By Mike Bailey published March 29, 2014

LinkedIn’s Content Publishing Flood: 4 Tips for Staying Afloat

This is big news. No, this is HUGE news… you’ve never seen anything like the engagement you get on LinkedIn.” —Joe Pulizzi

linkedin icons-tiles piledLinkedIn’s decision to open its content publishing platform to every one of its 277 million members clearly hasn’t left CMI’s Joe Pulizzi sitting on the fence. This giant leap puts LinkedIn one small step closer to a dominant position in the content marketing space; whether or not you trust its motives, Joe sees the “LinkedIn halo-effect” giving huge exposure to individuals who grab the opportunity.

Since its inception in the fall of 2012, LinkedIn’s accurately named Influencer program has developed a massive following: A typical Influencer post receives more than 31,000 views, an average of 250 “likes,” and around 80 comments, according to LinkedIn’s published data. While new publishers may not have the instant appeal of a Richard Branson or a Bill Gates, the opportunity for taking your exposure as a thought leader to a higher level is real — as Joe confirms in one of his recent PNR: This Old Marketing podcasts.

The Influencer posts you publish feature prominently in your LinkedIn “world.” Of course, new posts will show up in your regular home page news feed; but since these articles are also readily available to users beyond your network, the platform offers a tremendous opportunity to help you develop a following among the wider LinkedIn community. If you participate, whenever anyone visits your profile, they’ll see a summary of your latest work, positioned just under your head shot. More importantly, your posts show up in LinkedIn’s article search, making it increasingly likely that your audience will grow exponentially over time. What’s not to like about that?

joe pulizzi on linkedin

Keeping up with activity is easy too. LinkedIn’s dashboard (accessed from your profile page) summarizes the page views, “likes,” and shares your published content has received. You will also receive email updates on these and “other performance metrics.” Since LinkedIn may share your posts as part of its own aggregated content — both on its own site and beyond — you are likely to see sudden upsurges in activity from time to time, as your articles hit the LinkedIn sweet spot.

Barry Feldman, whose published content already resonates widely throughout the content marketing community, is one of LinkedIn’s publishing neophytes. What are his first impressions?

“After just a couple of weeks of publishing via LinkedIn, I’ve been thrilled with the response. LinkedIn shows you views, “likes,” and shares, and I love what I’ve seen. My articles have generated a lot of comments, and I’ve seen massive spikes in visits to my LinkedIn profile, new followers, more dialogue in the groups I’m in — really, everything you can measure on LinkedIn,” Barry told me.

It may not all be good news, though, and both Joe and Barry advise caution. In the absence of a clear-cut mechanism for policing contributions, Joe says, “There will be people using the platform in the wrong way.”

I believe Joe hit the nail squarely on the head — human nature being what it is, the temptation to exploit a shiny new promotional tool will be too great for some to resist.

Barry sees writing quality as a likely issue, as well. As he opined in one of his early LinkedIn posts, “There are a ton of reasons to get excited about it, but it’s tough to know how the feature plays out when it’s available to all 227 million members. That’s a lot of potential blogs (and noise).”

“It could get ugly,” he added when I probed him on the point.

Looking back, Ryan Roslansky, director of Product Management at LinkedIn, may wish that before opening up the platform, he’d read Doug Kessler’s now infamous rant: Crap. The Content Marketing Deluge. If the quality of discussion in many LinkedIn groups is an indication, the platform may soon have a cesspool of substandard stories on its hands. Unlike existing LinkedIn Influencers, new authors will not get editorial support, leaving the quality of the resulting content to find its own level.

How thought leaders can stay on top of the rising tide

So how do you avoid your jewel of an article disappearing in what Doug describes as the “deluge of dross”? It doesn’t take more than a little common sense to think this one through, yet reading LinkedIn’s publishing guidelines is a step that many will doubtless forego; with the benefit of hindsight, that may prove to be a costly oversight. What LinkedIn gives, it can surely take away, and the penalty for overindulgence could be banishment — maybe forever.

Keeping these few tips firmly in mind should help you avoid the worst excesses:

1. Share your professional expertise: Top of LinkedIn’s list of guidelines, this is what it wants above all; content that adds professional value. Beware: Creating articles that enthuse other LinkedIn members is, as one of the 25,000 beta-testers puts it, “a skill beyond blurting out your thought-stream.”

Looking at LinkedIn’s most-engaging Influencer posts of 2013, a clear pattern emerges. Authors with hard business advice to offer are the ones who are read most often and generate the most engagement, with posts on “spotting talent,” “acting ethically,” “leading with purpose,” and “building company culture” topping the popularity list. Thought leadership advice from those who’ve achieved real-world success is hugely popular, so if that’s you — don’t hold back.

2. Engage with your fellow LinkedIn members: According to the LinkedIn help center,”Writing posts that resonate with LinkedIn members is the best way to increase distribution.” Advice doesn’t get much clearer, and if you’re an expert in a niche topic, so much the better.

People come to LinkedIn to find business wisdom, so posting there has the potential to deliver way beyond anything your own blog can offer. Many LinkedIn searches are loaded with thinly veiled buying intent, and appearing at the top of an article search often results directly in a new-business opportunity. Provided you can back it with experience, don’t underestimate the value of your published wisdom.

LinkedIn is also advising thought leaders to have a fully developed content persona before they start writing. It’s also the step that many of the less able authors will skip, giving life to Doug’s worst nightmare. If you don’t write for your audience (known or assumed), don’t expect people to read your work — any of it. In that respect, publishing on LinkedIn is no different from elsewhere, it just feels like it.

3. Remember your content may appear beyond LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn posts don’t have to be exclusives; you can publish content that you’ve previously published elsewhere, as long as it’s your own original content and you own the rights to it. That said, there’s nothing like a piece of fresh, juicy thought leadership content to capture readers’ attention. If you’re taking a longer-term view, you’re more likely to see your work published beyond LinkedIn if it hasn’t already seen the light of day elsewhere.

LinkedIn isn’t a closed shop. Like any content curation platform (yes, that is what it’s become), it reserves the right to distribute your work to all corners of the globe. So observe the same sensible publishing guidelines you’d follow anywhere else — or risk being ambushed, not only by LinkedIn, but also by any other party who might take offense to your words (including, potentially, your employer and clients). While your work remains yours, you’re responsible for the content of your posts — so think before you hit the Publish button.

4. Take the reader back to your place: LinkedIn publishing offers much more than increasing your exposure there; if you don’t invite your readers to enjoy more of your work on your own platform, you’re missing out. Barry is already convinced, and the results can be amazing — as he confirms:

“Above all, I’ve enjoyed a big jump in traffic to the Feldman Creative website from LinkedIn. At the end of each my posts, I’ve inserted a bio, with links, and offered relevant eBooks and presentations. It’s been gratifying to see readers take advantage of these offers.”

As a fully paid-up social-media platform, LinkedIn encourages engagement among its members. For some, it’s a job; for most, I hope it‘s an extension of the working persona. Let your published work reflect that too, and engage with those who respond to your ideas. For gifted creative writers, this is an opportunity to float your best work on LinkedIn’s millpond; seize it with both hands, but especially the one you write with.

Tell us all about it

What’s your experience of LinkedIn’s publishing platform? Are you a regular reader? Or one of the lucky beta testers? How do you see it impacting thought leadership content? Please comment and let us know.

For more ideas on engaging audiences with thought leadership content on communities like LinkedIn, read Capturing Community, by Michael Silverman.

Cover image credit: Nan Palmero via Photopincc

Author: Mike Bailey

Mike Bailey is a qualified engineer and freelance writer. During more than 30 years in industry he learned how to craft great content; today he advises business owners on content strategy and presentation. Mike has B2B clients in most English-speaking countries and specializes in the small-business and start-up sectors. You’ll find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.

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  • Barry Feldman

    Rounding third and going for home on this post. Really enjoyed it. Thanks for including me. I’ve been asked to tackle this subject again for a major publisher and picked up lots of insights I can use here. Bravo.

    • Mike Bailey

      Barry, thanks for sharing your perspective – it’s been a labor of love. Doug’s “Crap” rant was the inspiration for the piece and when I heard Joe on PNR I had the topic and angle to match. While I applaud LinkedIn for opening up Publishing, I’m not convinced it’s a fully thought-through move. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the plaudits.

  • Alex Burgess

    What is the difference between a status update and the new publishing feature? I have approximately 2400 connections mostly in healthcare or healthcare related industries and up until a few weeks ago, I would average 180 views per status update. Suddenly, the average number of views has dropped to 40-ish. I cannot imagine what will happen when a larger number of users have access to the publishing feature. Well, I guess I can imagine…

    • Mike Bailey

      HI Alex – thanks for reading and for your comment. I can see why the advent of Publishing might hit your update views but I’m not aware of any direct connection; status updates are still the default method for broadcasting to your LinkedIn network. Publishing gives you the option to put your thoughts into article form with no practical limit on word-count; publishers get access to a basic, but adequate, content-management system. LinkedIn gets a ton of free content; publishers have the opportunity to become visible beyond their immediate networks.

      I expect LinkedIn’s roll-out to its entire membership will be managed very carefully. Without a close eye on the quality and quantity of members’ contributions, it could, as Barry said, “get ugly.” I’m also seeing people reacting to the success of the early-access contingent and assuming that Publishing is a fast-track to becoming a “thought leader.” Far from it – I believe LinkedIn picked its beta-test team carefully to ensure a successful launch.

      • John Bergquist

        So, am I understanding correctly that anyone can be a “Publisher”??

        • Mike Bailey

          Absolutely John. In time, LinkedIn will invite every member to be a Publisher; right now, it’s still rolling out the program.There is an early-access-request page here if you want to get in early; you may find it still takes a few weeks for your request to be actioned though.

  • Linked Media Group, Inc.

    Nice job on this post Mike! I find much of the content published via the Influcencer Program to very 30K foot corporate focused. Do I love Richard Branson as an example (not to pick on him)? Yes, I admire his work.

    But, I can get the same type of content via the WSJ, Forbes, Business Insider or Huff Po in some cases. And, in my experience, a curated list of “thought leaders” (Joe is on on two of my lists as an example) via Twitter gives me a quick scan of what’s being said and I can click and read quickly.

    I don’t think LinkedIn is doing a great job curating this list; if your a published thought leader brand on Forbes or a well known entity in the VC or startup my sense is entree is immediate or went out before the program was launched. I’d personally like to see more content from thought leaders down in the trenches, not up in biz class hanging with Zuck if you will.

    Alex, on your question: I publish blog posts via LinkedIn Profile as well and i have around 13K connections at present. I see wild swings in views per status update too; with “likes” and “comments” moving the meter up by 20-40% on average. And, I find status updates with original images help to make my content stand out. Overall, I see 3-5% views vs. my number of connections on average. Hope this is helpful.

    • Mike Bailey

      Thanks Lee (I’m assuming). Your assessment of the Influencers program is spot on – too much strategic material and not enough covering day-to-day tactical ideas. That said, I do see positive signs from the articles I’ve read to date written by beta-testers, with more real-life topics coming under the microscope. I hope that continues to be the case.

      I don’t k now how LinkedIn identifies “thought leaders.” Probably much as you suggest – which has got to be worth another article in its own right …

      • Linked Media Group, Inc.

        Cheers Mike. Didn’t mean to sound like all the content is not worth reading, as a good portion of it is.

        My soapbox: I see so much press and brand visibility going to “enterprise”level solutions, services, apps, focus and minimal amounts to SMB/SMEs under say $20M in revenue.

        You did a stellar job on this blog post and I don’t mean to bite the hand that feeds me. The best highest converting traffic sources for our agency site is via referrals from LinkedIn.

  • disqus_W4KjfaOksA

    Thanks for the post, Mike. So, am I right in understanding that using this feature means publishing content would on Linkedin rather than your website?

    • Mike Bailey

      Hi Andrew – yes, as a LinkedIn Publisher, you create articles on LinkedIn and they reside there in perpetuity. That doesn’t prevent you from recreating on LinkedIn an article that you already published on your own website, should you so wish. LinkedIn only stipulates that you own the content and have the right to publish it on the platform (and either way, you still own the work).

      • disqus_W4KjfaOksA

        Thanks for your reply, Mike. I appreciate it.

      • Meredith Low

        Hi Mike, coming in later to this, as I’ve just had the option to publish open up to me. I’m curious your (or others’) thoughts on the advisability of republishing the same post on my own website vs. on LinkedIn.

        I can see benefits of repurposing the content – while I post links to my website on LinkedIn when I write something new, I suspect more readers will follow if the content is within LinkedIn. Also, just because this new platform is available to me doesn’t mean I have more time in my week to blog twice as often. But wondering if this practice of repurposing might raise problems down the line. (Although it’s not like I can’t revisit it later…)

        Many thanks, this is a great piece on the topic.

        • Mike Bailey

          Hi Meredith

          Thanks for reading and commenting. You’re not alone in pondering this point.

          An unscientific look-see at a random selection of LinkedIn posts tells me that plenty of people are repurposing content. Unless you’re heavily dependent on SEO for traffic to your website, I don’t believe there are any drawbacks – only positives; you certainly increase the chance that people will find your work on LinkedIn if they’re not already following you elsewhere.

          You also have the opportunity to add links back to any relevant landing pages on your site – Barry Feldman, who I quoted in the article, does this to good effect.

          I’m struggling to uncover a major negative other than the duplicate-content angle. As you say, there are only so many hours in the day and squeezing out yet another piece of top-quality content may just not be possible.

          Time will undoubtedly provide the definitive answer, but do let us know how you get on.

          • Meredith Low

            Thanks! No harm in experimenting, I suppose. Also I guess there’s still a (rapidly diminishing) cachet to having the ability to publish on LinkedIn – seems like they’re still in the rollout process. We shall see how it all plays out.

  • Des Walsh

    Thanks for the thoughtful post and good advice, Mike. Very timely for me. I plunged in late last week with my first post on the platform and am pleased with the number of views and even a few comments. I’m encouraged to keep going and your 4 points are a valuable guide to getting the best value from the exercise.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve noticed that people I have spoken to about the new feature, in recent workshops, have been very pleased to know that they can re-post on LinkedIn content that they have already published on their blogs.

    • Mike Bailey

      Hi Des – glad it helped. Like you, I only have a single LinkedIn post to my name which recorded more views in 24 hours than I get in an average month on my own blog … as you saw in the article, I wrote this piece largely using feedback from other publishers.

      I think republishing is fine, particularly if the original didn’t attract much traffic but I don’t see any way to manage the SEO aspects of duplicate content. As far as I can see LinkedIn doesn’t allow any canonical references. I’ve seen plenty of instances of Influencers reposting articles from elsewhere, for example.

  • Doug Kessler

    Great post, Mike. I haven’t tried LinkedIn as a publishing platform yet (okay, I admit it: I haven’t been accepted yet) but I do share lots of things on it and it’s proving one of the best places for it.

    • Mike Bailey

      Thanks Doug – you weren’t alone (as the saying goes) but for me the invitation arrived last week just after I finished this piece! LinkedIn certainly adds value for authors – as Daniel pointed out above, the secret seems to be cracking LinkedIn Pulse. Onwards and upwards …

  • Daniel Hebert

    Great article Mike!

    I’ve started experimenting with LinkedIn publisher posts. I wrote 4 posts so far. The first two performed great, each getting over 10,000 views, hundreds of likes, and 50+ comments. The second two posts didn’t do so well, both getting under 1000 views, less than 5 comments, and less than 100 likes.

    I noticed the difference between the two groups of posts were that the first two were featured in LinkedIn Pulse, in popular marketing categories. The second two did not get featured, which led to poor performance.

    Have you noticed the same on your posts? Do you know which factors will increase the chance of getting featured in LinkedIn pulse?

    • Mike Bailey

      Hi Daniel – thanks for the feedback. As I said to Des below, I only have one post to provide first-hand feedback, but anecdotal evidence from other publishers mirrors your own.

      I connected with another LI author on Google+ who had around seven or eight posts with exactly the pattern of views you described. When I asked him if he knew why, the reason was the same – the highly viewed posts had made it to Pulse.

      That said, the other big plus is the nature of the engagement. I had two direct messages from readers who liked what I had to say and wanted to discuss and share ideas outside the regular comments. That’s definitely in line with my rationale for being there in the first place.

      How to crack Pulse? I’m unaware of any hard and fast rules but I assume that posts covering topics that are trending on LI will always be nearer the top of the queue. The fact that LI launched two new content-measurement tools this week is a clear indication of the direction things are headed.

      • Daniel Hebert

        I’ve just published my fifth post, and I’ll see if it makes it to pulse.

        Hopefully there’s more guidance on that at some point, once someone figured it out. The reason why I want to write on LinkedIn is because it has the potential to reach a huge, targeted audience. But I reach a bigger audience by publishing on my own blogs if it doesn’t get pushed to pulse. So there’s huge benefit for me if it makes it to pulse, but not as much if it doesn’t.

        We’ll see as time goes on I suppose :)

        • Mike Bailey

          Thanks Daniel – do share if you get the low-down …

          • Wahiba Chair

            Hi there,

            I came across this insightful thread (powers of this site’s SEO!) as I’m experimenting with my own LinkedIn publishing. It is a bit of a chicken and egg problem, isn’t it? If you end in Pulse, you get more network effects, and vice versa…

            My second post made it to Pulse and is doing quite well; though, it happened so fast I wonder if keywords (in the title and body) are at play when LinkedIn chooses what posts to feature? Like you said, we may not know what the finesse of the algorithm is but there must be some tricks that can help us as writers get noticed by Pulse?


          • Mike Bailey

            Hi Wahiba! Thanks for commenting. You’re right – get picked up by Pulse and your exposure rockets. This article by Andrew Hutchinson is worth reading. Andrew reviews his first 20 LinkedIn posts and offers some great tips based on his experience. It’s here:
            Let us know how you get on …

          • Wahiba Chair

            Thanks Mike, I appreciate you responding and the article I’m reading right now!

  • Barbara Mckinney

    Knowing that there thousands of content being published every day on LinkedIn, it’s very important to think of ways on how to stand out from the crowd. Thanks for sharing these very useful tips Mike.

    • Mike Bailey

      Thanks Barbara – glad you found it useful.

  • Ria Amber Tesia

    Hi Mike, great post with some excellent tips. Engaging with other users is of utmost importance which I’m glad you pointed out. A concerted focus (on my part) to engage with other users on various social media pages (from Facebook to LinkedIn), sees a spike in viewing figures on my blog. I was recently invited to be a LinkedIn publisher and I’m now in the process of writing my first post. I’ll be honest though, the first thing I wondered was “why invite little old me?” It’s exciting, yet oddly befuddling. Anyway, whether it will be of any value, only time will tell. I’ll publish via LinkedIn and keep you posted if it was worth it (I’m a hopeful soul so I’m sure it will be good news). Ria Amber :-)

  • Mark Slauter

    Hi Mike: I concur with the others here that this was a good article and I think the main trend I’ve seen in the past several months is that an article’s headline isn’t supported in the body. At times it appears that folks are just posting because they can pretend to have an online presence without really contributing anything. If the trend continues and is noticed by a greater number of people, then the readers will go away and LI will have to inject additional controls.