There is an ultra exclusive club that spans every industry on earth and until recently was only open to a select few. I’m talking about the LinkedIn Influencer program which was first introduced in October of 2012.
Originally featuring “150 of the most influential thought leaders on LinkedIn who will be sharing unique knowledge and professional insights” the program has recently expanded to include 25,000 members with a worldwide release within the coming weeks and months.
Since it’s inception, the LinkedIn Influencer program has grown into a powerful status symbol for business professionals invited to participate. If given early access to share your insights you would join the ranks of world renowned thought leaders such as Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Ariana Huffington, & Warren Buffett.
It was a brilliant move by LinkedIn who’s ultimate goal is to create the premier business content publishing platform. By invite only, super-well known professionals freely provide thought leading content that would spread like a napalm fueled fire to be consumed by LinkedIn’s 225+ million users.
To give you an idea of the possibilities of the influencer program, the average Influencer post on LinkedIn drives more than 31,000 views and receives more than 250 likes and 80 comments.
According to Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn:
Starting today, LinkedIn is opening up our publishing platform to our members, giving them a powerful new way to build their professional brand. When a member publishes a post on LinkedIn, their original content becomes part of their professional profile, is shared with their trusted network and has the ability to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Now members have the ability to follow other members that are not in their network and build their own group of followers. Members can continue to share their expertise by posting photos, images, videos and their original presentations on SlideShare.
Every professional has valuable experience to share.
When I first heard about this I immediately signed up to be considered for inclusion into the program so that I too can publish on the LinkedIn platform.
So what do you need to do to become a LinkedIn Influencer? Simply apply for early access?
That’s it. Nothing to fancy or complicated. Simply fill in the requested information and hit submit. Then wait.
Keep in mind that applying in no way guarantees if and when you will be accepted to the program. It was only recently announced to be open to the general public on February 19th (my son’s birth date). Although it will be rolling out to the entire LinkedIn population soon, there are still many benefits to getting in early; for example there will be much less competition.
What is great, and specific to the program, is that when you publish, users do not have to be following you to see your post. Roslanksy states, “When a user publishes a piece through LinkedIn, everyone in their network can see the post, and LinkedIn will also algorithmically recommend it to other professionals interested in the same topics. Members can follow other members that are not in their network.”
But what I don’t want you to do is apply for early access only to start posting generic, unoriginal content on a platform that rewards thought leadership. Below I’ve listed a few ways I plan to use LinkedIn as a publishing platform to further my own cause.
It’s not enough to simply publish any generic post you’d like to share. They have to be engaging, valuable, useful, and demonstrate your expertise and why you belong in the ranks of the LinkedIn Influencers.
Be a thought leader. Find questions that need to be answered. Solve problems for people who are looking for leadership.
As soon as the program opens to the general public there will be a lot of background noise and it will be harder than ever to be noticed. Not only will you have to compete with other published posts, you will still need to compete against other’s sharing posts from their own websites, sharing other’s content, updates, news stories, etc.
The best way to avoid being lost in the shuffle is to provide insanely valuable content that people want to share and engage in.
It’s not enough to be part of the in-crowd, you have to be an active member of the community as well.
Follow other influences and share and comment on their posts.
Join groups if you haven’t already and share valuable content with them (not just your own) that is specific to that group’s topic.
Participate in discussions and start your own. The more active you are in groups, other posts, and LinkedIn in general the more likely others are to see your own published content and comment or join the discussion.
When you comment on someone elses post, and they reply…KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING!
Don’t think that you’re done once you hit the submit button. If you want to join the Influencer program you need to strive to create a community around your content.
Ask questions. Invoke thought. Provide them with a reason to continue the conversation.
This relates to your over all content strategy on LinkedIn. Will you use it as your main publishing platform or merely for one off posts?
Personally I plan to post at least once a week with original content not already found on my professional blog. However my main focus will still be on my blog. Although there is a lot of opportunity for posts to go viral on LinkedIn, it is still on LinkedIn. I have much more control over the content on my own site so will continue to use that as my main content platform.
The LinkedIn Influencer program is not for you to make a hard sell. If you are only posting content with the intent of selling your products then I doubt you will get very much traction.
As a professional you want to provide value to people that will make them better at what they do. Yes your product may help them but if all you do is try to sell something it comes off as you trying to help yourself more than others.
That is usually not a very good long term strategy.
Using LinkedIn as a publishing platform will allow you to share your expertise and experiences. However there are times when you may want to share those things with a broader group in mind.
Be strategic in what you are posting. Although highly targeted content will provide excellent value, if your post is jargon filled for your industry only, it may not have wide appeal.
How Will You Be An Influencer?
So I want to know. What will you write about? How will you be an influencer on LinkedIn and within your own industry?
Comment below and let me know your thoughts on LinkedIn opening this program up and if and how you’ll be utilizing it.
~ Johnny Bravo
Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net