Just read this article on Forbes about LinkedIn publishing and how it’s poised to become the next great media company. Not sure I 100 percent agree, but my opinions are neither here nor there; I’m one person, and I’m not necessarily an accomplished professional. Still, I’ve had a bunch of experience with the LinkedIn publishing platform — I have 190 posts on there at present, I think — so I thought I’d offer a few thoughts. I even wrote about “the inherent contradiction” in LinkedIn embracing content marketing back when, so maybe I know more than you or I think I do. (In reality, probably not.) Anyway, here we go.
1. Think about audience reach: People love big numbers, and they look at 330 million+ users of LinkedIn and think, “Oh, I could reach that many people.” That’s a fallacy. I’ve been writing on LinkedIn platforms for a year or so, and the highest number of visitors I’ve hit is 102K, for this post. There are some “Influencers” who hit 500K per post (or more) easily; for a standard person, though, that’s not going to happen. Out of my close to 200 posts, I’d say about 20 (1 in 10) have gone semi-viral and hit 5K+. Most are around 100-500 views, maybe 20 likes, and 1-3 comments. Not a big deal. If you’re Bill Gates or a definitive thought leader, every post will hit about 300K+. If you’re an average Joe or rank-and-file, not so much.
2. That said, it’s a good way to connect with others: The whole idea of “networking” in the modern age is fairly fraught; by most accounts, the best way to network is actually to stop networking. When you write down your thoughts and put them out there, even if only 500 people see them, that’s still 500 people. How many opportunities/chances do you have to interact with 500 people at once? It’s pretty rare, right? I have 131 people in my phone. So if I write something and 500 people see it or interact with it, that means 4x the people I have in my phone are looking at some idea I had/have. That’s cool, right? It can lead to more opportunities than you think. For more ideas on that, consider this.
3. Thought Leadership: You will see a lot of more established people say “Well, thought leadership is kind of a farce…” and I don’t necessarily disagree. The idea implies “people that think” and “people that lead” and kind of a Venn diagram that includes the middle. In reality, most thought leaders don’t do either. They upsell or talk about basic, conventional narratives around work. That’s life. It happens. But beware of considering someone who publishes on LinkedIn “a thought leader.” I publish there. I’m not a thought leader. See?
4. Beware the Upsell: A lot of people publish on there to get attention for themselves, and that makes sense. As a result, beware the upsell. Selling a product or an idea is much simpler than we want to believe, but we often think it involves a hardcore upsell at every turn (“Do this or else this will happen!”) That’s a lot of what LinkedIn publishing has become — it’s hard upsells instead of actual content that would benefit a business. That’s sad. Try and wade through the bullshit.
5. The Value of LinkedIn: It will send 4x the amount of people to your homepage than Facebook does, give or take. So that’s valuable. Embrace the platform — although maybe do so with a grain of salt if you’re a recruiter.