Is LinkedIn a waste of time? Is there really any point to sharing articles or thought leadership on LinkedIn? Sharing articles is a powerful marketing tool, and here are ten reasons why:
- 1. In-house counsel (“IHC”) are increasingly going to LinkedIn for news and information. “I get all my legal updates from Twitter and LinkedIn,” Dennis Garcia, Associate General Counsel of Microsoft recently shared at LMA Tech Midwest, “by the time I get emailed the same information, it is old news.” This isn’t an isolated incident either. In the 2015 Green Target/Zeighauser Group study, it was found that 68% of IHC used LinkedIn in the past week for professional purposes, 67% used LinkedIn to connect with outside counsel, and 51% used LinkedIn as a platform to receive new and information.
- 2. Sharing articles keeps you top-of-mind with clients, potential clients, and referral sources. Most people have many lawyers to choose from and rising to the top of the list requires effort. Sharing is a simple way to accomplish this.
- 3. Finding intelligent articles takes far less time than writing articles and blog posts, but still demonstrates your knowledge and intelligence.
- 4. By constantly sharing relevant articles to your industry, you show that you are on top of the latest trends and that your experience and skill sets are up to date.
- 5. Sharing is passive. This is a big plus because you aren’t bugging anybody or filling up their inbox, you are merely sharing content that you find to be valuable. What if nobody reads it? It’s ok, they will still see it and will think of you. Think of this as a Christmas card sent weekly. Staying top of mind without annoying people can be tricky, but passive sharing is a great way.
- 6. Sharing allows you to provide value to current clients off the balance sheet. When clients pick up the phone to call you, they know the meter is running. When you share great articles or information, they get great tips and insights from you without having to pay for it.
- 7. Sharing positions you as a thought leader. I know this term has been overused, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. There are too many generalists out there, far too many that are good enough to handle certain types of work. Sharing highly targeted content shows the world that you are not just one of many but at the very top. One secret of thought leaders? They have the courage to share content even when it wasn’t written by them. They understand that true thought leaders share the best information regardless of the source.
- 8. Sharing makes you better. It keeps you informed of your marketplace. When you are constantly finding the best news and information, you will be a more effective professional because of all you learn from the content you find.
- 9. Sharing multiplies your time and effort. You can only bill one hour for every 60-minute increment, but marketing can work for you while you sleep. Every time you share an article, it goes to work for you. Some articles will be shared hundreds of times until thousands of people have read them. One share has the potential to make a 100x impact and return on your time invested.
- 10. Share because the marketplace is changing. Younger and younger buyers of all professional services are emerging and they use LinkedIn to find information. They don’t do this because it’s trendy, they do this because social media tools are far more efficient. When they turn to social media to find information, you want to make sure that you have a chance to be their source.
Does sharing take time? Absolutely, but if done correctly, this is some of the best-spent time you can imagine. Sharing doesn’t bring success overnight, but for professionals that are committed to regularly sharing great content—it can make the difference between standing out and being overlooked.
Someone asked me recently, “why do you post the same thing to Twitter three times?” The answer is simple and backed by data. Articles shared three times to Twitter over three days get almost three times the clicks. Think about it, Twitter is this river of content with articles continuously flowing by. People will rarely go to your feed to look at every single article you have posted, they just notice what has been posted lately. So, when you have a new blog post, or you’ve found a great article you love and your audience seems to love, go for the triple post. Three times over three days, at different times of the day. You can use tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule these, or our product ClearView Social has a built-in setting to automate triple-posting over ideal times.
But won’t it annoy people if you post the same thing three times?
Almost certainly not. Let’s look at this two ways. If one of your followers loves what you post, they don’t mind seeing it three times, especially if they missed it the first two times. Looking at it another way, if your follower hates the article you post, and his anger just grows each time he sees the article, he is likely to unfollow you. Is there really any value to having a follower that isn’t really into what you are posting? People that love you will want more of you, people that aren’t as committed—good riddance.
Will it look weird on your personal Twitter page that you posted the same article three times?
No. Think about it, do you have time to analyze someone’s Twitter page for duplicate posts? Me neither. Nobody notices, and if they do, at worst they will be curious as to why you posted the same thing multiple times. If they ask, maybe share this post with them?
Does this apply to Facebook and LinkedIn?
No. Facebook and LinkedIn are both very different networks because of their nature. Facebook is highly social, and posts are meant to be engaged with, not just read. You will annoy people by posting the same articles multiple times to either of these networks.
Online people vote with their mouse. They click on the content they love and ignore the content they don’t. If you are sharing great content that is of value to your network, post it multiple times. The hardest part is creating or finding great content, the easier part is getting visibility from it. You just gotta get it out there.
Adrian Dayton is the author of two books on social media for professionals and the Founder of ClearView Social, the leading social sharing tool for the legal industry, with clients in accounting, recruiting, insurance as well as publishing. You can learn more at http://clearviewsocial.com
“I’m a pilot.” This phrase can be used by a 12-year-old that operates a drone purchased from the shopping mall for $14.99 or it can be used by the individuals who make up the elite Blue Angels acrobatic F/A-18 fighter jets. Both are pilots, but with a Grand Canyon worth of experience and effectiveness separating them. Just as “I’m a pilot” doesn’t tell the whole story for those aspiring to fly, “We use social media for marketing” may not tell the whole story either. There are five levels of social media use by firms, which do you fall into?
Level 5: General Corporate accounts—lights are on, but nobody is home.
“We share to all the social networks.”
This phrase makes my skin crawl just a little. Firms think that by blasting every piece of news, charity, thought leadership, or award received to the firm’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, (and heck let’s blast it to Instagram and Snapchat while we are at it) they’ve checked off the social media boxes of their marketing plan and believe the delusion that “we are being social!”
Problem: Most of these accounts have no real audience. They’re being followed only by current members of the firm, students looking for jobs, and, if they are lucky, one or two local reporters. The real issue? Nobody wakes up in the morning and asks “I wonder what Firm X is sharing on their company Facebook page today?”
Level 4: Specialized Corporate Accounts
Firms that understand social media’s use for a strategic purpose will focus the right social media accounts on the right industries. Let’s take a new hot topic like blockchain as an example. (Blockchain is the system of shared ledgers that make bitcoin possible, and it’s a very hot topic in legal tech right now.) Blockchain is being discussed everywhere, and sites like Twitter are blockchain central with dozens of new articles being shared hourly about this new phenomenon that has the potential to threaten our existing monetary system.
Level 4 firms might create a Twitter account called “@blockchaintrain” that covers all the latest news and legal impact of blockchain. This would be a highly specialized account that would attract all parties interested in blockchain and help build a firm’s reputation in this area.
Problem: Corporate accounts don’t help build personal relationships. Nobody wants to chat with a corporate blockchain account, so firms are missing the chance to bring in business through their account.
Level 3: Specialized Lawyer Accounts
Level 3 firms skip right over the specialized corporate accounts and instead create law firm ambassadors in the form of attorneys who will be the face of blockchain news. These Twitter accounts are professionals profiles of the lawyer or lawyers that seek to be recognized as industry experts in blockchain. The Twitter account is just one small piece of their strategy. In addition to tweeting about important news regarding blockchain, they will also create a blog, attend conferences about blockchain, speak at events about blockchain, and seek to make the shortlist of national experts on the topic.
Level 2: Specialized Lawyer Accounts Combined with Firm Web Strategy
Level 2 firms have not only developed specialized lawyer accounts, but they have also built out all of the digital marketing infrastructure necessary to support them. They will specifically build landing pages onto their website to deliver white papers or drive sign-ups for webinars on the topic. Their Twitter use will drive traffic to the landing pages, the landing pages will drive sign-ups for their email list, and the email marketing will be used to grow deeper relationships with those on the list. As members of that list convert into paying customers, the firm will be able to identify a clear ROI from their social media efforts.
Level 1: All Hands On Deck
Level 1 firms recognize that social media isn’t just for those two tech-savvy lawyers, it’s necessary for the entire team. If the firm has three or four strategic areas for growth in the next year, they will enlist the help of every lawyer in the organization to share the content that has been created out to each lawyer’s individual social networks. They will use tools like ClearView Social (or some other employee advocacy tool) to prompt this internal sharing, and they will reward those who participate. In my experience, fewer than five percent of all law firms have arrived at Level 1.
Now that we’ve laid out the five levels of social media use, let me ask: if you were a potential blockchain client, would a firm using social media at Level 5 ever get your attention? Never. You wouldn’t even know they existed. So why are the vast majority of law firms still using social media at Level 5? Their claim to using social media falls as flat as the $14.99 drone ten minutes into its first flight. Social media can be as powerful as the F/A-18 fighter jet, so let’s stop going through the motions and add jet fuel needed by our firms to really make social take flight.
The Five Fears of Social Media
There are many reasons people won’t share to social media. One of them is obvious, but the other four may surprise you.
1. Fear of technology. This is the obvious one. I’ve spoken to lawyers that literally had to be taught how to copy and paste a link. “What do you mean by ‘link?'” Or, seriously, one of them said, “oh, THAT’S what copy and paste means.” While a lack of technical ability is holding professionals up, it is a very small hurdle to overcome compared to the others.
2. Fear of looking like a salesman. This is probably the most powerful barrier keeping professionals from sharing to their networks. They don’t want to look like a used car salesman shilling their wares. Most people with this fear don’t appreciate that good engagement on LinkedIn and Twitter will always add value to your network by helping people, not by promoting yourself.
3. Fear of saying something stupid. This is a huge one for extremely conservative professionals. There is an old saying that “you can’t unring a bell.” The fear of saying something stupid forever paralyzes many first time users of social media because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. The permanence of social media is a double-edged sword. You realize that the same power social media has to disgrace, can also build you up with a date and time-stamped record of all the insightful and useful information you have shared over time. Be careful, but don’t let your fears keep you from taking advantage of the permanence of social media.
4. Fear of worlds colliding. We all have personal and professionals friends connected to each of our social networks. “What if my uncle sees me posting about tax law? Won’t that be annoying to him?” No. He wants you to be successful right? Besides, if he doesn’t see your posts, how will he be reminded to refer his friends to his favorite nephew? Your personal contacts are the most understanding of occasional posts about your business.
5. Fear of losing. What if they unfriend me? What if they unfollow me? What if they block my posts? What if nobody likes me? There comes a time in everybody’s life when they need to decide to take a chance. Be yourself on social media, share the best of what you have to offer. The people that love you and that “get” you will follow you and re-post and comment on what your share. The people that unfollow you or unfriend you, you don’t need them. The whole idea of social media is finding the like-minded people that want more of you, not less.
Are these fears keeping your firm from having success on social media? Flip the switch. Join us tomorrow afternoon (October 11th, 2016) at 2pm EST for a free webinar with Adrian Dayton, to learn How to Turn Reluctant Professionals into Marketing Machines on Social Media. Click here to sign up now.
When I studied Economics back in my BYU days, one of my favorite new words I learned was stochastic. The closest synonym to stochastic is random. Usually, the term is used to describe random variables in business or academia. I bring this up because it seems most social media sharing is stochastic. You share twice one week, ten times one day, then nothing for weeks or months. If social media is meant to play a significant part in your personal branding, stochasticity (or randomness) is your enemy. Consistently dripping out quality information over time (think of a leaky faucet) is your friend.
While working with thousands of busy lawyers, accountants, and recruiters on their social media usage, I’ve found that this randomness is the norm, unfortunately. 98% of professionals are simply too busy to post multiple times per week and 99.5% aren’t organized enough to schedule out posts for their entire week. I’m not talking about over-sharing either, I’m talking about sharing the ideal number of times each week on each individual social network. Following all of the latest research a well-organized weekly calendar of social media sharing would look a little bit like this:
Let me explain the above graphic. In the above calendar I am sharing daily to LinkedIn and Facebook at the ideal windows of time each day, and then multiple times each day on Twitter. Let me make an important point here: this is NOT oversharing. Research shows that this frequency of sharing falls far short of the point at which you will see diminishing returns for your sharing. Translation: people will keep clicking on your articles at a high rate of clicks per share at this frequency.
There’s one more hidden gem in the calendar that I need to explain because it seems counter-intuitive. When you share an article to Twitter, don’t just share once, share it thrice. You read that right. Research shows that when you share the same article to Twitter three times over three days, it gets almost three times the clicks. Keep in mind, Twitter is like a river constantly flowing by. If you share three times at different windows of time, you will maximize the reach of each article you share. If someone goes to your Twitter account, are they going to see the same articles repeated sometimes? Maybe, but even if they do, the research still shows you it is still worth it because you will get far more engagement from your network.
At this point, we’ve already lost most busy professionals reading this. They simply had too much to do and the thought of stopping their work at 25 scheduled intervals throughout the week to share an article, is somewhat daunting. Others who are more organized may stay up late Sunday night using a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule the articles for the coming week. The rest will likely continue on their merry stochastic sharing ways. It’s difficult. We are all busy. I get it.
What if you could receive an email with the suggested articles to share for the week, with a “share all” button at the bottom that would magically build this ideal calendar for you? You click one button, the software service does the rest. Full disclosure, that’s exactly what the new PeakTime feature recently released by ClearView Social does. Marketing Directors send out emails to their professionals, the professionals hit one button, and their social media calendar is set for the week. Good-bye stochasticity, hello 10x visibility. Want to see PeakTime in action? Visit clearviewsocial.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a demo with me.
One more thought. Don’t leave your future success in the hands of stochasticity.
This last week in NYC I met with a frustrated Marketing Director who finally convinced their Managing Partner to share an article to LinkedIn as an update. You know, those articles that show up on LinkedIn’s Facebook-like newsfeed? (If we are going to give credit where credit is due, Facebook copied Twitter on the timeline idea, but that’s beside the point.) The Managing Partner shared the article, but nobody clicked on it. Zero clicks. Zero likes. Zero comments. Why didn’t it get any clicks? There are five reasons many articles don’t get any clicks.
- You shared an article that is of no interest to your network. You may be a very distinguished employment lawyer, but if your LinkedIn network is mostly old college and high school buddies, they might not be digging your latest article on the changes in state-specific employment law. It doesn’t mean the article isn’t any good, it just isn’t aligned with this particular network. LinkedIn is a crazy mix of everybody you’ve met professionally and personally in the last decade. This doesn’t mean you should create content that caters to your network, you need to own your area of expertise so keep writing about that, just don’t be surprised if there aren’t a lot of your LinkedIn connections that are interested in the content.
- Your LinkedIn network is too small. It’s not uncommon for me to meet lawyers who have been practicing for decades but only have 50-100 LinkedIn connections. I once worked with a partner at a big law firm who had 7 connections on LinkedIn and 220 connection requests waiting in her inbox. If you don’t have hundreds of LinkedIn connections, you aren’t likely to get many clicks. Most LinkedIn users only visit the site a few times a week for a couple of minutes. If you have 20 total connections, the likelihood of getting one of them to chance upon your article at the exact time they decide to visit LinkedIn is quite small. Remember the newsfeed concept. Articles are streaming by like a log on a river. They will only see your article if they happen to be visiting LinkedIn close to the time you shared an update. This brings us to our next point, timing.
- You are sharing at the wrong time of day. According to our research and the research of Hootsuite and Buffer, articles shared between 10:45am and 4:30pm get far fewer clicks per share. On average they get almost half the clicks than articles shared early in the morning or in the evening. This average is dragged down by the thousands of shares that get zero clicks. Share an article that isn’t very interesting at the wrong time of day, and that is a recipe for zero clicks. In case you are wondering, the four best windows of time to share on LinkedIn are 7:30am, between 9:45 and 10:30am, and then again at 5:30pm and after 7:30pm. Our software platform, ClearView Social, automatically schedules in those windows, but there are plenty of other tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that let you choose scheduled times as well.
- Your title is too long, too boring, or lacks a hook. We all hate those click-bait headlines, “This massive grizzly bear escaped right by a day care center, you won’t believe what happened next.” These headlines grab attention because they build intrigue. You don’t need sensational headlines to get clicks, you need headlines that specifically tell people what they will find when they click on the article. Keep it as brief as possible. Make things into a list if the article lends itself to lists. People click on lists in large part because they know exactly what to expect.
- LinkedIn is hiding your article in the “recent updates” section. Did you know that LinkedIn no longer shows all your updates each time you share? If you notice on the LinkedIn screenshot below the default on LinkedIn is Top Updates. What classifies updates as “Top Updates?” According to our research, articles that receive multiple likes or that are shared by individuals with a large number of connections will often make it into the Top Updates section. If your company or firm has multiple people sharing the same article, it is also more likely to be shown in Top Updates because multiple people are talking about it. This is one area where having a team approach to social media can really help increase the visibility of firm content. If you have a small network and content that isn’t very popular, this makes it even more likely your content will get little attention. I anticipate LinkedIn will continue to tinker with their newsfeed so that they eventually become more like Facebook’s newsfeed where you see content from people and in areas that are of particular interest to you.
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? -Philosophical thought experiment
For the first five years of my consulting business, I gathered data and case studies on how professionals could get the most out of their social media use. This included telling them when and what to share, and how to leverage their network to build their reputation. Then just over two years ago, my team launched ClearView Social. Now, after observing data from tens of thousands of professional shares and comparing it to the industry research of millions of shares, we’ve learned that many professionals are sharing at the wrong times.
Here are some of the most surprising findings:
- LinkedIn is nearly a dead zone from 10:30am until things pick up again at 7pm and then hit a peak around 9pm. What do I mean by dead zone? The average share between 10:30 and 7pm gets less than 1.5 clicks per share. Sharing at the best times, the averages go up by over 150%. Click averages at the best times or at PeakTime(TM) as we are now calling it at ClearView Social, will as high as 4.5 clicks per share. What do we learn from this? Nobody wants to read content or surf LinkedIn between 11am and the end of the work day. It should come as no surprise that there is a huge drop-off in clicks over the weekend.
- Twitter performs very well between 2pm and 3pm local time, then picks up again at 5pm and again at 7pm. Why will people click articles on Twitter at 2pm but not on LinkedIn at that same time? We don’t know for sure, but our best guess is that Twitter is accessed when users are actively looking for content to read. Either as a distraction from work or in search of content relevant to work. Twitter stays hot through the weekend as well. People leave LinkedIn at their office for the most part, but bring Twitter and Facebook home with them.
- Facebook isn’t just for personal sharing anymore. PeakTime for sharing professional content to Facebook is at 7:30am (when people are waking up in the morning) and then again at 5:15 until 6:15 pm local time.
If this is helpful to you, feel free to adjust your scheduled sharing times accordingly, and for users of ClearView Social, our PeakTime launch will automatically slot in your shares to the best times for each platform.
For our customers, here is our company’s help page explaining how PeakTime will work: PeakTime Explained