LinkedIn content preferences revealed

LinkedIn content preferences revealed may change content strategies.   Assumptions and hype without critical analysis and unbiased feedback is a recipe for social media marketing disaster. Every platform holds distinctive value positioning in attracting and retaining members with LinkedIn being the flagship of professionals and businesses. 

And great content drives eyeballs, builds trust and commercial relationships. But what content formats are preferred to consume (vs create) on LinkedIn and why? 

With the newly rolled out feature of LinkedIn Polls, I knew this was a crucial question to pose and the results were  as insightful as surprising.   Every LinkedIn member consumes content in some way with many also curating it. 

It is important to understand there are many lurkers who consume content silently without ever engaging.  There are few statistics to confirm these numbers, but it has been touted at circa 80% never or rarely engage.  The implication of that is clear. It is also worth noting that engagement metrics is not a predictor of sales success or enquiries. Many engage but never intend to buy. 

But ensuring content is relevant and delivers meaningfully to your target market is the name of the game to inspire on and off line conversations.  

Poll Results  

The question asked in the Poll  ‘What is your No. 1 content preference’  received 511 anonymous votes (44% women and 56% men)  Every sector was represented including  sales,  law, finance, technology, media, science, recruitment, marketing, government, retail, digital, medical, NPO, education  and IT.

An overwhelming 77.8% preferred written content (a combination texts/images at 47.3% and articles, 30.5%), videos, 20.1% and podcasts, 2.1%

The data of gender trends across the formats was close.  In the written and podcast preferences it was small, but video showed a marked difference of preference.

The ‘why’ behind the votes 

What motivated choices was essential for context as was analysing if there were any industry based preferences.  To the later, there were none as there was no preference consistency across age or geography.

Interestingly, the reasons for choices were often similar across both text-articles and video.  Efficiency of time, easy to digest, short and sharp were equally apportioned to video and text-article content.

Many expressed a palpable dislike for casual talking head videos driven by immediate thought bubbles etc.  Others preferred videos as it encouraged deeper   human connection and sense of the energy behind the message.  Many enjoyed the insights from body language and voice messaging was easier to absorb.

The majority who voted for written content with images-infographics felt identifying points of value and relevance was quicker and easier to skim.  And well-structured content inspired action and insight as it demonstrated considered thought. Many preferred these formats as they were less intrusive.    Deeper articles (on and off the platform) were preferred for their depth of subject matter insights, opinions and learnings.

Takeaways

  1. A quality multimedia content mix is essential with a weighting towards text-image-written formats. But horses for courses, as whilst video on LinkedIn isn’t the top preference it is very important and relevant.
  2. Don’t buy into the herd hype and pressure to push video on the platform at any cost, way or quality.
  3. If you struggle with writing content hire someone to write in your voice. Many price point choices available.
  4. Shorter, sharp and quality videos are key. Give a snippet and link to the full video if over 5 minutes. Subtitles and engaging narrative works best.
  5. Don’t try and game content reach with engagement pods, automated systems, and paid actions/bots? LinkedIn have rolled out their new algorithm system Dwell Time to signal content value.  Instead of ranking content based on clicks, likes and comments,  it will a fairer AI based on dwell time as an indicator of rich value to distribute within the 1st and 2nd degree networks. Gaming will be thwarted and great content of any type given a lot more oxygen.

Feedback from a few content & PR experts

After the poll had closed I checked in with a few global and local leaders. This is what they had to say about the results:

 “Terrific to see that people still read! Seriously though, this correlates with my personal experience. I’ve found the text/image combination – especially when written as micro-stories – to be the most effective in terms of engagement and reach on LinkedIn. My clients too have experienced the same thing. Does it mean I don’t include video? Not at all. People like to consume content in different ways, so I think it’s important to mix it up a bit if you’re a content creator”.   Trevor Young. Founder, Digital Citizen

 “There’s no doubt audiences are consuming content differently than they did five years ago which this result indicates. Brands need to be mindful of the content preferences of LinkedIn users and capture their attention fast in the newsfeed by helping, entertaining or informing potential customers given 77.8 % of users prefer text/image/article updates. Typically, video content is consumed on other Medias and while LinkedIn now has a native video platform users are still more likely to seek video on YouTube”.  Cath Vallence, Head of Content, Private Media

“ It doesn’t surprise me that text-based posts have performed so well, followed by articles. When video content is so prolific on every other platform, I look to LinkedIn for considered opinion and thought-provoking content (long and short form). I’ll use other platforms when I’m looking for infotainment, food porn and dance offs. And it seems I’m not alone.”   Bec Derrington, Founder Source Bottle & Influencer Hub

 “This result will come as a surprise to many, especially those caught up in the video content wave. But I think the focus on text makes sense if you consider the LinkedIn audience. Busy executives don’t have time to wade through a video or podcast episode to find the core value. Text provides an efficient delivery format to quickly assess potential applicability and even copy and paste key ideas to share with others” Mark Schaefer, Global Marketing Educator, Author, Marketing Rebellion

“We’re all busy people and don’t have time to watch some wannabe in their car, talking through something you could read in a third the time. Plus if it’s written, it’s more likely to have been redrafted and edited into something worth your attention.” Ian Whitworth, Co-Founder Scene Change

Summing Up

Whilst LinkedIn Polls are not equatable to  Roy Morgan or Gartner type research, they are  nonetheless a very  solid indicator of the sentiments of the day of members.  This Poll result, after reviewing all respondents is a confident and valuable result to factor in LinkedIn content marketing and personal brand development.

LinkedIn polls provide an outstanding opportunity to gain insights and encourage business and marketing conversations.   But they like salt, they must be used sparingly, strategically and with relevant purpose to remain of high interest and respondent value. 

Versions of this blog have been published in national  business media including Smart Company and Kochie’s Business Builders

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