How to write a great short-form post on LinkedIn

Karen Tisdell

LinkedIn Profile Writer & Designer ♦ LinkedIn Webinars, Trainer, Speaker

You use LinkedIn to get noticed – so why post something if nobody is going to read it? There is a definite technique to writing LinkedIn content with impact. Here’s why it matters, and how to create an attention-grabbing short-form post on LinkedIn.

Why you need to get your LinkedIn content right

In 2011, before Twitter and LinkedIn were part of everyone’s daily lives, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that the average person heard or read 100,000 words every day. Imagine how much that figure has grown since, with the modern ubiquity of social media! These days you need to try a lot harder if you want your words to cut through the noise and be memorable to the right people.

LinkedIn’s algorithm uses a number of criteria to decide which posts should be given more prominence in your audience’s feeds, so it’s essential to craft your content correctly if you want it to reach the people you need to.

Do’s and don’ts for getting your LinkedIn content seen

1. Don’t make it too short

I know brevity can be a good thing when you want to convey a memorable message, but on LinkedIn, you shouldn’t make your posts too short. You need to write more than five lines, so the “see more” option appears.

A “see more” is a hard click that tells the LinkedIn algorithm that your post is interesting (even if they don’t like or comment on it), meaning LinkedIn will give it greater prominence in people’s newsfeeds.

You need to make sure your first five lines are attention-grabbing, so people will click “see more” to demonstrate that they want to read the rest of the post. A great way to do this is to have a space after your first sentence, and to ideally have your sentence incomplete at the mid-way ‘see more’ point.

Spacing also makes your post easier to read on mobile devices. Skimmability is key.

2. Do use emojis

While I once wasn't a fan of emojis, believing that if overused they can look tacky or make the author appear overly emotional, however as clever Belinda Aramide has pointed out – emojis do bridge communication gaps. It is worth using symbols sparingly and strategically to emphasis a particular point, add an extra nuance, or make your content stand out.

3. Don’t include external links

Pre-COVID19 posts that included external links did not do as well. While this appears to have changed in recent times (likely because more of us are on desktop and can right mouse click to open external links in a new tab), do keep in mind that LinkedIn wants to keep users on its platform for as long as possible.

It is also worth considering that you include external links in a post, you are encouraging people to click away, and they are unlikely to click back and 'like' your post.

If you want to include an external link, best practice is to press publish and THEN edit and add the external link.

4. Think about your audience

While it’s essential to be yourself on LinkedIn, you do need to remember that you are not just talking to yourself. The only way to build your reputation and achieve new business through LinkedIn is to say something that resonates with the audience you are trying to attract – your potential clients. This means you need to think about what is most likely to interest them.

Needless to say, you need to focus on your strengths. The point is to establish yourself as a thought leader within your own industry. Draw on all your experience, and offer insights and perspectives that others may not have thought of. Write posts that answer questions; questions that people within your industry might want to ask.

As you write, think about what puts you in the unique position to offer these insights. By adding personal perspectives and writing from your own experience, your personality will come through. This is what will draw audiences to your writing – they will be able to tell straight away that you are authentic, and this will make you appear a more trustworthy and reliable source of information, as you are speaking from experience.

And of course, you need to be really interested in your subject, as your enthusiasm will attract readers. But, ultimately, your content needs to be a resource for these readers, not just a medium for you to write for your own enjoyment.

The trick is to find the sweet spot between what you want to talk about and what your potential clients want to listen to.

5. Do encourage a conversation

If your posts are bland, they won’t stand out. Give them some personality – use a provocative style, be conversational, and express your opinions. Give people something to think about and remember.

You should also ask questions in your posts, as this encourages people to respond with comments. If your post receives a lot of interaction, LinkedIn will give it greater prominence. 

Be conversational, third person perspective may appear distant and aloof. First person "I, You, We" is important if you want to look approachable, and of course you want to demonstrate that you are open to connecting and communicating.

6. Do be authentic

As Oscar Wilde reportedly said, “Be yourself, because everybody else is already taken”. Your readers on LinkedIn want and value authenticity. In today’s world of mass advertising we are all more cynical and have become adept at spotting fakes. Let your true personality shine through in your content and you will automatically attract the right people.

Don't be all things to all people.

7. Only post when you have something to say

It’s important to post regularly, but I’m a strong believer in quality over quantity. There’s no point posting every day if you don’t have anything interesting to say, just for the sake of getting attention.

In fact, if people do see you posting daily they may be less inclined to read your content because of the sheer volume you are putting out. Once or twice a week is typically sufficient, depending on how noisy your ideal clients are. If your clients are producing content often, so should you!

Always put your objective first, think about what you want to achieve on LinkedIn, whether this is attracting more clients or getting a new job. What do potential clients or hiring managers want to see? You should only post when you have something of value to offer them.

8. Use hashtags

If you use a hashtag that your ideal audience are likely to be following then there is an increased chance that your content will reach the right people. It is best practice to increase your reach by researching what hashtags are trending in your industry or field of work.

You can find hashtags by clicking to the left of your page as I demonstrate here. Wonderfully though, US based LinkedIn profile writer Andy Foote has produced the Hot 100 Hashtags (as of Jan 2020).

Please note LinkedIn recommends no more than three!

Alternatively, you may wish to draw attention to your post with an interesting and unique hashtag. Something that is memorable or makes people smile can be very effective!

To learn more about using LinkedIn, attend an upcoming WOB workshop

Building your LinkedIn brand
Building valuable LinkedIn connections
Creating content
Attend the series of 3