social media how toHave you tried LinkedIn’s publishing feature?

Do you want more people to see your business articles?

LinkedIn publishing gives you the opportunity to reach members of the biggest professional audience in the social sphere.

In this article I’ll share five tips for optimizing your content for LinkedIn publishing.

#1: Know How Channels Work

LinkedIn channels are basically categories that users can follow to see articles related to the topics they’re most interested in. Many channels have a huge number of followers (e.g., the Customer Experience channel has over 1 million followers).

5 linkedin publisher tips

Find out how to optimize content for LinkedIn Publishing.

The main way to get traction when you publish on LinkedIn (outside of your own promotional efforts) is to be featured on a channel. Featured articles appear in the channel’s slider, and more importantly, in the stream of everyone who follows that channel.

If you’re featured on a channel with hundreds of thousands (or a million) followers, you can imagine how big a deal that it is.

linkedin customer service channel

Being featured on a LinkedIn channel increases your visibility.

The thing to remember about features is that (usually) you can only have one article at a time being featured on a channel. So, for example, if you publish an article that gets featured on the Customer Experience channel on Monday, it’s unlikely you’ll be selected again on Tuesday if you publish another article about customer experience.

However, if instead you share an article on Leadership & Management on Tuesday, you could find yourself featured on both channels.

Because of that opportunity, my primary LinkedIn publishing tactic is something I call channel stacking: publish (or stack) topics on different days of the week. That way you have a better chance of being featured on multiple channels at once.

linkedin post featured on leadership and management channel

Featured articles have the potential to reach a huge audience.

If you have a breadth of topics under your belt, you could even set up a system—Monday, publish an article about marketing; Tuesday, publish an article about product management; Wednesday, publish an article about managing teams, etc.

If you tend to stick to a single topic, spread out your publishing days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and spend a little extra time giving each article some promotion.

The one problem with LinkedIn channel features is that you don’t get to select which channel you’re featured on. Someone manually chooses which topic your post falls under.

#2: Research Winning Topics

Given its highly professional user base, it’s not surprising that LinkedIn readers migrate to practical, data-driven articles on career development, leadership, management, marketing, customer service and industry-specific pieces on finance, banking and government.

Justin Mares analyzed the most popular articles on LinkedIn by keyword to find which topics are generally well-received (shown in the graph below). He found that self-improvement content related to practical topics gets more social shares, likes and views than everything else.

linkedin shares by tpoic

LinkedIn users are interested in business-related content.

Need to brainstorm topics that match users’ needs? BuzzSumo can help you. It’s an incredibly useful tool that analyzes the most popular posts on any site, ranked by social shares. You can also use specific keywords to drill down in topics.

If, for example, you want to publish about customer service, you can search that phrase after plugging in in BuzzSumo. The results give you a look at the most popular articles published on LinkedIn about customer service (as far back as six months).

Not only will you see what works, but you can also identify influencers in your industry whom you can connect with.

linkedin popular articles

Find popular articles related to your topic and use them for inspiration.

As you decide what content to publish on LinkedIn, use the results to find trends. What do readers migrate to? Which articles are the most popular? Then write similar articles or tweak and resyndicate your existing articles.

#3: Optimize Headlines and Images

All social media marketers understand that an article lives or dies based on its headline and featured image. On LinkedIn, this principle is taken to the extreme—the way the LinkedIn interface is laid out places an inordinate amount of importance on titles and images.

Having a captivating image that plays nicely with your headline is something you should pay close attention to.

In the article below I used a tongue-in-cheek headlineWhy Steve Jobs Didn’t Listen to His Customers. Of course, Jobs did listen to customers (just not their proposed solutions), but the headline got readers to raise their eyebrows.

linkedin articles images

Headlines and featured images are even more important on LinkedIn.

When I coupled the headline with Jobs’ picture, it really caught attention. The stark contrast of the clean, black-and-white image against LinkedIn’s blue-and-white background certainly made this post stand out when it was featured and shared.

To be sure, exceptional writing is the main driver of exceptional results, but it helps to get your headline and image right so your post becomes a must-click for those browsing their LinkedIn stream.

#4: Close With a Call to Action

No matter where you publish, ask yourself what you would like the reader to do next, and then include that call to action (CTA) at the bottom of your article.

Walter Chen, CEO of iDoneThis, wanted more people to download his team’s new ebook via an opt-in page. He had a single post reach the front page of a really popular channel and take off. Since he had used a strong CTA at the bottom of the post, he ended up with over 1,000 ebook downloads.

A compelling CTA is incredibly easy to add to your post. Don’t leave readers with a seven-sentence byline plugging all of your social media profiles. End the article with a single CTA that points people to a compelling landing page.

#5: Plan Publishing Times

Getting your timing right on social media is a hot topic these days. You can find guidelines for just about any social platform except LinkedIn—not much has been written about ideal posting times for this network.

linkedin shares by date

If you want people to see your posts, you have to time them just right.

I’ve found that downtime during office hours works well for catching people who have a few spare minutes to read; for example, right before work (7-8am), during lunch breaks (11:30am-12:30pm) and right before leaving work for the day (4pm).

Taking that information into consideration, it’s not a bad idea to post an article during the workday. Given that republishing an existing article only takes about 5 minutes (you’ll need to format it), this is something you can easily knock out right before you take your lunch break.

As for days of the week, I’ve always had the hypothesis that LinkedIn essentially shuts down outside of work hours. The data in the graph above appears to support my idea. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, most people are not going to check LinkedIn on weekends.

Over to You

With LinkedIn publishing, a single great idea can be validated by hundreds of people, and then promoted and distributed to reach thousands of people.

If you want that great idea to be yours, the formula is simple: research popular topics; write good content, headlines and CTAs; use captivating images; and post at the right time. As you share useful, appealing content, don’t be surprised if you end up on a popular channel with all eyes on you.

What do you think? Has LinkedIn publishing worked for you? Which article topics were most successful for you? Please share your comments below.

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  • Rabecka Krill

    Awesome post! My first Linkedin article went viral a few months ago. It’s been viewed over 200,000 times and gained me over 1300 followers in less than 48 hours. Since, I’ve posted 10 different articles and haven’t had nearly that same luck.

    These are solid tips and something that I’m super interested in. It would be great if Linkedin allowed users to insert alt tags in photos and CTA’s in the body – like a standard CMS.

    Anyway, keep this kind of content coming. I want more!

  • I haven’t used LinkedIn Publishing, yet. I’ve been reading and studying the articles and comments because I’m trying to figure out what types of articles do well. Some articles are short at 500 words, while others are longer at 1,000 or more words. However, I am surprised by the popularity of some of the articles. To me, they’re well written. But they’re not earth shattering. Even the headlines are so-so. However, these articles get many comments, views, etc. I haven’t cracked the code.

  • Have you guys found that there is a lot of really mediocre content coming from Linkedin these days? @AmandahBlackwell:disqus you’re definitely right in saying they aren’t earth shattering. I’m guessing they’re picked by editors that are sifting through 1,000s of articles. I’m a Linkedin fan but starting to lose faith in their ability to pick quality content.

  • Great points. I’ve discussed this with Walter Chen (of iDoneThis) as we continue to experiment with the channel.

    Raising quality will be a major hurdle that LinkedIn will have to overcome, but a “glass half full” perspective is that the low bar on LinkedIn makes it easier for great writing to stand out.

    Walter’s posts on management / leadership have been doing quite well for this very reason. It’s a hot topic, but LinkedIn writers try to coast by on stock images and painfully obvious common sense.

    All the more reason to stand out on LinkedIn right now, before it gets too crowded. 🙂

  • You’re absolutely right, I’ve talked with many publishers and we see this as a huge potential flaw with their publishing: LinkedIn “influencers,” who have 100,000+ followers, tend to get shoddy content on the front page simply because they have the leverage to do so.

    Personally, I still think this is a great time for writers with smaller audiences (like us) to make our mark on the platform, because not everyone has access yet and the bar is quite low on many channels (we need more great customer experience content, for instance!)

  • Roger

    Thanks Gregory, this is a really interesting article. I haven’t yet created a long-form LinkedIn post, although that is a short-term goal. Having read a few posts I agree with what other commentators are saying here: some LinkedIn posts aren’t earth shattering.
    I can see what value some of those posts offer to readers. If they are hungry for ‘the secret to leadership’, or ‘3 steps to success’, they can read 4 or 5 paragraph introductions to their chosen topic then: Follow the author; interact with others’ comments; or even make an original comment themselves and encourage new connections to respond to their original thoughts.

  • I still do not have publisher activated on my account yet, it is very frustrating! Great article, however!

  • Dave Kerpen

    Well done! Tweet me your next article Gregory, and I’ll share it with 500K people on LinkedIn for you. @DaveKerpen

  • Thanks for the tips. I’ve only had one or two “successful” posts on LinkedIn, while the other posts are barely up to a few hundred views.

    These tips make a lot of sense… I’d put them to work and see how it goes. Thanks again.

  • I’ve wondered if LinkedIn Publishing is meant to replace your blog because it seems to call for the same type of content and serve the same purpose. So what is the advantage of using LinkedIn Publishing vs. publishing on your own site/blog and posting an intro and link to your site as a regular LinkedIn post? Is being featured on a channel dependent on using LinkedIn Publishing? If you use LinkedIn Publishing, how does that affect the content you publish on your own blog?

  • Anna Stevens

    My most successful topic was Find That Perfect Job With LinkedIn with over 2,000 views pretty fast. I had all the secrets I taught to MBAs at GA State University revealed there. But I never have been featured in any channels. Not yet 🙂

  • Anna Stevens

    Amandah, research is good and 20000000 views are great, but what’s your WHY? If your why isn’t figured out, start with that. If you want to become a voice of your profession and share your expertise, let the world know what you’re good at and help people solve problems, start writing now and success will come, promise. In its guidelines, LinkedIn recommends that you write about the stuff YOU care about 🙂

  • Anna Stevens

    @disqus_6Rhy5lwSy2:disqus It’s better to get started and figure out things as you go vs. waiting for a perfect thought to appear in your head SOME day 😉

  • Anna Stevens

    Awwwww….. and now you can’t even apply…. Well, good luck, Joe!

  • Anna Stevens

    Dave, you’re awesome! See if that LinkedIn article about leverage for job search that I wrote some time ago may be of help to your audience. I’ll tweet you link now. @DaveKerpen

  • Good points.

  • If LinkedIn recommends that we write about stuff that we care about, does that mean I should write on topics, such as education reform, communication, leadership, animal shelters, personal development, parenting and whole slew of topics? This is where it gets tricky for me. I’m interested in many different topics and some of them don’t pertain to what I do for a living.

  • Bob G.

    Rabecka, I had the same experience as you. At the moment, there does not appear to be any ryhme or reason to how articles get flagged. I have written very well thought-out pieces with catchy headlines and good graphics – only to go nowhere fast. But I have not tried posting at the times suggested by the author. This is great advice, and frankly, was very hard to find – other than on this site. The LinkedIn Help pages I found to be close to useless. I completely agree with those who are puzzled how very basic posts with little value end up at the top, while many good, worthwhile posts never make it. I think LinkedIn is still trying to get a handle on long form publishing since they allowed it for all members. It’s still the wild west out there.

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  • Basic principles remain the same. Strong headline, call to action in it, not spammy, make the content useful, talk about a topic that actually could garner some interest. Those are the basic ways of ensuring that you get your LinkedIn article to do well. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. Of course – you won’t find the same luck with all your articles, but if it’s truly good content – it gets picked up with ease. 🙂

  • Steve Phillip

    Tremendous post, thank you.

  • Nice post. These kind of information will benefit me more.

  • Thank you for this excellent post…

  • Praveen Immanuel Inbarajan

    @AmandahBlackwell:disqus If these are the set of topics you are interested in and if you have views and insights to share, then you should do so. Linkedin doesn’t put a gag on any of the topics that you had expressed. Mainly because Linkedin houses professionals from all walks of life and they are all either pet owners or parents or even musicians too. So you will have an audience there. And even if there aren’t many views for your posts to start with, do spread it across to your connections through messages (but don’t spam) or discussing the topic in other social media pages and you’ll draw a lot of mileage.

  • Praveen Immanuel Inbarajan

    “So what is the advantage of using LinkedIn Publishing vs. publishing on your own site/blog and posting an intro and link to your site as a regular LinkedIn post?”
    – Linkedin Publishing allows for a broad chance of your post being featured in one of the channels and it can go viral where anyone can like, comment and share.
    – Publishing in a different blog and sharing that link as a Linkedin post means it appears to only your connections who may see it or ignore it, mostly. It will never go beyond that unless your connections like, comment and share.

    “Is being featured on a channel dependent on using LinkedIn Publishing?” – YES

    “If you use LinkedIn Publishing, how does that affect the content you publish on your own blog?”
    – It is a good practice to have the same content on your blog as well as on Linkedin Publishing. But Google doesn’t take lightly to duplicated content. So you have to make a few changes to either of the content so that they both bring more exposure to your message

  • Thank you Praveen!

  • Sabrina Kizzie

    Great Article, thanks for posting !
    -Sabrina Kizzie, Author & Social Media Lecturer

    Twitter & Instagram: @sabrinaonmove

  • This is a very helpful post. It’s indicative of the fact that LinkedIn’s prominence among the social platforms is rising as people are starting to realize they could go way beyond their existing network with the power of the pencil. As @disqus_akV5NgASpJ:disqus pointed out in her comment to @disqus_6Rhy5lwSy2:disqus I finally stopped thinking about it and posted my first piece on traits of successful entrepreneurs. It did okay. My next piece was on customer experience, and seems tailor-made for that channel. but alas it wasn’t chosen so again it did okay. No problem, I’ll keep at it. One nice side benefit is that I’ve seen these posts get some play on Twitter as well.

    One question: Can you embed videos in to LinkedIn published posts?

  • ScottD

    This is a great article. I agree with many commenters that LinkedIn Publishing is not easy to figure out. But keep producing smart, great content. It will pay off. It just will be a slow go in the beginning.

  • Rabecka Krill

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one trying to figure this out.

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  • ScottD

    Greg, where do you find the place to post LinkedIn blogs to a channel? I have posted some blogs for my company’s CEO to a few of his discussion groups. But I have not seen a space for designating a channel. Knowing where to send a post to more than a million potential viewers would be very helpful as the company we are in is customer experience field.

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  • Joan Stewart

    Bryan, the most important reason you need a blog is because it’s your own property! No one can take your blog away from you.

    But LinkedIn has removed a lot of our content over the years. I spent HOURS posting descriptions and photos of products and services on a client’s Company Page and — poof! — LinkedIn decides to remove Products and Services.

    I use my blog as my home base and pull my social media followers and fans to the helpful content. #blogging #contentmarketing

  • apriljean

    Great article. Sounds like LinkedIn Publishing is simply a good way to reach a wider audience with your ideas and thinking. I can’t wait to use it.

  • I have the same question as ScottD – where do you find out anything about channels on there? Plus, I just posted my first article and it asked me to add tags so people can search for it, but I see nowhere to search for tags. I don’t even see how to find other articles in the tag groups I picked. So confusing for this newbie. Thanks for your help!