This is my 50th post on Linkedin. My New Year’s Resolution last year was to write one good post each week. That’s a big commitment because writing is time consuming and good writing is all-consuming. By “good,” I mean successfully received by readers as evidenced by the fact they found the writing valuable. The effort taught me a lot about what it takes to write successfully on Linkedin.
Why write (blog) and why on Linkedin?
AUDIENCE! AUDIENCE! AUDIENCE! If real estate is about location and the stock market is about timing, then writing is about audience. With nearly 400 million users, Linkedin provides one of the largest and most highly segmented audiences of any publishing platform for professional purposes. The benefits of writing on Linkedin are obvious. It can help build your professional network. It can help position you as a thought leader in your field. It can help attract new customers, partners and employees.
What does it mean to write successfully on Linkedin?
Every author gauges the success of their posts differently. If an article you write only gets a few Views, but one of those Views leads to a new client or a job offer, you would probably consider that a success. Allow me to share how I gauge successful writing on Linkedin. I use post analytics to measure engagement and to see who is responding to my posts. I also crunch numbers not provided by Linkedin and analyze the cause-and-effect indicators that can only be done manually. Some of it is objective and some of it is subjective. For the purposes of this article, let’s call it “my system” of success.
It’s important to note that when it comes to writing on Linkedin, I am but a mere mortal like yourself. I am not one of the 500 Influencers or Top Voices. I am not a CEO of a large company, a media personality, or a best-selling author. I don’t have any of the benefits of a built-in readership that those advantages offer. I earned my readers and my followers organically, one post at a time. These are the factors by which I gauge success in my system:
The post was featured. There is no question that a post that is featured in one of Linkedin’s channels will increase the number of Views. A post that was selected by one of Linkedin’s Editors, or by the platform’s proprietary algorithm (both discussed later), is a success in my system. 70% of my posts have been featured.
The number of Likes as a percentage of Views. The number of Views in-and-of-themselves is not a good success metric, in my opinion (I’ll discuss why later). Instead, I look at the number of Likes as a percentage of Views. A post that gets between 5% and 10% is a success in my system. That is to say, a post that gets 100 Views should get between 5 and 10 Likes. Anything over 10% is crushing it.
This success metric can be adjusted upward or downward depending upon the size of the audience the post was exposed to and the nature of the content. A general post with wide appeal, i.e., professional development, may get 5,000 views and 100 Likes (2%), which is still very good. A specialized post designed for a limited audience, i.e., technical or scientific, may only get 20 Views, but should command a higher percentage of Likes – say 15% (3). On average, my posts get about 9% Likes.
The number of Comments as a percentage of Likes. A post that prompts comments proves reader engagement. In my experience, the readers who Like are the ones who Comment, which is why Comments as a percentage of Likes is a better indicator of success than as a percentage of Views. If the number of comments is at least 10% of the number of Likes, the post is a success in my system. If 20 people liked it, I expect to see at least 2 comments. I’ve had some posts with 0 comments, even though the Views were fairly high relative to other posts. I don’t consider those posts particularly successful. On average, my posts get a 21% Comment rate, which I am very pleased with.
The veracity of the comments. This is a subjective measure. One word comments like “nice,” or “thanks” are not particularly gratifying. I love to see readers add their own thoughts and expertise. I love to see readers respectfully disagree with points I am making. I especially love to see people who Like or Comment on the comments of others. A post that gets people thinking and gets them to join the discussion is a successful post in my system.
The number of Shares. This is one of the most objective and important measures of success in my system. A Share is an endorsement of sorts. The reader is saying, “I read this and found it valuable. I think you should read it too.” And, of course, Shares increase the circulation of the post by exposing it to the networks of those who shared it. Even 1 Share is a success in my system. Anything over 10% as a percentage of Likes is crushing it. For example, if one of my posts had 100 Likes and 10 people shared it, I’m thrilled. On average, my posts have a 14% share rate. That success rate motivates me to take the time to write more good posts.
The number of new connection invitations. Building a robust professional network is important for success and one of the primary reasons people join Linkedin. Good posts prompt good people to connect with you. I am proof of that. Before I started posting I had about 1,000 connections. Today I have more than 3,700 connections and more than 1,000 pending that I have not had time to filter. (My policy is not to blindly accept connections, but consider each one based on the strength of the inviter’s profile and the authenticity of the invitation). In any case, posting on Linkedin has increased my professional network by 300%. On average, each of my posts has prompted about 50 new connection invitations.
The number of new followers. A follower is not a connection. Followers are people who read one of your posts and opt-in to be notified when you publish a new post. If a post prompts a bump in the number of new Followers, that is a success in my system. I started with 0 Followers and now have 12,600 Followers – an average of 257 new Followers per post. To be clear, most of those Followers were attracted by a handful of posts, not acquired evenly over all of my posts. But that’s one of the lessons you learn by posting regularly on Linkedin. When starting out, you never really know which ones are going to resonate with people and cause them to want to Follow you, or connect with you. You learn that over time (covered in more detail later).
The number of new InMail inquiries. If people take the time to send me an InMail after reading one of my posts, I consider that a success. For whatever reason, some people don’t like to comment publicly. They share their thoughts with me privately. In a number of cases, a post prompted people to inquire about my services, or offered me a promising investment opportunity. That has led to new business and income. And isn’t that why we are all here?
The satisfaction of becoming a better writer and more effective communicator. Lastly, I measure the success of each post by how much I enjoyed writing it. A good post forces me to research the topic and to see if it has already been widely covered on Linkedin. It forces me to come up with a compelling title and use as few words as possible to convey the message. A good post makes me a better writer and teaches me how to communicate more effectively. If after clicking “publish” I feel like I’ve earned a celebratory class of wine, I consider that a successful post.
So now that we’ve covered what it means to write successfully on Linkedin (in my system), let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of how to achieve these (or your own) success metrics. How do you get your posts featured? Does the day of the week you post matter? What kind of content seems to resonate with readers? What prompts people to follow you? What prompts readers to Like, Comment and Share?
After 50 posts (about 1 per week), I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. But alas, you will need to wait until the next post to see that, because one of the lessons I learned was to keep each post under 6 minutes to read (about 1,500 words). I’m pushing that now, so please see Part 2 for the rest of this post.
I hope one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to write more and connect more!