LinkedIn research reveals that brand posts fail to capture clicks by a large margin compared to posts by employees, especially ones with an authentic voice.
A man walks into the doctor’s office and tells the doctor, “It hurts when I do this.” Then, the man starts flailing his arm in an erratic way. The doctor’s advice? “Stop doing that then.”
This old joke shows that sometimes the cure for what ails us is to skip out on those ails all together. New research from LinkedIn’s internal team found that this cure is the perfect solution for brands who post content on LinkedIn that gets abysmal click-through rates (CTR). The study noted that employees of the same brands who posted the exact same content got a far higher CTR — over 2.4 times, in fact.
This stunning but not-too-surprising revelation uncovers why most brands do not find success on LinkedIn, whereas the platform’s “influencers” enjoy astronomical engagement and SEO benefits. To get attention on LinkedIn and accomplish marketing goals, brands will need to start relying on the human element of their message, as well as a human messenger to deliver it.
Sincerity, Quality and Other LinkedIn Best Practices
The reason that share rates on LinkedIn can be so low is likely twofold: a perception of low quality for brand-posted content and a reality of low quality in general. Simply put, while branded content has been increasingly successful, people are much more apt to engage with what they perceive to be a real, live human being.
This phenomenon is the reason why few brands crack the top ranks of social media engagement, but many celebrities do. As Douglas Holt said in the Harvard Business Review, “On social media, what works for Shakira backfires for Crest and Clorox.”
However, this celebrity status can be more generously attributed to corporate “rockstars” on LinkedIn’s B2B-focused platform. Something as simple as having a human face associated with your content can create the aforementioned 2.4x CTR benefit. If the content poster creates a reputation for high-quality, interesting and valuable thought pieces, that share rate could go up even further. Critical to obtaining these benefits is maintaining an air of authenticity and sincerity, qualities people only halfheartedly attribute to corporate entities in our modern, jaded society.
Creating an Engaging Voice on LinkedIn
Since the solution to attracting more eyeballs on LinkedIn is to appeal to the human element, content authors will need to start acting more, well, human.
One suggestion from the Observer is to stop taking safe stances on topics — regurgitating business truisms as if the authors thought of truisms themselves. In this guise, insincere-sounding messages are projected with an air of certainty. However, nothing is certain, especially in the business world, and sincere authors know this.
“Real writers talk about not getting things right, getting confused, and sometimes feeling embarrassed when producing ideas and thought,” says the Observer’s Benjamin Smith. “In essence, LinkedIn writers never leave any ambiguity. They can never be wrong. Real writers implicitly understand there are holes and blind spots in every thought piece.”
By examining issues from a human perspective, where we explore what we don’t know and feel out where it could lead, LinkedIn pieces can offer a lot more relatability as well as value to audiences. This act of framing topics in a human way and broadcasting them through human channels, rather than branded ones, can go a long way towards helping brands find success on the LinkedIn platform.