Why I Write On LinkedIn – And It’s Probably Not Why You Think

a hieroglyphI write a post about using LinkedIn, or LinkedIn the company, just about every week. Most people think I do it for the standard reasons – views, engagement, or maybe sales leads. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Writing for views is dumb, mostly because view count is a pretty useless metric. LinkedIn doesn’t even specify what a page view is. So between views being an intangible thing in the first place, and a notification system that doesn’t actually notify people that you have posted, posting for views would be a rather odd goal.  

I don’t write for engagement either. I enjoy it, but I haven’t figured out what posts drive more engagement. I have written posts that I thought were really good only to have them met with indifference that borders on enthusiastic. And then I have written posts that I thought were okay but not one of my better efforts only to have them take off and do really well (the exception was my April Fools post. I knew that one was good).  

And I don’t write for sales leads either. Most of my posts are either educational or designed to get people to think about LinkedIn or the way they use LinkedIn a little differently (this post is one of those). Besides, LinkedIn’s notification system is flaky, so there are no guarantees anyone will even see that I have posted. What kind of lead generation system is that? And my calls to action are hardly lead generation friendly, just the odd, “please like this post.”

So those are three reasons I don’t write posts on LinkedIn. Here are the three reasons I do:

Writing and wanting to write about some aspect of LinkedIn or using LinkedIn every week forces me to explore Linkedin more than I would otherwise. It takes me beyond – as it did a few weeks ago – simply wondering what use it was having “followers”, and taking that random germ of an idea, exploring it as completely as I could, and then writing about it. Writing has resulted in me finding out a lot about LinkedIn, how it works, and where it is going. And as someone who uses LinkedIn every day, that is good knowledge to have.

The second reason I write is that it forces me to be able to lay out my thinking and my arguments in a coherent and rational manner (some readers would no doubt argue as to whether I am accomplishing this goal). If I am going to discuss the ins and outs of status updates with a client I had better be able to do it coherently in comparison to the standard cheerleading, “They’re good! You should do them! Social selling! Rah rah!”  I want to be able to tell my client where status updates may fit and where they may not. Half my job is telling people what they shouldn’t be doing on LinkedIn, and I had better be able to explain why.  

But primarily, I publish on LinkedIn because each post gets stored with my LinkedIn profile. Visitors to my profile can go to recent activity and see my posts. These posts are a body of work that represent the way I think about LinkedIn which is different from how most people do. There’s nothing wrong with posts on twenty-five factors you should take into account with your LinkedIn profile photo, but lots of people are covering that ground. I am more interested in figuring out things like followers and search and notifications and InMail and how LinkedIn really works (and can be worked). What the odd little quirks – and the larger truths – are on LinkedIn that my clients and connections  can use to give themselves an edge. Having all my posts collected and attached to my profile allows  prospective clients and connections to be able to see that.

If you want to take away anything from this post, it’s don’t take things on LinkedIn at face value. There are three obvious or traditional uses for posts on LinkedIn. Given the way LinkedIn publishing is set up, I ignore those three reasons and post for a fourth, which is valid for me.