Two Limitations To Recognize When Publishing Content On LinkedIn

Possible limitation for real estate values in this newighborhood.

While I am a proponent of publishing content on LinkedIn, that does not keep me from recognizing a couple key limitations and if you are going to publish on LinkedIn, you should take them into account too.

The first limitation is that for many publishers, a lot of your target audience just don’t use LinkedIn that much, and will never see your content

I ran a LinkedIn Ad for a client last summer and as Sherlock Holmes would say, the results were instructive. LinkedIn Ads provide some pretty awesome filters for targeting ads – many of the same filters that are in Sales Navigator. My client was going after engineers and we were able to target engineers that were in specific geographies, that worked in specific industries and in specific sized companies.

The Ad was successful – it ran for almost exactly one month, and was shown to the people in our target demographic 38,500 times. But while the ad was successful for my client, I found a little more digging into the numbers revealed a couple nuggets that I found disconcerting

Our target demographic, as defined when I set up the Ad, was 82,000 possible LinkedIn users. The Ad wound up being seen by 38,500 of those people over the course of the month it ran. But…only 11,500 unique people saw the Ad, meaning that among those people, they saw it an average of a little over three times each.

I drew a couple important inferences from these figures. The first is that among the target audience only 11,500 out of 82,000 logged into LinkedIn over the course of the month that we ran the Ad. That’s almost exactly 14%. So my general conclusion would be only one in seven engineers log in to LinkedIn every month. I realize that this is only one sample from one industry and that there were other filters in play, but even if this result is a little skewed, what’s the best case scenario, one in six, or one in five? And it could just as easily skew the other way: maybe we were lucky and went after a really “active” subset of engineers!

That’s my first observation and one that is crucial that we keep in mind when we publish. People may like to call LinkedIn the “professional social network” and LinkedIn of course does nothing to dissuade people from calling it that, but at least in this demographic, it isn’t that social at all.

My second observation came from thinking about those 11,500 individuals that did show up and their behavior. I know that they showed up 36,500 times over the course of the month, or on average every ten days or so. Trying to figure out how many of the 11,500 show up at least every two weeks or weekly or more often than that would be complete conjecture, but I want you to take away one key thought here: thinking that very many of your target demographic are going to see any single post or video that you publish on LinkedIn is a very poor assumption to build your strategy on.

Okay, so this got me thinking, this applies to engineers, how can I see how engineers compare to other work functions, like salespeople, or purchasing, or solo professionals? Well, I could spend a pile of money on Ads to see how the results for different groups and professions stack up against engineers, but my money pile being somewhat depleted, I can use a filter on Sales Navigator to get a rough comparison by seeing how often these groups of people publish content on LinkedIn. So that’s what I did.

When I looked at how many people published content on LinkedIn over the past thirty days, then divided that number by the total number of people saying they did that job on LinkedIn, here are my results:

Consulting: 14%

Marketing: 7%

Solo Practitioners: 7%

Business Development: 6%

Sales: 5%

Purchasing: 4%

Education: 3%

Engineering: 3%

Operations: 2-3%

Remember that I am using “posted on LinkedIn in the last 30 days” as a proxy for “active on LinkedIn in the last 30 days”. While speculative, I think this shows which professions are more active on Linkedin relative to each other.

So, I established some backup to my speculation that as a social network, LinkedIn isn’t that social, but then I did a little work using the subscribers to my LinkedIn Newsletter and came up with some info to back up this idea:

Remember that your reach on LinkedIn is pretty unstructured.

I usually review my new LinkedIn newsletter subscribers every week, and here are the results from a few weeks ago:

54 people signed up

16 people unsubscribed

A note of explanation: you can see your subscriber list by clicking on your number of subscribers. Your subscribers are listed chronologically by the latest sign ups. Every week I note my total number of subscribers and my latest three subscribers. The following week, I note my new subscriber number giving me the net change, then count the new subscribers by scrolling through my subscriber list until I reach the three people who were at the top of the list last week. This may sound complicated but you do the best you can with what LinkedIn gives you, and doing this every week actually takes less time than it does to explain it here.

And as far as unsubscribers are concerned, it happens. As long as more people like my content than lose interest, I am fine with that.

Anyway, my new subscribers give me a good idea of the quality of my reach on LinkedIn, as I can see who those people are and what they do. So I reviewed the people who signed up over the two weeks prior, looking for people who fit in my preferred customer demographic.

I found three. Three out of fifty-four. Six percent.

And actually, this fits with what I have figured previously. I have 25,000 subscribers for my LinkedIn newsletter, but really only six percent, or 1500 people, fall within my target demographic. The key for me is not losing focus on who I am writing for: the 1500, not the 25,000.

But my own example shows how unstructured the reach is on LinkedIn. When you publish something on LinkedIn, LinkedIn puts it in front of your connections and followers, and further distribution comes from their networks. To an extent you can control the makeup of your connections, but you can’t control who your followers are, and you can’t control the makeup of either your connections’ or followers’ networks. So don’t fall in love with your raw numbers.

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

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. 

Your LinkedIn Content May Be Working better Than You Think It Is


Quick one today:

If you are a person or a company that publishes regularly on LinkedIn, and your content is good, it is quite possible that you are being more successful with it than you think you are. Let me pull apart those first two bits to explain how they can and often do cause the third.

These are the two ingredients you need: publish regularly and publish on topics your customers want to know more about. Not what you want them to know more about – how fabulous you are – but what they want to know more about. And you need to publish these pieces of content regularly. This is how you build a following of regular readers.

Now here’s the “more successful than you think” bit: quite often, those regular readers lurk and do not reveal themselves. But when they do, they have often made up their minds that they want to work with you, or that you are one of the few options under consideration. This happens to me every week. I will receive an email, or a message on LinkedIn, and they all say more or less the same thing: “I have been reading your content regularly for over a year now, and I think you could help us.” In almost every case, this will be a person that I had no clue was following me, or subscribed to my LinkedIn newsletter. They had never connected with me, never commented on my content, never messaged me on LinkedIn or emailed me. This first message from them came completely out of the blue, and they emerged out of the blue pretty well sold on working with me.

And it’s not just me. I have seen this occur with individuals and with companies. These people have developed fans, completely unknown to them, but these are people where the content they have read has convinced them that the writer understands their problem and has demonstrated through their writing that they can help solve that problem.

If you are regularly publishing solid customer focused content on LinkedIn you likely have some of these fans yourself, and they will reveal themselves in their own good time. So my suggestion today is: don’t stop publishing now.

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. 

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) 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:

Why I Write A LinkedIn Newsletter Instead Of Posting

Okay, maybe LinkedIn doesn’t offer this many options, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.

LinkedIn is quick to feature the number of views your content has received, regardless of what type of content you have such as posts or videos.  So I thought we could talk about views and their value.

Views are really what the advertising industry refers to as impressions. Using an example from the ad industry actually illustrates this idea really well. A company, say Budweiser, wants to advertise Bud Lite. They will contact a television network in order to advertise on their football broadcasts. The television network will tell Budweiser that their 1pm football game reaches ten million people. If Budweiser puts an ad on that broadcast, the ad is said to have had ten million impressions. Now, of those ten million people, how many of them actually saw the ad? Think of yourself when you watch broadcast TV. In an hour, you may be shown fifteen or twenty ads. How many of them did you actually watch? This is why they are called impressions. The number of impressions is the number of people who could have seen the Bud Lite commercial.

I would also point out here that this helps to explain why we see the same commercials over and over again. The advertising companies want to make sure that at some point we see their commercial, and the only way to guarantee that is through repetition.

So how does this apply to our content on LinkedIn?

When we publish on LinkedIn, LinkedIn puts our content in the feeds of other LinkedIn users. This is the content that you see on your LinkedIn homepage, and the content in your feed as you scroll down. If you scroll down past fifteen posts, LinkedIn will register you as having “viewed” those fifteen posts and compile those views for reporting back to the authors.

The bottom line is a view means someone had the opportunity to see your post in their feed. It does not mean they opened it, or that they read it. Seeing the number of views makes us think that number of people read our post. They may have.

So what can we do about this?

LinkedIn Newsletters.

For my money, the best type of content on LinkedIn is a LinkedIn newsletter.

Newsletters get the same distribution as regular posts – that is put in the feeds of some LinkedIn members – plus there are three good additional reasons I like Newsletters:

1) Guaranteed delivery. LinkedIn notifies – not just puts in your feed but notifies – your subscribers that a new issue is available. And this includes email notifications. If you are a subscriber to this newsletter, you (should have!) received a notification from LinkedIn.

2) You can see who has subscribed to your Newsletter. I will confess it’s not easy – it’s actually pretty awkward – but it can be done.

3) You can see how many clicks and opens you got for each issue. This is the biggie, and the big advantage over regular posts. As I like to say, a view means someone has the opportunity to see and read your content, but a click signals their intent to open and read your content. I would much rather have a hundred clicks than a hundred views.

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

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.