How I Decide Whether To Publish LinkedIn Posts Or Articles

Back in the day, it took a lot longer to write a post or an article. 

 

Most people I speak with have an “either or” attitude as to whether they should Post or Publish Articles on LinkedIn. I think this is the wrong way of looking at it. 

The way I see it, you should look at the strengths and weaknesses of each format and figure where they fit within your overall strategy. 

First of all what are the key characteristics of posts? 

  • Posts have a limited shelf life – they are part of your activity feed and disappear over time. LinkedIn says they are visible for ninety days
  • Posts also have no real formatting options, unless…
  • you can do a document post, which effectively embeds slides in your post. 
  • Posts tend to be short. The limit is 1300 characters, which is 200 words or thereabouts

And how about Articles?

  • Articles have more formatting options. It’s more like blogging.
  • Length limits realistically don’t exist for articles. I have seen 40,000 and 120,000 mentioned as the limits. There aren’t many people who are going to write seven or ten thousand word articles on LinkedIn.
  • All of your past articles are saved and can be retrieved and viewed by visitors to your profile, or readers of your current article. LinkedIn says they save articles for two years, but I have articles that are going on five years old that are still there. 
  • Articles can be found by Google. I have been fortunate enough to have three of my articles show up at the top of Google search results. This has resulted in tens of thousands of views, hundreds of comments, and several  work contracts. I receive LinkedIn notifications every week about likes and comments on articles I wrote three and four years ago.

Note that from having published hundreds of posts and articles:

  • Engagement is a wash. I find a good post will get the same engagement as an article and vice versa. 
  • Views are counted differently for each and shouldn’t be factor in your decision 

While I articles can be used to increase my reach (those ones Google likes has people constantly discovering me) their main purpose is to showcase my expertise. And while posts will demonstrate my expertise, the main purpose there is to increase my reach. 

With all of this in mind, when I am going to write on LinkedIn, what form it takes is usually guided by one simple observation: 

Articles educate, posts start conversations.

Be Interested With Your Content’s View Count, But Not Obsessed

If you have ever had an article you published on LinkedIn get a large number of views or a ton of engagement, it is easy to get caught up in trying to do it again.

My LinkedIn articles tend to get in the middle to high hundreds of views each week, and my posts ten to twelve times that amount. A good article for me is a thousand views and with a couple hundred engagements. A good post is ten thousand views (remember that post views are counted differently) with the same couple hundred engagements. Once every six weeks or so, a piece of my content may get double these high water marks.

Then there are the true outliers. An article about your Weekly Search Appearances – almost 88,000 views, one on Fake LinkedIn Profiles, 25,000. And the granddaddy of them all: What Is A View on LinkedIn? (irony alert): over 170,000 views. All of these were articles. The equivalent number of post views would be ten to twelve times higher.

The upside is that at various times over the past five years I have written and published something on LinkedIn that readers really liked. And apparently they still do. The downside is that since that first article that did really well I have had around three hundred shots at publishing new articles and replicating that success. Which I have done around once a year since. So four out of three hundred.

But I don’t worry about it and here’s why: I have no clue why those articles did really well and why none of my other couple hundred articles did not. I think you can write as well as you can, hit publish and then it is out of your hands. If it goes viral, enjoy your moment in the sun. I published one article that got several hundred times the views I normally get. I don’t know what was different about that one from others I have written. I don’t know the secret.

And no one else does either.

Anyone who writes that they know how to go viral is full of it. Otherwise they would be viral every time they published…and wouldn’t have to write articles on how to go viral.

And while views are good for the ego, engagement from those views is the real deal. LinkedIn doesn’t tell me who my viewers are, so I have no way to identify and contact them if I wish to. People who like, share and comment are identifiable so I can contact them. I consider an article with three hundred views and sixty people engaging with me to be more successful than having three thousand views and thirty people engage with me.

Don’t sweat going viral or piling up huge numbers of views. Views are good for the ego. Engagement is good for business.

The obligatory disclaimer: 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? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each is typically a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

What’s Your LinkedIn Engagement Rate?

(waiting to engage….with dinner)

 

I track my engagement rate for posts and articles that I publish on LinkedIn. I find that my engagement rate gives me a better idea of which content worked best, and what people want to see more of.

How I calculate my engagement rate

I take the total number of Reactions (what we used to just call “Likes”) + Comments + Rehares + New Followers + People Who Viewed My Profile, divided by the number of views.

I look at all these figures once my content has been out on LinkedIn for seventy-two hours. I typically publish around 8am on Tuesdays, so I just look at all these numbers on Friday morning at the same time. I include followers and people who viewed my profile over this time as almost all of the people who did so follow or view my profile did so based on reading my content.

Let me hit “pause” for a couple disclaimers here: you can argue that some of these types of engagement are better than others. I think we can all agree that a comment is better than a like, but what we will not be able to agree on is exactly how much better it is. Is a comment worth two Likes? Three? One a quarter? Combining all five works for me. You could come up with your own engagement consisting of just comments or comments and profile views. That’s fine. Just as long as you are consistent with it.

The second disclaimer is that yes, I understand that some people will engage in two and sometimes more ways with a post – they could comment on it, then go look at my profile and then decide to follow me. That’s fine too. I still count that as engaging three times because it is obvious that my content really struck a nerve with them.

So that’s how I do it. How do I use it?

Most of the content I use to publish on LinkedIn consisted of articles. Over time my engagement rate on articles has consistently been around twenty percent, that is if I have five hundred views, the sum of my reactions, profile views, new followers, reshares and comments will typically be one hundred.

What I am looking for is outliers, both good and bad. The outliers are always caused by one of two things.

The first is I wrote about an interesting subject, or I have a spin on a subject everyone already knows about, but in an interesting or novel way. The second is that I just happened to be on my game and wrote that article really well. It just came together, had all the elements like the subject line and call to action working, and just flowed.

Those are the good outliers where my engagement can get up to thirty, thirty-five or even forty percent, the ones that short circuit my schedule on Tuesday as I keep coming back to respond to comments, reply to messages from strangers, and look to see if there are people I want to reach out to myself that engaged with my content.

Then there are the bad outliers. The ones where I made a typo, went off track on tangents, forgot to add a call to action, had a bland subject line and in general just want to crawl under a rock because I know I am capable of better.

You need to be able to identify both of these types of outliers, and my engagement rate lets me do that.

Bonus idea: Like I said I write mostly articles, where my engagement rate is around twenty percent. For my posts, it tends to be around two percent or just under two percent, and so far for my LinkedIn newsletter, my ER is around eight percent. As I am the same person, writing about the same topics at the same day and time for posts, articles and for newsletters on LinkedIn, this has led me to conclude that one article view is the equivalent of four newsletter views or ten post views, because that is what it takes to generate the same amount of engagement. Your results may vary, but a handy idea to know.

The obligatory disclaimer: 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? I publish three weekly email newsletters on LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each is typically a two or three minute read, free, and and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/