What I learned from a year of publishing on LinkedIn
About a year ago, Pellucid’s VP of marketing asked me how I’d feel about publishing articles on LinkedIn Pulse. Prior to this as a banker, I’d only really published academic content or research reports, so this was a new endeavor for me. Since then, I’ve published 40 posts on Pulse and there are a few things I’ve learned.
Being niche helps, but there is more to it than that. I had spent almost 20 years on Wall Street before leaving Credit Suisse to form Pellucid with a mission to reduce the burden of pitchbook creation and elevate the level of content. As I work closely with investment bankers, I’m still very connected to the industry. Although, as I’m no longer subject to the stringent oversight of an investment bank’s communications department, I have a little more freedom in what I can write about. In case you’re not familiar with banking, talking to the press, providing any opinions, or commenting on anything either about your firm or the industry at large is strictly taboo without the communications department as a chaperone and can result in a lot of trouble. As providing an insider’s view of the industry is not encouraged, the obvious drawback is that if people don’t talk about the issues impacting the industry and the people who work in it, then no solutions are developed.
Given this background and Pellucid’s focus on “fixing the pitch,” we wanted to provide insights about investment banking that would offer value to all levels of seniority, so we developed a content strategy across five categories:
Smarts: Helpful mathematical approaches and advanced financial analysis for clearer, more meaningful pitchbooks.
Charts: How to harness the power of data visualizations and useful charting techniques so you can create beautiful, pitchbook ready content.
Pitch: Advice from former investment bankers and designers on the art of building perfect pitchbooks and mastering client meetings.
Win: Tried and tested techniques to foster client relationships.
Slant: First-hand experiences and stories about creating an inclusive work culture and advancing financial and technological innovation.
If I look at the views of the articles that I’ve published so far, here’s what the distribution looks like:
Drilling into the topics further, there is a little bit of variance across the topics, but overall this indicates that I have found my niche.
Out of all of the content categories, Smarts, the most technical content I publish performed the best (maybe I should have run this analysis sooner!). This is surprising as it is commonly assumed that LinkedIn is the home of lightweight content, not financial analysis.
But as you may suspect, this content is performing slightly above average due to the demographics of my audience, mostly other folks in the investment banking industry.
But there is a more to discover.
Earlier in the year, I was inundated with LinkedIn connection requests from people I’d never met, with whom I shared no connections, and no reason was provided for the connection request—in short, they were flaunting the etiquette of LinkedIn. So, as I was frustrated by this, I wrote a more negative article “Why I won’t accept your LinkedIn invitation to connect”.
Talk about an outlier! I don’t want to use the word “viral” but at 64× more views than the average article, something clearly was very different. In short, it appealed to a wider group of people, and also tapped into a shared frustration.
Reaching your target audience is likely business critical and a virality boost can have a big impact on eyeballs, especially if that new audience sticks around.
The connections of your connections matter
One of the reasons to publish on LinkedIn is the network effect. The shared mutual connections that by interacting with your content expose it to their own network. In banking, which is a pretty tight and well-connected industry, how much did this matter? I dug into the origination of views. Collecting information about the size of a members network is pretty laborious, if not impossible, so I focused on the degree of connection. (By the way, a side note for the folks at LinkedIn—it would be greatly appreciated to have a little more information on who exactly has viewed your articles).
LinkedIn provides a breakdown of the viewers who liked, commented, or shared your article into first, second, and third-degree connections. I was interested in understanding the difference in the profile of my outlier article versus the average. Here’s how it broke down for me:
If we look at my first-degree Likes, the viral article was liked 2.6x more frequently by these connections than my average article. And the further out the connection the larger the benefit of the multiple effect, for instance, you can see that for third-degree connections the effect was 420x.
From this, it seems that the further removed the audience, the better the engagement. Generally speaking, there also appears to be no difference between a like, comment, or share as all three following a similar trend as each had a similar impact on my views. The only exception are first-degree shares. These shares had little impact.
So what I can conclude from my year on LinkedIn Pulse?
- It’s not just a platform for inspirational company practices. People are looking to share and advance knowledge using the platform.
- Your first-degree connections are your toughest critics, but if they like and share something you write, it can reach new people incredibly quickly. So focusing on how to inspire an action will be a big part of next year’s strategy.
- Don’t just write about what you know, but also write about what you feel. Not to sound too touchy-feely on this, but penning a post that generates the “Yes! Me too!” response caused by tapping into a shared frustration can light a fire under a post.
I consider this stage of my LinkedIn publishing experience complete, but I’m looking forward to posting more content in 2017 and to joining and engaging with LinkedIn groups. Any you recommend?
Happy to answer any questions about publishing on LinkedIn, and if you’re reading this and we’re not connected, let’s connect. Email me at email@example.com.