Julia Cook
Julia Cook 14 March 2018

How starting a fight on LinkedIn could boost your engagement

Why are influencers so aggressive these days? They're not out for blood, they're out for clicks, and you should be too. Draw traffic to your business with these tactics from users whose post engagement is through the roof.

Has anyone noticed how… mean LinkedIn seems lately?

With over 500 million active users (but some say “only” 10 million monthly) the professional networking platform lets people follow their connections, friends and family, as well as industry influencers and news outlets.  Like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn allows businesses to promote themselves and users to promote their business.  Arguments are common on any social media platform, but Linkedin’s post guidelines suggest the feed is not a place for politics or personal attacks—as Facebook and Twitter sometimes seem to be.

But if opinions are like profiles (and everybody’s got one) one update caused passions to proliferate on the Microsoft-owned network.  With its redesign last year, LinkedIn changed its posting rules so the first 2-3 lines are cut off with a ‘see more’ link.  According to Director of Engineering Chris Pruett, this “brings conversations and content to the heart of the platform,” so in that two seconds before the click, a user generates their thoughts on a subject, whether they mean to or not.  By demanding a knee-jerk reaction, the feed becomes more interactive.

Influencers responded by making their messaging controversial or instigating.  The result is a kind of professional subtweet, with folks calling out a problem in their field.

Some examples:

And it looks like businesses have done the same:

Why do they seem aggressive?  Because they're trying to challenge you.  LinkedIn being (ideally) a place of professional expertise, users will click something that conflicts with what they think they already know. Of course, a challenge doesn't have to be negative.  Engaging posts can ask thought provoking questions too; these updates cause a click because they offer information that may be new, obscure, or otherwise unavailable.  Take a look:


So how can you boost conversation in your content?  We made a few observations from successful LinkedIn updates.  Try just one or all at once and you should see a lift in your post engagement:

Issue a Challenge
Your network scrolls past if you state the obvious.  Use surprising statistics, emotional claims, or even controversy to draw eyeballs and necessitate a click.  Say something really outlandish and people will want to see how you back it up.  But be aware that, like anywhere on the internet, some people on LinkedIn are looking for a fight.  Keep your own communications civil and don’t feed the trolls.

Keep it Short
Wordstream found that top-performing AdWords campaigns were targeted at a 9th grade reading level.  Obviously those on LinkedIn are light-years past their teenage counterparts, but they’re also busy professionals trying to dig value out of the noise.  Keeping your message simple and free of jargon makes it easy for readers to commit.


Confine the Lines
The ‘...see more’ link cuts off your message after line 3.  Drive urgency with line breaks, as in the updates above.  In James, Edith and Kyle’s posts, the line break invites a pause for readers to consider the question.  Now that the reader’s invested, he’ll want to see others’ comments and add his own experience.  If your message isn’t suited for this kind of brevity, make sure the cutoff isn’t in the middle of a sentence.  Cory, Eric and Josh do a great job of this, completing their thought before inviting a click.

Tag the Meat
On any social network, tagging is the easiest way to leverage connections.  In the example below, Kate keeps her tags below the fold (‘...see more’ occurs right before the date) so her collaborators will see and like the update, automatically sharing it with their own respective followers.  With a genuine ‘thank you’ message, Kate makes it clear these are experts she knows personally, not just big names she’s using.

Every conversion comes from a click.  So what conversations will you start?  And how much traffic will you net as a result?  Pay attention to influencers already using this technique, and if you’ve already thought of some applications to your business, share them in the comments.

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