The 7 Secrets to Writing Killer Content on LinkedIn

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The 7 Secrets to Writing Killer Content on LinkedIn

Oct 2 2012

In the spring of 2011, we launched LinkedIn Today (now Pulse) with the goal of getting professionals the news they needed at a massive scale. We had a sense of the kind of content that members would love to read, but nothing like this had ever been done across the professional world — so there were many more questions than answers.

Would busy professionals consume only short stories about breaking business news? Or were they simply looking for a few tips on how to be inspired? Long-form or lists? Slideshows or videos? Would trade journals outperform general news?

What we’ve found in the last year is that LinkedIn users tend to care about one thing in particular: they want to learn. The kinds of stories that explode among the business crowd are ones that make them feel smarter at the end of the day; the content could come from anywhere and be in any form.

Here are seven tips generated from watching reader patterns over the last year. In the comments, share your own ideas.

  1. Write What You Know

Plumb your professional world to come up with topics. What tricks do you employ every day that make your work life easier? What failures have had along the way that helped turn you into a success? What inspired you to do what you do? Use the details from your life to help others be better in theirs.

You can also use LinkedIn as a sounding board: Share your big ideas about how to reshape the economy or about what disruption is coming next (and why everyone is missing it). Explain why you think one firm is doing well and another dying. Then use the wisdom of the professional crowd to refine, reshape or just debate.

Here are three examples from professionals who relied on “write what you know” to create content that performed phenomenally well on LinkedIn:

  1. Write often

Shorter and frequent beats the reverse. Get your thoughts out there and let your commenters help you craft your next big idea. Find something that works and keep iterating on it. Don’t wait for perfect.

  1. 3. Remember your audience

LinkedIn is comprised of more than 275 million executives, entrepreneurs, entry-level and exiting workers — basically the working world in one place. Be conversational, but keep the conversation focused on the professional sphere. And remember that your readers are busy; an email, IM, phone call or conversation is always about to lure them away. Employ photos, bold headings, lists and infographics whenever you can. And, above all, always be interesting.

  1. 4. Pay attention to the headline

A great headline carries a lot of weight: It can draw in readers who might otherwise skim and move on; it can help keep you focused while you’re writing (some writers will come up with the headline first before writing a word of the post — I did here); it can give search engines valuable information. One rule to remember: Clear beats clever; use puns or jokes sparingly. And don’t try to trick people by offering a headline that doesn’t pay off in the text; there’s no better way to anger your readers and stop them from coming back.

The tip I recommend to everyone is to write 5-10 headlines and then send those to a group of friends or colleagues. Ask them, “Which headline would you click on, assuming you didn’t know the author of the post?”

  1. When Facing the Blank Page, Consider Law & Order

Dick Wolf had the right idea. When Law & Order needed material, it turned to the news. Do the same: Find an acquisition that is generating headlines and explain why it’s good or bad. Or talk about your own experience buying or selling companies. Some big name recently get promoted/hired/arrested? Offer tips on what he or she has to do next. Use the news as a conversation starter.

Three examples:

  1. Always attribute

Give credit wherever and whenever you can: whether quoting, citing or using images. When in doubt, attribute. Use links and source lines liberally (and, of course, make sure you have the rights to the images you’re using).

  1. 7. Share!

When you’ve published, tell your network, send to friends, post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, let your colleagues and employees know. (Also, if you write something that deserve a wide readership beyond your network, let @LinkedInPulseknow by following this tip from the Writing on LinkedIn Group.) Get the word out to build a strong following. The more you share, the bigger your audience and the more impact you’ll have.

What do you think? If you’ve been writing, what are your killer tips? And if you haven’t been, what’s holding you back?

(Photo: The Hamster Factory, Flickr; Post updated 8/7/14)