- By Marc Miller
(This article is adapted from the new Kindle book, Personal Branding for Baby Boomers: What It Is, How to Manage It, and Why It’s No Longer Optional by Marc Miller.)
Growing up, many of us were taught that it’s improper to promote ourselves. We were assured that only our hard work was necessary to be recognized and that any effort to attract attention to ourselves was immodest. The world has changed.
The rise of the Internet and social media has led to the rise of the concept of personal brand, which is important if you’re looking for a job or looking to find new clients. When creating and promoting your personal brand, it’s all about getting noticed.
LinkedIn Publisher, LinkedIn’s blogging platform, is one excellent way to build your personal brand. It gives you exposure to your entire LinkedIn network . . . and more. If you do it right, you will have to opportunity to be found by millions.
There are two common reasons to publish long-form posts on LinkedIn:
1. To get noticed by hiring companies and have your profile viewed.
LinkedIn Publisher gives you exposure to your entire LinkedIn network . . . and more. If you do it right, you could be found by millions.
2. To get noticed by prospective clients and drive traffic to your website.
You should write and format your posts differently, depending on your goals.
Constructing Your Post for Shareability
When you create great content through long-form posts on LinkedIn, you want people to share it. The more people who share it, the more visibility you will get.
I have had multiple LinkedIn long-form posts gain incredible exposure, with no additional effort on my part. Take a look some of these top posts, which have accumulated 1.6 million views:
How did these four posts gain such attention? Shareability! These posts were shared and shared and shared. If your posts are shared, your personal brand is getting noticed.
How Your Post Is Found
When you publish a long-form post on LinkedIn, your connections and followers will be informed in their LinkedIn streams. The larger your network, the more people will initially see the post. Getting noticed by your own network is the easy part.
If a LinkedIn editor likes your post, he or she can put it on a LinkedIn Pulse Channel. You know your post has been selected when you see an image at the bottom of your post with the heading “Featured In” and listing that specific Pulse Channel.
View a sample of this image here.
This greatly expands the audience who will initially see your post. Carefully review the various Pulse Channels and select a few where your content fits.
Review the posts that are not written by LinkedIn Influencers. These are the posts written by ordinary people like you and me that were selected by LinkedIn editors for the Pulse Channel.
Look for common themes. This may give you a hint on why they were selected and on how you may be able to position yourself in order to get noticed as well.
Enticing the Reader to Click on Your Post
The two components that will get someone to initially read and click on your post are Title and Header.
The easiest way to find winning post titles is to examine the top posts on the Pulse Channel you have selected. The two most common methods are to:
Pose an intriguing question in the title. Example: “Are You a Perfect Fit for the Job? Then You Won’t Get It.”
Make a provocative statement. Example: “5 Things on Your Resume that Make You Sound Too Old”
When it comes to header image, the recommended size is 698 x 400. I use Canva.com for most of my images. Canva will allow you to add text and effects to the image. It currently charges $1 per image for stock photos. You can also upload your own images and edit them for free. Another site I use for stock images is 123rf.com.
View one of my most popular post images here. It was used for the post “4 Signs That You Are Working for a Failing Company.”
Writing for Shareability
To really get noticed, you need readers to share your post.
I attended a session at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference called “The Art and Science of Shareability” led by Dao Nguyen, publisher of the popular website BuzzFeed. I walked away with two simple-yet-brilliant concepts:
Write to a niche in which the readers will share among themselves in order to garner a substantial portion of that niche. This is different from traditional journalism where you write to 80 percent of the market and hope to garner a small share.
Have an emotional hook. Readers will share content they can relate to emotionally.
To illustrate this, let’s look at the common themes in the popular posts I listed earlier. In these posts, I:
State the obvious. In “4 Signs That You Are Working for a Failing Company,” I did not tell readers anything they did not already know instinctively only, here, I give them permission to talk about it.
Do not give a complete solution . . . or, sometimes, no hint at a solution at all. This encourages dialogue and participation. When readers comment, the post and their comments are shared with their connections and followers.
Ask for opinions. In “The Purple Cow Job Description — Should I Apply,” I quote a Harvard Business Review article which stated that women were less likely to apply for jobs unless they were 100 percent qualified. I asked, “Ladies, is this true based on your experience?” I received hundreds of comments saying, “Yes!”
Give this a try. In the SXSWi session on shareability, Nguyen explained that you’ll have plenty of duds before you have a winner. With each post, you will learn what works and what does not.
1. Review the various LinkedIn Pulse Channels and start following those that fit the audience you’d like to reach.
2. Pay attention to the posts shared in those channels that are not associated with LinkedIn Influencers. Note the topics, titles, header images and content.
3. Start posting! Experiment. Practice makes perfect.