For more than a year I’ve been creating and uploading two to five LinkedIn posts each week, for both myself and clients.
During that time, I have looked at thousands of other posts to learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself. I have had posts that bombed and others that have gone what I consider viral.
Now I want to share that knowledge with you, so you can create your own posts and reap the benefits that accrue from publishing great posts on LinkedIn.
But before we look at the nuts and bolts of producing high quality posts, we first need to answer the question, “Why bother to post?”
The answer is simple: to get noticed!
If you don’t want to get noticed on LinkedIn, posting isn’t for you. Stick to engaging with others’ posts instead.
But if your aim is to be seen as a thought leader, influencer (no, I’m not fond of that term either), an expert or a specialist in your field, you need to post regularly.
Here are some numbers to explain why:
- LinkedIn now has 610 million registered members of whom 40 per cent visit the site every day.
- Views in the LinkedIn newsfeed are up 60 per cent from last year.
- Engagement is booming with comments, likes, and shares up 60 per cent year-on-year.
- 45 per cent of social media traffic to a company’s home page comes from LinkedIn.
- Over 130,000 articles are created on LinkedIn every week.
- 45 per cent of LinkedIn article readers are in upper-level positions, so they are decision makers.
- Mobile LinkedIn sessions are growing 57 per cent year-on-year.
- LinkedIn is the #1 channel B2B marketers use to distribute content at 94 per cent.
(Source: LinkedIn report)
Eye-watering, isn’t it!
Now that Facebook business page posts are no longer placed in personal newsfeeds unless paid for, Facebook is no longer the enormous marketing opportunity it once was.
But LinkedIn is, and I predict 2019 will be the year of LinkedIn in New Zealand and Australia. It will emerge as the social media platform of choice for savvy businesses and professionals.
Where We are at Currently
Here in the South Pacific, use of LinkedIn has not had the same uptake it has enjoyed overseas. But already that is changing.
People who have merely thrown together a CV-style LinkedIn profile and largely ignored it since, are beginning to realise that LinkedIn is the new Facebook for business. Plus, the platform offers opportunities that Facebook does not.
I have observed an upswing in the number of professional New Zealanders and Australians taking LinkedIn seriously. There are more posts from members in our part of the world in my newsfeed, LinkedIn Local events have taken off and I am receiving more invitations to connect from Pacific-based second-degree connections.
That said, we are still a very long way behind the rest of the world. Many people still have fewer than 500 connections (the average overseas is in the thousands, depending on location), the vast majority have incomplete LinkedIn profiles and few people actively attempt to build authority in their area of expertise.
However, while both Australians and New Zealanders are starting to wake up to the advantages of using LinkedIn for their marketing, many myths persist. For instance: “You should connect only with people you know.” This is no longer true or even considered best practice.
When used well, LinkedIn helps build credibility and authority, widens spheres of influence, and shows a commitment to community.
Overview of posts
If you are an Australasian LinkedIn member who is waking up to the opportunities LinkedIn provides, what will give you the biggest bang for your buck? Without doubt, publishing unique content.
If you want to build authority in your area of expertise, posting on LinkedIn is the way to do it. Many more people view posts than contribute them to the newsfeed, giving you an immense opportunity to stand out.
And you will stand out, not just with those you are connected to, but the people they are connected to as well. Which is a good reason for choosing to connect with people who have large networks – particularly if they are the sort of people you want to reach.
People use LinkedIn to learn, to share knowledge and to network. This all happens via the newsfeed.
It took me a while to “get” the newsfeed and its value, but since I understood I’ve never let a day go by without checking in at least once. It has taken over from Facebook as my principal source of information, and what I read is a great deal more useful. Instead of watching cat videos, I can learn more about my favourite subjects, check out what my peers are publishing and in my turn share what I have learned.
LinkedIn is the perfect platform for anyone who wants to make their mark as it is a level playing field. If you have knowledge to share, if you want to be considered a thought leader in your field and if you want to be seen as the go-to person in your industry, publishing on LinkedIn is your ideal solution.
At its simplest, there are four types of posts: text, image, video and document. In fact, each of the last three can also include text, so it could be argued that there are seven. In this article I’ll explain each type and how best to use it in your business marketing.
LinkedIn Post Type 1 – Text-only Posts
Text-only posts are the Rolls-Royce of LinkedIn posts. At least, if you are looking for views. For reasons unexplained, views of text posts seem to be higher than any other type of post (but see the Video Posts section for more on this because it’s not as black and white as it sounds).
What this means is that if you want people to see your posts, you need to include text posts in your activity mix.
Text posts can be up to 1300 characters long, including hashtags. A word of warning – LinkedIn and Word do not count characters the same way, so 1300 characters in Word will be over the limit in LinkedIn. (I have no idea why.)
The only pictorial elements you can give text posts are emoticons. This isn’t such a bad thing because there’s a huge range of these tiny icons, use of which will make your posts more interesting and guide the reader’s eye to the important points. (There’s a great post on how to do this from John Nemo here.)
An eye-catching headline is recommended for a text post to encourage connections and followers to click the “see more” button. This triggers the algorithm to show the viewer the entire post. At that point they can like, comment and/or share.
Posts are best when they work with just one topic, rather than a multitude, which can become confusing. More complex ideas lend themselves to articles, where there is no character limit, where it is easier to include links.
Bullet points work well in LinkedIn posts, especially with emoticons, as they break up the text.
There has been a tendency for posts to be one short sentence per line and informally written. This is more a click-bait style and while I’ve used it myself extensively in the past year, I’ve decided to move back to a more formal, professional approach to my writing.
But each person writes in their own style and what works for one may not for another. I suggest trying out a few different styles to see what works best for you.
Text-only posts are best when they don’t include links. At least when you first submit them. This is because when you first hit the “Post” button to publish your post, if it contains a link, LinkedIn will suppress the post in the newsfeed, which means fewer views. There is a work-around, however.
First, upload and publish your post without the link. Then go to the “Edit post” button (it’s hiding in the three dots menu on the top right of your post) to open up your post and add in your link.
Make the link a short URL using bitly.com or tinyurl.com so it takes up fewer characters. Click the Save button.
Adding the link afterwards means your post won’t display an image preview of the website or post you’ve linked to, so it looks like an ordinary text-only post.
If writing accurately isn’t your skill, I suggest that you be careful with your posts, particularly if you are aiming at high value clients. They will spot errors – missed or incorrectly spelled words, misplaced or forgotten apostrophes and other problems – which does not show you in the best possible light. Always check your posts more than once before you upload them and never, ever write them direct into the text box of the posting section. You will always miss something. If you are writing regularly, I recommend using a professional writer, copy editor or proofreader to ensure your copy is the best you can make it. You may not notice your mistakes, but others will. And you only get one shot at editing your post. If you have used that for uploading a link, you can’t go back and re-edit.
LinkedIn Post Type 2 – Image or Photo Posts
Image posts are generally the least well performing of LinkedIn posts (although arguably this is changing) and you can generally tell this by the level of engagement you see on a post.
Often the low engagement numbers are because the post is poorly done. It’s simply a promotion for a person, business or event, for example, instead of providing true value, which is where LinkedIn’s strength lies.
If you believe you are using LinkedIn well because you regularly post promotional posts that are all about you and not about your clients, then you are making a huge mistake. You are putting off potential customers and showing yourself as someone who doesn’t fully understand what LinkedIn is truly about.
But, back to image posts.
There are plenty of options for using images on posts – but the two styles are with and without text.
If your image has no accompanying text, then you need to have the words superimposed over the image so your meaning is clear. This style is ideal for event promotion, among other uses.
If your image has no text you run the risk of your message being lost or misunderstood, so you need accompanying text to explain the details.
But this is not Facebook, so unless your business is photography or something similar, gorgeous photos of sunsets are, I believe, inappropriate. An exception to this is someone like Bruno Kongawoin who is an exceptional photographer and uses his LinkedIn platform in a variety of ways.
Want to show off a new kitchen you have built for your client? By all means show us a photo, but include a mini case study that explains the process, the challenges overcome and the results achieved.
If you are posting an image, it needs to be relevant to business. Yes, Facebook style images can attract a lot of views but what does it say about you and your brand or business if you are using click-bait instead of providing value? This is quite a contentious issue and you will come across contrary points of view.
However, I recommend steering away from self-serving, look-at-me images such as you standing in front of an audience or a selfie with someone famous because part of your audience will just see it as showing off.
It is still true that a picture is worth a thousand words, so each image has to count and to enhance your message, not detract from it.
To display well on the LinkedIn feed, your image should be sized correctly. Currently, the optimum dimensions are 1200 x 628 pixels.
If placing text over an image use a sans-serif font like this to make it easy to read and where possible (hard though it is) steer away from reverse text – light text on a dark background – which is also hard to read. Remember that many people will see your image on a smart phone screen so it will be tiny.
Image posts make a great contrast to other forms of posts though, offering variety to your connections and followers.
NB – while I was preparing this article, I published the image-only post. you can see above. In two days, it received 2,000 views which is much higher than I would have expected. I intend to repeat this exercise in another week to see if the result is the same. If so, it may indicate that LinkedIn has tweaked the algorithm to give more prominence to image posts.
LinkedIn Post Type 3 – Video Posts
Video posts are currently very popular. Everyone, we are led to believe, is recording them. And perhaps they are.
On the face of it, video posts don’t do as well as text-only posts. A careful look at the numbers shows that in most cases views of text posts are still higher than video posts – on average. There is of course the odd situation where a video goes viral, but in general day-to-day posting, text posts perform better.
However, comparing the views of text posts with those of videos is like comparing a ship with a plane. They are both used for transport, but in entirely different ways.
That’s because text-only posts are counted by the number of times they are placed in a newsfeed. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have been read.
By contrast, my understanding is that a video is counted only as a view once it has run for three seconds in a person’s feed and that requires a click. In other words, an action has had to be taken to make the view count for videos, but not for text-only posts.
So, while the feed shows higher numbers for text posts, the reality may not be quite as black and white.
There are many ways of producing videos. The most common seems to be talking head – where someone speaks straight to camera – usually for one to three minutes. In video terms, three minutes is getting a bit long.
Video best practice requires that they have captions, simply because many people are unable to listen but can watch, as in office situations for instance.
The quality of videos on LinkedIn ranges from appalling to excellent. And what makes a video excellent is high quality production, correct dimensions and engaging content.
When posting a video, it is best to include a written introduction that is long enough to trigger the “see more” button. That way, if your gorgeous face isn’t enough to make someone want to click on the video, the way you introduce it might be.
Talking head isn’t the only type of video to pop up on LinkedIn. Others use the slide technique where there is no voiceover, only music. The visuals are words superimposed on interesting backgrounds that explain clearly and succinctly the point the video is making. This is great for simple, single point, learning-style videos and Mark Williams, aka Mr LinkedIn, is a master of this.
These are two video types you can do relatively easily yourself. But other more sophisticated styles requiring a professional videographer show up from time to time, too. Videos of events are popular, as are award ceremonies – there is really no limit. And, LinkedIn is currently trialling live video so that will add a new dimension to this type of post once it is rolled out to all members.
LinkedIn Post Type 4 – Document Posts
Document posts are the newest form of LinkedIn post, arriving only late in 2018. In fact, some people still don’t seem to have this function. You’ll know you do if you can see the page icon on the far right when you go to “Start a Post”.
This function allows you to add Word documents, PDFs and probably other types of documents to your post. Previously, the closest you could get was an image of a document.
When clicked by a viewer, the document opens in a new window where it can be viewed and downloaded, if required.
LinkedIn post documents can be single or multiple pages but do remember that many people will be looking at them on handheld devices.
This style of LinkedIn post has been doing very well since they were introduced because LinkedIn likes to give its new features a good push. Whether they will continue to outperform text posts remains to be seen.
As document posts are new, in terms of popularity, it is hard to say for sure whether they will take off and become an important part of the posting mix. My advice is this: when you want to publish a document, do so on the newsfeed first, and then add it to your profile summary or your current job in the “Experience” section. That way it can be easily found by your profile viewers and is permanently available.
One of the ways I see document posts being of use is in building authority. Sometimes you have information that is too long or complex for a simple 1300-character text-only post but you don’t want to write a full LinkedIn article. Or, your document might already be formatted for another use but you decide it would be ideal for LinkedIn. Sharing it as a document post is an excellent idea.
I did this with a PDF I put together about video posts and before LinkedIn removed the viewer numbers, it had reached 18,000+ views in newsfeeds. Now, I don’t know if that means 18,000 opened the document (unlikely) but I do know that there was an opportunity for that many people to see it.
As with image and video posts, there is an opportunity to use text to introduce a document. I suggest writing at least enough words to trigger the “see more…” button. This gives the viewer an opportunity to understand what the post is all about. If they’re interested, they’ll click “see more” and then you have a definite viewer.
When using the document type of LinkedIn post remember that many people will be viewing it on their mobile or other small screen. They may choose to download it for later viewing on a larger screen, so don’t discount document posts on this basis.
As I recommend using all the different post formats that LinkedIn offers to give your connections and their connections variety, do give LinkedIn document posts a try, particularly while they are still being given a shove by the algorithm.
Variety IS the Spice of Life
I believe that your first and second degree connections deserve variety. Some people upload only video posts. They don’t tend to intersperse them with text, image or document posts. The danger here is that they must be exceptionally engaging and have interesting content in order to persuade LinkedIn members to watch every one. ESPECIALLY, if they upload a post every day.
Here’s what I think is the perfect LinkedIn post recipe: each week upload one video post, one text post, one image post and one document post. Once document posts start to receive less help from the LinkedIn algorithm (monitor your views to see when this happens) then I would publish document posts less often. If you want to post five times a week, then make your fifth post either another text post or share useful content from elsewhere – NOT another LinkedIn post from someone else but quality material like a magazine or news article.
If you found this article useful and want to know more about LinkedIn from someone who is walking the talk, please follow me on LinkedIn or, if you are interested in being connected to me, send me a personalised connection invite. If you follow #WordWizard on LinkedIn, my posts will come up in your feed.
And if you would like to read other (considerably shorter!) posts about LinkedIn on this website, just click here.