more likely to share it as well. If they're engaged on LinkedIn, they're probably engaged on other forums and sites elsewhere.
Secondly will be your connections that you don't share a group with, and thirdly will be the LinkedIn population as a whole. Don't expect a lot from either of these groups unless you really grab them with a headline. Are you getting the bigger picture here? Being actively involved with groups in your industry on LinkedIn should be a primary course of action on social media. Read what others post, comment on their posts and articles, answer questions. They can help you increase your influence quicker than anything else.
Finally, never forget to cross-promote anything you write. If you publish it on LinkedIn, publish snippets and links on every social site you are active on. Link to it from your blog. Post in your LinkedIn groups. You know the drill (or you should anyway). You want to make any LinkedIn post the starting point from which you spread out across the web. That way the message starts with the right people - industry folks that you are engaged with - and then spreads to others. That gives you a better chance at more reach from the very beginning.
Our social media dashboard can help you in this journey. While LinkedIn publishing isn't directly incorporated (yet), you can still monitor, post, and respond to mentions, discussions, job postings, and a wide variety of aspects of the network directly from Sendible, as well as handling all of your cross-promoting and posting to other networks.
One last thing. If you're looking for your dream job using LinkedIn, imagine how much more attention you'll get when you are established as an influencer in your field. It would be nice to have to choose from offers because they have seen your level of expertise and insight, wouldn't it?