If Your Content Isn’t Driving Conversation, You’re Doing It Wrong

LinkedIn’s Executive Editor Shares Advice for Fearless Marketers

May 13, 2014

Recently, LinkedIn’s Executive Editor Dan Roth was asked to present in front of approximately 500 “Fearless” marketers at the Digitas NewFront event in NYC. The focus of the event: to spark a dialogue about how companies and their leaders should not be afraid to make bold decisions. At LinkedIn, we call it “taking intelligent risks.”

I was honored to be one of the marketers in the room, working in close partnership with Publicis agencies like Digitas in my role here at LinkedIn. As such, I wanted to share five takeaways from Dan’s talk to inspire the content you are creating today.

Want to see Dan’s full 15-minute presentation? Watch the video here.

Lessons Learned from LinkedIn’s Executive Editor, Dan Roth:

1. Modern journalism: It’s a blend of art, science and people. 

Dan’s personal story is a captivating one, having left a long-time business journalism career to help change the face of media in his new role at LinkedIn. Why the change? Dan shares how he saw a shift in the way writers and marketers would blend new ingredients to create a successful story, with a vital new ingredient – people – at the center.

Today, great writers combine data to understand what’s working and what’s not (the science) and storytelling to attract eyeballs and build relationships (the art). Take Netflix for example: Data informs which DVD’s you want; storytelling – in the form of House of Cards – has made the service invaluable. But that third element, your audience, must be given a platform to participate and tell their own stories, add their own anecdotes, correct and debate what you share. Content is just the start for them; the conversation is king. And enabling that conversation in a space that allows professionals to build their own brands, and the brands of the companies they work for, is incredibly powerful.

2. LinkedIn: It’s more than jobs; it’s about helping professionals build their brands through content. 

For the first 10 years, LinkedIn was a place you went to look for jobs and connect with others who could help you in that pursuit. But today, it’s much more than that.

“LinkedIn isn’t just about connecting people with each other anymore – it’s about allowing people to create, comment on and share the content that will help them be better at what they do.”

In 2011, LinkedIn started the process to becoming a professional publishing platform with LinkedIn Today. A year later, we launched original content through LinkedIn Influencers. People like Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Angela Ahrendts, and Ban Ki-Moon share insights, ideas and anecdotes about how they got where they are on our platform. And as more content has been shared, we have learned through data what’s working and what’s not, and we’ve shared these insights to enable richer conversations.

Now, we have rolled out the ability for members to publish on LinkedIn, allowing this original content to become part of their professional profile, to be share with their trusted network and, if compelling enough, to reach the largest group of professionals ever assembled. Our members use this content to improve their reputations, accelerate their careers and help their networks. They’re building their personal brands on LinkedIn, and it’s an exciting thing to watch.

3. Companies: Your reputation can benefit from employee content; use it to your advantage.

As professionals build their personal brands by commenting on and publishing their own content, companies are realizing that each individual is tied to a company, institution, non-profit or brand of some sort. The best companies use what their employees are saying and amplify it, transforming their people into their best PR, their best ambassadors.

Dan shared an example of a company – Redfin, an online realtor – whose disruptive business model hasn’t won them friends with traditional realtors. Through authentic content published on LinkedIn by Redfin’s CEO, Glenn Kelman, one of his toughest business critics reached out to say how impressed she was with his thinking and how she’d even shared it with her own children. Through content, Glenn was able to shift a perception.

4. Conversation is king; be fearless with your content.  

Dan often says, “Your content is only successful when it takes on a life of its own.” Through the power of social media today, stories come alive as more people discuss and share. As writers and marketers, we must be okay with audiences carrying our content to a new level. This means confronting fears and moving into the unknown with measured risks. For authors, it means giving up ownership of the direction of a story. For brands, it means accepting some loss of control over the message. That’s going to happen once you get the audience involved, but we should not be afraid to put content out there in a way that opens it for discussion and sharing.

I found it interesting to hear how many of our LinkedIn Influencers often share how they are terrified to push the “publish” button – but once they see the conversation rolling in, they seldom regret it. Fearlessness pays here. Even scarier is not being talked about at all.

5. Measure often; create often.

Driving meaningful conversation helps your brand remain relevant, but when teams have to make decisions about where to invest money around content, we know it’s not as simple as throwing things against a wall and seeing what sticks. Guessing won’t get you budget.

As such, we’d developed a set of tools to help brands measure and optimize the way they use content on LinkedIn. The first - Content Marketing Score - looks at the impact of content by measuring engagement, including content published by the brand and by its employees, and provides you with benchmarks compared to your company’s peers. Second, a tool called Trending Content ranks the topics that resonate most with specific audiences you are trying to reach, so that you can create content or empower your employees to create content around these engaging topics.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions customers can start taking advantage of these content tools today. You can learn more about these tools here.