LinkedIn, the business social network if you will, is home to 330 million people around the world. It’s a massive built-in audience for your articles. It’s a rare opportunity to (potentially) exchange ideas with the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington – and with millions of members, but there is also a lot of mediocre content on LinkedIn. This week we discussed how to build the best LinkedIn page possible, and showed some examples from companies who do it right. Today we’ll find out how to make our articles stand out, get selected on Pulse, and perhaps turn ourselves into LinkedIn Influencers? It’s not a one-step process. There is no magic potion you can take to make you write a top article every time, but there are some tips you can follow to make your LinkedIn articles more popular.
#1 Say Goodbye to Fluff
This one is already a well-known tip, but it deserves to be underlined, highlighted, and surrounded by flashing neon lights when you’re writing for LinkedIn. Regular blog posts can ease by a bit of padding and some personal thoughts, but not on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn audience is made up of busy professionals who want to scan the article, learn something, and get back to work.
If they have to scroll past inches of your personal reflections and clichés about the fast-paced digital world of change we live in today, they will move on entirely. There are conflicting opinions – and what’s worse, there’s conflicting data – about whether the ideal LinkedIn article should be super-concise and not more than 500 words, or if it should be long-form and weighty stuff that’s at least 1,900 words long . What can you do to bridge this chasm between approaches? Make the content worth it.
If your 1,900 word LinkedIn article is 300 words of value surrounded by 1,600 words of fluff, it will be a failure. On the other hand, if you keep the reader fascinated from one word to the next, they will reach word 1,901 and be astonished to discover that it was that long an article because the time just flew by. We’re all busy people, so make every word pull its weight.
#2 Serve the Community
“Build your community” is a buzzword for content marketers, but LinkedIn provides a twist to sharing content. LinkedIn is a huge global community of professionals. They don’t want to be built; they want to be served. Serving the LinkedIn community means remembering that this is a different demographic to your regular readership. Thousands of experts in their own field need a different topic and tone, one which acknowledges their expertise while offering something of value.
LinkedIn readers want tangible suggestions, relevant inspiration and actionable advice. Every article you write should tie it all back to how the reader can integrate your advice into their own life. “What I Learned Swimming with the Sharks” might be fascinating, but if it ends with something even non-swimmers can do, it’ll get more reads and more shares.
#3 Catch Them at Hello
Headlines are incredibly important. It might be hard to believe but LinkedIn’s editor Isabelle Roughol gives 50% of the time she spends writing an article just to writing the headline. The title of your article is what makes readers decide to click and read or scroll past to the next one. “You had me at ‘Hello’” needs to be your goal. The ideal title is only six words long, which isn’t much to sum up your entire article AND sound engaging at the same time.
That’s why you mustn’t underestimate how much time you’ll need to come up with a good one. Write your title after you’ve written the rest of the article. That way you already know exactly what direction your article takes and what the most important takeaway message is, so that you can craft your title accordingly.
#4 Be Clear, Very Clear
Because LinkedIn is a professional social media platform, sometimes people get the wrong idea about the audience you’ll find on it. You may think that this group of highly-educated, career-minded people want content that’s written on a high level with as many long, impressive vocabulary words you can possibly cram into a single sentence. You would be wrong. LinkedIn articles need to be every bit as clear and easy to read as content in the daily tabloid.
Even the most highly-educated executive prefers articles that are written simply. When you use complicated words and difficult sentences, you force the reader to concentrate on the words instead of on your actual content. According to the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test, “easy to read” texts are those which can be understood by an 11-year-old. Think about it: if someone is taking a coffee break, the last thing they’ll choose is a post that takes effort to understand.
#5 Make it Real
When you share real experiences, emotional responses, and dilemmas, you add a depth of realness to your LinkedIn article that’s almost irresistible. Time after time it’s been proven that people respond best to personal, emotional connection, so write from the heart. Of course, that’s easy to say. You might tell me that you don’t have an emotional connection to social media marketing, or whatever your new topic is. So find one. It could be a funny story that happened to you recently, a dilemma you got stuck in, an angle you get excited about. If you don’t find that article interesting to write, I promise that the reader won’t find it interesting to read either.
It’s a lot easier to write from the heart when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about. Try to plan your LinkedIn articles around the topics that really wake you up. Choose the challenges that you worked the hardest to overcome and the tricks you are the most proud of to be the subject of your next article. Bonus: when your emotions are engaged, you’ll find that you’re writing goes so much more smoothly.
#6 Get Structured
Once you’ve got your passionate and relevant LinkedIn article, you’re still not ready to publish it. You still need to review the structure and format. Articles are easier to read when they are broken up into sections with headings or include short bullet lists for easy scanning. Paragraph length is important too. Long, unbroken blocks of text are harder on the eye and off-putting for busy readers. You can learn about the ideal length for paragraphs and headings and titles, too, in this infographic . Finally, preview your LinkedIn article to check that all images are in the right places and that the text is justified correctly.
Now go serve your community!