Does My Professional Network Want To Read Your Content?

November 14, 2013

I know a lot of people who work in the internet industry. I should; it’s the industry I work in. On LinkedIn, I can see that I have 258 first-degree connections to professionals who also work in the internet industry. Some are in earlier stages of their career, while others are veterans and quite senior.

Who I am connected to is extremely important to content marketers. With one click, I can share their content with my entire professional network – a group of professionals who over-index on affluence, education, and decision making within organizations.

For content marketers, understanding who is in my professional network has two very important implications:

  1. If I share their content, the professionals in my network are the ones who will see it. My endorsement could greatly increase the dissemination of their content to their target consumers.
  2. I am only going to share content that I think will benefit my professional network. After all, on LinkedIn, shared content is trusted content. Therefore, their content better be useful and relevant to my network. This criterion for sharing content is widely used by LinkedIn members.1

With these implications in mind, we wanted to give marketers more insight on the composition of our members’ networks. For this analysis, we looked at how much our members are connected to people who work in the same industry. The results can help content marketers create content that is more likely to be shared (endorsed) and reach more of their target consumers.

The graph below shows the degree to which LinkedIn members are connected to people who work in their same industry. For example, LinkedIn members who work in the construction sector, on average, have a higher percentage of same-industry connections than members who work in the non-profit sector. The chart shows the relative difference in the average percentage of same-industry connections.2 So, the percentage for Construction is four-times higher than the percentage for Non-Profit.

InterconnectednessChart

This data presents a couple of key takeaways for content marketers:

  1. Given the high degree of same-industry connections, industry-specific content may be more likely to be viewed as more useful and relevant to a member’s network if that member works in any of the top-ranked sectors, such as finance, high-tech, and manufacturing (which includes the oil and energy industry). Furthermore, if a marketer is trying to reach professionals within these industries, the effective reach of their content is greatly accelerated when it is shared by members who work in these industries due to their high degree of same-industry connections.
  2. When creating content for members in the lower-ranked sectors (e.g., non-profit and government), industry-specific content might not be viewed as widely relevant to a member’s entire network.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn members can choose to share content with their entire network (e.g., by clicking the “like” button) or with only specific people in their network (i.e., by choosing to share with particular people directly through LinkedIn InMail). Therefore, regardless of the sector, industry-specific content could still perform quite well in terms of being read and shared.

For example, the chart shows that members who work in government are likely to have a lot of connections to professionals who don’t work in government. When members who work in government read an industry-specific piece of content, they might elect to share it with only specific people in their network (perhaps those who are also in the government industry), rather than share it with their entire network. Even this more focused method of sharing still achieves important goals of content marketing:

  • Wider dissemination of content within a target market and
  • Content being endorsed by a trusted professional

Next steps for content marketers

LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities and Sponsored Updates allow content marketers to deliver content directly to their key audiences. When crafting content, content marketers should primarily focus on these professionals. However, to improve the likelihood that their content will be shared and endorsed, they should go one step further and also consider who these professionals are connected to.

Interested in reaching your target audiences on LinkedIn? Contact us to get started today.

 

Footnotes:

1 Based on a survey to US, LinkedIn members (N = 2,122), we found that members who had recently shared content on LinkedIn were twice as likely to believe that professionals in their network appreciate their content sharing, compared to members who had not recently shared.

2 Only LinkedIn members with more than 30 connections were included in the analysis.

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