Basics: Write effective posts from your personal LinkedIn account

This is a moving target. Not only do different communities respond to different kinds of posts but within a community people become bored of one type or another. These tips are for posts from your personal account, rather than a company account, which needs a slightly different approach. These tips have worked consistently for my clients and for me. A post like this from a personal account with 1000 followers should get 3000 views.

One way to look at this that I find useful is to go back to marketing fundamentals. You want to:

  • Be useful
  • Put your key message at the top to catch the 80% who don’t read on
  • Prompt people to act in a way that aligns with your overall goals
  • Engage your target audience, this is about quality not quantity

Creating a useful LinkedIn post

Seek to educate, not promote. It can be very tempting, particularly for new users, to promote their event or book. They may even get good engagement with that post. However, in my experience, you don’t get consistent, sustainable growth of an engaged community. New Followers and Click Through Rate are, in my view, the key metrics that demonstrate that your posts, articles, videos etc are fundamentally useful to your target audience.

What might your followers find useful?

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes for a while. Imagine yourself in the back of a taxi scrolling through your LinkedIn feed before the work day begins. Maybe there’s a problem coming your way that you have to deal with when you get to work. Imagine, chronologically, what would make you stop on a post, what would be going on in your head as you read it and what you would do.

  1. Key takeaways from an event: Events are transient, but rich with content, conversations in corridors and new ideas. Not everyone can afford time away from the desk. A quick win, is to list the key lessons you learnt from an event session. Don’t forget to @mention speakers, they appreciate the publicity and will often comment and connect to you. The one exception is if your speaker is a client and they would like that relationship to remain low key. You can quickly check with your client as they come off stage.
  2. Digest an article for your reader: Many people visit social media on their commute or during lunch time. There is frankly so much volume, that a quick and easy breakdown of an article, so they can decide whether or not to click through and read is very helpful. This is a particularly valuable format if the article isn’t immediately related to your industry, but your break down talks about how it might impact your industry. This has the added benefit of demonstrating your industry knowledge.
  3. A clear next step: In marketing lingo we call this the Call To Action or CTA. It can be a top tip for applying the lessons outlined in their work, or it can be a more business development-related next step, such as connecting with you to discuss the lessons in more depth. Before you shudder at the idea of business development in this context, remember that business development isn’t about short-term transactional sales, it’s about developing relationships that provide long-term value to both parties.
  4. Someone to follow up with: If your reader is interested, then you don’t want to leave them with a sense of frustration or bewilderment. If you are sharing lessons from an event, @mention the speaker who provided those lessons so your reader can click through and contact them easily.

Put your key message at the top

You have about 30 words before your post gets lost behind the …see more. Remember, 80% of the people who see your post will see only this bit, so what kind of information should go here?

  1. @mentions: If your post is related to an organisation you support, @mention them upfront to get their name out there.
  2. Topic: Make sure the broad topic area is in this space so that someone interested in the topic knows to pause their scrolling.
  3. Indications of further value: I like to use the work “Key takeaways” or “Lessons learnt” amongst the first words so that my reader knows that there’s some substance after the …see more. I also try hard to make sure that my …see more comes in mid-sentence so that anyone who has started the sentence feels the need to finish the sentence by clicking …see more. Your music app probably does something similar by showing you part of the album cover of your next song or album, so that you know there’s more without them having to write “More songs this way >>>”.

Crafting a next step

This is not about manipulation, you’re not forcing or tricking anyone into buying something they don’t want. You just make sure there is a next step and it’s frictionless should they want to take it. So what types of next step might you want to offer up?

  1. A top tip to apply: Take the lessons you’ve outlined and give one top tip that they can apply in their work as soon as their taxi arrives.
  2. Someone to contact: Be that you, a speaker, or the author of an article or study you’ve shared, @mention them so the reader can click through to their profile. This has the added bonus of notifying the person you’ve @mentioned and they are likely to comment and connect. If you get @mentioned in someone else’s post, you should always comment.
  3. Next relevant event to attend: Often events are run as a series, connected by a topic theme. If your key takeaways are very interesting, then your reader may wish to come to the next event and share in the discussions. LinkedIn will shorten your URL automatically, and you can put it near the bottom of your post if you wish.
  4. Article to read: If your break down is compelling, your reader may want to click through and get more detail. LinkedIn will shorten your URL, and you can put it near the bottom of your post if you wish.

Engage your target audience

You can attend the most interesting event and then write the best post in the world. If no one sees it then it’s all for naught. But quality beats quantity – you want people who will find it useful to see it.

  1. Boost the reach: If you @mention people who will find the post relevant and useful, then they will comment and the post will go to their network, which is likely to have others who find your post relevant and useful. LinkedIn exposes posts that get a lot of interaction early on, so the more comments you get in the first 12 hours or so, the more boosted your post will be.
  2. @mention people you don’t know: If you read an interesting study then @mention the author, they will likely comment and connect with you. You will also get your post into a new but relevant network.
  3. Structure your post well: Include an image, a question and a link as basic components and build up from there. If you don’t have an image your post will be practically invisible in the feed. Pictures that capture behind the scenes activities, or show the story arc of an event (for example), will capture people’s interest and let them into your daily life a little.

How do you know if your LinkedIn post has been successful?

So you’ve written your post and sent out into the world, how do you know if people have found it useful.

  1. Impressions (company pages) or views (personal accounts): These always give you a nice feeling, because the number is quite big, but don’t get tricked by your brain into pursuing a short-term high. This is useful because it shows that you are boosting your post effectively from a technical stand point, but if you aren’t getting good results on the other metrics, then your post may not be useful to the people it’s reaching. If you have a lot of views in your 2nd or 3rd degree network for a post from your personal account, then this is a good sign you’ve written a good post.
  2. Engagement: If you have likes, comments and shares then chances are you’ve got a useful post. Likes are a little more low key than shares and comments, a like probably means someone agrees with you but your post hasn’t made it to the 10% they want to clearly associate themselves with. A comment is the best engagement.
  3. New connections: This is the gold standard. if you are getting new connections then not only was your post useful, but that person thinks you’re likely to put out other useful posts. They may even believe that there’s a chance you can build a relationship that creates long-term value for both of you.

How do you improve on your post?

So you’ve sent out your post, all the basics are in place and now you want to fine tune your approach and get a feel for the conversation spark point in your community. Here are some aspects I find people sometimes take a few attempts to get to:

  1. More education: Maybe you were a bit too promotional and didn’t share enough key lessons. Try to increase that aspect and see if you get better results.
  2. Change the time of day: This works best if you’re focused on a specific timezone. For LinkedIn morning posts Monday to Thursday work best. Signs that you’ve posted at the wrong time include, lots of impressions in your first degree network and impressions growth is slow.
  3. @mention more bravely: Perhaps you’ve only @mentioned a few people and they’re all people you know well. Start to branch out a bit, credit people for their work. If you share a study or an article, then give the author the joy of knowing that you found it useful. You may have fellow activists in a certain area, include them if you think the topic relevant.
  4. Reciprocate: LinkedIn is a social network, and at it’s core, it’s about person to person connections. All the social rules that you follow in your daily life offline apply. If you constantly refer work to someone and they don’t refer back, you will stop referring work to them. If they keep @mentioning you and you don’t comment, they will stop @mentioning you and they won’t comment when you have something you want to boost. If you haven’t been reciprocating, this might be why your posts aren’t getting engagement.
  5. Connect to the influential people you bond with: The classic social media influential person is an “influencers” with lots of followers. However this works on a smaller scale too. Journalists have a great deal of influence on your personal brand, so connect to relevant journalists. Leadership coaches often have high-profile networks too.

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