LinkedIn’s Exclusive Influencer Program is Opening Up to All Members
What do you have in common with Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington? Now with LinkedIn’s plan to expand its LinkedIn influencer program to all of its users, you too can become a LinkedIn Influencer. The Influencer program is an invite-only blogging platform that allows top businessmen and women to share their expertise, experiences and advice to LinkedIn members. Starting on February 19th, an additional 250,000 members became part of the club. LinkedIn will continue to roll out the program until all users are sharing their insights on the network. Improved access to the program benefits both LinkedIn and the average user, but becoming a thought leader on the site will not be easy.
LinkedIn Influencers are a select group of leaders who the company has selected to provide insight into their business strategies and personal lives. Founders of non-profits, renowned doctors and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are a part of the program, which hosts blogs that have, on average, 31,000 views, 250 likes and 80 comments. For a user that does not have a social media presence quite like LinkedIn Influencer and President of the United States Barack Obama, the platform provides an opportunity to share content and influence users on a professional network. If users share the posts you write, the opportunity to reach more users increases. This year, with the increased focus on content marketing and providing consumers with valuable information via numerous platforms, participating in the program could mean greater visibility for you and your business.
LinkedIn Director of Product Management Ryan Roslansky called the Influencer program’s results “a remarkably high level of engagement for digital content,” and he expects that engagement to increase with the expansion of it. While there are definitely benefits to this program, there is one major problem.
Opening up the platform to all LinkedIn users may also prove to be a negative decision by the company, since part of the draw of the Influencers program was its exclusivity. There were about 500 users that comprised the expert Influencers group before the roll out. Some of the most engaging pieces received hundreds of thousands of views and hundreds of likes. Slowly, the site’s 277 million members will be able to share their expertise and also have a share of those likes and views, dispersing the concentration of high engagement the previous Influencers had among thousands of Influencer articles about the same issues.
To make the most out of the opportunity, follow the ways of the original Influencers.
- Make it Personal: LinkedIn chose these 500 Influencers, not only to share their business savvy, but because of their professional brands. The public looks to those who seem to have a great work-life balance, as well as a balanced financial portfolio. Some of the most accomplished and admired businessmen and women give advice on topics including how to start a business from the ground up and even how to find a fulfilling career. In fact, articles about the Influencers’ journeys to success are some of the posts users most engage with. This is definitely the case for top Influencer Richard Branson.
- Keep “Shameless Plugs” to a Minimum: There are 263 CEOs, chairmen or founders in the original Influencer program who undoubtedly represent many of the most successful organizations in the world. They could discuss the work of their organizations, but instead choose to share valuable experiences that help their subscribers shape their personal and professional paths. Those posts reach more users. Remember that your subscribers elected to follow the individual, not the company.
- Be Original: It is easy to recycle and repackage old ideas to generate content, but the most successful Influencers are truly original. Posts including personal anecdotes and provocative titles receive the most views. Influencer Nancy Lublin, CEO of youth-focused non-profit DoSomething.org, authored a post titled “Why I'll Never Attend Another Women's Conference,” which received nearly 20,000 more views than the second most viewed article on her Influencer blog. The content in the article is not profound, but challenges the purpose of “[talking] about ‘women’s issues’ in a room full of women.” Not being afraid to be original pays off.
The Influencer program has driven many people to the LinkedIn site, and giving additional content sharing capabilities to average users will continue to increase traffic. LinkedIn has made becoming an influencer more attainable, but may have indirectly made the influencer title less desirable and special for users. Users should still share their insights with other LinkedIn members, but expecting to reach Richard Branson status on the network would be a stretch.