When Hillary Clinton joined LinkedIn in May, headlines cheekily announced that the presidential candidate joined the social network because she’s on the lookout for a new gig. What caught our attention was not the fact that Hillary joined the platform, but the first thing she decided to do once she arrived: publish a long-form post. It was just over a year ago that LinkedIn decided to open up long-form publishing to all of its members. Since then, Metis has paid close attention, working with our clients to hone the craft of LinkedIn publishing while also evaluating the value of the opportunity. We’ve helped a number of executives develop think pieces that align with their companies’ key messages and advance their strategic business goals. Some of these generated thousands of views, dozens of website referrals and even qualified leads, while others struggled to break through the newsfeed. So what exactly makes a long-form LinkedIn post effective? Here’s what we know so far. Be sure you actually have something to say. If you woke up this morning and thought, “Hmm, I think I’ll post some thought leadership content on LinkedIn today,” then you’re thinking about this all wrong. If you’re a thought leader, it’s because you have smart things to say – not because you publish stuff on LinkedIn. The right time to craft a long-form post is when you have a fresh perspective or knowledge to share. Don’t stress about word count. There are a lot of opinions out there about the ideal word count for LinkedIn posts. Some articles say 400 to 600 words. LinkedIn suggests 700 words, and several other studies have found that 2,000-plus-word articles perform best. Our suggestion? Focus on how many words you need to get your point across. For our clients, that generally falls in the 500 to 700-word range, with room to go longer when the topic warrants a deeper dive. Link back to your company’s website. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to drive traffic to your website. Be sure to include links back to your company’s blog posts, white papers, reports and so on in your long-form LinkedIn posts. No need to go overboard, but one or two relevant links or a primary call to action can turn a piece of content into something that has the potential to drive leads for your company. Perfect your headline. LinkedIn feeds are noisy. In order to attract readers, your headline must stand out among the endless streams of listicles and how-to’s. There’s no magic formula, but in general, we’ve seen headlines succeed when they’re specific, intriguing and opinionated. Try writing 10 headlines before you post and ask your colleagues which they’d be most likely to click. Complete your profile. Many readers who view your post will inevitably check out your profile. Before you publish, make sure that your profile is as complete as possible by filling in your self summary, joining groups, adding education info, showcasing projects and all the other fun things LinkedIn asks for. You never know what might inspire a new partner, prospect or employee to reach out and connect. Subscribe to theMetis Minute PR and Marketing newsletter for more tips on building influence online.
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