If you have a LinkedIn account, you are tapped into an ideal reputation management tool, particularly if you’re planning to use the site for long-form blogging. Each sentence you write in a long-form LinkedIn post could be stuffed with the words and phrases that cause you harm. And all of those posts could get indexed to Google, where they could give you even bigger reputation benefits.
But you’ll face some pretty stiff competition, too, as CIO says there are more than a million long-form posts available on LinkedIn right now, with 50,000 more added every week. To get attention, you’ll need to do more than just write up a few snappy lead sentences. You’ll need to write posts that really stand out, from start to finish.
And here are 5 steps that you’ll need to take to do just that.
1. Pick the Right Topic
In theory, you could write about almost anything in your LinkedIn post. There are no bans about specific topics in the LinkedIn user agreement (aside from boilerplate statements that ask you to avoid bashing other people or stealing their work). As long as you follow those rules, you could chat about your cats, your knitting, or your garden. All topics are fair game.
But even though you could write about anything, you’ll probably want to stick to the topics your readers actually WANT to know more about. And according to current research from Heidi Cohen, popular LinkedIn content has to do with work. Her research suggests people head to LinkedIn because they’d like to keep up with industry news and/or get new ideas about the industry in which they work.
So content about something fluffy just won’t cut it. You’ll need to focus on topics that are of interest to other busy, working professionals just like you. My tip: Think about the topics you’d discuss if you were hoping to impress a future boss. What are the tidbits that would make you look like a stellar hire? Those are the topics that should go into a LinkedIn blog entry.
And here’s a bonus tip. This month, LinkedIn released an analytics tool that allows you to parse the details of the people who read your posts. By diving deep into this data, you can find out more about the key attributes of the people who are reading your words. Look closely at the industries in which they work and the places where they live. Those two data points can help you to come up with even better topics next time.
2. Use Photos, but Skip the Fireworks
We tend to think of blogs as wordy things, but the LinkedIn platform does allow you to add in photos and multimedia elements (like videos). These graphics help to capture your reader’s attention, and they can help to reinforce the meaning of the blog you’ve spent so long perfecting. Every post you write should absolutely have an image to go with it.
But, research from the OkDork site suggests that multimedia embeds in your post can actually reduce your reach. That’s right: By including a video, you could cut back on the number of people who see your post.
I’m not sure why this is the case. But I do have a theory. LinkedIn is designed to be a professional space for networking and short-form business learning. Videos, on the other hand, tend to be either amusing and/or long-form. Both of those attributes seem to go against the LinkedIn vibe.
So as tempted as you might be to jazz up your posts with a little multi-media spice, it’s best to skip the sparks and stick to the photos you know will deliver your readers.
3. Write for Interaction
Most reputation management posts have a lot to do with bragging and very little to do with conversation. Writers hope to boast about the great deeds they’ve completed and the wondrous things they’ve done, and they hope to silence their critics in the process. That all makes sense, but it also makes for dull reading. And it also makes posts more than a little skippable.
Writing for interaction means embedding questions in your piece, and hoping you can draw out your readers into a conversation. Posts like this are reader catnip, as people who post a comment often check back to see if there are replies to that comment. Suddenly, your post looks really popular, and it tends to get pushed up in search results. Reputation winning is right around the corner with this technique.
If you do add a call to action or a question to your post, remember to check back yourself, too. Research from 2013 says a little less than half of users check LinkedIn daily. Be sure to be on the right side of those statistics. When you ask for conversation, you’ll need to do some talking. So make sure to check back often.
4. Don’t Ramble
In the post-Hummingbird world, we’ve all been told to focus on creating longer blog posts. As writers in Copyblogger so astutely pointed out, every blog entry we write needs to have just a little more value than all of the other blog posts out there. We need to answer almost every single question a searcher might have about a specific topic, or we’ll get skipped in favor of someone else.
In general, longer posts provide more information, and they do tend to do well on Google search pages. But LinkedIn is a little different from Google.
Consider this: AdWeek suggests the average American user spends about 17 minutes per LinkedIn visit. During that time, they’re expected to keep their profiles up to date, check up on colleagues, and write their own posts.
Do we really think they have time to read every word of a long-form post, particularly if some of those words are filler? Of course not.
Write what you need to write to get all of your ideas across. Hone your sentences, perfect your ideas, and make sure your text really shines. And then stop writing. It doesn’t matter how long the post is, and it doesn’t matter how long others say the post should be. If you focus on good writing, you’ll be well on your way to killing the competition. And that holds true whether your piece is 400 words or 1,000 words long.
5. Take a 24-Hour Reputation Management Breather
When you’re in the pocket with your writing and the words are flowing fast and furious from your fingertips, you run the risk of inserting one or two gaffes that could bash your reputation to bits. Insert one bit of innuendo or one misplaced curse, and all of your hard work could just float away.
A one-day ban on publishing could help. By walking away from your writing, even for a day or two, you’ll have the chance to seek out all of those little problems. And you’ll remove them long before you publish those words.
Go Ahead: Get Started!
LinkedIn gives you yet another way to push your voice and your unique perspective into the wider world, and you could reap great reputation management benefits from each post you publish. So why not get started? These tips should help you to do it right.
And if I missed anything, won’t you let me know? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.