LinkedIn recently published a pocket guide entitled How to Spark Meaningful Conversations and Measure Success.
This captured my attention because meaningful conversation and LinkedIn are not typically two terms I would associate with one another.
There’s some good stuff on LinkedIn, of course, but finding it amongst the sea of nonsense has become increasingly difficult. Twitter accounts like The State of LinkedIn demonstrate just how bad things have got – the site has reached self-parody status, and yet, people keep lapping up the “content”.
Like most other social networks, LinkedIn is highly susceptible to algorithm gaming and this can lead to periods where lots of posts follow a near identical format.
These types of posts have been affectionately named ‘broetry’, on account of their Cummings-esq structure. They’re awful, no doubt about it, but there is method in the madness; “the thinking behind this was that the line breaks mean users had to click to see the whole post, thus increasing engagement.” says Joshua Boyd of Brandwatch.
Broetry is the perfect LinkedIn content, in many ways. Not only do these types of posts require users to click, thus boosting engagement signals, but they’re also easy to digest, they translate well on mobile, and the stories themselves appeal to the masses. Does it matter that most of the posts are made up? Not when your followers are gullible or you’re part of a sweet engagement pod.
“Writing in the “broetry” style on LinkedIn helped me rack up 200 million views. …and in only six months” wrote Josh Fechter in March 2018.
But then it all changed. LinkedIn changed the algorithm and almost overnight ‘broems’ stopped delivering big numbers.
“I went from averaging 5,000 engagements per a long-form post to 300! At first, I thought it was just me. Then they rolled out these changes to many influencers on LinkedIn – Reducing their reach by upwards to 90 percent!” Fechter went on to say.
Broems may be less prevalent than they once were, but there will always be a flavour of the month on LinkedIn that encourages the over-sharing of a certain content type. This month’s flavour of the month appears to be short-form video, which is being uploaded in droves by shaky-armed users via LinkedIn’s new-ish/hellish native video feature.
So, in a world where engagement metrics are everything, but algorithm chasing is frowned upon, what does LinkedIn itself suggest users do to spark meaningful conversations? According to its new pocket guide (which is actually a Slideshare presentation) this:
1. Post about… stuff that is happening
2. Utilise articles, short-form posts and videos
3. Reply to comments & report spam
4. Use relevant hashtags
So to recap:
- Post about stuff that is happening
- Utilise all formats
- Reply to comments
- Use hashtags
If you have gleaned zero knowledge from this handy little pocket guide then you’re not alone. As far as guides go, it’s absolutely useless, actually.
So useless in fact that I felt inclined to expand upon LinkedIn’s advice with some excellent tips and resources that I have accumulated from across the world wide web for your benefit.
What to post on LinkedIn
The million dollar question. There’s no single answer but these insights and tips should help:
With video, the general rule is to keep it native. Naturally, LinkedIn wants users to stick around on the site and engage with its own content, so linking out to YouTube or Vimeo, for example, is going to be less effective than a video that is uploaded directly to LinkedIn or created on the platform itself.
“Unlike embedded videos, LinkedIn native video autoplays in-feed, which is more likely to grab attention. Metrics show that Facebook native videos garner 10 times more shares than linked videos, a boost that likely also holds true for LinkedIn native videos.” – Hootsuite.
The article linked to above also offers some ideas about what to post. Product or service launches, behind the scenes snippets, new staff introductions, quick tips, case studies, and event highlights are all good examples.
When it comes to LinkedIn articles specifically, there are some simple things you can do to boost engagement. A study of 3,000 LinkedIn articles by Paul Shapiro revealed that in order to get the maximum number of post views:
- Your title should be 40-49 characters long
- Include at least 1 image (8 is best)
- Avoid embed multimedia such as YouTube videos
- Write How-to posts. Don’t write question posts
- Divide your post into 5 sections with sub-headings
- Write between 1,900 to 2,000 words
- Use a neutral tone
- Write your post so it can easily be understood by the masses
- Publish your post on Thursday
- Cross-promote your LinkedIn posts on Twitter
These factors won’t guarantee success, of course, but they should serve as a good starting point.
Replying to comments on LinkedIn
Replying to comments is cool, but do you know what’s cooler? Replying to comments in a way that will maximise your engagement window, that’s what. John Esperian of Esperian.co.uk suggests you don’t reply to all comments at once:
“You can keep the engagement fire burning longer if you don’t respond to all comments immediately. However, because engagement in the first hour matters, it’s best to respond to early comments as soon as you can.
After that first hour, leave some comments unanswered for a little while, then go back and add responses. If you’re really disciplined, respond to small batches of comments every few hours.”
This makes perfect sense when you think about it. By spacing out your replies, you are effectively extending the shelf life of a post, which increases the chances of more people seeing it. Cha-ching.
Using hashtags on LinkedIn
The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn Hashtags by Hootsuite is a great place to start for anyone with burning questions about hashtags. It lists and describes in detail 16 LinkedIn hashtag tips and tricks that literally anyone can make use of, from how to structure them, to how many to use per post. Finding your brand’s niche is a particularly useful tip – while using popular hashtags opens your content up to a much wider audience, going after niche hashtags can be a great way of connecting with smaller, more engaged communities.