Updates on LinkedIn – 10 ways to make them more effective

Linkedin-updatesAs either an information broadcast method, a content marketing tool or an easy method of engagement, the Updates on LinkedIn remain an often used yet rarely optimised opportunity on the site.

The Updates box site prominently at the top of your homepage on LinkedIn. However, it isn’t the easy “solve all” tool that some consider it to be – simply sending something out to appear on your connections’ homepage is not going to immediately generate hundreds of hits. Rather it is a gradual process requiring patience – a drip feed approach which increases visibility, generates page views and likes, delivers key information to connections and keeps you ‘front of mind’. If done correctly.

Using the different elements in an Update

In its most basic form, simply sending out a message via an update is an easy way to get a message out to your network. Indeed, there seems to have been a resurgence of late of people using it in that basic way, sending out a short text message which then appears in amongst the updates of their connections. The trouble is it lacks impact … and the cheery (but misguided) early morning announcement of “Hi LinkedIn, what’s happening today?” is a throw back to the Twitterverse which can work well there but generally gets swallowed up and unceremoniously spat out when tried on LinkedIn.

To make better use of the Updates, we need to be tapping into the opportunity to share information by linking to a page or site where the full information sits. If you paste the URL of the page of the article into the update box itself, LinkedIn will pull in the information from the page and link to it, as before. Once the text and image (if there is one) appears below then you can delete the original URL from the box – however, LinkedIn’s own stats shows an increase in clicks if you leave it there at the end of the text, so that’s what I’d now recommend. Hey, they’ll even shorten it for you.

Who does it go out to? Well, the update goes out to all your 1st level connections and appears on their homepage together with updates from all of their other direct connections. If you are lucky and it gets “liked” or “shared” then of course the numbers who view it can increase substantially as the distribution grows.

10 key things to remember

While there really is no such thing as a perfect update, there are a number of elements that I would encourage you to consider as you create and distribute yours:

  • Change the title: you can put an update out for an event or a piece of information any number of times. As you put these out, think about changing the title of the update so that you can target different audience sections on each occasion. The title is what will catch the initial attention and forms the clickable link too through to the article.
  • Write an accompanying message: if you are sending this out and expecting people to take the time to read it, then sell it to them … in a nice way. In other words tell them why you think it’s important and therefore why you have sent it out to them. Whether the information is on your site or a 3rd party site, it’s still important to make it clear.
  • Call to action: have you got an action that you want people to take when they’ve read the article? Clearly, this will depend on what the contents are but perhaps you could ask then to get in touch if they want more information, see you at Stand xxx if you’re announcing a show, or ask them to comment on it here. [Remember, if they do comment, the comment and the original article automatically gets sent to their 1st level connections too, widening the distribution.]
  • Get an image in there: although at the moment it needs to be LinkedIn that finds the image that you can use. The aim is to get that changed and the you would be able to tag images (using the OpenGraph) but currently we may have to resort to adding additional images if we deem it that important … and it certainly does add weight to the activity.
  • Get your timing right: updates appear on the home page and then are pushed down as others are added on top of them. Given that the vast majority of people are casual users, we need to try to ensure that the updates hit at the time when people are most likely to be on the site. Statistics imply that people check out LinkedIn in the morning ahead of the work day, then at lunchtime and then towards the end of the afternoon. Don’t forget the ever increasing mobile use as well which will influence when key times are likely to be.
  • What to send out? : essentially Updates can be any information that would be of interest to your connections. This might include general company news, new case studies, industry information, breaking news, videos, job opportunities or a whole host of other snippets which would keep you front of mind and add to their knowledge of you and what you do.
  • Don’t forget to mix it up: If you always send out the same type of information or always the same format, then it’s possible that people will tire of it and blank you out mentally. Worse still, they could even ‘hide’ your updates – hidden updates seldom get ‘reactivated’ and so your news and information will be lost forever to that person. Find a way to mix up the content in terms of what you send out and this will keep them on their toes and keep you getting read.
  • Encourage people to pass it on: Clearly if you can get other people to like it, comment on it or share it (and hence spread the word and widen the distribution), then that is going to help. So, don’t be backward in coming forward, ask people directly to do so in the accompanying text … or make it so good they can’t resist!
  • Tag people and companies: you can also mention or “give a shout out” to both people you are connected to and companies. By using @ followed by their name, you should be able to choose the one you want to link to and this in turn creates a link to their company page and or profile page on LinkedIn. Great as a call to action or as a reference link.
  • Who should send it out?: Updates can now be sent out by individuals (you and I, via our homepage) or by companies which the associated branding that accompanies it. The opportunities that each provide is a topic for a separate post, but do consider how your goals wold be best served by each and hence which would deliver the best results.

So, the humble Update on LinkedIn can be so much more than a throw away link or article and instead form an important part of your visibility efforts or content marketing campaign. Do take the time to put it together properly though and make sure that it doesn’t come across as a something you’ve just chucked away or else that might be what the recipient does too.

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