You may have noticed that in the “news” section of your LinkedIn feed you are seeing more and more posts by LinkedIn Influencers. These are typically people with large LinkedIn networks who are in some way an authority in a certain industry.
As LinkedIn continues to beta test the LinkedIn Influencers blogging program, more and more people are being invited to create posts–which is pretty cool and could be seen as an immense opportunity for those in B2B or recruiting industries. Unfortunately, most people aren’t writers and writing online–particularly for a site like LinkedIn, can present some very complex issues for which most are not prepared.
To help get everyone up to speed, I’m putting together this quick little guide to hopefully better prepare the general internet public for becoming a highly visible LinkedIn Influencer.
LinkedIn Influencers: Don’t Embarrass Yourself
That header probably sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true. In the spirit of keeping you all wholly employable–or at least not ruining your reputation via the internet, here are some handy tips to consider while composing your LinkedIn Influencers post.
Think Through Your Post
Many of us have gotten used to sites like Facebook and more and more people are starting their own blogs. We’ve gotten pretty comfortable with writing down our thoughts and feelings and sharing them with others. Unfortunately, a LinkedIn Influencers post is neither of those things. This is a highly professional piece of writing that will be seen in association with your resume and it is intended to be read by a professional audience. With that in mind, think about these things before you start writing:
- Who is your audience? What group of LinkedIn users will you be addressing? What are their interests and why would they click on your article? What do you think they want to get out of your article? Knowing the answers to these before you even start writing will help you create a successful LinkedIn Influencer post.
- Don’t be boring. It feels like it should go without saying, but I see a lot of very dry writing in these posts. Thinking of a unique and interesting topic is step one, but writing about it in a way that is compelling, interesting, entertaining, and useful is step two.
- Are you angry/frustrated about something? Write your piece, but cool off before you post it. Wait a day or two. Be sure to read and re-read (and re-re-read) before publishing. Anger can be productive, but it must be tempered and your message must be constructive.
- Write an outline. Many LinkedIn Influencers posts fall victim to plot loss. Decide on your premise and stick to it. It’s okay to take an aside, but make sure your entire piece supports your premise. Otherwise, your readers may not take away the message you want to leave them with.
- Stick to what you know. I’ve been surprised by the number of Influencer posts that seem to venture outside the writer’s apparent realm of knowledge. Avoid speculation and stick to your strengths. You’re here to strengthen either your personal or professional brand. Show your readers that you are an authority by speaking intelligently about what you know.
- Be clear. If you find yourself discussing a complex issue find ways to make your point of view clear and easily understood. Don’t get bogged down in details. If you need to discuss details, use links to reference more in-depth sources.
- Go easy on the quotes, anecdotes, and asides. Think more like a journalist and less like an essayist.
- Be brief. Most folks don’t have all day to sit around reading articles. They clicked yours. Make good use of their time.
- Avoid negative or accusatory statements. When you use negative statements you run the risk of alienating members of your audience. By using positive language, your post becomes inclusive and thus more appealing to the reader.
- Avoid assumptions, broad or otherwise. If you don’t have time to look up the facts, then don’t bother writing about them.
Editing Your LinkedIn Influencers Post
Grammar and spelling are obviously important. Typos can happen, but good editing will catch most of them. You’ll definitely want someone else to read your post before you publish it; this will catch anything that your eyes missed because they’ve been staring at the same words for too long. This post at Copyblogger.com will help you edit like a pro.
I’ve read LinkedIn Influencers posts that look and read like letters. Remember those? They’re the reason the post office was invented. That’s not how you write online. Use (the appropriate) headers. If you created an outline, your primary bullets can serve as headers while sub-bullets serve as talking points for body copy underneath each header.
Additionally, you should keep your paragraphs short. When paragraphs are long, readers tend not to read them. Things move fast on the internet. Cut your information up into bite-size bits for easy digestion!
A Word on Links
I’ve seen LinkedIn Influencers posts with links and without. Not every post needs links, but if you are referencing something obscure, something that might fall outside of common knowledge for your intended audience, or if you are citing facts, figures, or statistics, then you should absolutely link to more information. If you are talking about a product or a handy tool or a website you find particularly helpful, by all means, link to those too.
I’ve seen a lot of posts that use links without any rhyme or reason. They link to Wikipedia articles about something that is widely known. They link to off-topic blog posts on other sites. Use links as though they are a citation in school paper or professional journal and you won’t go amiss.
The Value of LinkedIn Influencers
Done correctly, the LinkedIn Influencers program can really help you up your game. Hundreds of people comment on these posts and many more than that read them. Once people see that you are an intelligent and articulate person who really knows their stuff, they’ll likely either connect with you or follow you as an Influencer. This can provide innumerable business and career opportunities.
You might think that there’s not much value in being an Influencer if you’re already posting to LinkedIn groups. Be aware that these are two different animals. Groups must be subscribed to, while Influencer posts are pushed out to all LinkedIn homepage feeds. That means Influencer posts have a much broader audience.
So go ahead and create that brilliant LinkedIn post, but make sure you take the time to do it well. People are watching–er, reading closely.