When LinkedIn entered the minds of people more than a decade ago I wasn’t a big fan of it. In fact, I tried it and ended up deleting my account because I didn’t like it at all. It took a number of years for me to give it a second shot. And while at first it was just there, somehow, keeping track of people even when they were moving around, it has meanwhile become a key element in how I communicate with most people I know through my work or industry. Two key events have turned me into a LinkedIn fan:
First, about three years ago I noticed that people within my industry (precious metals) were not connected online. So I did two things:
- I launched a social network on NING named the “Alchemist Club”. It was geared specifically at precious metals people. I researched beforehand on what people would like to find in the group. I called the hiring managers of most major precious metal companies who were all excited and promised to post on a regular basis. I advertised the group at our industry’s annual conference and approached pretty much everyone I knew to personally invite them.
- At the same time, I started a LinkedIn group with our organization’s title, and little to no advertising.
Just three months later, the LinkedIn group had 100 members. One year later: 500. Now: over 1,000. The Alchemist Club? It peaked at a little under 70, and I ended up shutting it down after a year.
The second event was the appearance of LinkedIn’s “Who’s viewed your updates?” feature. I usually post links to my KITCO News articles and my personal blogs on LinkedIn. Sometimes I post interesting news articles, too. Hardly more than two posts per week. These posts get clicked on by an average of 80-100 people each, representing over 10% of my LinkedIn contacts. My personal blog, the one you are reading right now, gets a couple hundred hits per post but they build over time, meaning that people will still find and read my stuff a long time after it was published. Ironically, my previous blog layout featured a digital image on alchemy titled “From lead to Gold” (above) which the artist kindly permitted me to use.
I still haven’t figured out why I don’t see the LinkedIn statistics reflected in my WordPress stats – they don’t seem to get counted. But that’s another matter, and it’s not my point.
So if it’s not the alchemy that keeps people away then what is it? My theory is that we have long entered the post information age where we are all expressing ourselves on the web so much that our friends, colleagues or tribe members suffer from overflow and can’t keep up. The natural reaction is to consolidate, to filter, to use very few platforms and customize them in ways that only relevant content gets through to us.
If this is true then the lesson is:
- Do not post often; people will get tired of it and hide your stuff.
- Be relevant: I don’t need 20 people every day to explain to me why the gold price just went up or down. Tell me something I don’t know.
- Be original: the path to being original is being informed, and taking a stance.
- Make your audience curious: my page editor at KITCO keeps telling me how important headlines are, and how much it matters to draw people into your message from the beginning. (He is right and I am not quite there yet, I’m afraid).
Reflecting on whose LinkedIn posts I like and whose I don’t, these four criteria do apply universally. Would you agree? Do you have others? What worked for you and what didn’t?