Last year, LinkedIn announced that anyone (not just people deemed as “influencers”) could publish on its blog platform, allowing every professional the opportunity to get his or her voice and work out there on the web.
Publishing on LinkedIn has many benefits (career counselor Lily Zhang wrote a great article about this), including being able to really engage with your audience and having the opportunity to have your work promoted to a wide readership.
However, like any sort of creative outlet, writing on LinkedIn is a lot easier said than done. You can’t just draft any old thing, slap it up there, and expect it to boost your career. You have to put some care into it. And while some of the same rules for writing good blog posts apply to writing good LinkedIn posts (communications expert Alex Honeysett has some tips on that here), there are a few special things you have to keep in mind.
After taking a stab at the platform over the past few weeks, I’ve discovered several important steps to successful LinkedIn posting.
1. Pick a Purpose—That Furthers Your Personal Brand
Unlike other publications, which often have topic guidelines or restrictions, being able to post your own content on LinkedIn gives you the freedom to write about whatever you’d like. But unlike a personal blog, you’re not setting up a theme for yourself from the start. In my experience, this can be a blessing and a curse; if you’re not careful, your posts will end up seeming random, and your followers won’t come to know you as an expert on any given topic.
Right off the bat, before you post anything to the platform, figure out what you want to use it for. Do you just want to share professional updates with your network, like job changes or projects you’re working on? Are you hoping to be seen as a thought leader in your field? Do you want to post general career advice so others see you as a smart job seeker?
You should also figure out a general cadence for your posts. Do you want to post regularly (once per week or month) so that people start associating your posts as part of a regular series? Or would you rather post sporadically—which working on a large platform like this allows you to do, unlike a personal blog? These are definitely things to consider so that professional contacts know what to expect.
The most popular posters on LinkedIn publish anywhere from every three or four days to twice per month, but most of them are consistent with the schedule they choose, and they really engage their audiences with their brand. They also all keep with common “themes” for their posts so that their readers know what to expect when they publish something new. (Need a little help coming up with topics to write about? These 20 prompts can get you going.)
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative
Surprise: LinkedIn’s blogging platform does not have to be used only for blog posts.
A couple weeks ago, one of my connections posted a shortened version of her resume in a LinkedIn blog post. At first, I was confused (after all, LinkedIn is essentially a professional networking and resume platform, and this seemed redundant), so I asked her about it. And while she admitted it was out of the ordinary, there was a method to her madness: When she connected with people on LinkedIn or was emailing with professional contacts, she found that having her shortened resume on LinkedIn also drove people to check out her entire profile. It was an interesting idea that actually landed her a job after someone saw her blog post resume, read her LinkedIn profile, and contacted her.
While you may not want to re-write a shorter resume, the lesson is this: LinkedIn’s blog platform doesn’t just have to be used for original blog content. You can use it in any way you think would benefit your career. For example, I’ve seen people who’ve kept ongoing lists of great resources for their particular industry or republished content they had posted on other platforms to drive more eyeballs to the original source.
3. Make it Attractive
Whenever you publish a new post on LinkedIn, all of your connections will get a notification letting them know to check it out. So it’s already a great way to stay engaged with your network.
But, for most people, the goal is to expand their networks—especially for those looking for new job opportunities. And to do that, you have to make your post attractive when people are scanning posts on the main LinkedIn Pulse page.
First, pick an intriguing cover photo that will drive people to your post. Avoid images that look random, blurry, or confusing. Simple is better in this case, and because so many people use not-so-great photos on LinkedIn, your post will stand out more in a sea of bad images. Looking for awesome free photos to use? Here are over 50 resources to check out.
Second, make your title clear, concise, or intriguing. While you obviously don’t have to go the clickbait route (“You’ll Never Guess Which 27 Career Tips You’re Missing Out On!”) since that could be a turnoff in a professional setting, a compelling title could make all the difference. For example, instead of just titling a post “5 Blog Resources,” something like “5 Resources That Will Help You Finally Get Your Blog Off the Ground” stands out more in a sea of similar posts.
This is also a great time to utilize LinkedIn’s tag feature so that people searching for posts related to yours can find it. In my experience, the more specific the tag, the higher chance of views, likes, and comments without you having to do anything else.
Lastly, just because your followers get alerted that you published a new blog post, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spread the word! Write a LinkedIn update about the post you wrote, let people on other social media networks know, and feel free to get creative (e.g., put your latest LinkedIn blog post in your email signature).
4. Treat it Like Any Form of Published Writing
This may seem like a no-brainer, but having read countless self-published blog posts from LinkedIn users that were typo-laden or incoherent (even offensive in some cases), it’s definitely something that needs to be said. Remember that these posts are an extension of your professional self (and you in general), so take the time to edit and proofread. You never know who will be reading, and you don’t want those people to be turned off by sloppy writing.
Pro tip: Have someone else read your post before it gets published, especially if you know you’re a little grammatically challenged!
I’m really excited to see how the LinkedIn platform grows and expands as more people start using it. Join the super cool early adopters now and get writing!