Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram—chances are you already know quite a lot about how to market on these social media platforms just by using them every day in your personal and professional life. Their functions, capabilities, and the buzz they can generate have become a central aspect of today’s online culture. But what about LinkedIn? LinkedIn never quite receives the adoration of its more popular social media brethren and therefore doesn’t seem like an ideal marketing platform. This is a shame because LinkedIn can offer you an incredible avenue for reaching out to potential business partners, clients, and high-quality customers—if you know how to use it.
Getting acquainted with LinkedIn and its powerful writing tool Pulse is essential to unlocking its marketing potential. We’ve answered some of your most pressing questions about LinkedIn in this Q&A on how to handle yourself on the site and how to maximize your success there.
Why is LinkedIn Important?
At this time, LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for professionals with 450 million users worldwide. That’s a massive audience!
Imagine LinkedIn as Facebook in work attire. You can make friends (which are called connections), join groups, and post status updates and photos, similar to most social platforms. However, while Facebook emphasizes socialization, spontaneity, and creative expression, LinkedIn values professionalism, exclusivity, and authority. They are two sides of the same coin.
Can I Do Direct Marketing on LinkedIn?
Not exactly. A common misconception in online marketing circles is that you can promote on LinkedIn in the same way you would to a Facebook group—jump in, link to your content or site, and then jump off. LinkedIn doesn’t allow for that. Almost every group on LinkedIn is private; membership is by application only and those application processes are often more rigorous than on other social media sites. If your credentials or your business’ focus doesn’t match up with the group’s interests, you not as likely to get in.
Even if you do get into a group, almost every group values personal connections and building relationships compared to overt marketing. Trying to promote your business or content too aggressively (or in some cases at all) could be viewed as spamming. If that happens, you might receive a penalty from the group or be blocked unceremoniously. Anyone in the group can report a potential spammer as well, not just the admins, so they are ever vigilant on this front.
Furthermore, even if you did manage to market yourself within the group without getting shown the door, it might not achieve the success you are seeking. Private LinkedIn groups, unlike groups on other social media sites, don’t get indexed or crawled by Google. There’s very limited ways to create links or generate direct buzz through private LinkedIn group marketing.
So How Can I Use LinkedIn to My Advantage?
Experts agree that joining some groups that fit with your goals and field can be beneficial in the long run by fostering a community with others in your field and with your goals. If you’re seeking a more immediate boost to your site or your brand, groups may not be where you wish to invest the majority of your time. Instead, LinkedIn does provide a tool for you: Pulse.
Pulse is LinkedIn’s answer to WordPress or Blogger, providing a platform for articles and unique content. At this time, Pulse already has over a million unique long-form articles in a staggering number of subjects, and features a huge base of potential and exclusive readers (at least 230 million of whom speak English) that can do wonders for you and your business.
How Does LinkedIn Pulse Work?
Here’s the format for LinkedIn’s Pulse Drafting Page:
You can see that LinkedIn values both innovation and intuitiveness in their design. There’s a clear space for writing, a place for a header image, easy tagging section, and even side tabs for generating writing ideas and seeing what are current trends on (perhaps one of the most helpful tools of any blogging platform).
Once you publish a piece the tags will enable readers to find your content specifically by searching for their preferred topics and LinkedIn will put it on the feeds of your interested followers. Additionally, unlike LinkedIn groups, Google crawls and indexes LinkedIn Pulse pages so they can be found from outside the site. This can be a huge boost for you—you can do what is essentially large scale content promotion for your brand and business with little effort.
What Makes a Successful LinkedIn Pulse Article?
Successful, compelling LinkedIn Pulse articles can be “Featured”—which means that it’s promoted to all of LinkedIn’s users, not just your followers. There’s no criteria for being Featured except for being high-quality, so there’s a strong incentive for excellent craftsmanship.
Here’s some advice on what makes a great LinkedIn Pulse article:
- Good overall writing and editing
- Deep knowledge of your field
- An excellent and eye catching title
- Content organized in how-to or list formats, and not organized like a question post
- Appealing visuals
- Publishing on Thursdays or Sundays, when engagement is highest
- Selecting a topic most likely to appeal to your niche
- Using subheadings
What are the Major Things to Remember When Writing for LinkedIn’s Pulse?
First off, every expert agrees that Pulse is designed for and best suited to long-form content—at least four paragraphs at a minimum, and some even suggest that may be too short (although others argue that under 1,000 words is best—use your judgment of your field to determine what works for you and your audience). If you have shorter content (under 300 words) that you’d like to share on LinkedIn, it is better to use the Status Update Box instead of Pulse.
Secondly, LinkedIn is once again for professionals and business oriented people. The content you choose to put up on the site needs to reflect that. For example, on Facebook everyone loves viral videos. But on LinkedIn, viral videos wouldn’t do as consistently well. It’s just not the right environment for certain videos to thrive. It would be like trying to grow a peach tree in the Arctic.
Finally, LinkedIn takes the content posted to it seriously. The content you post will be explicitly linked to you, your personal brand, and your business. It is intimately tied to your reputation as an authority in your field. Therefore it is incredibly important that the content you post on Pulse is high-quality material. If you post low-quality or plagiarized material, chances are you’ll suffer directly by losing the respect of other experts and of the high-quality consumers interested in your products or services.
The Big Takeaway
Marketing on LinkedIn requires slightly different knowledge and grace than Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform. It requires understanding of LinkedIn’s culture and expectations, as well as the ability to think long-term with your relationships with individuals and groups. It asks you to prove your authority both in your conduct and in the content you create and share. If you succeed in LinkedIn marketing and writing on Pulse, you can open doors to better sales and connections you never knew were possible.