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.
Robert, I agree with you. LinkedIn Publishing is not a replacement for one’s blog, but it is a great addition, or complement, to our own real estate, our blogs.
As much as some might think LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements are annoying, the data LinkedIn is amassing about us via those endorsements, the keywords we use in our Profiles, the rich media we post and title in those 3 sections of our Profile, the updates we post, and more, all help LinkedIn conduct segmented marketing on our behalf,
As you suggested, I’ll let them. I will still build and nurture my own blog, but I will definitely take the exposure you and I are getting on LinkedIn. It sure can’t hurt, and it can probably help.
Nancy — It sounds like you and I are on the same page. We’re now seeing LinkedIn’s blogging platform as a secondary distribution channel for our content (the primary being the Great Jakes blog). We’d much prefer that people consume our content on our own website/blog, where we control the branding, user experience, tracking — and can nudge them to fill out a form.
So, for now at least, we’re planning on running posts on our blog for 30 days before publishing them to LinkedIn’s blogging platform. We’ll let you know how that plan works!
Did you analyze whether your own blog received traffic from the LinkedIn post–if indeed can post links within the LI post content?
Also, thanks for the tip about posting content after it has appeared on your site–that cuts down the amount of work you would otherwise do writing original posts for LI (and sending them the traffic for your efforts).
LinkedIn publisher rights are awarded to people today not with that one specific purpose in mind. So, yes, of course, LinkedIn never made a guarantee to promote you to your target audience. Well, how would it even know?
I read you piece, and it’s great. It has 7K+ views. Publishing on LinkedIn does play a huge role in your content marketing though.
What role? Here’s a little bit about it.
Any status update you post is visible (meaning posted to a news feed on a home page of someone) to ONLY a part of your network. How is the fraction determined? By a comprehensive algorithm, which INCLUDES your popularity and the level of engagement you maintain on LinkedIn. Thus, you being a publisher directly contributes to how many people in your network SEE your status updates.
Want to promote your business blog to your LinkedIn connections? Publish articles on LinkedIn regularly, so more people can engage with you, so your rating will go up, so LinkedIn will push your status updates with links to your own blog to more folks.
Does this make sense?
You state that:
“Any status update you post is visible (meaning posted to a news feed on a home page of someone) to ONLY a part of your network. ”
That’s quite a startling discovery I wasn’t aware of, how did you come by that information? Was it from LinkedIn or your own analysis?
Very interesting – takeaways for me are that it is worth trying everything – only by trying do you find out what doesn’t work, which is equally important as what does work. Visibility is important now as law firms try to establish brand status, so good for that also, but as you say, also key to drill down to see who is reading/connecting because visibility and traffic are like that old saying about turnover being vanity … key connections and enquiries are where the real action takes place.
I just learned from a source with contacts at LinkedIn that it doesn’t plan on keeping “influencer” posts free for long. In the near future LinkedIn will be following the Facebook model and charge for promoting a post.
Great post. Just had a very similar experience! It seems there are some “hacks” that potentially work well to get your posts promoted by LinkedIn; a catchy headline definitely sits near the top of that list.
President of Glencoe Media Group Inc.
Content. Communications. Consulting.
How has your LinkedIn strategy developed since you posted this article Jakes?