Is LinkedIn Poised To Be The Next Media Giant?

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When LinkedIn introduced Pulse, providing commentary from a hand-chosen set of thought leaders, they made a major impact. Paired with the long-form publishing platform they launched last year, LinkedIn is significantly changing the media landscape.

First, the statistics

  • LinkedIn has 330+ million members. That’s a potential of 330+ million authors and the same number of potential readers. Not even the largest and most respected online media sites have this many potential authors and pairs of eyeballs to view content. As LinkedIn appears poised for explosive growth in content distribution, they are likely to become a major media player – or at least a major disruptor.
  • According to Expanded Ramblings, there are 30,000 long-form posts created each week.
  • Users who have published at least one long-form blog post have an average of 1049 connections. But users are making their posts visible well beyond their connections; they are expanding the reach by posting them to groups. There are over 2.1 million LinkedIn groups and 8,000 new groups created weekly. Many groups have tens or hundreds of thousands of members.

The path to becoming a media company

These developments are part of LinkedIn’s long-term evolution. Over the past few years, LinkedIn has moved steadily toward becoming a major media outlet. Initially, it seemed the sole objective was to give members more reasons to spend more time on their site. For many, LinkedIn engagement was binary: members were either intensively engaged or barely engaged in the site. When something happens in your career – you lose your job, get promoted, need to find staff, etc. – you’ll spend a fair bit of time on LinkedIn. But when your career is in cruise control and nothing major happens, a visit to LinkedIn may not be at the top of your mind. This was an issue that led LinkedIn to pursue the Facebook model, making it a goal for users to visit their profiles daily – often several times a day.

LinkedIn Today launched in the spring of 2011, providing news to members to entice them to visit the site. A little over a year later, they launched their Influencer program. It gave a platform to LinkedIn-selected leaders – like President Obama, Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington and Jack Welch – to reach a large business-minded audience. The program has been wildly successful with thought leaders, attracting millions of followers. Richard Branson, for example, has 7.5 million followers.

Then LinkedIn expanded the thought-leader program, allowing members to apply to augment the existing roster of selected leaders. Last year, they ultimately opened it up to all 330+ million members.

LinkedIn long-form publishing is a place for Bloggers of all skill levels, from those who have never Blogged before to those who once Blogged but abandoned it. In the early days of traditional Blogs, many early Bloggers let their postings lapse because, despite their best efforts to deliver interesting and valuable content on a regular basis, they found themselves having little impact on their personal brand. Why? They were missing one important ingredient: an audience. Building an audience used to require a lot of time and effort.

With LinkedIn, that audience is built in – or at least the potential for an audience is. For example, my friend and fellow Forbes contributor Kathy Caprino, who has 31,000 connections, wrote a post that received 2.8 million views. The culture of LinkedIn users makes sharing and commenting on articles as commonplace as it is easy. That has a dramatic impact on views. And as with most media outlets, you can even share your content with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, etc. In addition, popular posts get shared via LinkedIn Pulse – making your content even more visible.

If you’re looking to build your brand by sharing thoughtful, valuable content, it’s hard to find a better option than the LinkedIn long-form Blogging platform.

If you’re looking to build your brand by sharing thoughtful, valuable content, it’s hard to find a better option than the LinkedIn long-form Blogging platform.

Advice for those looking to use it

If you’re new to the medium, here are some tips to help get you started and to get the most from this communications tool:

  1. Focus your content on your area of thought leadership and topics that will interest your ideal audience. This will do the most to bolster your personal brand.
  2. Spend time creating a compelling headline. It’s like the headline of an ad. If it’s intriguing or provocative, viewers will click on it and read your post. Headlines that start with “how” or X tips or Y steps typically get more clicks.
  3. Add headings to your content, making it easier to read and more visually compelling.
  4. Include pictures. The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” is relevant here. Images will bring your message to life.
  5. Focus on quality. Edit and proof your content. You don’t want typos or poor grammar to detract from your message.
  6. Promote your post via your LinkedIn connections and relevant groups and via your other social media accounts. You want to make sure your hard work is visible.
  7. Make a commitment and be consistent. Develop a routine and try to post regularly – at least a couple of times a month, if possible.

Although I am sanguine about LinkedIn as a powerful addition to your personal branding plan, their shift toward being a media outlet has a few downsides. Here are some potential concerns:

  • Quality control. LinkedIn provides no filter, and not everyone is a gifted or accurate writer, so the quality of content isn’t uniform. Readers will have to decide for themselves what is valuable.
  • Blatant self-promotion. Me Me Me content could trump useful content. Not everyone knows that content marketing is about providing valuable, compelling material to your community. You may have to sift through the chest pounding to find the useful nuggets of information or news.
  • Overload. Not everyone is on-board – yet. As LinkedIn members flood the platform, will you drown in the deluge of content as you seek useful posts? And as a Blogger trying to compete with so many other posts, you’ll have to ensure that your messages don’t get lost in the noise.

The full ramifications of LinkedIn becoming a player in the world of media will unfold over time, raising a slew of interesting questions:

  • Will LinkedIn monetize the content as a new revenue source?
  • Will LinkedIn create a group of paid contributors who can provide consistent, reliable content and benefit from the popularity of their posts?
  • There is a finite amount of content we can consume. Who will be the losers – individual Bloggers, large media outlets, other media?
  • Will Internet users start to think of LinkedIn in the same category as other major online media outlets?

The answers to these questions will come in time. For now, this media opportunity could be an easy way to enhance your personal branding activities.

Written by William Arruda. To read the full article, click here. For more information on creating your own online brand, custom WordPress website and social media strategy, please visit us at and follow us everywhere @mydigitalbrand.

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