Businesses are both consumers and curators of content on LinkedIn. Whether deliberating on the best content format to reach target markets or wading through the newsfeed as a consumer, all will be confronted with a plethora of choices, quality of content, formats and opinions, writes LinkedIn expert and Founder of DARE Group Australia, Sue Parker.
LinkedIn unlike other social media platforms has a very different expectations of value and focus. A swathe of divergent statistics and opinions can be overwhelming when making decisions as to what format to produce to engage audiences meaningfully.
With the recent roll out of LinkedIn polls it was the perfect opportunity to get members feedback as to their No 1 content preference to consume (not curate). This has been a topic of much conjecture with different interests often playing a part in persuasive rhetoric and businesses promoting one form over another.
It would be expected that curation and consumer preference formats would not always be symbiotic and so I encouraged deeper feedback of why members chose their preference. Whilst votes are anonymous, comments and reactions are visible publicly.
Within the 511 votes (93% Australia, 7% international), 44 per cent women and 56 per cent men voted. Every industry and level had a representation including law, finance, IT, recruitment, marketing, government, and sales, digital, medical, NPO, education and science
The staggering preference was written formats at 77.8 per cent (a combination of texts/images at 47.3 per cent and articles at 30.5 per cent) vs videos at 20.1 per cent and podcasts at 2.1 per cent.
The data of gender trends across the formats was close. In the written and podcast preferences it was small, but video showed a marked difference of preference.
Member feedback of choices
This was where it became fascinating. Often the exact reasons for the ‘why and why nots’ were the same. Efficiency of time, easy to digest, short and sharp were equally given to video and text-article preferences
Many expressed disdain for talking head videos of casual and time wasting banal waffle. Others preferred videos as it encouraged a stronger human connection and sense of the energy behind the message. Many enjoyed the body language insights that videos provide and it was easier to absorb messages.
Most felt written content with images-infographics were easy to skim for relevance and when structured well-inspired action and insight. Text-based could demonstrate considered thought, were less intrusive and easier to digest. Deeper articles (on and off the platform) were preferred for their depth of subject insights.
- LinkedIn have introduced a new feed ranking system Dwell time essentially this will recalibrate how content is classified and distributed. Instead of ranking content based on clicks and viral actions it will based on dwell time as an indicator of rich value and preferences to deliver similar into your newsfeed. Strong content will take centre stage to align social proof of value vs vanity metrics which often occur in the video format and similar and gaming practices.
- A good mix of multimedia content is always recommended. Video clearly isn’t the golden goose thought but that does not mean you should discard them, far from it. Videos are essential when used well. Short sharp and shiny is the consistent recommendation and links to further and deeper information.
- Don’t follow sheep Flip around the herd mindset and apply research, critical thinking together with your instincts. There is just not a one size fits all preference within any given sector, age or gender. That was evident with the diverse preferences within sectors I analysed (i.e. IT, government, marketing).
A few words from content marketing leaders
After the poll had closed I checked in with a few leaders. This is what they had to say:
“This result will come as a surprise to many, especially those caught up in the video content wave. But I think the focus on text makes sense if you consider the LinkedIn audience. Busy executives don’t have time to wade through a video or podcast episode to find the core value. Text provides an efficient delivery format to quickly assess potential applicability and even copy and paste key ideas to share with others”
Mark Schaefer, Global Marketing Educator, Author, Marketing Rebellion
“ It doesn’t surprise me that text-based posts have performed so well, followed by articles. When video content is so prolific on every other platform, I look to LinkedIn for considered opinion and thought-provoking content (long and short form). I’ll use other platforms when I’m looking for infotainment, food porn and dance offs. And it seems I’m not alone.”
Bec Derrington, Founder Source Bottle & Influencer Hub
“Terrific to see that people still read! Seriously though, this correlates with my personal experience. I’ve found the text/image combination – especially when written as micro-stories – to be the most effective in terms of engagement and reach on LinkedIn. My clients too have experienced the same thing. Does it mean I don’t include video? Not at all. People like to consume content in different ways, so I think it’s important to mix it up a bit if you’re a content creator”.
Trevor Young. Founder, Digital Citizen
Whilst this isn’t a Roy Morgan or Gartner census, it is nonetheless was a solid indicator of the sentiments of the day across a diverse voting sample which has been echoed in similar polls globally.
LinkedIn polls provide an outstanding opportunity to gain insights and encourage business and marketing conversations. But they are like salt to be used sparingly, strategically with relevant purpose to remain of high interest and respondent value.