The introduction of long-form posts, which are essentially blog articles, is in my opinion one of the best features LinkedIn has made available to users, but some profile users are guilty of misusing this facility.

Here’s a few common abuses you should avoid to ensure that your content and connection remain worthy of your audience’s time and attention. I hope you’re not guilty of any of these!

1. The not-so-long long-form post

Long-form – the clue is in the name. Long-form posts have a significant advantage over the short posts we publish to our timeline. Not only do they give us an opportunity to publish more in-depth content that other LinkedIn users may be interested in but our 1st connections also receive a notification to tell them we have just published a new long-form post – like you did for this one.

LinkedIn users are familiar enough with these posts by now to realise that there’s a much higher chance of the content shared via long-form posts being seen and consumed by connections than a standard post. This makes them very attractive to individuals who have something they want their audience to know about.

However, how often have you opened one of these posts to see a one or two line entry or a short paragraph which serves no clear purpose and fails to engage you in the slightest?

If you are one of the perpetrators of these, think again before you post a not-so-long long-form post as the impact you were aiming for is a far cry from the impact you will have.

2. The Instant Re-direct

We are all familiar with viewing links on Facebook and Twitter which re-direct us to the channel which houses the content, such as an online publication or website blog, but the beauty of LinkedIn is that we don’t have to leave LinkedIn to consume this content due to this unique feature they’ve provided us with, so why create an obstacle for your viewers by sending them elsewhere when they’ve already arrived?

As a Content Marketer, I’m well aware that company websites are often the primary online content hub a company owns, and social media channels, email campaigns, paid ads and most other forms of online publishing and promotion serve to drive online users back to this central hub of your company’s information. Therefore, encouraging people to view your website is not in itself wrong and is indeed a Call to Action (CTA) that is worth including – but writing one line and adding a link to your website, in my opinion anyhow, does not create a good user experience. Again, it’s not what viewers expect to see so they are instantly disappointed.

It also conveys the message that you’re lazy – after all, if you’ve already created the content and uploaded it to your website blog, surely taking 10 minutes to copy and paste it, upload an image and format it shouldn’t be such an onerous task, should it?  Not to mention the fact that a more or less empty post on your professional profile is not going to do you justice.

If you want viewers to go to your website to view content, give them a reason to do so.  Perhaps use LinkedIn to provide a shorter version of the article.  If you’ve provided enough content to engage them, then the chances are they won’t object to following the link to your website to read a more in-depth version of the post, or view supporting content you may have on the topic such as a whitepaper or e-book.

3. The Sales Pitch

We’ve all been there haven’t we? We get a notification that a post has been published, the heading is compelling or intriguing enough to convince us to click through and then – BOOM – we’re slapped in the face with a full-blown sales pitch that is all about the publisher, when it should be about providing useful tips, sharing informed opinions or starting an interesting conversation with our connections.

Now, make no mistake – we are all on LinkedIn to sell something – whether it be own personal brand as one worth following and engaging with, or to promote our business as one you should buy products and/or services from.  Again the transparency and honesty of LinkedIn is part of its beauty, so we don’t need the double-whammy!

In a previous article, Will Your Marketing Content Score a Goal in the Back of the Net?, I highlighted the importance of quality content to a successful marketing strategy, and introduced readers to the Content Marketing Matrix. This matrix illustrates 4 common goals of content – to educate, to entertain, to inspire and to convince. Next time you start to write an article, ask yourself, what are my goals and will this content help me to achieve them.

Sometimes we all have something we want to promote – perhaps it’s a training workshop we are hosting, or a business networking event we are speaking at, or a new product or service we are offering, so I’m not saying you should avoid mentioning these things at all costs, but think about how you present this information. Are you educating users and inspiring them by illustrating the value they’ll gain from taking you up on your offer, or are you just ramming it down their throats? If you or your company is a regular perpetrator of ‘The Sales Pitch’, think again about how you structure the content of your article.

So What Should You Take From This?

I’m sure you already get the gist of what I’m saying, but to conclude, I’ll summarise some of the potential impacts of abusing LinkedIn’s long-form post facility:

1. You irritate your audience who feel cheated as they expected to read a useful and/or interesting article – they might forgive you once but….

2. Make a habit of it and over time their opinion of you as a valuable connection, peer and/or influencer will be downgraded – this is not what you want to happen on LinkedIn and….

3. You’ll get ignored as connections start to disregard future notifications from you (or even remove you from their connections list) – this causes a huge problem for you when you actually do have something relevant and engaging to share that would interest them. Remember the boy who cried wolf?

4. Your professional profile doesn’t look professional – there is a lasting impact of ‘crappy content’ as these long-form posts become part of your professional profile and this type of content can continue to do you harm as it is seen by every current or potential connection who views your profile.