If you’re somewhat skeptical about LinkedIn’s publishing platform, I can’t really blame you.
Depending on what you do professionally, LinkedIn will fall somewhere on the spectrum between “slightly boring social media platform you only check when you need a job” and “incredibly valuable prospecting tool you use every hour of every day.”
I’ve survived both extremes. And yet, if you’re a B2B marketer, I still think it’s worth considering the benefits of creating LinkedIn articles and working this platform into your content marketing strategy.
What is a LinkedIn article?
A LinkedIn article is a piece of long-form content, similar to a blog post, that you can create through LinkedIn’s integrated publishing platform.
It’s an opportunity to share:
- Thought leadership.
- Professional experiences and anecdotes.
- Industry insights and expertise.
- Advice for other professionals.
- Opinions on developments in your field.
- Content marketing messages in support of your brand.
Wait … is this the same thing as LinkedIn Pulse?
Previously, only several hundred high-powered businesspeople vetted as LinkedIn Influencers had the tools to share their opinions and advice in long-form posts. But in early 2014, LinkedIn made its Pulse Publishing platform available to all users.
For a while, the organization maintained a separate site and app under the LinkedIn Pulse brand. In 2017, these features — including the ability to read or create a Pulse article — were rolled into the standard LinkedIn user experience.
So, how do LinkedIn articles show up now?
These days, you can create a LinkedIn article straight from your personalized home page.
You’ll also see various articles appear in your news feed, among other LinkedIn updates like posts and work anniversaries.
The URL of any piece of LinkedIn content created through the platform’s publishing tool will start with https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ … but that page alone doesn’t turn up any results. And there’s not currently a way to filter LinkedIn articles using the platform’s search bar.
Does this make sense? No, not really.
But, if you’re a B2B marketer looking to make your voice heard, the potential advantages of posting articles on LinkedIn could very well outweigh the platform’s idiosyncrasies.
Pros of publishing LinkedIn articles
Here are some of the most compelling reasons to start publishing on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great place to reach decision-makers
In the world of social selling, LinkedIn is perhaps the best place to reach decision-makers.
As of May 2019, there were reportedly 90 million senior-level executives using the platform, and another 63 million professionals in decision-making positions. And that’s just a slice of the 706 million users the organization counted in 2020.
If you create content these influential users find interesting and engaging, you’ll boost your reputation as a trusted authority — and maybe even someone worth partnering with.
You can publish LinkedIn articles for free
It costs money to keep a company blog up and running. It also costs money to run ads and sponsored content through LinkedIn.
But it’s completely free to publish LinkedIn articles under your own account. B2B marketers on a budget can’t deny the appeal of what’s essentially a free LinkedIn marketing tool.
(Just remember that, per the platform’s publishing guidelines, blatant ads and overly promotional content shouldn’t be included in articles.)
It’s the best (and only) way to share long-form content on LinkedIn
It’s possible to share LinkedIn content in two formats: posts and articles. Posts are intended to be short and sweet, so they’re capped at 1,300 characters.
But, if you want to share more than five lines of text, LinkedIn articles are the answer. Each article can be up to 125,000 characters long. Let’s hope you’re not trying to write more than that.
Your message will be presented to a relevant audience
When you hit “publish,” LinkedIn will drop your article into the stream of content served up to other users by way of notifications and news feeds.
The algorithm will decide which LinkedIn members in your network will be shown your content. Plus, if the article is public, it will go beyond your followers to other users who have expressed an interest in the topic you wrote about. Essentially, LinkedIn will find your target audience for you.
You can also add hashtags when publishing your article. These make it even easier for users to find your content if it matches what they’re searching for.
LinkedIn makes sharing articles easy
When another LinkedIn user comes across your article, they can easily share your article in several ways:
- In a LinkedIn message.
- In a LinkedIn post.
- Directly to Twitter.
- Directly to Facebook.
- By copying and pasting the link.
The organization strives to foster engagement, and highly shareable content performs especially well. Keep in mind that you may need to update your visibility settings to make your articles public.
LinkedIn articles are searchable in Google (whereas posts aren’t)
If you’re not sure whether it makes more sense to create a post or an article, it’s helpful to consider that LinkedIn posts won’t come up in a Google search. Those updates can only be accessed by users logged in to the platform.
But, as with content published on Medium, LinkedIn articles can be discovered directly from the platform as well as through a search engine. This improves your chances of reaching new readers beyond your network.
You can piggy-back off of the platform’s Domain Authority
According to Moz, LinkedIn.com has a Domain Authority of 98 out of 100. Chances are, this is a lot higher than your own company website’s rating — especially if it’s relatively new.
The advantage here is that your piece of original content has a high likelihood of snagging a higher position on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Whereas a blog post on your site may end up buried on page 7, an article you publish on LinkedIn could very well snag one of the first several spots.
Essentially the same insights can take up two spots on SERPs
One way to make the most out of existing content you’ve created is to publish the same article — or a similar but modified version of it — on your branded blog as well as LinkedIn. As with other platforms like Medium, Reddit and Quora, LinkedIn is a common forum for syndication. However, this tactic can complicate SEO. But the fact is, getting far more eyes on your content might make up for any drawbacks.
Google’s advice is to “syndicate carefully.” Here’s what happens when the algorithm meets your original blog post and your LinkedIn article:
“If you syndicate your content on other sites, Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be the version you’d prefer. However, it is helpful to ensure that each site on which your content is syndicated includes a link back to your original article. You can also ask those who use your syndicated material to use the noindex meta tag to prevent search engines from indexing their version of the content.”
Depending on what search query a user submits, Google might end up presenting your insights twice.
This additional spot on the SERP means you might even manage to capture a user who bounced off your own site. Once they land on your LinkedIn article, they may be more comfortable sticking around, given LinkedIn’s familiar look and feel, and its reputation as an authoritative and trustworthy site.
Cons of publishing LinkedIn articles
Certainly, a lot of good can come from sharing your thought leadership through LinkedIn articles. But some of the most promising advantages come with caveats, and there are several notable drawbacks to this publishing platform.
Here are some factors to be mindful of before you publish:
You might end up blaming the algorithm
With LinkedIn’s publishing tools, you’re theoretically sending out your ideas to a large audience. However, not every member of your target audience will see your latest, greatest article. The LinkedIn content you created might only appear before a small percentage of your 500+ connections.
But if you’re promoting blog content through an RSS feed or email newsletter, you can be confident your message will reach every person on your list. Whether or not they read it is another matter, but at least you can control who gets alerted and when it happens.
LinkedIn’s brand is more prominent than yours
The LinkedIn publishing platform has limited features, and any articles you create will be simple in appearance. This creates a consistent look and feel across all LinkedIn articles from all authors, but it doesn’t do you any favors from a branding standpoint.
You can include images to break up the text, but it’s not possible to align the typography, color palette or any other features with your visual brand through the LinkedIn editor.
Additionally, your name and your company name won’t appear in the search results. Viewers will just see the article title and “LinkedIn” as the source.
Within the article itself, it’s a bit too easy for a reader to gloss over your business name since it appears in a small, light gray font.
By the time a reader finishes your article, the hope is that it made a memorable impression. Ideally, your content will have urged them to take another step toward getting to know you and what you do. But the risk is that they forget your name and company as soon as they leave the page.
You can’t capture leads with LinkedIn articles
You can sprinkle as many opt-ins, newsletter sign-up forms and other calls to action on your company blog as you’d like. But LinkedIn naturally wants users to stay within the platform. Therefore, it’s not possible to nudge your reader with a pop-up newsletter sign-up form or any form of rich media that ends in a meaningful interaction.
Of course, you’ll see who’s engaging with your LinkedIn articles through likes, reactions, shares and comments. This activity might lead you to strike up a conversation with another user, but it’s not exactly permission marketing.
If you want to drive traffic or awareness back to your own site, you’ll have to do it in a somewhat clunky way with simple links rather than fancy buttons or banners.
LinkedIn provides limited analytics
When it comes to tracking the performance of your LinkedIn articles, the good news is that the platform does offer some analytics capabilities. The less-good news is that LinkedIn analytics are quite limited.
Performance data is only stored for 2 years from the publication date. And you’re only able to view analytics for articles one by one; there’s no way to see your content’s overall performance.
You can see details like post views and article views, where your readers work and what their job titles are and where they’re based. But any additional detail you might want won’t be captured.
Tips for writing, publishing and promoting LinkedIn articles
The best types of content to post on LinkedIn will be created with the platform’s priorities in mind. Here are a few ways to improve your chances at success:
Make the algorithm’s goals your goals
Like any other social media platform or search engine, LinkedIn uses an algorithm to decide how and when to distribute each new piece of content, and how to populate each user’s LinkedIn feed.
Although its inner workings are complex, it’s designed around a fairly simple mantra. The company promises to fill your feed with “people you know, talking about things you care about.”
Accordingly, the LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes content that’s relevant to your network (“people you know”) and interests (“thinks you care about”). It also favors content that’s creating conversations and experiencing higher levels of engagement (“talking about”).
While writing articles, focus on producing content that ticks those boxes.
Be mindful about how you syndicate content through LinkedIn
As we’ve seen, syndicating an original article from your company blog on LinkedIn can have its own advantages and disadvantages.
If you do follow this strategy, change the article title and meta description, as well as the introduction and feature image, so that the piece of content is more targeted to your LinkedIn audience.
Remember to include a link back to the original published article as well. This provides the necessary transparency but also shows readers where to go for more content like the piece they just enjoyed.
Write in a separate word processor, then paste the text into LinkedIn
The LinkedIn editor does allow you to save draft articles, but it really doesn’t provide much word processing support. There’s no built-in spell checker, for one thing. And drafts created from your LinkedIn profile can’t be easily circulated among colleagues or peers.
To ensure you publish the highest quality content the first time around, draft it up in an application like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Take all the time you need to polish it up and add the finishing touches.
At the top of your LinkedIn homepage, you’ll see a little prompt inviting you to write an article. Once it’s ready, simply copy and paste the text into LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
Promote published articles across the platform and beyond
After sending your article out into the LinkedIn universe, don’t just expect the platform to circulate it for you.
Promote it across your LinkedIn profile, any LinkedIn groups you’re a part of, your Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as email or InMail. If you use automation tools, just be sure to follow proper LinkedIn etiquette.
High-performing LinkedIn articles start with high-quality content
With a robust LinkedIn content marketing strategy in place and a skilled content writer at the ready, your business can capitalize on all that the platform has to offer — from access to decision-makers to the community of like-minded professionals eager to engage.