In September, Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans published a Google Analytics chart of his blog traffic spanning back to 2010 when he launched it. These days, the blog attracts monthly audiences in the hundreds of thousands, but for the first few years the traffic was miniscule, barely producing a blip in the chart. By posting it, Evans sought to show how building a sustained audience on a standalone blog, while possible, takes time and requires that you update it constantly.
“Now, suppose you don’t have 2-3 posts a week in you, but 1-2 every six months,” he wrote. “That is, suppose you’re actually busy doing something else.” In this scenario, he argued, articles you published would receive virtually no audience, no matter how brilliant they are. “The problem isn’t freedom or openness but distribution,” he concluded.
This would be all rather depressing if it were still 2010, the year Evans launched his blog, but in recent years several major social platforms have risen to solve this distribution problem. Medium, the publishing platform founded by former Twitter CEO Ev Williams, combined a beautiful CMS with a Twitter-like network that allows its users to amass a following. Facebook just revamped its long-neglected Notes tool so it’ll allow you to publish Medium-like articles and blog posts to your already-existing friend network.
And then there’s LinkedIn. In February 2014, the company announced it would begin rolling out its blogging platform to all English-speaking users. Previously, only 150 “influencers” had access to the tool, but now any LinkedIn user, rather than trying to drive traffic from his LinkedIn profile to a standalone blog, could cross-post his articles directly to the platform and capitalize on the site’s network effect. Virtually overnight, everyday LinkedIn users found their content reaching tens of thousands of readers when before they would have struggled to reach a few hundred.
Earlier this year, LinkedIn announced that over 1 million of its users had published at least one native blog post, and they’re currently producing 130,000 posts per week. There’s a reason for this: LinkedIn content marketing produces results, and here’s why your company should get on board.
LinkedIn members are primed for reading business-related content
There are many reasons you might log in to Facebook or Twitter, whether it’s to see new baby photos, read political rants from your ‘friends’, or just watch a few videos. And yes, sometimes we use these networks to consume news related to the industries in which we work, but LinkedIn is the only major social platform we visit primarily for this purpose. This means that whatever business-related content you publish to LinkedIn is much more likely to reach its intended audience than if you were to post it to most other networks. According to stats published by LinkedIn, “around 45 percent of [LinkedIn blog] readers consist of those at the top of their industries, including managers, VPs, and CEOs.”
LinkedIn editors can expose your work to a wider audience
Whether your content gets seen isn’t entirely dependent on your personal network. For the last few years, LinkedIn has been poaching professional journalists from top publications like the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and Wired to comb through the best content and plug it into industry channels, many of which boast hundreds of thousands of subscribers. In some cases, those editors will actually reach out to LinkedIn bloggers to request content or make suggestions for how it will be better received. I experienced this firsthand when an article I wrote about how to craft an engaging narrative with data was chosen by a LinkedIn editor to appear in the Big Data channel; the piece ended up generating over 180 likes, 20 comments, and nearly a thousand views. So if you’re someone who can produce consistent high quality content then chances are it’ll be noticed by the editors and broadcast to a wider audience.
LinkedIn is a launchpad for mainstream blogging opportunities
For years now, executives and PR professionals have attempted to reach wider audiences by securing guest blogging gigs at mainstream outlets like Forbes and Huffington Post, and while a few years ago it might have been relatively easy to get your own blog at Forbes, it recently began limiting the number of new columnists it allows into its stable after criticism that its bloggers were diluting its brand and some high-profile embarrassments. The same can be said for other mainstream outlets that have been inundated with op-eds and guest blog posts from outside contributors looking to find an audience.
LinkedIn provides an opportunity to not only prove your ability to write engaging content that attracts thousands of readers, but often times editors will discover your work on the platform and ask you to generate similar articles for their own publications.
Leverage LinkedIn blogging to build your network
The reason why so many content marketers try to get guest blogging gigs is it helps elevate their personal brands to a larger audience. But let’s face it: most of the branding benefit will go to the publication, while only a tiny percentage of readers will bother to look at the byline and seek you out on other platforms. But your LinkedIn blog is connected directly to your LinkedIn profile, and a successful blog post on the platform will often lead directly to new subscribers and views of your profile. In other words, your personal brand receives more benefit if your post goes viral on LinkedIn compared to if it receives the same amount of traffic on a mainstream outlet.
Does this mean you should only publish content to LinkedIn and ignore all other platforms, including your company blog? Of course not. Not only should you never put all your content eggs in one basket, but by distributing to multiple networks you can reach a far wider audience without too much negative impact on the article’s SEO. So do your content marketing efforts a favor and test out a few articles on the LinkedIn platform. Chances are that after you witness the ROI from such a strategy you won’t look back.
Matt Cooper is the CEO of Visually, a content creation platform that enables businesses to engage audiences through premium visual content — created fast and cost-effectively by highly vetted creative professionals. Matt is passionate about the latest content marketing trends and best practices for video, infographics, eBooks and more. Follow him on Twitter @matt_cooper.