How To Write Cutting Edge Content for LinkedIn in 7 Steps
How to Go Viral on Linkedin
“How did you even get 250,000 people to read your article?!”
This question was posed to me recently, yet awkwardly the honest response was I didn’t entirely know..
Of course I had some ideas, and had managed to have articles featured again through a similar formula. Yet I’d never given huge thought to exactly how — for the most part I just wrote.
However, the question inspired me to go away and do some research as to what makes a Linkedin article go viral. I wanted to understand how and share what had worked.
1: Start with Why
What were the secret ingredients that had helped me go viral with over a quarter of a million views? And can these be replicated?
I hope these 7 steps can act as a guide in helping you to achieve your goals.
In the words of Simon Sinek, ensure you know why you are writing.
What are you trying to achieve? What topics do you want to write about? Why are these topics important to you?
It isnt easy to consistently produce great content that people will want to read, and motivation will stem from understanding your why. Furthermore, understanding your purpose will ensure your content is unique.
2: Get the Basics Right
Personally, from a young age, I’ve loved to write. I continued when I realised my writing was making a genuine difference. For example, it remains hugely humbling to hear that sharing my story around my brain surgery made others feel more confident about facing their own hurdles.
I’ve always wanted to make a difference — thats my why — and in writing, it appears I’ve been able to do that.
As with anything, it’s key to kick off by getting the basics right.
Firstly, a picture paints a thousand words. A header image optimised for Linkedin is a key component in a successful article. Personally I use Canva, which has a template for LinkedIn articles. It’s an excellent tool and a great way to develop your own graphic design skills.
I recommend using simple, relevant images sourced from Canva or IStock. Furthermore, check Instagram to understand what works well for your topic. It’s often a case test & learn — build a network of trusted friends that you can ask for advice. Indeed, even ask your Linkedin network. Try, try and try again.
Secondly, the headline of an article is your ‘ticket to the game’.
Without it, your amazing content may be completely missed. Indeed, I published an article titled ‘The Only Thing Millennials Are Guilty of is their youth’ — generating less than 50 likes. Feedback from those close to me was this was their favorite piece I’d written, so I was at a loss as to why people weren’t reading it.
Yet this feedback inspired me to test new avenues. A day later I republished it with a new headline; “Avocado-gate: Are Expensive Breakfasts Really to Blame for Millenial Issues?”
3: Create relevant & interesting content
A new title, a featured article and 7500 reads a couple of days later — the power of the title become evident to me.
Get these 2 basics right and you are on the pathway to success.
If people aren’t interested in a topic, they’re not going to read it, regardless of how great a writer you are.
As such, it’s key to take notice of what’s trending on LinkedIn — ensure you are following top influencers and give your take on what’s currently trending.
Richard Branson and Gary Vee are great examples of those that are constantly producing top quality content and challenging the status quo. Check out this list of influencers here for more insights : https://lists.linkedin.com/2015/top-voices/influencers
Furthermore, stay up to date with whats happening in the world and making the front pages. For example, 2 of my featured articles were on gender equality, written on IWD, whilst my Millenial article was written in the wake of Bernard Salt and Tim Gurner suggesting avocados were to blame for all of their woes.
I was passionate in talking about these topics with colleagues and friends, so transferred this to paper. Sometimes slowing down and taking note of what is going on in the world is all you’ll need to find your next topic.
“If people aren’t interested in a topic, they’re not going to read it, regardless of how great a writer you are.”
The way in which you structure your content is key.
Endless sentences with little structure will kill your content and extinguish your key messages.
To give your article structure, sub headings are a great way to deliver your key points in a bold and stand out manner. Furthermore, they are also a great tool to add structure to what you are writing. For many of us non-professional writers, it is too easy to go off in tangents, forgoing shape and direction. Your sub-headings will prevent this from happening, and will ensure your maintain direction.
Secondly, I consistently use quotes in my articles and these are a great way of summarizing a topic in a catchy and succinct manner. I seek to use both my own, and others — Ghandi, Mandela and even Jose Mourinho rank amongst those that I’ve leveraged upon. Check out Good Reads for some inspiration: www.goodreads.com
The optimal length is said to be around 1500–2000 words, longer than other forums but perhaps indicative of the professional nature of Linkedin’s content. Of course, it isnt easy to keep an audience engaged through a 5–10 minute read, in a world where Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat fuel our desire for short, sharp content which puts more pressure on producing quality, well written content.
Finally, ensure you have clarity in your message. A great way of doing this is to leave your audience wanting more, or engaging in conversation with both you and other readers. A question towards the end of your content can be a great idea, or a call to action.
A big problem with much of Linkedin’s content is it sounds the same. Why should somebody read your views?
People want to hear differing points of view, and want to be challenged. They also want to engage, so produce content that will generate conversation and debate. Start something only you can start.
To improve upon this, you simply have to read, listen and communicate more.
The more you read, the greater your own knowledge will become, and the more you can perfect your craft. The BBC, HBR The Economist and The Huff Post rank amongst my favorite sources of articles. Of course LinkedIn also provides an excellent source of literature through my news feed.
6: Write Often — we are what we repeatedly do.
Furthermore, podcasts are another fantastic way of staying up to date with what’s relevant and listening to differing views — all of these assist your critical thinking ,which will in turn help you in creating unique, cutting edge content. Try Gary Vee, Ted, Sam Harris and Tony Robbins for great podcasts.
The Readers (and the listeners) of Today are the Leaders of Tomorrow
My first couple of articles scraped around 30 likes — yet I carried on, trying to learn and perfect my craft.
The key to writing is to get started — as the great Martin Luther King reminded us, “you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” As such you simply have to start writing — research, write, then refine — and see where it leads you.
7: Social Media:
It also pays huge dividends to find somebody to review what you write, and have the confidence to critique this for you. My articles would never have been successful without feedback from some trusted, fantastic friends.
“The key to writing is to get started — as the great Martin Luther King reminded us, you don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Tweet your article to @linkedineditors, ensuring you tell them why it should be featured. If your article is selected to appear on the LinkedIn homepage, traction is close to guaranteed. I’ve managed this 3 times, and each has seen my audience go through the roof.
Once you get going, the more followers you build, the more likely you are to get featured on a regular basis.
Finally, if you feel you are ready for the next step, reach out to other publications. Thrive Global, Inc so forth are always on the look out for great writers. The more channels your work appears in, the greater your exposure to a diverse audience.
To read my most popular article, follow this link: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-isnt-being-greatits-enabling-others-great-david-mcqueen/
Ultimately, have fun, don’t give up and finally if you get stuck, perhaps Mark Twain has the real answer..” writing is easy, you just have to cross out the wrong words”
Leader | Strategy | Agile | Digital | Social Media | Columnist | Speaker |
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on October 27, 2017.