Posted on March 7, 2019
Writing LinkedIn Posts
How to Write Great LinkedIn Posts
One of LinkedIn’s great strengths lies in the way it provides a level playing field for writing LinkedIn posts, updates and articles. Except that isn’t always true.
In the sense that anyone can publish a post, update or article, it is true.
But some people find writing LinkedIn posts difficult to do in a way that adequately reflects their knowledge and expertise, and for them the playing field is not so level.
This article is to help those who struggle writing LinkedIn posts with the various aspects of content preparation.
I’ll discuss how to:
- Choose what to write about
- Decide what style to use
- Write headlines and first paragraphs that spark attention
- Use bullet points to add visual interest
- Plan and organise content
- Decide whether to have a call to action at the end or not
- Write promotional posts without looking like a show-off.
The first and arguably most important part of writing LinkedIn posts is the headline or, in the case of posts, the top three lines.
Why? Because get it right, and your post will gain attention. Get it wrong and people will pass over it without looking at what comes next.
The main job of a headline is to stop people in their tracks and compel them to read more.
In some situations – such as newspaper articles – headlines should tell the main facts of the piece, but that’s not always necessary when writing LinkedIn posts. Sure, give us a clue as to what the post or article is about – the subject – but even that’s not always desirable.
- Starting with a question. Something that makes your target audience stop and think.
- Making a bold claim or statement that you go on to either refute or support.
- Beginning with a story.
Whatever is best for your headline or first sentence, make it memorable. The newsfeed is a busy place so work hard to turn browsers into readers by persuading them to click the ‘See more’ button.
Read more about writing attention-grabbing headlines here.
Bullet points are a great way to break up the text of a post. They are also one of the few ways to add a visual element when writing LinkedIn posts.
A number of emojis and emoticons lend themselves to this including 👉, ✅ and 1️⃣. Karen Tisdell has written an article about it that shares many great ideas.
To use bullet points effectively, you need a list of some kind. When choosing a topic or subject, think about ways to incorporate lists specifically for using bullet points.
You can display them like this:
🔹 Bullet 1
🔹 Bullet 2
🔹 Bullet 3
They divide text blocks quite nicely and attract the eye, especially if a colourful emoji is added. But even plain black dots can be effective.
Bullets work best with short sentences or sentence fragments – such as:
✅ 610 million LinkedIn members.
That’s because they stand out less when the text rolls over to a second line and the bullets don’t display on consecutive lines. Of course, this is often the case on mobiles where page widths are extremely narrow so the shorter the bullets the better.
Bullets can be used in a post twice. First to identify the subjects of each bullet, then used again to detail them more fully. This works best with numbers. So, like this:
#1 – Subject A
#2 – Subject B
#3 – Subject C
[Additional linking text]
#1 – Subject A – more detail
#2 – Subject B – more detail
#3 – Subject C – more detail
The ways bullets can be used to make posts more attractive and easy to read are not limitless but are certainly extensive. Try a few different ways and see what works for you.
Before beginning to write a post, organise your thoughts and ideas. There are several ways to do this, and in my experience the best way is to:
- Decide on a topic or a theme
- Write a list of the points to be covered
- Put them in a logical order
- Make a few notes about each one or decide on the key message for each.
That’s how I organised this article. I started with a theme – writing effective posts – and then jotted down the subjects I thought would be useful to my audience. This is important – whatever you write must be congruent with what the audience wants or expects to see. For instance, a robotics engineer writing about gardening without drawing a link between the two is hard for an audience to get their heads around.
There are a number of ways to organise material when writing LinkedIn posts. These include:
- Chronological – past, present and future
- Problem/solution – detailing the problem and then offering a solution
- Logical – one point leads to another then to another in sequence
- Climactic – surprising the reader with a climax or big reveal at the end
- Random – no logical order (not a technique recommended for LinkedIn posts)
Whatever you decide works best, will need a beginning, a middle and an end.
The beginning will likely be an attention-grabbing headline. The middle is where you detail the main points and their supporting ideas. The end is likely to be a summary, a call to action or a question that invites engagement from connections and followers. As in, “Who else is using this technique and how is it working?”
Resist the urge to edit or check your work as you go because the final wording may be very different from your initial draft.
Call to Action
How the post, update or article ends will depend on whether it is informational (the reader isn’t required to do anything but absorb the knowledge) or sales-oriented.
If it is the latter, end with a call to action and ask the reader to do something. Common examples of calls to action include suggestions to visit a website, call now, email a request (for information, a call-back or a quote) or, on LinkedIn, make a comment.
Calls to action are often written in the form of an order, based on the idea that if you tell someone what to do, they will be more likely to do it. That’s why TV commercials often end in a version of “Call now to avoid disappointment”, which also adds the element of scarcity. Other examples of this tactic are “only x number left” or “be among the first 50 callers to receive…”
In LinkedIn posts, calls to action are common. Some people end their posts with a link to a longer article or blog on their website. Others pose a question like, “How do you use this in your work?” to seek engagement on their post. And still others end with an offer. As in, “Type YES in the comments below and we’ll send you …”
I recommend a mix of calls to action when writing LinkedIn posts, and sometimes none at all. Instead, end on a summary or conclusion statement. Just be sure not to use the same ending every time.
Writing LinkedIn posts that are overtly promotional is not the best use of the platform. While you are here to demonstrate your expertise and skill, out-and-out promotion is hard to achieve without looking like a show off. This can lose you connections, followers and engagement quicker than just about any other LinkedIn “sin”.
However, when posting valuable content and regularly sharing information that people want to know, one promotional post a month is perfectly acceptable. It is unlikely people will see it without having first looked at your useful content so will be more receptive to a promotional-style post.
When writing this type of post it should be couched in terms of the benefits to others. Instead of making it about yourself, make it about how you can help and can solve those problems that keep your readers awake at night.
Many people use photos of themselves on stage or meeting someone important to illustrate their promotional post but in our culture the tall poppy syndrome is alive and well, and some people will not view such posts positively. Instead, explain the results you have helped their organisation achieve.
The outcome you want is for people to look at the post and think, “This is exactly my problem. It looks like they might be able to help. I’m going to get in touch/visit their website.”
Choosing a style for your posts is something to consider before starting to write.
Should you, for instance, be –
📍Formal or informal?
What about the clickbait method of attracting attention when writing LinkedIn posts – using celebrity-oriented headlines and images of fancy cars, scantily clad women and other techniques?
My advice on overt use of clickbait is… don’t. Not on LinkedIn anyway. It may be appropriate on other sites (Facebook, for instance) but not on a professional business networking platform where your professional reputation is hard won and important.
As Neil Patel says in a great blog about why clickbait works, it tickles our curiosity while dumbing down concepts into a common language we can all understand like: fear, greed, jealousy, envy, lust and more.
We may think it’s a new idea but it’s merely the name that is new; the concept itself has been used for decades, if not longer. It’s how we use it now that has changed.
When choosing a style, write in the way that feels most comfortable. And remember, styles can be varied. Try out new ideas and ways of writing. This will expand your skill set and versatility.
One other style element to consider is whether to use big blocks of text or, at the opposite extreme, one sentence per line. I wrote one-sentence-per-paragraph posts for months until I realised that they were off-putting to people who thought they too closely resembled clickbait. Now I do what I generally do in all my copywriting and that is to write two sentences per paragraph. Three at a pinch.
Many competent and knowledgeable people are put off writing LinkedIn posts because they don’t know what to write about.
Here’s my advice: write about what you know even if other people might already know the same information. This will showcase your abilities as you build up a LinkedIn presence.
Practise posting to learn what works best. The more posts you publish, the better you will become at gauging what your audience wants to read or hear about.
If starting a post is a struggle, once you’ve decided on a topic, go back to the information above about organisation and start there.
If you have no notion what to write about, here are a few suggestions to spark ideas:
✳️ Do a Google search of your main area of expertise and see what pops up on different news sites. Find something you feel qualified to venture an opinion on and write about the news article from that viewpoint.
✳️ Look on the LinkedIn newsfeed for other posts or articles about your topic (use hashtags to search) and see what others are writing. Often a post by someone else will spark an idea.
✳️ What has happened in your business life recently that is worthy of a post? Tip: if it is based on a client, change the details sufficiently so they are not identifiable by themselves or others.
✳️ Think about personal stories that might have a business message. Especially ones from which you have learned a valuable lesson.
Any time an idea for a post pops into your head – make a note of it. Either write it down or make a voice memo on your phone. If you don’t do this the idea may be forgotten by the time you sit down to draft the post.
Content ideas truly are limitless. Harness them by spending time thinking about what you know and then marry that with what your clients want to know.
Once you have written your post, check it for mistakes. Because the eye sees what it expects to see, finding mistakes can be tricky.
Some people write directly into the publishing box when posting on LinkedIn. I strongly advise against this for several reasons.
1️⃣ There is no permanent record of the post, which can lead to repetition of content.
2️⃣ You will be tempted to publish it immediately on finishing, which means it won’t sit with you and percolate. I’m a strong believer in separating writing from publishing because returning to a piece after an interval almost guarantees there will be something to improve or change.
3️⃣ Should there be an interruption while writing, the post won’t be automatically saved and could be lost.
4️⃣ You are highly likely to have made a spelling or grammatical error, missed out a word, repeated a word, forgotten to add a full stop at the end of a sentence or misplaced an apostrophe. Posts need editing, correcting and proofing – preferably by an expert. Even as a word wizard, I have my own work proofed by a professional copy editor who ensures my errors remain unpublished.
If however professional help is not an option, here’s how to reduce the likelihood of errors:
⭐️ Print out your text.
⭐️ Read it backwards out loud.
The extra time you take to do this step could make the difference between being seen by LinkedIn members as a professional or as an amateur.
Summary of Writing LinkedIn Posts
There are other elements to effectively writing LinkedIn posts, but by following the suggestions, ideas and steps I have outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to a great LinkedIn publishing career.