LinkedIn status updates: breaking every rule on social

Brett Kobie

When it comes to social in the policy advocacy space, I’ve always said that LinkedIn was the platform most likely to consistently deliver a real world outcome. If you give enough of your professional self there for people to actually get you, the ROI is phenomenal.

Across our client base, we experiment a lot with tactics on LinkedIn that help build the real-life relationships needed to make policy outcomes happen. In that context, we’ve developed methodologies for thought leadership and the public affairs version of what the marketing world would call “social selling.”

Long-form blog-style posts continue to form a huge part of those methodologies as do newer features like native video on personal profiles and soon on company pages (NATO Social Media Chief Axel De Mil seems to have this already because he is a boss, the rest of us will just wait it out I guess).

What’s new though on LinkedIn is actually old – it’s the newsfeed status update. Day after day we see these generating more conversations (on and then offline) than we had ever thought possible. And they break every rule of social we’ve come to regard as unbreakable – they’re not necessarily short, they often get more traction when they’re just words without pictures, and people make way more time for them than you’d think (goodbye 3-second FB audition) as evidenced by the quality of comments, which one could only come up with after having actually read and internalised the substance of the post.

What’s changed? In the first place, LinkedIn’s whole user experience and to a certain extent its graphic user interface (its appearance and how you interact with it) got an overhaul, bringing it ever so slightly closer to other newsfeed experiences you might have seen on Facebook and Twitter.

But from there, it’s hard to say what’s made more people keen to read text. What’s clear to us though is that LinkedIn has managed to combine the brevity of Twitter with the long-standing depth of LinkedIn, while skipping (for a large extent at least, and perhaps only temporarily) the trappings of social video domination that kills attention spans and prompts users to scroll in a FOMO way or a robotic liking way (tap, tap to like… tap, tap to like…drool like zombie…repeat).

The takeaway: experiment more with the status update, share your and your org’s semi-raw and unpolished thoughts or movements around town with your network. As long as you’re adding value, you’ll find that you’ll be more than welcomed in a way you hadn’t thought. This doesn’t mean ignoring all of the others tools LI has developed – it just means getting the balance right.