LinkedIn for Thought Leadership
LinkedIn for Thought Leadership
Updated Jul 25, 2022
LinkedIn has long been seen as the stiff navy blazer of social media platforms — useful when you’re looking for a job, but otherwise hidden in the back of the closet, next to the pants that don’t fit and that weird dress you wore to your second cousin’s wedding. But if you’re in the business of expertise, LinkedIn for thought leadership has now become an essential part of your firm’s overall marketing strategy.
Thanks to changes in the LinkedIn algorithm, it’s now a place where you can easily access relevant content posted by people in your network. And these changes have an added benefit — they make it easier to attract an audience of your own. This means that LinkedIn has become thought leadership’s newest little black dress.
Develop your own thought leadership strategy for LinkedIn by investing in your relationships and developing content that plays to your strengths.
People You Know Sharing Content You Want to See
It used to be rare to see content from people you actually knew on LinkedIn. Content from big names like Bill Gates or Richard Branson dominated your feed. But LinkedIn adjusted its algorithm to prioritize content from people in your personal network.
The algorithm filters and ranks what shows up in your feed by personal connections, interest relevance and engagement probability.
Conversely, when you post, your new connections are the first people who will see your content, so add new connections frequently for better reach.
Hierarchy of LinkedIn Content Reach
New connections > Connections > Followers > Mutual hashtag followers > Group members
How to Create High-Scoring Content for LinkedIn
Like with other social platforms, anything you post on LinkedIn is instantly evaluated and scored by the platform’s algorithm. Your score will be based on factors including the quality of your copy, whether you’ve attached images, videos or documents, and whether your post includes an external link. If your content is flagged as offensive or inappropriate, it will be referred to a person for review.
LinkedIn in recent years has emphasized connection and relevance in content — “who’s talking (People You Know) and what they’re talking about (Things You Care About).” Consistent posting is also being rewarded. If you disappear for two months or spam your network relentlessly, expect to see lower engagement.
While there’s no magic formula for gaming LinkedIn’s algorithm, which can change at any time, there are some general best practices for content creation:
Include Rich Media
This could be an image, video or native document (such as a PDF). These posts perform well in terms of clicks and other engagement. The best format for you depends on the content you have available — and, if using a LinkedIn business page, the size of your audience.
Share Links Sparingly
It’s good to share links, but save them for the first comment below a post when possible. This does require a more manual process than simply scheduling a batch of social media posts.
Instead of sharing links, adapt your longer form content into standalone, text-only posts. These posts generally outperform posts with links across format types.
Keep It Brief
Posts of 150 characters or less can deliver powerful impact, according to a LinkedIn expert, especially when you share thought-provoking stories or ask for reader feedback.
Adopt Meaningful Hashtags
LinkedIn recommends matching your hashtags against key communities and topics. Hashtags also enable you to group content under a singular theme.
Create Videos for LinkedIn Thought Leadership
Video has gained a lot of traction on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to start a conversation in a dynamic and visual way. The ideal videos for this channel:
- Feature actionable insights.
- Are natively embedded.
- Run about two minutes long.
You don’t need a huge production team or fancy creative suite to make a video with impact. Livestreaming from your phone during your walk can be just as compelling. It’s the content that really matters: Make sure it’s relevant to your network and provides useful takeaways. Offer insight into timely work challenges, for example, or share your perspective on industry trends.
Connect, Don’t Just Consume
If you’re using LinkedIn for thought leadership, just scrolling through other people’s posts won’t do much for your brand awareness. You have to actively participate in your connections’ conversations.
If you want your content to succeed, ask your connections to comment and react — and be prepared to return the favor. The more active you are on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to catch your network’s attention. Engage with your network like you would with work colleagues. Answer their questions and ask your own to keep the conversation flowing.
Start Conversations on Your LinkedIn Profile
Not all LinkedIn engagements are created equal. The LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes certain types of engagement over others
Comments > Likes > Reshares
Comments have the biggest impact on your engagement. Likes (or any reaction) have a smaller impact but still boost engagement. Reshares, however, do little for engagement.
Top thought leaders on LinkedIn post content that they know their network will interact with. Posing thoughtful questions or sharing experiences can encourage deeper interaction from your network that expands your post’s reach.
The first hour after posting on LinkedIn is Golden Hour, where strong engagement (primarily through comments) will signal to the platform that your post should be promoted for broader distribution. Publishing your post is only the beginning. Stick around, respond to comments, and connect with your audience. A small commitment of your time can have a huge impact on your LinkedIn reach.
Mind Your Manners
LinkedIn should be a dynamic, engaging space for all, so don’t forget about basic etiquette. Spamming your connections by unnecessarily tagging them or failing to follow up when people comment on your content will undermine your efforts.
It’s common practice to tag people to boost your content, but don’t overdo either. Only tag three to five people who are either mentioned in your content or you know will be genuinely interested in seeing the post.
Pass on the Pods
For a time, it was popular for social circles on LinkedIn to rush to comment on each other’s posts in the Golden Hour to game the algorithm. The algorithm now detects and discounts such behavior, and it actively hurts the reach of your thought leadership content.
Build Your Brand With Intention
What you post (and where you post it) make a big difference in how your LinkedIn thought leadership is received.
Participate, Don’t Pitch
Authentic participation will do much more for your brand than spamming your connections with sales pitches for your products or services. Spammy outreach doesn’t typically sit well with busy people and can undermine your credibility as a thought leader.
If your brand becomes known for providing valuable insights, you’ve done half the work of attracting an audience. Focus on participating and connecting organically — not pitching.
Personal Profiles vs. Brand Pages
When it comes to sharing thought leadership, should you post on your personal profile or your brand page? The answer is both.
Your brand page and your personal page have fundamentally different audiences. Content on your personal page is more likely to be seen by people in your network scrolling through their feeds. Optimizing your profile is one way to help focus your content and reach the people you most want to interact with.
Unless you’re amplifying your brand page with paid advertising, content there will most likely be seen by someone who actively chooses to visit your page. Cater this content to prospective clients and employees.
Similarly, content posted in LinkedIn groups will be viewed only by the members of the group. To gain traction here, which can help expand your network, tailor your content to be useful to that particular audience.
3 Types of Content to Share
Figuring out the topics of content you should post on LinkedIn is fairly simple — it’s the social network related to work.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. It’s OK to tug at heartstrings or crack a few jokes. Show off your personality.
Consider these three types of content to share.
Your Colleagues’ Accomplishments
Hype up your colleagues and peers. Celebrate them publishing something meaningful, taking on new roles or breaking down barriers. Invite your network to join in.
And since posts mentioning someone else on LinkedIn also show up in the tagged person’s network, highlighting your connections can significantly expand your reach.
Your Perspective on Industry Trends
You bring a point of view to the LinkedIn feed that is uniquely yours, and that’s important for thought leadership. Share your perspective on your industry and areas of expertise, and ask industry peers whether they agree.
Don’t assume you have to be grandiose in your opinions: It’s often the day-to-day insights that resonate the most. It might be calling out microaggressions common in your industry or sharing small steps you’ve taken to improve employee experience and well-being. These are the types of productive conversations that gain a lot of traction and might even do some good.
Requests for Help With a Challenge
You don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes asking a question about a challenge you’re experiencing in the workplace can do wonders for driving interaction with your network.
Ask your network questions that come from a place of genuine curiosity — and don’t worry that others will think less of you for asking them. Questions about best practices, changing norms and new expectations are on everyone’s mind, and your peers will appreciate you kicking off the conversation.
10 Great Examples of Thought Leadership on Linkedin
But don’t just take our word for it: Check out these examples of LinkedIn thought leadership in action on both personal and brand pages.
Madison Butler (aka, the Blue Haired Unicorn) is well known for being vocal on LinkedIn, especially when it comes to pointing out racist behavior in the workplace — so much so, in fact, that The New York Times took notice. Madison shares thought-provoking stories from her own experiences as a Black queer woman, and unapolagetically calls for change in the corporate world to make work a better place for everyone.
Chris Walker, CEO at Refine Labs, provides a textbook example of using LinkedIn for thought leadership. He posts regularly (2-3 times per week), and his posts follow a consistent format of a few hundred words of text and a natively uploaded video. Refine Labs is all about demand generation, so in each post on his personal page, Chris provides actionable information on using it to create demand for clients.
Liz Willits is email marketing royalty, but she’s gained a reputation as a LinkedIn thought leader, too. She posts on LinkedIn a few times a week, sharing content marketing insights through her signature digestible, quippy language. Liz is careful to use a structure and form that translates well to LinkedIn mobile (without being too text-heavy) making it easier for her followers to interact with her content.
As both a former LinkedIn news editor (and current LinkedIn Learning instructor) and editorial director at Prezi, Lorraine Lee’s page hosts a wealth of insights into building your network on LinkedIn and using video marketing effectively. In addition to natively uploaded photos and videos, Lorraine also shares relevant articles and external links — tagging the authors to give them credit for the story and to foster interactions with her posts.
What’s thought leadership without a little humor? Michael Eckstein’s LinkedIn page delivers on both counts. Michael delivers financial advice for small businesses in a punny, casual tone. His posts are thought-provoking, informative and amusing. Michael sells his value, but in a self-deprecating way that doesn’t make him seem overeager to close a deal — simply to help out in any way he can.
As a brand, Slalom acknowledges and celebrates the expertise found within its workforce. The consulting firm’s brand page is full of personal stories and expertise from employees across the company. The brand page gives potential clients a clear sense of who works with the company and what their values are.
Kin + Carta’s brand page drives home the company’s commitment to employees as family. It showcases the company’s values by highlighting employee groups around the world. Through LinkedIn, Kin + Carta shares insights from internal thought leaders, and helps make AI read a little more human.
Duolingo’s LinkedIn thought leadership is especially on-brand — the company’s brand page showcases how it brings language and culture to life on a daily basis. To do that, Duolingo highlights individuals and the work they’re doing with the company to share their culture with others.
Gong’s LinkedIn thought leadership strategy includes useful advice and free resources for salespeople. One thing Gong does especially well? Mimicking the subject line of an email, getting straight to the point and allowing followers to decide if they want to interact with that content.
Postal.io highlights its partners through eye-catching, natively uploaded videos. The company also shares client stories and employee experiences. It’s an engaging, human-centric approach to sharing their “big idea” in action.
Go All in on LinkedIn for Thought Leadership
LinkedIn’s platform puts the power of thought leadership in your hands. The perspectives, voice and value that you bring to your LinkedIn presence can help build your reputation in a meaningful, sustainable way. If people like what they see, they’ll keep coming back for more.
Time and effort spent authentically connecting with people through the platform will reward you with better engagement in the long term. And you’ll learn from the experience, too.
Not sure where to start? Look at the questions your peers are asking, and offer your valuable, unique perspective. Soon you’ll be sharing content that both the LinkedIn algorithm and your connections will love.
Thought Leaders Are Market Leaders.
Ready to learn how you can use LinkedIn to drive your thought leadership initiatives? Schedule a brief consultation and learn how our framework can help you:
- Develop your reputation for thought leadership.
- Fuel your account based marketing with differentiated content.
- Strengthen your employer branding by telling the stories of the people who power your company.