We’d been hearing a lot of buzz about LinkedIn’s new “Long Form Posts” blogging platform – so we decided to do a test. We uploaded a blog post entitled The Disappearing Homepage, which had previously been published to our own blog. And within 24 hours of posting the piece, we saw massive traffic:
- 5,400 pageviews
- 131 LinkedIn “likes”
- 25 comments on LinkedIn
- Over 500 shares on LinkedIn
- Over 1,300 people were now “following” our content on LinkedIn
- 21 tweets (on Twitter, an entirely separate social media platform)
- 30 Facebook shares (again, a separate social media platform)
- 12 Google+ shares (again, a separate social media platform)
More traffic than our own blog
Wow! These traffic numbers blow away what we normally see on our blog. Some facts to consider:
- In the entire 16 weeks that the The Disappearing Homepage piece had appeared on the Great Jakes blog, it has received relatively paltry traffic: 648 views and 4 comments (versus 5,400 views and 25 comments on LinkedIn).
- Since we started blogging four years ago, only one other post on our blog has come close (4,924 views, 36 comments) to garnering the kind of attention that LinkedIn gave us.
Reality sets in
LinkedIn’s numbers were so big that we momentarily began considering whether this platform should be central to our content marketing efforts. Then we decided to dig into the traffic data to learn more. After a few hours of investigation, an uncomfortable truth emerged: all this traffic might be a bunch of noise. It wasn’t clear that any of it was in our target market (which, BTW, consists of marketers at law firms with 40 to 840 attorneys).
Who are these people?
Our initial investigation uncovered the following facts about the burst of traffic our blog post received on LinkedIn Long Form Posts:
- LinkedIn won’t tell you exactly who read your piece. So, there is no way to definitively determine whether the readers were relevant to our target market.
- The reason why the piece received so much traffic was that LinkedIn promoted it in two categories: Marketing & Advertising, and Social Media. It’s unclear why they selected this piece to promote and exactly how they promoted it. Additionally, it’s not clear that any of the traffic they drove falls in our target market – because these two categories are extremely broad.
- Of the 25 comments on the blog, 24 were made by people that clearly fall outside of our target market. This suggests that most of the readers also fall outside of our target market.
- Only 4 of the 131 “likes” on LinkedIn were from my own LinkedIn connections.
- Our acquiring 1,300 content “followers” on LinkedIn is a bit of a mirage, because the number apparently includes my 1,226 LinkedIn connections. That said, 74 new people following me is a good sign (providing that they are in my target market).
In an effort to gather more data, we posted a second post to LinkedIn, entitled Law Firm Mobile Traffic up 243% in the Last Two Years. In the two weeks since it was launched on LinkedIn, the piece received:
- 518 page views (versus 281 views on our own blog)
- 12 LinkedIn “likes”
- 1 comment on LinkedIn
- 76 shares on LinkedIn
- 8 tweets (on Twitter, an entirely separate social media platform)
- 7 Facebook shares (again, a separate social media platform)
- 2 Google+ shares (again, a separate social media platform)
Not too shabby – but still a lot less action than for the previous post. What accounted for this massive traffic drop from post to post? We believe that the main reason is that it wasn’t selected by LinkedIn to be promoted in any categories.
A striking discovery
If LinkedIn didn’t widely promote post #2 – where did the traffic come from? My analysis shows that it came from people within my own LinkedIn network (and people they shared it with). Which leads us to a striking discovery: it appears that LinkedIn somehow drives more of your connections to read your blog post when you publish it on LinkedIn (as opposed to your own blog). Consider these facts:
- 518 views = the traffic blog post #2 received within two weeks of being posted on LinkedIn
- 281 views = the traffic blog post #2 received within 19 weeks of being posted on our blog
One thing to consider: when we published the piece on our blog, we shared with our LinkedIn network. I guess that it shouldn’t be any surprise that LinkedIn is better at using LinkedIn than I am.
So, what’s the verdict?
From our tests, it seems pretty clear that the LinkedIn blogging platform is not a silver bullet. That said, I expect that we will continue using it. Why? Because it’s free. And it’s easy. And they seem to be better than I am at driving traffic from my own LinkedIn connections.