In February 2014, LinkedIn announced the latest stage of its evolution by revealing that it was extending its publishing platform to all of its 300 million+ users, pricking the ears of budding thought leaders and their communications agencies worldwide. Following on from the launch of its Influencer program in 2012, which enabled the likes of behemoths Richard Branson, Bill Gates, David Edelman (McKinsey & Company), Joe Pulizzi (Content Marketing Institute) et al to publish content directly on LinkedIn, users will soon be able to publish their own content directly on the platform and reach a wider LinkedIn community.
What does this mean for your content marketing strategy?
Considering a typical Influencer post receives more than 31,000 views, an average of 250 “likes,” and around 80 comments (according to official LinkedIn stats), this development could be a powerful opportunity for small to medium companies to promote their brand and values within the increasingly popular and engaging LinkedIn community, positioning themselves as thought leaders to engage with their target markets and beyond. It is a development that Pulizzi describes as “big news. No, this is HUGE news… you’ve never seen anything like the engagement you get on LinkedIn”. However, this opportunity comes with a significant caveat.
As with any communication platform, especially online, a company must establish exactly why it wants to use that channel. What is it trying to say and to whom? Just like Twitter, Facebook or any blogspot, there must be a clear objective and steadfast strategy in place. And for such a powerful, business-centric platform as LinkedIn, an ill-thought out approach is likely to fall on deaf ears and potentially damage a company’s reputation.
Strike the right chord!
I’m reminded of the BBC’s ‘Introducing Stage’ that features at a number of high profile UK festivals, including Glastonbury, Reading and T In The Park. The exciting opportunity enables small, unsigned bands to play at the festivals and be (potentially) heard by a huge audience that has come to hear the biggest bands from around the world. While it is a great chance for these bands to make a name for themselves (Ed Sheeran played the Glastonbury iteration in 2011), there is a potential pitfall. No matter how good these bands may have sounded in their basement or local community centre, playing in such a setting is a whole new ball game.
When I went to Reading festival back in 2009, I saw a number of poor bands on the unsigned stage that were just not ready. Perhaps it was nerves, or lack of preparation, but for all their leather jackets, messy hair and posturing, they fell flat – drowned out by more polished bands with better songs and a more compelling stage presence. A quick look at the listings for that stage tells me that these bands have long since been consigned to the history books. A shame, but there is an important lesson to be learnt.
Practice makes perfect
If your company has a spokesperson with a strong voice, something interesting to say and the capacity to frequently push it out, then this could be the perfect stage for you. If not, then it would be wise to continue to tune and practice your content elsewhere – until you’re ready to play with the big boys.