A whirlwind of changes and new tools have been a hallmark of LinkedIn during 2021 as the platform also celebrated their 18th birthday. Now Newsletters end a big year of change on LinkedIn. .
LinkedIn maintained its foothold as the premier platform of professional networking, content and conversations along with the reputation of rolling out new features. The latest feature is a real game changer as explained further on.
2021 wasn’t all strictly business on LinkedIn as significant and historic social and political issues erupted across all levels, professions and leaders. In a time where fake news, mis-information and bad actors are highly scrutinised, LinkedIn appreciably ramped up their security and safety policies, tools and reporting mechanisms.
Of note is eMarketer’s Digital Trust Benchmark Report 2021 which ranked LinkedIn as ‘No 1 in the most valuable social currency of trust’ sitting alongside Edelman’s Trust Barometer reports which ranked LinkedIn No.1 for legitimacy.
A snapshot of 2021 – a big year!
Australian membership reached over 12M+ and global membership neared 800M. The hunger to grab a chunk of the LinkedIn pie of opportunity intensified as professionals and businesses spent more time on the platform. Quiet lurking, private and public conversations predominated from a saturated newsfeed of wildly differing quality and formats.
Some of the notable new features and changes included:
- Cover stories (videos behind profile photos)
- Name introductions (next to name field)
- Increased post characters (from 1300 to 3000 characters)
- Revamped Company page functionality including boosting and analytics
- Service pages (for freelancers)
- Native video meetings (via messages)
- Event tool upgrades
- Invitation limits ( to quell spam and bots)
- Product pages (for companies)
- A raft of profile layout changes (latest rolling out Nov/Dec).
- Creator Mode was a stellar feature roll out which aims to give content creators heightened visibility of their subject matter expertise and content positioning focus. LinkedIn Live accessibility is also rolling out globally now to members who have turned on Creator Mode.
Some things don’t change
The platform is still rather noisy with many moving parts. The desire to grow strong networks and consume great stories never wanes. Content that educates, entertains and inspires thinking, growth and learning drives growth and engagement.
But visibility of content can be hit and miss with the bewildering algorithms. Uncertainty of reach is the bane of many creators. And whilst members can somewhat tailor and train their individual newsfeeds it’s not always 100% fool proof. It’s also clear that two algorithms are at play – desktop and mobile.
Organic content reach and visibility is often clumsy given only circa 10% of your networks will see your post in their newsfeed. And for articles it dives to less than 1%.
Articles were once the king of content receiving substantial algorithm juice and reach until around 2016-2017. At that time global membership sat at 490M and the newsfeed started to implode, with every Tom, Dick and Mary vying for visibility for quick and easy newsfeed posts.
But articles did and still serve a valued purpose for expertise permanence and Google indexing but have been rarely used over the last four to five years.
Since article distribution and reach was throttled and post notifications were all over the shop, valuable content was often buried. This occurred as newsfeeds became saturated with engagement pod activity, sound bites, dribble, videos, and fake influencers and gamed content.
Members despaired and hoped for a function to enable ticking which members they wanted to receive content notifications from. Note there is the function to turn off or mute seeing members and connections content in your newsfeed.
Being notified of what you want to see leads me to the brilliant and much coveted Newsletter feature.
Newsletters are a real game changer
LinkedIn Newsletters were only available to a very few select members. But bingo, access is now being rolled out to every single member who has turned on Creator Mode (and meets some very basic criteria).
It was predicted after the mid-year launch of Creator Mode’s initial features that some whopper new tools were on the horizon. Newsletters hit the jackpot and will be a real game changer for many personal and business brands.
Sitting in articles in a long form format, they allow usage of all multimedia, hyperlinks and images to deliver a really rich user experience. And as articles are indexed by Google they receive all the Google ranking juice and SEO opportunities that provides.
Setting up a Newsletter is easy starting with creating a bespoke Newsletter logo and title with a brief explanation of topic/s covered. You then nominate the frequency of publishing from daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.
On publication of the first Newsletter every single member in your network receives an invitation to subscribe. This is a once only invitation and if subscribed they will receive a notification every time a new issue is published.
This is truly brilliant and will cut the mustard as in itself the invitation is a powerful tool to put your brand and name in the radar.
And let’s be frank, a huge number of your network will be virtual strangers. So this is a fabulous re-acquaintance opportunity. But be mindful that they will be receiving a lot of other invitations so you must have a unique and compelling promise and content message.
There have been some rumblings that everyone will jump on the bandwagon and create a Newsletter and thus flood invitations and the feed. Concerns have been raised that Newsletters may follow the route of Polls which have become ridiculously over and mis-used.
But I don’t believe that will occur with Newsletters as creating them requires commitment, consistency, strategy and purpose for success. A few might initially try them out and discontinue quickly. I guarantee that water will find its own level and great content and value will flourish providing the best opportunity to deliver meaningful brand resources.
Once in motion, any member can subscribe to a Newsletter even if not a connection. Another huge plus. A post is available in the newsfeed with a subscribe button as each Newsletter is published.
Feedback and predictions
The feedback and results from those few members who have been using Newsletters for a year or two have been stellar and proof in the pudding of their power.
Subscribers and engagement skyrocketed which flows into deeper conversations and business opportunities. Not every subscriber will engage as many silent consumers reach out privately. And that is again part of the golden juice of Newsletter subscriptions and consumption.
Quality vs quantity will win out in 2022. I also predict that members who produce Newsletters will pull back from high volumes of newsfeed posts which will significantly raise the content bar focussing on r cadence, calibre, context and clarity.
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