How To Make Publishing Content Work For You On LinkedIn

Yes, it’s nice, but will it generate sales leads?

This applies to all three types of content on LinkedIn – written, video and audio

Part One: The Sales Lead Myth

Here is how people think it works on LinkedIn. They see someone publish a post and get lots of likes and comments. They think: “wow, look at all the sales leads that person is generating.”

Then they go off, write an article, publish it on LinkedIn and nothing happens.

You can generate leads through publishing. All you need to do is the following:

  • Write about what your target audience wants to know more about. Not about how great you or your company are, but about providing answers to the questions that your target audience has.
  • You publish regularly. “One and done?” Haha. No. You need to keep it up. In my case publishing a newsletter is easy. Publishing a newsletter every other week? Not as easy.
  • You engage with your readers (or viewers or listeners, whatever the case may be). It is possible someone will view your video, realize you are a genius and call you to hire you. I don’t know about you, but sadly for me, that doesn’t happen very often. However, if you engage with someone who engaged with your content, something may come of that conversation.
  • You follow up with logical leads. I make a point of reviewing not just the commenters on my content, but also everyone who liked it, shared it, and also the new people who followed me, or viewed my profile. If any of them match my target audience, I may contact them.

It takes a ton of work. Between my writing for my weekly email newsletter and this LinkedIn newsletter, plus the followup required and monitoring and responding to comments, I typically devote one day a week. An entire day. Every week. Are you ready for that sort of commitment?

Part Two: The Increased Reach Trap

Where most people go wrong is in what they assume publishing on LinkedIn is doing for them. Everyone assumes publishing will increase their reach, and while this is the case, this is misleading. Let me explain using an example. Say you publish a post or a video on LinkedIn and I get notified. I read your post and comment on it. This would seem great for you as I have over ten thousand followers. Although LinkedIn won’t say, it is generally agreed that after I comment, LinkedIn will alert a small percentage of my followers about your post and my comment on it. Some of those followers of mine may then go and read your post, may be interested in you and either follow or connect with you. Even if they don’t engage with you, they are aware of your existence and your goal of increasing your reach has been achieved.

But I would argue that while you have increased your reach you have increased it in a kind of untargeted and sloppy way. I may have ten thousand followers, but are they the people that you’re targeting? I think that’s highly unlikely. My followers tend to be people that want to figure out how to use LinkedIn more effectively. Some are self employed, some work for the government, some work for multinationals. They come from all over the world. Two thousand of them are in Europe. Does that describe your ideal customer? Probably not. So if thirty of my followers see your post, how likely is it that they are a good match for your target audience? Pretty unlikely.

The bottom line is that unless your only connections and followers are people going after your exact same target market – in other words, your competitors – your increased publishing reach will be with largely random people. There will be some “good” prospects there, but for most people, using content to increase reach will be not nearly as effective as they think it is.

So if publishing for reach isn’t effective, how can publishing help us?

Part Three: The Authority Game

The less measurable but important side of publishing is that some content stays attached to your profile, and most content is searchable on LinkedIn. That means that if you have written about a topic that your ideal customers want to know more about and search for it on LinkedIn, they can find your content…and you.

This is where content shines on LinkedIn, in building authority, credibility, thought leadership, whatever you want to call it. Building authority takes time. I often say to my clients that their goal should be to be seen as the number one resource in their area of expertise. It’s a great way to get a seat at the table of companies being seriously considered for a purchase.

And if you keep at it, the odd thing is that in the end, after a long time, the authority you build leads to sales leads and sales. People and companies that build authority get incoming requests and over the transom requests every week. People find you, seek you out, usually test drive your content, they have a feel for what you think, what you and your company are like and they have a positive feeling about you.

Every week I get one or two people messaging me out of the blue. Invariably they lead off with how long they have been reading my content, then they describe a problem they or their company is having, that they want to address the problem now, and can I help them?

The good news? This is just the type of lead that the person I described back in part one wanted to get. The bad news? It takes a while to earn this type of lead.

In the end, if you are willing to put the work in – something a lot of people are not that keen on – publishing content on LinkedIn can pay off big time.

Obligatory boilerplate: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. 

I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: