Since LinkedIn introduced articles, more and more LinkedIn users are writing them. They are a great way to provide value to your connections, and help establish yourself as a thought leader. Many LinkedIn users are still sitting on the sidelines, though.
I’ve suggested posting LinkedIn articles to many of my connections. However, some are reluctant because they are afraid of putting themselves out there (or afraid of compliance). I gave a friend of mine some tips last week, and I thought I would share them with you as well to make it easier for you.
Step 1: Have an objective in mind.
We are not writing for writing’s sake. Your 10-page X-Files fan faction is great, but it’s not necessarily right for LinkedIn. Think about who your target audience is, and what you want your personal brand to be. What do you want to be to that audience? A trusted partner? A disruptor?
Answering your objective will help you determine what you want to write, as well as how you want to write it (e.g. challenging vs. helping).
Step 2: Write your article.
This is 95% of the work. Pick a topic you that you know a good deal about, and will accomplish your objective. Then, write a few paragraphs about it. Remember to keep your target audience in mind – what do they know about this topic already? What information would be helpful? Where do you need to push the envelope?
Nothing is more challenging to read on your phone than
Step 3: Make it easy to read.
Your article doesn’t have to be War and Peace, and in fact, should probably be less than 1,000 words. A majority of LinkedIn articles are read on mobile devices, so keep that in mind when you are writing – keep it short and get to the point quickly.
Nothing is more challenging to read on your phone than 20-line paragraphs. Keep paragraphs to 3-4 sentences maximum.
Break up your copy with bulletpoints, callouts, or in a list format, so it’s easier for users to read. Many readers will scan the text and look for signals to stop like bolded text, bulletpoints, callouts (e.g. the “Nothing is more challenging…” callout above) or numbers.
Step 4: Make it compelling.
This is a blog piece, not a dissertation, so find ways to keep your readers interested like quotes, embedded video that tells your story, or an image that illustrates a point you’ve made such as this one from ComScore about mobile device usage:
Step 5: Summarize what you have said
Even if the user reads nothing else, give them 2-3 key takeaways at the bottom of the article. If the reader is simply scanning the article, this may be the only thing he/she reads, and that’s okay. They will have gotten the gist of the article, and you will have accomplished your objective.
Step 6: Have a call to action
You don’t have to have a giant, toll-free number inserted 10 times into your article. However, you do want to give the reader the ability to easily follow-up with you. I usually add this to the end of the piece.
Don’t go too far, though, and have a link every third word about great pieces you have written before (see how annoying that is). I find it frustrating to read an article that is 50% promotions about previous articles.
Step 7: Don’t overthink it
I wrote this article in 20 minutes. Again, it’s not War and Peace.
- Make sure it makes sense
- Make sure it sounds professional
- Correct grammatical issues
- Find and image
- Post it
(Note: If you are financial services, add “run it by compliance first” to that list).
Don’t ask 15 people to edit it before you post. Remember, if worse comes to worse, LinkedIn has an “edit article” button, which allows you can make changes to the piece after you post it.
Step 8: Find a key image
Each article has an image at the top of the page. Yours should represent your article, and also be eye-grabbing. Images of people usually tend to grab people’s attention.
Another, more risky route is to use something that people don’t normally see. I once used two apples for a post because I was talking about the need for an apples-to-apples comparison when measuring data. Nobody clicked on it. I don’t recommend using an apple image!
You don’t have to have a giant, toll-free number inserted 10 times into your article. However, you do want to give the reader the ability to easily follow-up with you.
Step 9: Think of a lead-in
When you post a LinkedIn article, you have the option to write a lead-in just like you do when you share someone’s else’s post. Use this to write something that will entice people to read the article (but stop short of sounding like click-bait).
Step 10: Tell people about it
Everyone has strong advocates in their networks, energize those advocates by letting them know you posted a new article, and ask them what they think. Your frequent engagers will be happy to share your piece. Offer to share feedback on their work as well.
Remember, if worse comes to worse, LinkedIn has an “edit article” button with which you can edit the piece after you have posted it.
- Have an objective
- Write about something you know
- Make it easy to read on mobile
- Don’t overthink it
- Tell people about it
About the author
Robert Knop is Founder and CEO of Assist You Today, a company dedicated to helping organizations GAIN + RETAIN clients using digital strategy and social media. He’s a proud member of the Wave3 network of consultants, and always happy to talk strategy, digital and social selling. To learn more about how to evolve your marketing and sales approaches for the digital age, reach out anytime at 323.972.3566.