What Happens When You Post a Weekly LinkedIn Article

Coming up on nearly a year of posting a weekly LinkedIn article, what have I learned? What can you learn?

What articles are getting the most engagement?

Are there patterns among those top articles?

And how can this help you on your journey to build your career through social media?

It’s time to turn to another trusty spreadsheet, similar to my experiment on posting to LinkedIn every weekday for a month.

What’s in it?

  • 35 articles, from May 2017 to January 2018
  • Posting date and day of the week
  • Engagement measures of clicks, likes, comments and shares
  • Headline scores, characters, words, sentiment and type (thanks to CoSchedule,  the content calendar company)
  • Network reached, e.g., first- or second-degree network

After creating and populating my spreadsheet, I identified the best performing articles. What determined those? I looked at a general measure of engagement, a combination of the highest number of clicks to an article, along with likes, comments and shares. Then I sorted the data in a variety of ways and began looking for trends and patterns.

 

WHAT DIDN’T MATTER TO ENGAGEMENT?

A number of variables could be ruled out right away. They didn’t seem to matter to engagement.

Day of the week. About 70% of my articles were posted on a Wednesday, because I strive for consistency. What about the 30% posted on other weekdays? How did they do? The data says the day of the week doesn’t really matter. Articles on other days of the week didn’t do noticeably better or worse than others.

My conclusion? Continue the consistency with Wednesdays, experimenting with other days of the week on occasion.

Headline score. Could better headlines attract more engagement? I experimented with headline analyzers from CoSchedule and the Advanced Marketing Institute and wrote about the experience in a few of my blog posts. 

Looking at my top 10 LinkedIn articles, half had “strong” headline scores of 70+, about half had “average” scores between 55 and 69, and one had a “poor” score below 54.

My conclusion? While I believe there’s value in writing the most compelling headline possible, it’s not necessary to find or use the highest-scoring headline. I do believe using headline analyzers has improved the quality of my headlines over time, however, which has helped enhance my articles.

Headline sentiment. Would headlines with stronger sentiment, either positive or negative, perform better? The analysis of my own articles didn’t really bear that out. Of the top 10 headlines, 2 were positive and 8 were neutral.

My conclusion? It’s not necessary to focus on headline sentiment and making them more positive.

Headline type. In the top 10 articles, 4 headlines were generic, 2 were questions, 2 were lists, 1 was how to, and 1 was time based, using categories from CoSchedule. Again, no real pattern.

My conclusion? Variety and appropriateness to the particular topic are more important than finding a single most resonant type of headline.

 

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST SURPRISES?

For each article I discovered I can click into a list of who has shared the article. What I can’t fully identify is whether this is a newly available feature, or if somehow I missed it before.

Previously, I was aware of shares if the sharer @mentioned me, or if it was included in a summary email from LinkedIn.

But clicking into these shares opened up a whole new perspective for me. With each new article I post, I’ll now check the shares daily. That way I can like and comment on those shares, along with any comments they’ve received. This may even highlight people I’d like to add to my LinkedIn network.

One of my articles, A Top 2018 PR Trend: Growth in Employee Advocacy, was shared by people beyond my network in Denmark, Italy and Mexico.

The shares in Denmark each had accompanying messages. But I don’t speak Danish. What to do? Enter Google Translate.

With this I had to take a leap of faith. I assumed the translation of “burn” had an alternate meaning of “promote” or “build.”

I discovered that 7 people in Denmark were promoting a workshop on employee advocacy and strategic branding through social media. It appeared that my article helped in underscoring the importance of employee advocacy programs.

So I keyed my own response into Google Translate from English to Danish and posted a reply to the first sharer, Gert Juhl. What fun to hear back a day later!

 

WHAT DID MATTER TO ENGAGEMENT?

To understand what really did matter to engagement, I identified my top performing articles, by a combination of clicks, likes, comments and shares.

Here they are:

1. What Happens When You Post to LinkedIn Every Day for a Month(911 clicks, 75 likes, 17 comments, 22 shares, 77 strong headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

2. 2018 Trends to Build Your Career through Social Media (895 clicks, 49 likes, 5 comments, 80 shares, 66 average headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

3. 12 Ways to a Great LinkedIn Photo (500 clicks, 44 likes, 14 comments, 4 shares, 66 average headline score, positive headline sentiment)

4. How to Boost Engagement with LinkedIn Articles (301 clicks, 70 likes, 13 comments, 2 shares, 76 strong headline score, neutral headline sentiment)

5. Be Bold in Your LinkedIn Profile (292 clicks, 41 likes, 3 comments, 9 shares, 67 average headline score, positive headline sentiment)

My hypotheses as to why these articles got the highest engagement?

First, they answered important questions for people. What are the social media trends that could affect how to build a career? How to take a great LinkedIn photo? How to create a great profile? How to encourage engagement with articles? What happens by experimenting with daily content?

Second, they combined personal knowledge and experience and existing knowledge in unique ways. They shared my personal experiences (those that are non-confidential) with the intent of helping people in my network and beyond. They are unique, with my own perspective and insights. They are things only I could write. What are things only you could write about?

Third, it helps to have a post boosted by an employee advocacy program (note: opinions expressed in this article are my own.) The 2018 trends article was featured in my employer’s program, thanks to Nolan Carleton and Claire Mitzner. That’s the likely reason there were 80 shares, when shares for other articles were much lower. If your employee advocacy program has a feature where you can submit your articles for consideration, do it!

 

WHAT OTHER DATA WOULD HELP?

As I thought more about why certain articles performed better than others, I realized I need to add some new data fields to my spreadsheet for future analysis.

First, I’m now noting how people mentioned in an article relate to article engagement. I strive to mention and link to people in every article and @mention people in every post. That rounds out my perspective and boosts people in my network. When I promote articles, I mention them in LinkedIn and Twitter, and sometimes send them a DM, direct message, with a link to the article.

Second, I’m starting to measure the effectiveness of the LinkedIn posts and the tweets that promote the article. How much engagement are these getting? What can be learned from the highest-performing posts and tweets?

Because the functionality doesn’t seem to allow an @mention of people in the LinkedIn post that initially shares the article, I’ll start doing a separate LinkedIn post where I @mention people. Then I can compare how the two types of posts perform. Why is an @mention important? Because the person receives a notification that they were mentioned.

Third, I’ll note the impact (positive or negative change) in the week following the article being posted of my profile views, connection requests and new followers. This gives a sense of how my influence is changing as a result of publishing an article every week, along with the effectiveness of the particular article.

 

WHY IS DATA SO IMPORTANT?

After a recent week of observing bad behavior on LinkedIn, like new connections who immediately spammed me with a sales pitch, I decided I’d write a post about 10 things NOT to do in LinkedIn.

I jotted down my own pet peeves. Then I bounced them against a Google search of other similar articles. Not surprisingly, my list didn’t add anything new. So why write and post it?

That’s what prompted the realization it was time to return to my own data. What is it telling me about my weekly posting of articles? This is a unique and different story that only I can tell.

And that is what social media content creation is all about … sharing something new and different that can help your network … and that they aren’t going to find anywhere else.

There may be nothing new under the sun. But just as we each have unique fingerprints and unique DNA, we each have unique experiences in our careers. These are the powerful and valuable perspectives we can share with others.

2018 Trends to Build Your Career through Social Media

2018 trend stories on social media are everywhere.

How do you take advice for organizational brand building, apply it to your personal brand and boost it through social media?

How do you make sense of the eye-popping list of trends? In my research I came across:

  • AI, or artificial intelligence
  • AR, or augmented reality
  • VR, or virtual reality
  • influencer marketing
  • Instagram stories
  • messaging platforms like WhatsApp
  • online hangouts like Houseparty
  • more content moderation by platforms
  • decline of organic content reach and rise of pay to play
  • social listening
  • chatbots
  • personalization
  • Generation Z in the workplace and marketplace
  • the rise of ephemeral content with Snapchat and others
  • conversational user interfaces, like Alexa
  • and video, video, and more video, including professional live video.

That’s a lot to think about. So I researched, sifted and synthesized to identify key personal branding trends. (Opinions expressed in this blog are my own.)

As you wrap up your year-end social media checklist and turn to the year ahead, here’s how you can tap into the trends for building your career through social media.

Why is this so important?

First, the personal brand you develop through social media and in real life will help you build your network, position yourself for new roles and navigate career transitions.

Start by deciding – or updating – what goals you want to accomplish in your career and how social media can help make them happen.

Maybe a goal is to attract a sponsor to champion your career. “One of the best ways to attract a coveted senior-level sponsor is to develop a strong personal brand,” Dorie Clark says in Harvard Business Review. What better way to do that than through your social media presence?

Second, there’s an element of serendipity in social media. While you can set specific goals for social media actions, you can’t entirely predict or control the outcomes.

How did this work for me? Over the last year, my social media involvement played a part in being invited to speak to mentoring circles and visiting students, being asked to be an influencer at a big company event, and joining the board of governors for an alma mater’s alumni association.

Third, people are spending more time on social media – more than 2 hours a day, and growing. That gives you more opportunities to boost your career through sharing your thoughts, posting your (non-confidential) work and building your network in social media.

Here are the key social media trends you can use to build your career through social media in the year ahead.

1. Platforms are ever evolving.

Social media is an ongoing learning opportunity, because the algorithms and features of each platform are constantly evolving and changing.

That means we individually need to be constantly observing, learning and experimenting in our chosen platforms to see what gets the most engagement.

An easy way to learn outside the platforms is to listen to podcasts during commute time. On the top of my list are The Science of Social Media, Social Pros and Why I Social.

2. Communities are critical. 

The mantra to always be connecting will help you build community in your chosen social platforms.

As a start, connect with all of your existing contacts at your company, people related to your work, people in professional associations, and so on.

Add new connections as you meet new people, ideally on a weekly basis. And you can identify people you want to meet and connect with them.

Why is this so important? Dakota Shane writes in Inc.com that you can “win” the social media game by asking,” Is my brand building community on social media?”

Building a strong community of people interested in you and what you have to share will help overcome the ever-evolving algorithms that may limit the reach of your content.

Shane gives great ideas to build community through starting a Facebook group, giving your community members a name, showing your audience love and recognition, and starting a meetup.

3. Influencers are for individuals too. 

If influencers continue to build large brands, why not apply the concept to building your career?

This idea first came up for me in an episode of The Science of Social Media. Hosts Brian Peters and Hailley Griffis talked about “pods” of people with complimentary areas of focus in social media. They come together to like, comment on, and share each other’s content.

This trend seems the most pronounced for Instagram. “Insta pods” are groups of 10 to 20 people who follow each other and engagement meaningfully in each other’s content.

You can try this concept on an informal basis by thinking of existing groups you belong to, and if it makes sense to amplify each others’ content.

This happened informally for me with three groups.

  • One is mentoring circles I lead with employee resource groups and an alma mater.
  • Another is the group of influencers who worked together on a big company event. We naturally stayed in touch afterwards and continue to engage with each others’ content.
  • And the marketing and communications team that leads social media for my alumni association involvement is another natural pod.

What groups do you already belong to that could create a pod of people who engage with each other’s social media content?

4. Employee advocacy programs are expanding. 

Employee advocacy programs are poised for big growth in the year ahead, according to the 2017 State of Employee Advocacy survey by JEM Consulting.

Adoption grew by more than 25% over the last year. In 2018, the top goal is to increase the number of employees participating as advocates. Why not be one of them?

Through these programs, companies empower their employees to be brand ambassadors, sharing official news and information about the company and its brand through personal social media channels.

This gives you valuable and ready-made content you can curate for your own social media feeds. Not only will you be building your personal brand, you’ll be enhancing your company’s brand, a win-win.

While trust has declined among consumers, peer influence is on the rise. This makes employer advocacy programs particularly important.

I can’t wait to see what my colleagues Nolan Carleton, Claire Mitzner and others at our company have in store to enhance our employee advocacy program in the year to come.

And with the growth of Instagram and Instagram stories, I’m looking forward to exploring that platform in detail in the coming year, much as I did with LinkedIn over the last year.

5. Video keeps increasing in importance.

This is a continuing trend, as video grows in popularity across social platforms. LinkedIn added video capability this year. And video capability continues to evolve across all platforms.

One of my goals over the last year was to experiment with video. I tried Facebook Live and videos posts on Instagram and LinkedIn. This was just dipping my toe into the water, and I didn’t see great variation in engagement between video posts and image posts. At least, not yet. So the coming year is ripe for more experimentation.

6. Pay to play is on the rise. 

Algorithms constantly change in social media. Organic unpaid reach in social media is declining for brands. That might help or hurt you as an individual, but it’s hard to know for sure.

One way you can measure is by the engagement trends with your posts. Over the last year, are you getting more likes, comments and shares? If not, you could conduct an experiment by paying to boost or promote a few of your posts. Then you can see what happens and adjust your approach accordingly.

It pays to invest in yourself, so consider allocating a small part of your personal budget to build your career through social media.

What do I pay for personally? Blog hosting services for my WordPress site. A subscription to beautiful visuals through iStock by Getty Images. And an annual LinkedIn premium membership. The accompanying training options alone through LinkedIn Learning make it well worth it.

7. Automation opportunities abound.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning seem to be everywhere in trend articles. The Association of National Advertisers, the ANA, even named AI the marketing word of the year. So I keep wondering how best to apply AI and automation to career building through social  media.

Can it create and maintain a social media calendar? Schedule and make posts? Help write top-performing headlines? Conduct research? Outline blog posts?

These are all areas worth exploration in the year ahead. While there are easy ways to weave social media into our everyday lives, I want to learn more about how AI and automation can help.

Given my upcoming focus on Instagram, I’m excited to check out these top 5 Instagram automation tools from Forbes contributor Steve Olenski.

8. Experiments accelerate learning.

My highest performing LinkedIn article was about my experiment in posting to LinkedIn every weekday for a month. Not only did it generate a great deal of valuable data and learning, it engaged my audience much more than other posts, with more than 900 views.

As many of the trend articles attest to, the way to make the most of social media is to take a “test and learn approach.” That’s really the only way to know for sure what will resonate with your community. And what works today might not work a month or a year from now.

There are two near-term experiments on my list. The first is to ask my LinkedIn community what topics they’d like to know more about for career building through social media.

The second is quantitative and qualitative research about why and how professionals are using social media and where they’re finding the most success. Leave me a comment if you’d like to participate.

One trend that likely WON’T work for career building through social media? The rise of ephemeral content in Snapchat and Instagram. This short-term and disappearing content doesn’t build an enduring digital footprint of your work and your point of view.

By creating and curating content in social media on a regular basis, you’re building your career, one post and one interaction at a time. Here are some ways to make it part of your everyday life.

What trends are you focusing on for the coming year?

Make the Most of Your Employee Advocacy Program

Looking for a simple way to share great professional content in your social networks?

If your company offers an employee advocacy program, download the app and start sharing content that matches your professional goals for social media.

This can be a key part of your social media savvy strategy to personally brand and market yourself successfully in social media.

But first, what is employee advocacy?

It’s “brands empowering employees to support the goals of the brand, through employee-owned social media,” says Chris Boudreaux in Social Media Governance.

My employer makes it easy to share company-provided content with Social Circle, powered by Social ChorusNolan Carleton pioneered the approach, with much success.

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

Here are 11 ways to make the most of your employee advocacy program, promoting your company while you build your own professional brand.

  • Download the app. Make it easy to share content by putting the app on your mobile devices. You can use snippets of time during the week to review and share content.
  • Choose content categories that support your professional goals. Align your own social media strategy with the available content categories. For example, you could focus on your company’s business strategy, the customer experience, the employee experience, career strategies or community engagement, just to name a few.
  • Customize your feed for your content categories. Once you know what types of content you want to share, see if you can customize the content you see. This will make the process more efficient as you choose what to share.
  • Select the social media platforms you want to post on. Assess how the available content lines up with the platforms where you’re most active for professional purposes. In my case, it’s LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Keep looking before you link. Just as you shouldn’t link to other social media content without reading it first, you should do the same with a company-provided message. Make sure it reflects well on your professional brand before sharing it.
  • Tailor company-provided messages to your voice. You can use the company-provided messaging to share links, or you can edit it to be closer to your own voice. Just be sure that the edits you make reflect positively on your company.
  • Share your pride in your company. Let your enthusiasm for your company shine through. Whether you love the employee experience, the products and services, or everything about your organization, share that sentiment.
  • Follow your company’s social media guidelines. Make sure to follow the spirit and the letter of social media guidelines at your company. When in doubt, err on the conservative side. While you’re acting as a brand ambassador of your company, that holds you to a higher standard.
  • Target 3 or more posts each week. Sprinkle your company’s posts among a broad variety of content you’re sharing. Don’t go overboard with excessive sharing. Since it’s company-related content, post it on weekdays. Your platform may enable you to schedule sharing in advance to post at a specific time.
  • Share social content from colleagues. Keep an eye on content from colleagues who also engage in the advocacy program. Share their content if it fits with your overall goals. This promotes your colleagues, your company and you – a triple win.
  • Experiment and refine your approach. Check the analytics for each of your social platforms to see how your community is engaging with content from your company. Make adjustments based on that, and keep fine-tuning as you go.

 

What if your employer doesn’t offer an employee advocacy program? Make a pitch to your Corporate Communications team.

Here’s a key data point. Consumers see recommendations from friends as the most credible form of advertising – as much as 83%, according to a Nielsen study.

And IABC Fellow Shel Holtz shares for corporate communicators that “employees are now your most credible spokespeople.” This is based on the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

Also, check out the 2016 State of Employee Advocacy report from JEM Consulting and Advisory Services.

The study’s leader Jen McClure notes that, “Most employee and brand advocacy programs are still fairly new, and companies are still developing best practices.”

How are you using an employee advocacy program to promote your company’s brand along with your own?