The headlines about professional social media network LinkedIn’s decision to open its Influencer publishing programme to all its members might have shouted about the opportunities to share a blogging platform with its hand-picked list of 500 influencers, but will the latest move by the network really allow your voice to be heard in a corporate landscape where every big company is using some form of content marketing?
Well, yes…if you maximize the opportunities LinkedIn is to offer its users. Unlike Willy Wonka, the world’s largest professional network isn’t offering just five golden tickets to share a blogging platform with the likes of Bill Gates, Sir Richard Branson and former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, LinkedIn has opened up the previously heavily protected doors to its blogging production line to its 125 million-plus English language users, and later to its full membership of more than 277 million.
Forgive me for sounding like an official from the Ministry of the Blindingly Obvious, but the more people you broadcast to, the greater reach your message will have.
When RBS Bizcrowd, one of Southerly’s clients, ran a TV advertising campaign the number of small business owners signing up to the B2B website went through the roof.
Here at Southerly HQ, the bulk of my writing duties involve producing case studies of Bizcrowd members. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Sandra Fitzgerald from Worldwide Parcel Services, who reported that the online business had experienced a dramatic upturn in trade since Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis recommended its European and Worldwide shipping service on ITV show Daybreak.
Sandra’s good news actually reminded me that many years ago Martin and I attended the same primary school. Not only that, his father and mine often had reason to work together, so Martin and I would share lifts to the school gates and visit each others’ homes on a regular basis. That was until the day I decided to exact my revenge on Martin following a particularly fractious journey to school when I performed my best impression of 1970s wrestler Kendo Nagasaki and had the young Master Lewis’s shoulders pinned to our living room floor.
Influencing the influencers
Now, where was I? Ah yes, so if you broadcast on TV, it’s fairly obvious you will have significant reach. Likewise with LinkedIn – a far better networking tool than a company blog recalling childhood misdemeanours – not only are you broadcasting to the right type of audience, and lots of them, but you are reaching a high number of established influencers.
However, there’s no doubt that LinkedIn’s move will also produce a staggering number of influencer-style blog posts. And if we’re all blogging as influencers then surely the role of the influencer – the influence of the influencer, shall we say – will be diluted and diminished, so what’s the point?
Good question and a very valid point. But the thing is, you’re now in a situation that separates the chocolate factory owners from the Oompa-Loompas.
Whereas before you sent your ever-so-useful blog posts out into the random ether, you’re now posting your blogs in a LinkedIn-backed community more likely to contain thought leaders, and you want them to take note.
The pressure is on you now to provide something original and innovative – your job as an influencer is to provide thought leadership differentiates itself from the blogs written by other thought leaders.
But how do you up your game? The simple answer is to make your blog post a highly creative, original, innovative and well-researched piece of content.
But here at Southerly we realise that this isn’t always possible. So here’s another way big companies can use LinkedIn’s blogging platform to their advantage.
Let’s take content marketing as an example. While Southerly’s speciality area is content marketing, the undoubted poster boy – and king of the influencers – in our sector is Content Marketing Institute founder Joe Pulizzi.
We couldn’t and wouldn’t want to steal Joe’s crown as king of the content marketing influencers. But in the same way that academics add their own examples in support of the opinion of other researchers and influencers, we were more than happy to post a blog earlier this week that used the example of Dagen-H in Sweden to support the Content Marketing Institute’s view that now is not the time to drop the word ‘content’ from our area of marketing expertise.
Just like academia, which uses different examples to build a body of evidence, bloggers can use the LinkedIn platform to become influencers by giving their own individual take on popular topics in their own industry. Put on that content marketing cap and make sure those views and examples are highly creative, original, innovative in their value and well-researched.