LinkedIn’s publishing platform is one of the newer blogging platforms available for a law firm to maximize its exposure. Launched at the beginning of 2014, LinkedIn's platform is designed to showcase professional interests and expertise. It is an ideal way to build authority in a particular niche like medical malpractice, personal injury, bankruptcy or family law. With well more than 277 million members, LinkedIn’s platform has powerful potential.
According to Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn,“There are 432 million years of professional experience in the heads of our members." That makes LinkedIn’s latest tool for members extremely valuable for both learning and educating.
The ability to publish is slated to roll out globally within about two months. Currently, about 25,000 English language LinkedIn users have the option of publishing.
Publishing your articles
When you publish a long-form post, the content becomes a part of your firm’s profile and is displayed within the Posts section of the LinkedIn profile. It is shared with followers and connections. Additionally, any member not within a law firm’s network may choose to follow the firm based on the long-form posts and get publishing updates for future reading. The posts are searchable off and on LinkedIn.
Publishing on LinkedIn means posting significantly relevant, high-quality content that provides an opportunity to extend your firm's media reach. All posts are showcased at the top of a firm or attorney’s profile. As such, the relationship to the post and author is always clear. It's a bit like how Google Authorship used to be before Google discontinued the service.
With the demise of Google Authorship, LinkedIn provides an opportunity to showcase helpful, relevant content to followers who have expressed an interest in your firm or your services. As with all online marketing, your plan is critical.
Know your audience. LinkedIn connections are often different from followers on other social networks, given the platform's professional emphasis. Know what is important to these specific connections. Write to educate and inform, not to sell services. LinkedIn is unimpressed by sales content.
Struggling with what to write? LinkedIn has a Help section with guidelines in its Help Center. Try to write intuitively for existing and potential clients, as well as for colleagues. It gives a firm a big advantage to know its target demographics and their wants and needs, and that knowledge can often provide an attorney author with content ideas.
Best practices for LinkedIn’s long-form posts
LinkedIn suggests posting between 400 and 600 words at least once a week. Writers can add even more if the topic demands expansion. Posts are not intended to be blogs, which typically range between 200 to 300 words.
As on any new platform, you should experiment with guidelines and assess the results as you get familiar with them.
Keep posts scannable, laid out in shorter paragraphs with headlines or lists to break up the text. Put important text in boldface. Add pictures or video content. Get professionally creative. It is easier than it may sound.
Content preparation takes time, thought and research, but the actual process of writing on this platform is straightforward. On the home page, a pencil icon is located in a box near where someone would share an update. Click on the icon to bring up the publishing editor (similar to MS Word or WordPress) where a post can be created.
Content may be cut and pasted into or written inside the editor window. Writers must generate a bio at the end of each post, as one is not included as an automatic feature. Include a call to action, a link to the law firm’s website and a sentence about the author.
Comments are a part of the kind of increased visibility LinkedIn can bring your firm. Learn to manage them effectively, efficiently and promptly. Weed out the bad spam by hiding it and/or flagging it. If some remarks are not relevant to your firm’s post, they may be from readers outside your target market. Consider tweaking content topics to more effectively speak to relevant readers.
Share all posts off-platform on other social media sites. Piggyback networking not only brings in results, but also results in increased online visibility in searches. When an item is published, LinkedIn algorithmically recommends it to other professionals interested in the same topics.
Use LinkedIn’s platform as an addition to other social media platforms. Keep your blog, Twitter, Google+ and other outlets, and keep them active. More is better when using social media to disseminate a law firm’s message.
Reviews of the new platform have been relatively rosy. The service is free. It has the ability to drive significant traffic. If you keep a sharp eye on analytics, you can determine what is really behind a sudden exponential jump of page views and who the new visitors are.
Real-time feedback is priceless when evaluating the success of posts. Read all your posts, compare them over time and determine what subject or lengths tend to perform best. Compare posts to LinkedIn Influencers like Richard Branson, Bill Gates or Arianna Huffington. Influencers first started posting in 2012. Get a good understanding of how often Influencers post, which of their posts net the most traffic and what they discuss. A similar approach may boost your firm’s success.
Be aware, though, that traffic statistics can give an overblown picture of the reach of a LinkedIn post. Closely monitor all analytics to clearly understand where traffic is really coming from and how that affects your firm’s media presence.
According to the results of a test posted by Robert Algeri on the Great Jakes blog, a single piece published to its LinkedIn profile provided 5,400 page views, 131 likes, 25 comments and over 500 shares on LinkedIn. A second test post garnered 518 page views (versus 281 views on the Great Jakes blog), 12 LinkedIn likes, 1 comment on LinkedIn and 76 shares on LinkedIn. Both performed considerably better than the native blog post alone.
A closer look at the data revealed that the first post was chosen by LinkedIn to be promoted in two categories. The second was not. LinkedIn does not explicitly share how or why it chooses to promote content, but quality content targeted for actual readers — not self-promotion aimed at search — is the best way to get noticed. Still, even without promotion, the second post still performed well.
Analytics also revealed that not all of the likes or shares came from previously unconnected people, so a post's reach may not be as great as initial statistics seem to indicate.
When examining the numbers, pay attention to your target market. Did the post connect with the right people? Unfortunately, LinkedIn does not reveal who is reading your pieces — just that someone has — which can present a challenge when determining whether you are reaching the right audience. However, categories can provide a little clarity if LinkedIn assigns one to your post. Categories are a bit of a mixed blessing, though, as they are very broad. Be sure to write pieces that are contextually clear to help direct LinkedIn's categorization system where you feel it should go. Even without a category, your post can do well organically, on its own.
LinkedIn has now become a powerful and viable social media option for professionals wishing to showcase their experience, expertise and opinions on thought-provoking issues of the day, especially because other social media platforms automatically get involved when an item is posted, including Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. It offers an ideal place for a law firm to showcase its thoughts, opinions and expertise.