New LinkedIn Research Reveals How to Create Engaging Content

December 6, 2016

This post was written in conjunction with Lorraine Hester, Market Research and Insights Manager, LinkedIn.

You would be hard-pressed to find a business today that doesn’t understand the vital role that content marketing plays in driving customer engagement, brand awareness and attracting new talent.

While it’s easy for marketers to measure whether an individual post is share-worthy by tracking the number of likes, comments and shares it generates, grasping the bigger picture of how their marketing campaigns are performing is more difficult. Creating compelling content doesn’t follow a  one-size-fits-all approach, and a successful strategy requires marketers to know how to engage with different professional audiences.

LinkedIn surveyed more than 9,000 members around the world to learn how people engage with content to further their careers, find jobs, or make purchasing decisions. Here are four main takeaways from the study:

Every generation prefers different types of content

We found content engagement varied by generational segment and may reflect where professionals are in their career. Compared with professionals aged 35-54, Millennials, who may be in an earlier stage of their career, are more likely to engage with content that educates, inspires, or helps them develop skills. GenXers, on the other hand, prefer to read posts that keep them up-to-date on the latest trends.

Furthermore, Millennials are more likely to engage with content to learn about prospective employers (37%) or get a job (36%) compared to their more experienced colleagues (27% and 21%, respectively). This demonstrates the importance of tailoring content to the target audiences you’re trying to reach.

Thought leadership and company culture insights boost talent brand

One of the goals of this research was to discover which type of content helped to build a company's talent brand. 64% of respondents said that thought leadership and industry news were the content types most likely to make a company more appealing as a potential employer, while 61% said posts on company culture improved their opinion of the company.

Creating content around company culture can also be a great way to help potential hires picture themselves working for you. In a previous study from LinkedIn, job seekers indicated that the number one challenge they faced when changing jobs was not knowing enough about a potential employer's culture.

Want to engage and attract Millennial employees? Make them laugh! They’re 56% more likely than GenXers to agree that fun, lighthearted content would make a company more appealing to work for.

Short, inspirational content is most engaging

While long-form posts are one proven way to reach an audience, readers also value brevity,  clarity of purpose, and company reputation when it comes to the content attributes that matter most. Content that was straight to the point and inspirational tied for the top spot (44%) while content coming from a reputable source ranked third in importance (42%).

It may not surprise you that non-promotional content performs best. According to the survey, people are most likely to engage with industry trends/news (89%) and tips (86%). However, a large majority (72%) of respondents told us that they would be likely to engage with content about a product or service.

Professionals look to their peers for recommendations

When it comes to the content sources that members are likely to engage with, peers (57%) come out on top. However, colleagues (54%), companies/brands (52%), and influencers (51%) follow closer behind than you might expect. Generational differences are also important here -- Millennials are more likely than GenXers to say they are likely to engage with companies/brands.

In short, it’s more important than ever that marketers understand how professionals engage with content, especially on social networks. On LinkedIn, 79% of respondents reported that they read or engaged (click, like, share or comment) with content on the platform at least once a week -- one in three say they do so every day. Gaining an awareness of how people engage with branded content is essential to an impactful marketing strategy.

To see the full research on how LinkedIn members engage with content on the platform, check out this infographic, "Motivating LinkedIn Members to Engage with Your Content."