How to Engage with People Who Reshare Your LinkedIn Articles

You get a big compliment every time someone reshares your LinkedIn article with their connections.

Each reshare is a valuable endorsement of your content, and it reaches a broader audience.

This creates a perfect opportunity to boost engagement with your LinkedIn articles. It’s yet another strategy for social media savvy.

What’s a good way to respond?

For starters, you have to go looking.

Most of the time when you get a compliment, you know about it right away. You’re there. You’re present.

In the case of LinkedIn reshares right now, someone may compliment you and you might not know immediately.

You’ll know about a reshare if one of three things happens. First, if someone @mentions you in their update, you’ll receive a notification. Second, you can actively look at the article analytics. And third, you’ll see them in a weekly LinkedIn publishing digest email.

Here’s a simple process for engaging with people who reshare your articles.

Access the article analytics each day and click on the “reshares” link. There you’ll see who has shared your article, if they included an update message with it and what that update message says.

See if each person is in your network or not. Visit each profile to identify common interests and mutual connections. Look at each person’s own articles and updates.

“Like” the reshare and leave a comment. Thank the person for sharing your article. Personalize your message by relating it to their update message, if they included one. Add information of value in the comment for both the person who reshared and for their network.

Mention the person in your comment. By mentioning the person’s name, they will receive a notification that you posted a comment. This increases the likelihood that they will actually see your comment.

“Like” and comment on one of the person’s articles or updates. Choose a recent one that is most closely aligned with your own content strategy. Social media is all about reciprocity, and this is a perfect scenario to reciprocate. Consider resharing it if it’s especially pertinent to the type of content you usually share.

The most important thing I’ve learned here is to be proactive in looking at reshares – they won’t find you. You have to find them. And take action.

This exercise made me realize it’s time to re-activate my analytics spreadsheet. I created one during my month-long experiment of posting content on LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

Now that I’ve been posting one LinkedIn article each week, I can’t wait to dig into the data. I’ll share learnings in future posts.

In the meantime, how do you engage with people who reshare your articles?

Make the Most of LinkedIn Mutual Connections

Are you making the most of the mutual connections feature of LinkedIn profiles?

Mutual connections appear in the highlights section of profiles, right under the summary at the top.

It’s one of the first things I view, especially when I’m meeting someone new or working with someone for the first time.

This is all part of having a comprehensive social media savvy strategy in navigating your professional path in the corporate world. (Opinions in this blog are my own.)

BEFORE YOU VIEW MUTUAL CONNECTIONS’ PROFILES

Here’s a quick tip before you view the profiles of mutual connections. Set your browsing profiles option to “private.” That way, your name won’t appear as someone who’s viewed a profile.

There may be instances when you want people to know you’ve viewed your profile. Sometimes it’s a good way to indicate interest. But in most cases, it’s better to view profiles in private mode.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

How many mutual connections do you have? This indicates how closely or loosely connected you are to the person. If you have many connections in common, you’re both part of a well-developed community.

If you have only a few connections in common, this person probably adds more diversity of thought to your network. He or she may be someone you want to get to know better.

Why? Cultivating a diverse network is a key leadership skill for the 21st century. Roselinde Torres shares why in her TED talk on What it takes to be a great leader.

Torres says that “great leaders understand that having a more diverse network is a source of pattern identification at greater levels and also of solutions, because you have people who are thinking differently than you are.”

How many of them did you expect to see? Assess how many are people you would have expected to see connected to this person. This will help you answer the next question . . .

Who’s NOT there who you would have expected to see? In other words, who’s missing? And why do you think that is? Most times, it could be a simple oversight.  But there could be other reasons you might want to contemplate.

What organizations and affiliations do you have in common? What are the common employers, professional associations, community organizations, schools, and so on. Again, fewer common organizations could indicate greater diversity in your network.

Which ones are unexpected wild-card connections? This is the most interesting question. Who surprised you? Who made you wonder how your connection knows this mutual connection?

These connections could be the boundary spanners among groups in your network. They’re the people who may be able to connect people and ideas across multiple networks. And they could be people you can reach out to when you’re looking for a “needle in a haystack” type of person.

Karie Willyerd, the author of The 2020 Workplace and Stretch is one of those boundary spanners. It’s a surprise and delight when her name appears as a mutual connection to someone I never would have guessed she knows. She’s role modeling her own advice about cultivating a broad and diverse network.

MAKE THE MOST OF MUTUAL CONNECTIONS

Understand the broader social network. Mutual connections tell you more about someone’s network and how it intersects with yours. This can form the basis for conversation starters about how you know each know the mutual connection, what work you’ve done together, and who you might do together in the future.

Recently I was thrilled to be invited to join the USC Alumni Association Board of Governors as the representative of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. An accompanying role is on the USC Annenberg Alumni Advisory Board.

As I’ve approached the process of meeting more than 75 fellow alums, knowing our mutual connections helps to seed conversations, find common points of interest and generate ideas about our work together to further the alumni experience.

Get to know a new leader, boss or client. When an important new person enters your professional life, see what mutual connections you have in common. Use the 5 questions above to quickly evaluate the common connections.

Then decide if there are a few trusted people you might ask for advice and insights. Here are a few starter questions you might want to know about:

  • What’s important to this person?
  • What’s their leadership style?
  • Who influences them?

See opportunities for collaboration. Work gets done in cross-functional collaborative teams, whether it’s inside your organization or outside of it in a professional or community group.

Your mutual connections could point the way to already-existing relationships that may make a new collaborative effort even stronger from the start. If you’re putting together any kind of cross-functional team, this can be one more data point to assembling a high-performing team.

What are the ways you make the most of your mutual connections?

The Art of Introducing People on LinkedIn

So often what you learned growing up will help you in the professional world.

One of my mom’s rules was if I wanted to invite a friend over, I had to ask my mom in private, without the friend being part of the conversation.

Why? In case my mom needed to say no, it wouldn’t create an awkward moment.

The same logic applies to introducing people in your network to each other. Ask each one, privately and separately, if it’s okay to make the introduction.

This is what David Burkus refers to as “permission introductions” in a great Harvard Business Review article called The Wrong Way to Introduce People Over Email. The right way is also called a “double opt-in introduction.”

As you reach out individually, give context and background for the request. Share with each person why you think they’d benefit from knowing each other. Include your thoughts on how they might be able to help one another.

Connecting people across your network is another important part of being savvy in social media as you build your professional reputation.

Here are some of the reasons I’ve introduced people recently:

For career advice for members of my team, I’ve introduced them to relevant people in my network at the company (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).

For information about a marketing leadership development program I lead with colleagues in HR, I introduced an employee interested in the program to a current participant in the program.

For paying it forward to current students at the USC Annenberg School, I arranged a series of informational meetings with colleagues who shared their career paths and what they do in the current jobs.

Once you have the green light from each person, you can make an introduction via email inside your company or use the share profile feature in LinkedIn for people outside the company. Using LinkedIn includes contact info, so it’s easy for people to connect.

Include a compelling, complimentary and descriptive line or two about each person. Hyperlink to anything helpful or noteworthy about each person. Add why they’d benefit from meeting each other. One of my colleagues Anthony Robbins is especially good at this.

Make the immediate next step easy and clear. The more junior person – generally the one gaining the most from the introduction – should take the next step of finding a time on the other person’s calendar, without creating extra work for that person.

Be kind to your network by not suggesting too many introductions in a short period of time. Space them out by at least a few months. If there’s more than one introduction you want to make to the same person, prioritize the most important one first.

And some introductions should never be made. You don’t want to waste the time of people in your network or take advantage of their goodwill. Your credibility and reputation will suffer as a result.

Don’t introduce:

  • A job candidate without at least a 70% match with the job description to the hiring manager
  • A salesperson you don’t know well to business decision makers in your network
  • Anyone who isn’t clear why they’re requesting to be introduced to someone in your network.

Given the importance of reciprocity, be open to introductions that people in your network suggest to you. Make sure you’re clear on how you can help. And learn from others about what does and doesn’t work well in making introductions.

What are your best practices for making great introductions?

How to Engage Your LinkedIn Network on Major Holidays

What content do people engage with the most on LinkedIn?

For me, it was a surprise.

As I began to analyze the analytics for my activity feed, posts on major holidays were among the content that rose to the top.

This seemed counterintuitive because all I had done was share a leadership quote relevant to the holiday along with a beautiful photo.

This is why analytics are so powerful – you can see what type of content is engaging your network the most. Then you can build on it and improve what you’re doing.

As part of your social media savvy strategy, here’s a 3-step process for posting holiday-related content:

1. Find a leadership quote relevant to the holiday.

Align your holiday quotes with leadership and business themes you frequently post on. Search Google for leadership articles related to the holiday. See which of your favorite sources pop up as well as new sources. Be sure to appropriately evaluate and vet your sources.

  • Choose less-well-known quotes. Look for quotes you’ve never heard or seen before. Keep searching until you find one. That way, you’re more likely to surprise and delight your network with something fresh.

Here’s one I chose for Memorial Day. The quote was new to me, I learned more about citizens who serve in the Seabees, and it focused on tenacity and persistence – qualities that are helpful to all of us.

 

  • Provide a diversity of perspectives. Broaden your lens. Keep an eye out for compelling quotes by both women and men as well as people of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds.

For Thanksgiving, this quote by author Alex Haley caught my eye. It works equally well for professional and personal purposes. Not to mention that it powerfully sums up Thanksgiving in just 6 words.

 

2. Pair it with an eye-catching image. I swear by my subscription to iStockphoto, which is the source of the images in the LinkedIn posts featured here. Canva is another good resource for photos and design.

And there are great ideas about “awesome free images” in a detailed post by blogger Marko Saric.

 

3. Add hashtags. Make your post more discoverable by adding one or two hashtags. Search LinkedIn and Google for the obvious hashtag for the holiday – e.g., #FourthofJuly – and see what other hashtags people are using in their posts.

 

Lastly, keep an eye on comments and respond in a timely manner to further engage with people in your network. Holiday posts elicit the most “hi, how are you doing?” types of comments. That makes them a fantastic way to keep in touch with people.

How do you make the most of major holidays on LinkedIn?

How to Build a Better Business Relationship on LinkedIn

An interesting thing happened when I posted to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

I also tweeted a few of my shorter posts. One of them was about knowing when someone has true leadership skills.

This was one of my learnings: tweet every LinkedIn post and article. But a bigger learning was still to come.

In sharing this particular post, I expressed thanks for the great bosses and leaders I’ve had to far in my career. And I asked “what leaders have inspired you and why?”

While I follow the best practice of asking a question in posts and tweets, I must confess they don’t usually generate much engagement.

But this time was different. To my surprise and delight, a colleague responded by singing the praises of one of our other colleagues. She did it in wonderful detail, mentioning specific leadership traits in an enthusiastic and engaging way.

Soon, the other colleague joined the dialogue, with thanks and good humor. All in all, it was a pleasant way to connect with people who are in my network but separated by busy work schedules and a 3-hour plane ride.

The even better part? I had an upcoming meeting with the colleague getting the accolades. I knew the conversation might be difficult due to the sensitivity of the subject. And our LinkedIn-inspired conversation in Twitter added a more upbeat tone to our working relationship.

(This is where I remind readers that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

And it was in a positive and pure way, because my intention was simply to share valuable leadership content with my network.

This underscores the importance of giving in social media – without the expectation of getting. Because you never know how others in your network will respond and what good outcomes may happen.

But what if you want to be a little more strategic and focused in creating a stronger business relationship through LinkedIn?

Who are the important people in navigating your career – now and in the future?

And how can social media add to your efforts to build a positive, long-term relationship?

Once you’ve identified a few people to build stronger relationships with, here’s how you can use LinkedIn to add to your efforts.

If you’re not already connected on LinkedIn, send a personalized request. Remember, always personalize your request. Remind the person of how you know each other and why you’d like to connect.

  • If it’s your boss, say you’d like to connect because of your reporting relationship.
  • If it’s a peer, mention a common goal or project you’re working on.
  • If it’s someone in a function beyond yours, share your interest in learning more about what they do.
  • If it’s someone on a project team, share your enthusiasm for your work together.
  • If it’s someone more senior to you, talk about a key project they’re working on that you’re following in the news.

See what connections you have in common. Which connections intrigued and surprised you? Can you come up with a hypothesis as to how they know each other? This might be important later when you’re engaging with content.

Is there anyone you expected to see, but didn’t? Is there anyone in your network who might be valuable for this person to know? Consider making an introduction at the appropriate time.

Observe their articles and posts. View their current content and look at past content for the last 3 to 6 months.

What topics are they posting on? How do those relate to your current work or your future interest? What kind of reach and engagement are their posts generating?

Like, comment on and share their content. Once a week, like a post or an article and leave a substantive comment. Mention the person by name so they’ll receive a notification of your comment.

Thinking back to who it might be helpful for this person to know, see if you can mention and weave that person into the comment, if the subject matter lends itself to it.

Here’s where you can help augment the reach of your connection’s content. Share it with your network, if it’s aligned with the types of content you share. Mention the person by name so they’re notified of the share, and add your perspective to the content. End with a question to invite more engagement.

See what groups they belong to. Do you have any groups in common? If so, engaging with content in that group could help build your relationship.

Do they belong to any groups you’d like to learn more about? If so, you could message your connection and ask them for their thoughts on the the group and their advice on engaging with it.

Focus on giving and keep it light. Be generous. Think more about how you can give and how you can help your connection.

In doing that, keep it light. Your interactions should be just frequent enough – no more than once a week or every few weeks – so they’ll appreciate hearing from you.

Don’t stalk your connection by interacting with them too often. Keep your interactions interesting and insightful.

What are ways you build a stronger business relationship on LinkedIn?

6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Prepare for an Initial Business Meeting

How do you prepare when you have an upcoming business meeting with someone you’ll be meeting for the first time?

Sure, you’ll set objectives for the meeting. You’ll create an agenda. And you’ll think about the information you want to share. These are all best practices for effective meetings.

But don’t stop there.

Social media gives you valuable opportunities to learn more in advance about the person, or people, you’ll be meeting. It opens a new window on what’s important to someone and how they think.

It’s all part of making a great first impression, as Rebecca Knight covers well in a Harvard Business Review article. It’s packed with tips from thought leaders Whitney Johnson and Dorie Clark.

With social media, you can take 15 to 30 minutes to get to know someone’s career, their professional interests and their potential commonalities with you.

Here are 6 ways to do that, as part of your social media savvy strategy.

Visit their LinkedIn profile. Focus on their current role and the problems that person is solving in their work. Consider how that connects with your meeting objectives.

See what other jobs they’ve held, what groups they’re part of and where they went to school. Read recommendations to get a better sense of who they are. See if you have any connections in common.

Look at their other social media activity. Are they active on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook? Visit those sites to round out your view of what’s important to this person.

Read their blog. If they have a blog, read the most recent 3 posts. Scan previous posts for topics that might be relevant to your upcoming meeting.

If they don’t have their own blog, see if they’ve posted articles in LinkedIn that would give you similar insight.

Search Google. No research is complete without a Google search. You can search on the person’s name, as well as the person’s name along with their current employer or other keywords related to your meeting topic.

See what pops up on the first 3 screens of your search. Visit a few of the links to learn more.

Send a personalized LinkedIn connection request. Once you have a sense of what you might have in common, or what’s especially interesting to you about this person, send a LinkedIn connection request.

In your personalized request (always personalize!), you can mention your upcoming meeting and that you’d like to connect in advance. This helps better establish the relationship, and it may prompt the person to view your profile and learn more about you.

Make sure you’ve put your best foot forward in your profile. Any recent content you’ve posted should further – or at least not detract from – your meeting agenda and objectives.

Comment on their content. In your research, what content stood out to you as especially salient to your upcoming meeting? You can like and comment on a recent piece of content that is aligned with your meeting topic. And if it would be valuable to your own network, consider sharing it more broadly.

These actions will enable you to know your audience much better and help foster a positive working relationship from the very beginning. (A reminder that opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

Just remember to keep it light in both your virtual and real-life interactions. Don’t like or comment on too much content and don’t bring up subjects that your new business acquaintance might consider too personal or intrusive.

What are ways you connect with people in social media before an initial meeting?

How to Boost Engagement with LinkedIn Articles

Three is a magic number. In a whimsical, 3-minute video, Schoolhouse Rock explains why.

Maybe that’s why it took 3 separate LinkedIn messages from connections for me to notice a trend.

What were they? Friendly invitations to check out their latest LinkedIn articles.

They were from a diverse group, with no overlaps in our networks.

One was a work colleague I met first through LinkedIn, Anthony Robbins. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

One was someone who connected with me through the MAKERS conference, Kari Warberg Block.

And another was the CEO of a partner company with a previous employer, Terry Traut.

They each sent a personal message to me through LinkedIn highlighting a recent article and inviting me to read it and engage with it.

And in doing so with me and likely many others, they generated not only a high number of likes, but also a great dialogue of comments.

This is a powerful proactive strategy in sharing your own articles with key people in your network. It’s something I’ll be experimenting with – and writing about – in the coming weeks.

There’s also a reactive play. Here are 6 aspects to consider (and that’s 3 times 2, for anyone following the theme of 3).

Engage with articles that align with your social media goalsHow does an article relate to your social media savvy strategy?

Look for something in it that connects with your professional interests and goals. That will both highlight your personal brand and help provide the basis for your comment.

Scan other comments to put yours in context. See what other people have posted and how that has extended and amplified the author’s point of view.

If any of the commenters are in your network, like their comment, remembering to look before you like. Consider posting a comment to further your relationship and the dialogue.

If any of the comments are of particular interest to you, visit the commenter’s profile to learn more about them. Like or comment on the comment. Maybe that commenter is even someone you’d like to get to know and invite to your network.

Post comments that add something to the dialogue. Consider your comment as additive content to the original article, beyond simply a “great post!” statement that affirms the author but doesn’t add anything new.

What resonated with you the most and why? How has your experience been similar or different and why? What additional ideas, links and people can you add to the conversation? Ask yourself these questions and more as you write your comment.

Mention the author in your comment. To keep it informal and eliminate extra words, delete the author’s last name when LinkedIn auto-populates it and use the first name only.

By mentioning the author, they’ll be notified of your comment. And they may choose to like or respond to your comment.

Stick with the rule of 3. Keep your comment to 3 sentences, max. Write it and then edit out extra words and thoughts. Ask yourself how you can make your point in fewer words.

Proofread, proofread, proofread. Make sure your comment is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

I learned this the hard way with a comment today. I proofread it, fixing a spelling error that had been auto-corrected incorrectly (it was a Colin Powell quote using the word “simplifiers,” which auto-corrected to “simplifies” without the “r.” Oops.

But after I posted the comment, I realized that one sentence didn’t have the right subject-verb agreement. As of now, you can only delete a LinkedIn comment and repost it; unfortunately it’s not possible to edit it.

Not many people might have recognized the error, because the subject and the verb were separated by intervening words. But content can live on the internet forever. So I deleted the comment and re-posted it with the correct wording. Next time, I’ll proofread 3 times before posting.

Speaking of grammar and subject-verb agreement, it’s encouraging to see the 2017 AP Stylebook will “include guidance on the limited use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun.” This a positive step forward for gender equality. And that’s why I use “they” as a singular pronoun.

Back to boosting engagement with LinkedIn articles, what strategies are you using?

What Happens When You Post to LinkedIn Every Weekday for a Month?

What happens when you post daily to LinkedIn?

In the month of May, I found out. I did an experiment. I posted every weekday to see what I would learn.

Why every weekday?

It takes about “20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60 percent of your audience,” according to a data point that Carly Okyle cited in an Entrepreneur article about LinkedIn profiles.

And because LinkedIn is a social media platform for professionals, most content views are during the work week.

To make it (relatively) easy to post daily, I set up a weekly calendar:

Mondays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post (note: opinions I share in social media and in this blog are my own)

Tuesdays – content from one of my favorite business publications, like Harvard Business Review, The Economist, or Inc.

Wednesdaysan article, based on a previous post from this blog

Thursdays – a Social Circle employer advocacy program post

Fridays – sharing a post from a colleague, an alma mater, a professional association, a favorite publication or new content based on a holiday or other milestone.

With this content calendar framework in mind, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought to post every weekday. During early morning hours, it took about 10 minutes for most posts and 30 minutes for articles.

So, what did I learn?

Engagement increased each week. How did I measure engagement? By the number of total views each week.

By week 2, views were up 25%. By week 3, up 166% over the previous week. By week 4, up 88% over the previous week.

At the end of week 4, I also noticed my profile views were up by 45% over the previous week.

Week 5 was an anomaly. Views and profile views went down. However, I posted only 4 days that week because I skipped Memorial Day. And views may have been down because some people were on vacation after the long weekend.

Content re-shared by others got more engagement. When my 1st degree connections re-shared my content with their networks, I got the highest engagement as measured by views and likes.

Analytics came in handy, as I could see whether a post got more engagement from my 1st or 2nd degree network. What was harder to know was when my content was re-shared and who shared it.

Views are measured differently for posts and articles. Articles got fewer views than posts, but generated more likes. A view of a post means that “someone saw your post in their LinkedIn homepage feed.”

The bar is higher for a view of an article. Here it means “someone has clicked into and opened your article in their browser or on the LinkedIn mobile app.”

Understanding this, it now makes sense that while views to my articles were lower than for posts, articles generated more likes. People had actually opened the link for articles.

Hashtags are important to make content discoverable. In my zeal to post frequently, I often forgot to include hashtags. That limited broader discovery of my content.

Posts on Tuesdays and Wednesdays got the most engagement. This is consistent with data showing it’s best to post in the middle of the week.

An exception to the learning above? If a post reached my 2nd degree network, then the day of the week didn’t matter. And that’s the most important thing I learned – the power of content that is re-shared.

If content is engaging enough for connections to share it with their networks, it reaches a much broader audience. It exposes your ideas to more people. And it creates opportunities to connect with more people who share common interests.

Most engagement was for posts about how to be a better leader and professional. This is consistent with LinkedIn being a social media platform for professionals in business. These posts were more likely to be positive and upbeat in nature.

And that’s consistent with a study by 2 professors whose research supported the finding that, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is.”

The least engagement was for topics that could be viewed as bad news. This aligns with the analysis I did of my least engaging posts.

They had to do with what could be perceived as bad news – dealing with the death of a family member, thinking about dramatic change, and being reminded of goals we haven’t achieved.

The big question this leaves me with? How to make my content more compelling and more likely to be shared by my connections? Here’s how I’ll approach that.

  • Like, comment and share others’ content. I’ll move content sharing to two days a week instead of one, and I’ll mention the person who initially posted it.
  • Use hashtags so people can more easily discover content of interest. In my haste to post daily, I often forgot this important action.
  • Mention people in posts and figure out if the mention feature works when sharing an article.
  • Share every article to Twitter and Facebook using the convenient LinkedIn feature that pops up in the posting and sharing process.
  • Study and practice how to write more compelling headlines and summaries. Experiment with what grabs people’s attention.

As I take these actions in the weeks and months ahead, I’ll keep tracking engagement with my content.

In particular, I’ll look at ways to better track when my posts and articles are shared, and by whom.

If the sharer mentioned me, that shows up in my LinkedIn notifications. Sometimes LinkedIn sends an analytics summary. But shares do not (yet) appear in the LinkedIn analytics for posts and articles.

Better capturing these analytics will help me understand which content is shared the most, so I can create a hypothesis about why.

In the meantime, what motivates you to re-share a post or article with your network?

What LinkedIn Content Gets the Most Engagement?

It’s almost the end of my month-long experiment of posting an update every weekday on LinkedIn.

There’s a growing spreadsheet of data ready to analyze for conclusions and implications. I’ll share them in an upcoming blog post.

In the meantime, I found an interesting data point in a book released this month.

It’s Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

Seth got his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, worked as a data scientist at Google, and writes for the New York Times.

He makes the case that “we no longer need to rely on what people tell us” in things like surveys or social media or casual conversations.

He  provides compelling data telling the story that big datasets of how people search for information online reveals what’s really on their minds.

Seth writes about “text as data” and how sentiment analysis can identify how happy or sad a piece of content is.

He shared the most positive 3 words in the English language: happy, love and awesome. The 3 most negative? Sad, death and depression.

And what content gets shared more often? Positive or negative stories?

If you agree that “news is about conflict” – summed up by the journalistic sentiment “if it bleeds, it leads” – you might conclude that negative content gets shared more often.

But it’s actually the reverse, according to a study by professors at the Wharton School, Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman. They looked at the most shared articles for the New York Times.

And what was shared the most?

Positive stories.

As the professors said, “Content is more likely to become viral the more positive it is.”

My first reaction was happiness that my “positive comments only” philosophy for social media savvy had some data supporting it.

The second reaction was to turn to my own data from this month’s LinkedIn experiment to see if it held true.

Here I’m measuring engagement by the number of views, rather than by the number of shares.

Why?

I’m fairly new to this daily posting routine, so the first change I’ve seen over the past 4 weeks is an increase in views of my content, rather than any significant shares. And I’m finding shares more challenging to measure so far.

What were my most-viewed posts?

The first 2 posts make sense to me as highly positive content. The third made me pause. On the face of it, it seems like a negative that our brains are limited in the amount of focus they can handle.

But as I thought about it and revisited the comments on the post, I realized that many people might have found this information to be happy news. In other words, it’s okay and even desirable to NOT focus your brain all the time.

How about the least-viewed posts?

The first has to do with a fabulous new book by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on what the research and practice say about bouncing back from adversity.

But since it began from Sandberg’s husband’s death, one of the saddest words in the English language, that puts the topic in the negative zone. (I still recommend reading the book, because it’s full of uplifting advice about grit and resilience.)

The second was a special report in The Economist about how “data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change.” Because “change” is not something many people eagerly embrace, perhaps this story was seen as more negative than positive.

The third was a Harvard Business Review article about what distinguishes goals we achieve from those we don’t. My takeaway here? Maybe thinking about goals we haven’t achieved brings up negative thoughts.

Could other factors have impacted which posts were the most and least viewed? Perhaps. Day of the week would have been the most likely. However, the top and bottom views were each for the most part posted on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Another factor could have been posts during the beginning of my daily posting experiment vs. those closer to the end. This certainly could be a factor. Posts later in the month are getting more views in general. From the first week of May to the last, views of my posts have increased more than 6 times.

One conclusion could be that the consistency of posting daily is increasing engagement with my content. Of course, it’s still a small dataset at this point. In the months to come, I’ll continue tracking it and adjusting my strategy. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

How are people engaging with your LinkedIn content? What’s attracting the most interaction?

How to Rock Your LinkedIn Activity Feed

When you scroll through your LinkedIn feed, do you have a strategy for engaging with content?

Here are a few things to think about as you bring social savvy to LinkedIn.

How is the way you like, comment on and share content strengthening your network and building on your areas of expertise?

Do you consider how this engagement shows up in your activity feed that day for people looking at your profile?

And do you think about who you’re meeting with that day or week, who you recently connected with and who you’d like to strengthen your connection with?

With those questions in mind, here are 3 easy ways to approach content engagement.

  • Like content that fits with your areas of expertise, interest and learning. Remember to look before you like, taking care to read the post and the link.

Be sure the content is aligned with your personal brand and your employer’s brand. Make sure the visuals are appropriate too.

Generally, stick with positive content. Don’t engage with negative or snarky items. Sure, you can read them to seek multiple points of view. But there isn’t much upside and there’s plenty of downside to engaging with them in a public way.

An exception to this is to provide a different point of view. Even then, however, think twice about whether it’s worth it.

Guidelines about liking content also apply to commenting on and sharing content – and with even more more rigor.

  • Comment on content where you want to further a relationship with a connection and/or share your point of view on a topic aligned with your areas of expertise, interest or learning.

Keep it brief – 3 short sentences, max. Be upbeat. Be specific. Tailor your comment to the post, rather than writing something generic.

If you liked content, consider posting a comment. Why? Comments show greater commitment than likes and give insight into your thinking on the subject.

And there’s the rule of reciprocity in play – your comments may influence others to comment more frequently on your content. And that’s what you want in social media – engagement and interaction.

  • Share content that is most closely aligned with your areas of expertise, interest or learning. This gives one of your network connections more visibility and it serves as valuable content in your activity feed. It’s a win for your connection and for you, plus everyone viewing your content.

It takes about “20 LinkedIn posts every month to reach 60 percent of your audience.” This is a data point that Carly Okyle cited in an Entrepreneur article about LinkedIn profiles.

Sharing content from your connections is an easy way to post frequently, reach more of your audience and benefit your connections – all at the same time.

What could be better?