Leaders should write, not for the sake of writing — but to influence, inform, inspire, and engage a wider audience. Writing often also forces you to maintain clarity in your thinking, and sustain your perspective.
I’ve been writing on LinkedIn for a few months, with some specific goals:
- Create a wider audience for my thought leadership. The result: After my first popular post, the number of individuals following went from 30 to over 1,000. That is a far greater reach than I get from my agency outreach.
- Increase traffic to my web site. The result is approximately a 2% increase in traffic; fourth after Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest (really?). There is no correlation from LinkedIn to the top-visited content article on my web site.
- Establish credibility. The result: Many new and meaningful connections with professionals within the sectors my design and marketing agency serves; and acceptance by the leadership community, for which I am grateful!
- Experiment. From content, to images, to timing—I experiment, document, and learn. The result: the insights I have gained have created conversations, and the opportunity to advise leaders from other organizations, such as EntreLeadership.com.
The top ten things I learned from writing on LinkedIn:
- The headline makes a huge difference. Take a look at what other topics are popular, and read bufferapp.com’s research-based articles on headlines and content.
- Everybody is looking for the secret that will propel them onto the Pulse channel. See point number one, but remember: there is no secret. Just write great content. One article will not make you famous or propel you permanently into the top readership. Strive for a consistent and thoughtful body of work.
- Images increase engagement. Stock images make meaningful content less credible. However, in my opinion, stock images all look the same. I only include design assets that I or my staff create, that support the theme of the article (and that may increase the likelihood of sharing), or images from my Instagram body of work.
- There’s a difference between writing as content marketing, and writing as thought leadership. The first involves quantity; thought leadership requires insight, originality, and that you take a courageous position. Humor helps too.
- Your best writing will flow from your unique perspective and be written for a specific audience. The best writing will require that the reader agree or disagree with your perspective and insights.
- Writing is a dialog. There is a very engaged and articulate community of writers on LinkedIn who are all trying to get the attention of LinkedIn readers. There is also an engaged and thoughtful community of readers on LinkedIn, who are not afraid to tell you exactly what they think, and who are overwhelmingly encouraging. Your experience may vary. (my favorite comment to date is “This is another article in the thrall of the cult of leadership correctness.” The article was about communications.)
- There does not seem to be a best time to publish, but do remember that the LinkedIn audience is global. Right now it’s tomorrow in another part of the world, and those readers are looking at LinkedIn.
- Seek to inform and inspire. The success of an article seems to based on the topic, the content, and the quality of the writing. From my experience, communications topics are of more interest than culture topics.
- Make sure your article is ready to publish before you publish it, especially the headline. Share the most meaningful articles into groups to which you belong, and avoid self-promotion.
- Readers love lists.