Four LinkedIn Lessons from Six Months of Exclusive Data

January 28, 2015

Written by Val Kearney

We look at how content creators and marketers can make the most of LinkedIn’s newly launched blogging feature, with exclusive data. 

Ever wondered what the ‘one sign you will be rich’ might be? What about the ‘one simple dress code rule to boost your career’?
If so, you might just find the answers by browsing through your LinkedIn news feed.
Recently, the world’s biggest professional network announced that it would be making its blogging feature available to all 130 million English language users.
In the past, this feature was available only to high profile ‘Influencers’, such as David Cameron, Marissa Mayer, and Arianna Huffington. Now any English user can post their own blogs, in the hope of tapping into the largest professional network in the world.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for content marketers, and any other publisher looking to put their content in front of a highly engaged audience. Every day, millions of people, from CEOs to new graduates, browse LinkedIn for the latest news in their field or industry. LinkedIn posts are an ideal way to draw attention to an event or service, direct people to a landing page, or simply to build online profile.
With all this in mind, we dug into our social data to find out more about the nature of sharing on the site. Here’s what we found from analysing six months worth of LinkedIn stories available to us from Spike.

1) Career Advice and Self-Improvement Stories are the Most Popular

According to our data, career advice and self-development tips are by far the most popular topics for sharing on LinkedIn.
The career advice stories relate to anything from how to put together an important job application to how to quit a job properly. Self-improvement/self-development can be anything from the optimum amount of hours sleep to get per night to the behaviour of successful people. Using a sample of the 60 most-shared LinkedIn stories from July to September 2014, we found:

  • 32% relate to business advice,
  • 38% related to career advice,
  • 30% were about self-improvement/self-development.

While some of these stories came from well-known business figures, many had their popularity put down to simple, strong and practical advice. As you’ll see below, most of these stories are titled very directly.

2) Short Headlines Work Best

30 of the top 50 stories published through LinkedIn’s blogging platform between July and December 2014 had titles that were between 5 and 8 words long.
Simply put, shorter works better.
Here are some examples of the succinct, intriguing titles that saw big shares over the last few months:
“Hire someone with no experience! Wait, what?” (9,650 shares).
“Ten Things Bosses Never Tell Employees, But Should” (8,520 shares).
“10 Things Only Exceptional People Say Every Day” (10,640 shares).
The short headline structure isn’t just limited to LinkedIn blogs either – some of the most-shared stories from external sites are similarly succinct. Some of the most-shared stories of the last few months on LinkedIn came from Forbes and Business Insider, both which have the LinkedIn share appeal down to a T.
Digging a bit further into the list of most-shared stories, it’s easy to see patterns in the choice of language used by some of the more popular posts.
Out of those Top 50, 10 had the word success in one form or another the in the title – usually “success” or “successful”. Those key words can have a great impact, so work them in well. “Interview”, “career” and, for your list based article, “X things” are all words or phrases that feature regularly on top posts.
“Caffeine: The Silent Killer of Success”
“How Successful People Stay Calm”
A lot of the headlines are noticeably similar to some of the story titles from publishers like BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post that make up the Facebook most-shared stories lists each month. While a story titled ‘7 Things Motivated People Don’t Do‘ sounds like it might have come BuzzFeed’s Lifestyle section, it was actually a post by author Chester Elton, and was one of the most-shared stories of September.
Have a look at this list of the most-shared stories from September (you can also see how popular career development and self-improvement is here):

3) Most of LinkedIn’s Top Stories are Under 1,000 Words

Using a dataset of 60 stories (the top 20 for July, August and September 2014), we found that 63% were under 1,000 words.
Here’s a scatter graph illustrating word count vs shares:

Word count seems kind of important for LinkedIn blogposts – without having to click through to an external site, readers will be able to quickly see how long a post may be. Being able to deliver early in a post (with a convincing headline) might have a lot to do with how much interest that the reader sustains.
The vast majority of stories came in between 500 and 1,000 words long. This cluster of stories had between 10,000 and 50,000 LinkedIn shares.
But there was a notable outlier: the most-shared story of the sample was also the longest, at over 2,000 words. It was a classic example of a LinkedIn primed-post, titled ‘How Successful People Stay Calm‘.
Going a little further, 34 stories have a word count of between 500 and 1,000, while 18 have a word count of between 1,000 and 1,500.
At 30%, stories between 1,000 and 1,500 words perform quite well too. It seems as though setting a limit of 1,500 words is advisable for writers looking to encourage shares and interest from LinkedIn users.

4) Niche Business Sites Perform Strongest on LinkedIn

It’s not entirely surprising that niche business sites hoover up relatively the most interactions on LinkedIn. We’ve looked at biggest publishers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn before, but were interested in finding the sites that rely most on LinkedIn for their social distribution.
We combined Facebook shares, Tweets and LinkedIn shares to find what sites were relying on LinkedIn the most for their social distribution.

As we noted above, career-related stories are very popular on the network, meaning that sites like Careerealism and eMarketer can make the most of the platform. It’s interesting to see how these sites have such little impact on Facebook by comparison, backing up the idea that Facebook is not yet the place for work-related chat.
Better-known sites such as AdAge also have a significant amount of shares coming from their LinkedIn readers.
In Spike, the range of sites and stories that we track doing well on LinkedIn are frequently very different to those that make the top of the charts on Facebook and Twitter, regardless of news agenda. The most recent rankings of LinkedIn publishers put these sites as the top ten most-shared:

Check back on our blog later for tips on how best to capitalise LinkedIn’s blog feature. To make sure you don’t miss out, you can sign up for our blogposts and newsletter in one.

What Next?

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