🎯 LinkedIn: A creator platform of choice

From cringe to creator magnet

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Longevity in this business is about being able to reinvent yourself or invent the future” — Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

Social platforms come and go.

It’s a rare thing for one to come, go, and come back again.

This is the playbook from one that has.

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LinkedIn: A creator platform of choice

Chess Move

The what: A TLDR explanation of the strategy

It’s 2020. You open the LinkedIn app. What’s on your feed?

  • Event you’d never go to

  • Irrelevant company update #154

  • Someone you’ve never met is “thrilled to share that…”

  • ‘Thought leadership’ on a regulation change that doesn’t impact you

Today, that content still exists, but its <5% of what you see.

The other 95% - a different flavour entirely:

  • Mini-essays

  • Top 10 listicles

  • Personal anecdotes

  • Spicy point-of-views

  • Creative visualisations

  • Step-by-step carousels

  • Downloadable ‘cheat sheets’

Original content. Not created by companies or random nodes in your ‘professional network’.

What changed?

LinkedIn set it’s sights on attracting a specific breed of power-user to the platform.

The type of user that, if you’d asked 3 years ago to join, would’ve laughed and continued chipping away on YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram.

The type of user that, once they join, becomes a force multiplier for attracting more users and increasing overall platform activity.

LinkedIn transformed into the de facto home for b2b creators.

Not a trivial achievement. LinkedIn now has 3 professionals joining every second.

💡 Strategy Playbook: Create incentives that win the power-users, who in turn accelerate activity and growth of your platform.

Here’s how they did it:

Breakdown

The how: The strategic playbook boiled down to 3x key takeaways

1. Let users opt-in to an ‘Activation’ moment

One way to signal to your power-users that you value them:

Let them signal to you that they self-classify as a power-user.

LinkedIn launched ‘Creator Mode’ as a toggleable setting that unlocks a variety of features making it easier to build an audience on the platform:

  • Enables ‘Creator Analytics’ which provides unique insights about your audience.

  • Enables creator tools such as ‘LinkedIn Live’ and ‘LinkedIn Newsletter’.

  • Let’s you add a ‘Custom Button’ - a link that appears under your name on your profile and in the feed, allowing anyone to 1-click navigate to your website.

  • Moves your ’Featured’ and ’Activity’ sections to appear higher on your profile.

  • Displays the number of followers you have prominently on your profile.

  • Displays the topics you post about in the ‘About’ section of your profile as hashtags.

  • Turns the ’Connect’ button on your profile into a ’Follow’ button.

  • Makes people who request to ‘Connect’ with you automatically follow you.

  • Sends an automatic notification to new followers prompting them to subscribe to your ‘LinkedIn Newsletter’.

  • Makes you eligible to be featured as a suggested creator to follow.

A user toggling-on ‘Creator Mode’ serves as an ‘Activation’ moment: a signal that that user is now more likely to post original content, engage with others, use more features, spend more time on the platform, and less likely to churn.

2. Share your moat with your users

Obvious statement #1: Creators want information about their audience.

Creator analytics is no recent concept - it’s been a core value prop for creator platforms of choice like YouTube and Instagram for years.

Obvious statement #2: LinkedIn holds some of the most valuable data and AI models on the planet.

The Skills Graph, the Knowledge Graph, the Economic Graph, the Activity Graph, and the Connections Graph to name a few.

Providing even a snippet of this data to creators to offer unique demographic insights about their audience is a huge differentiator.

Here’s what creators currently get:

  • Data points on their audience like…

    • Job titles

    • Industries

    • Companies

    • Company size

    • Seniority levels

  • applied across various touchpoints like…

    • Overall audience

    • Profile viewers

    • Specific posts

It’s a wafer-thin slice of the whole pie, but a flavoursome one nonetheless.

Obvious statement #3: Not every company has world-class proprietary data-sets.

But, it’s worth considering what internal data can be repackaged as a value-add for users.

Confirmed: 45 minutes snooping around the LinkedIn engineering blog is a worthwhile trip

3. Calculated competitive counter-positioning

2 defining trends among social platforms have generated white-space for LinkedIn to attract more creators to the platform.

 Other platforms: You will see less content from those you follow, more recommended content from those you don’t.

The TikTok-ification of platforms, moving to ultra-addictive ‘For You’ recommendation algorithms, has been adopted by both Meta and Twitter.

LinkedIn: If you post on LinkedIn, it will be more likely that your followers will see your post.

It may be harder to grow initially, but having an audience on LinkedIn becomes a more valuable moat.

 Other platforms: Instead of only the most valuable and active accounts receiving ‘verified’ badges, any user can get them… for a monthly fee.

First Twitter, then Meta. Valid strategic moves in their own right (recurring revenue, bot control, feature-gating), but left many power-users dissatisfied.

→ LinkedIn: New ‘Community Top Voice’ status awarded to users who contribute the most domain knowledge to collaborative expert articles.

Incentivising, rewarding, and celebrating their most engaged users, rather than charging them.

Rabbit Hole

The where: 3x high-signal resources to learn more

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