How to Grow an Audience on LinkedIn by Repurposing Content

Job one for any business, entrepreneur, or marketer is to grow an audience. Content syndication is one such approach to doing just that. But it’s not entirely understood.

Content syndication is an age-old idea of taking an original piece of work and then trying to get it published in other places.

And when I say other places I mean: you look for bigger sites to publish your work. In other words, effective content syndication occurs when you go up the food chain — not down.

But some social sites are now allowing you to republish old articles on their platforms. Medium and LinkedIn are two such places.

The reward? Getting exposed to a new audience.

A few episodes ago we looked at Medium. On this episode we’ll explore LinkedIn.

In this 26-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • Who can actually publish on LinkedIn
  • What kind of content works really well on LinkedIn
  • The proper way to republish on LinkedIn (includes advice about the headline and image)
  • The two best times to publish on LinkedIn
  • The love song Demian wrote for Jerod and his fiancé


The Show Notes



How to Grow an Audience on LinkedIn by Repurposing Content

Demian Farnworth: So we’re talking about something. I’m explaining something, and I’m gabbing away. And I’m chewing, and chewing, and chewing, and chewing. I stuffed two or three pods in my mouth, and I’m chewing and chewing.

Jerod Morris: You put the whole thing in your mouth like it was a sugar snap pea?

Demian Farnworth: I put the whole thing in my mouth, and I started chewing, yeah.

Welcome back, everybody, to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. The Lede, as always, hosted by me, Damien Farnworth and my co-host Jerod Morris, VP of Rainmaker.FM.

If you like The Lede, if you like me, if you like Jerod, and you like more of us in some capacity, it’s only fair to mention you can check out our personal podcast and the Rainmaker.FM Network — which in my humble opinion, is the greatest digital marketing podcast network in the world — by jumping over to the Showrunner.FM, that’s Jerod’s podcast about podcasting. You can find mine at RoughDraft.FM, where I drop essential web writing advice in less than 10 minutes a day, four days a week.

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Now on to the show, where you’ll find out, among other things, what exactly I was chewing on that I wasn’t supposed to be chewing on. Enjoy.

All right, man, you sound good.

Jerod Morris: Thank you. I appreciate you saying so.

Demian Farnworth: You bet.

Jerod Morris: You sound fantastic.

Demian Farnworth: All right. Okay, Jerod, so we are back after two episodes of taking a little detour to talk about Authority.

Jerod Morris: Authority Rainmaker.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. Those were two good episodes. It was nice listening to those and revisiting the conference. Loved it.

Jerod Morris: Yes, it was. Hopefully the audience enjoyed it was well.

Demian Farnworth: So if you guys remember, Jerod and I launched this idea to talk about a series of episodes on the idea of content syndication. We started off with how to properly grow an audience on Medium.

Today, we’re going to talk about the proper way to grow an audience on LinkedIn. Our running metaphor, Jerod, remember, is a band touring the nation, right? That’s kind of our running metaphor for content syndication.

Jerod Morris: How could I forget?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, because it’s your band.

Jerod Morris: That’s right.

Demian Farnworth: It’s Jerod Morris and The Sponge Bags.

Jerod Morris: Yes, exactly.

Demian Farnworth: How’s the tour going?

Jerod Morris: The tour is going great. It’s going very well, yes.

The Love Song Demian Wrote for Jerod and His Fiancé

Demian Farnworth: Great, cool. I know I didn’t have to do this, man, but I wrote you guys a song. I dabble in writing. I thought it would be a fun thing to help you out. Not that I don’t think your current list of songs is good, but I thought I’d write a love song between you and Heather. So, do you mind if I …

Jerod Morris: Nice. I’m dying to hear this.

Demian Farnworth: All right, the song is called — I think this is going to be a good single. I think it’s going to be really good — its called “It’s Hot up in Here, so I’m Going to Take Off My Vest.”

Jerod Morris: That sounds like the kind of song I would write.

Demian Farnworth: Okay, so are you ready?

Jerod Morris: Yes.

Demian Farnworth: “So I’m up in the dance club, yep. The DJ’s playing that dub step. My posse’s owning the dance floor, and the girls are looking really hardcore. Everything just feels right. The never-ending party night. And enough drugs to fly a kite. We’re all about to take flight.”

“Oh la, la, la, oh la, la, la. Then you walked up in the room. My heart hammers my chest, boom, boom. I say to the homey on my right, ‘How did it get so hot up in here tonight?’ I glide over to you with my beer, and yell over the music in your ear, ‘It’s so hot up in here girl, so this vest is coming off, girl.'”

“Oh la, la, la, la, oh la, la, la, la. It’s so hot up in here, so this vest is coming off, coming off. It’s so hot up in here, so this vest is coming off.”

“You bet it’s coming off, coming off. No lie, girl. The vest will be coming off in a second. Just give me a hand, girl, with this button, and I’ll get this vest off. I’ll get this vest off.”

This is where a dub step solo comes in. Imagine that. Then it closes with this, “The vest is off, girl. What do you think about that, girl? The vest is totally off. I’m like an angel floating through outer space, girl. When the vest comes off, when the vest comes off, when the vest comes off. Oh la, la, oh la, la.”

Jerod Morris: That is amazing. It’s really amazing. A couple of things, number one, if we have any intrepid, enterprising musicians out there who actually want to lay down a beat for that, I’ll actually record it.

Demian Farnworth: That would be …

Jerod Morris: I offer that guarantee. We have to clean it up, though, a little bit. The drugs and the drinking references.

Demian Farnworth: Alright.

Jerod Morris: We’re more of a PG band.

Demian Farnworth: Okay.

Jerod Morris: So we’ll clean that up a little bit, but otherwise, yeah.

Demian Farnworth: I will say it’s mild. Originally, I had, “There was enough PCP in here to fly a kite,” but felt like that was probably going too far.

Jerod Morris: That’s great. We will get that added to the set list.

Demian Farnworth: Alright. Now that we’ve got that taken care of, my friend, let’s get into the meat of this topic. The last time we talked about content syndication, we talked about the proper way to grow an audience on Medium, like I said. Medium allows you to publish content you’ve already published elsewhere.

When we talk about content syndication, we’re talking about republishing content. As a refresher, content syndication is an age-old idea of taking that original piece of work and then trying to get it published in other places. When I say other places, you look for bigger sites to publish your work on.
That’ll be a recurring theme here. You’re the small fry, you go to the big fry. You go up the food chain.

For example, you take an article from your personal site, Primility, and you try to get on Fast Company, or Life Hacker, Huffington Post, or Time. Publishing already published content on social sites like Medium is a distant cousin to this idea. That’s what we’re tackling. We did Medium. Now we’re going to do LinkedIn.

Who Can Actually Publish on LinkedIn

Demian Farnworth: In all of these situations, it allows you to expand your audience. The same is true for LinkedIn. Once LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to everyone, it encouraged you to go in there and republish old content.

Jerod Morris: You say open its publishing platform to everyone. So everyone can publish now on LinkedIn? Was there a time when not?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, there was a time when they just allowed ‘influencers’ to do it, the big names. They just wanted to get some traction and see how it built up an audience and stuff. Last year, maybe, early last year, they opened it up to everybody. I think they started giving selective invitations out. You had to apply, and they gave it to you. Now, I’m sure everybody can publish now.

One person who is killing it on LinkedIn is Gregory Ciotti. He’s the Director of Marketing at Help Scout. He’s tasked with growing their audience. Last time we talked about Medium, Sean Smith was our example of someone who was doing well in that space. I like Gregory’s story. He’s an average guy like you and me. He’s a peer in a sense — unlike these influencers who can publish a post and get a half a million views every day. He’s not getting that, but he’s definitely pulling his own weight.

Jerod Morris: He is. And a lot of people will know Gregory from a lot of the guest posts that he’s written on Copyblogger, too. He’s written some great posts on Copyblogger. Now when you say the word ‘influencers,’ what do you mean by that?

Demian Farnworth: Exactly like what it sounds. The celebrities of the business world –people like Jeff Haden and Dharmesh Shah from Hub Spot, Bill Marriot, high-profile people. People like Jeff Haden, though, as a writer like you and me, he just bootstraps himself to the high stature, like the others. Again, it’s one of those stories that should give us hope that we all can do that. In fact, if you think about all those guys — whether it’s Shah or Marriott — they’re all just average people who had a vision.

Jerod Morris: Yeah.

Demian Farnworth: Like my little Medium experiment, I started publishing old articles on LinkedIn. I decided to give it shot. I don’t know if I read Gregory’s story and said, “Okay, I’m going to give this a shot.” I don’t know how it happened. It was like, “Okay, like I don’t have enough to do, I’m going to start publishing post there.”

Part of it, I was encouraged by Gregory’s story because he was saying it’s a minimal investment to re-publish on there, sort of the same as Medium, so I got in there. But it’s hardly worth saying I really tried, because I was only five articles in and I haven’t published anything for quite some time. This wasn’t due though, however, because of my distaste for the experience.

Jerod Morris: No? So your experience with Medium didn’t sour you so much on LinkedIn that you just stopped after a few articles? There’s a legitimate reason why you stopped?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, I didn’t pout and walk off and stomp off. Really it’s just the responsibilities. About the same time, I launched my daily podcast, Rough Draft, which doubled my workload. I wish I had better results to report, but what I have accomplished on LinkedIn is pretty paltry. My highest post is 151 views and 18 likes.

Jerod Morris: Which is surprising. Maybe we’ll get into this a little bit later, but I’m curious why you think that you only have that many views. You have an audience. People know you. Obviously, your content is good, and I have seen a lot of content on there not nearly as good as yours that gets better traction. So I wonder why that is?

Demian Farnworth: That’s a good question. Yeah. I sort of did try to actively promote it outside of that, so sharing on my Twitter account and sharing at other places. I think it works best, though, if you gain a lot of followers within the LinkedIn ecosystem. So if you already have an audience, big influence, you wrote a book — Bill Marriott, those sort of people — then you’ve got a head start. At the same time, I think it is really about building up the following, and I really just didn’t. I think it takes time. This is what Gregory did…

Jerod Morris: So, real quick, let me go back to something. When you’re talking about sharing, you’re taking a story that you already published somewhere else, like on Copybot, and put it on LinkedIn verbatim? Maybe not the whole thing, but a portion of it?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, exactly.

What Kind of Content Works Really Well on LinkedIn

Jerod Morris: Why would you ever want to share the LinkedIn version of that? You could, like on your personal Twitter account, you shared the LinkedIn version of it instead of your own. I guess the goal would be to drive up your follower count or your people on LinkedIn, but isn’t the whole goal to get people from LinkedIn to your site? Why would you ever want to share the LinkedIn version as opposed to sharing The Copybot version?

Demian Farnworth: It’s a good question, yeah.

Jerod Morris: Maybe you don’t.

Demian Farnworth: Well, yeah. I think more than anything, my goal, I wasn’t thinking that broad-ranging. I was thinking more of driving some people to it, just to hop there — see if I could drive up the views, the likes, whatever.

The thing about what Gregory will tell you is that one of the things about creating the post in there is you have a good CTA, a good call to action, at the end of it, so you’re driving them to something other than the original article or something like that. What I was doing, I was driving people to the podcast. I would say, “Hey, if you’re interested in this, come listen. Hear more information here on the podcast.” –pointing in that direction.

Jerod Morris: Gotcha.

Demian Farnworth: Good question, though. We talk about re-purposing content and what it is exactly you should be driving. We do the same thing with SlideShares. We allow some distance between the original post, and then we publish it on SlideShare. Then we encourage everyone to start sharing that, too, and encourage a rise in views for getting on SlideShare’s featured page — same kind of goal, but good question.

So Gregory Ciotti’s experiment was a 30-day LinkedIn republishing push. He began it in July 2013, from June 2nd to July 2nd. He started fresh, so he had zero published articles, zero total views, and zero LinkedIn followers. In that time, he published 35 articles. He got a total of 255,262 total article views and then the 3,022 LinkedIn followers. If you did the math, you would get something like 7,303 average views per post. The thing, though, you have to keep in mind, one single article contributed 212,000 of the views all by itself.

Jerod Morris: Oh wow. So 212,000 out of 255,000 — that’s a huge number.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. One article has about 80 percent of total views. This article was called Why Steve Jobs Never Listened to His Customers.

Jerod Morris: Well, we know why that one did well. Obviously, people just eat up content about Steve Jobs. That’s interesting. What other kind of content did he publish, then? I guess that would be the next question.

Demian Farnworth: Mostly business related stuff — productivity and marketing. But the content that did really well was centered around customer experience. If you looked at that one about Steve Jobs was that, it was Steve Jobs, one, but also it was about customers. It was sort of contrarian — no wonder that it did well — but the key is to, of course, know your audience. The thing, too, that Gregory said, was that you’ve got to stack your topics.

You talk about something that’s relevant to your audience — marketing, advertising, productivity, writing. To do that, on Monday, you would publish a post on productivity. Then Wednesday, you’d publish a post on customer experience, and then on Friday, you’d publish one on writing.

The reason behind this tactic is that, if your post gets on LinkedIn’s featured page — which is really what you’re after — it’s basically LinkedIn displaying it, showcasing it, for all the LinkedIn audience to see. Then, of course, that would drive up audience views and likes.

They do it based on category. So if you have one go up on Monday on productivity and then you publish another article on Wednesday on productivity, as long as that one on productivity is featured, it’s not going to grab another featured article from that category. But it will grab another one, by you, by the same author, from a different category. That’s the idea behind stacking. Does that make sense?

Jerod Morris: Gotcha. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That does make sense. Okay, so Gregory published these 35 articles. They got 255,000 something views. He’s got 3,000 or so LinkedIn followers. How is that audience? Is it any good? Are these just empty numbers? We talk a lot about how audience quality from social sites can be low even if the numbers are high. What did he see?

The Proper Way to Republish on LinkedIn (Includes Advice about the Headline and Image)

Demian Farnworth: Good question. According to Gregory — and I’d agreed with him — it’s high. Think about it. These are the people like you and me. They’ve self-selected to join this community around business. They’re all professionals. So they’re very targeted, very motivated, very enthused about this content and what they want out of it.

This is where focusing on your target audience really matters. A designer publishing content about designing would only matter to other designers. That’s a niche. Your engagement is going to be low, but it will be deep — meaning that it will resonate very well with that particular niche. The niche of designers on LinkedIn, say there’s 40,000 people in that community, you’re probably going to get on the eyes on all 40,000 of those people rather than, say, the 200 million that are actually on LinkedIn.

If you target your audience right, you may not have super high audience size, but the engagement is going to be much, much higher. I have heard this from other sources, too — that engagement is much higher.

Jerod Morris: That does make sense. Is there any data that you’ve read — either generally or from Gregory — that kind of proves it? What you’re saying theoretically makes sense, but were people actually following the calls to action? Were people going from LinkedIn to getting on the Help Scout list or whatever Gregory was hoping that they would do?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. He does explain that, in fact, that’s what he was trying to do, in a number of ways, was help grow that Help Scout list, and he did. I don’t remember what the exact numbers were that he mentioned, but indeed, it did help grow. I don’t know if it was significant. You have to keep in mind, the amount of time that you have to put in to this is small. It’s basically copy and paste. Then you put a headline, and then you add an image.

A lot of times, you already have those pieces in place because of where you published them before. Like on my site I do it. On Copyblogger, we already have stuff there, so it’s there. You just have to format it differently and add a new call to action. That’s the thing that’s important to remember — minimal time investment. Again, social sites, really, this variety or species of content marketing is not going to be nearly as high as when we talk about the sort of broad variety of content syndication where you’re actually getting your articles published on big sites.

Jerod Morris: Are the LinkedIn articles indexed by Google individually? Do you know?

Demian Farnworth: I don’t know. That’s a good question. Again, they encourage you to do it. They encourage you to republish it. I don’t think they’re indexed. I don’t think they’re crawled because I’ve done searches for it, and I haven’t seen them coming up. I haven’t really heard anybody. But that’s a good question. I’ll have to follow up on that.

Jerod Morris: Do they allow you to define the canonical URL? Do you get to say, “Hey, this post originally was on Copybot?”

Demian Farnworth: You don’t. You don’t. Well you can control the HTML, I think. Good question now that you mentioned it. It’s been a while since I’ve been in that.

Jerod Morris: Alright, maybe we’ll try and find answers to these and put them in the show notes then.

Demian Farnworth: That sounds good.

Jerod Morris: Just so we have them there. Okay, cool. What about time to publish? Is there any kind of sweet spot for when you should publish on LinkedIn that seems to get more views or engagement?

The Two Best Times to Publish on LinkedIn

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. This is always kind of a tricky thing because we always talk about when’s the perfect time to do it. Gregory, he found that around seven in the morning — which makes sense because before people have to go into the clock, they’re jumping on LinkedIn. They’re checking their social sites, so you do it before they hit the clock at eight o’clock. So at around seven in the morning, publish it.

And again, the important thing, too, is keep it small — 500 words or less because people are consuming this content quickly. So an elaborate 3,000 involved article is not going to do nearly as well as something that’s one pony and one show — that’s the point. You get to it and you move on. But the other time, too, that’s good, he talked about lunchtime when people are probably browsing while they’re sucking on edamame, something like that.

Jerod Morris: Sucking on edamame?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, do you know what that is?

Jerod Morris: Yeah, I know what edamame is. Every time Heather and I get Thai food, we always have edamame as a little appetizer. But I’ve never heard anybody say ‘sucking on edamame.’ Don’t you just pop the little beans out and eat them? I know some people, they put the whole thing in their mouth and slide it out, and maybe they do. I don’t know. Sucking on edamame sounds …

Demian Farnworth: Sucking, yeah. Let me tell you a quick story about this. When we were in Denver, at the end of Friday, it’s probably about nine o’clock in the evening. Me, Sonia, Nick Croft, Pamela Wilson, and our beloved Stefanie Flaxman go to the hotel restaurant, and they order this thing called edamame.

Jerod Morris: Edamame.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, never had it. I don’t think I’ve ever had it in my lifetime. We’re talking about something. I’m explaining something, and I’m gabbing away. And I’m chewing, and chewing, and chewing, and chewing. I stuffed two or three pods in my mouth, and I’m chewing and chewing.

Jerod Morris: You put the whole thing in your mouth like it was a sugar snap pea?

Demian Farnworth: I put the whole thing in my mouth and I started chewing, yeah. And then, as I’m talking, I look at people’s plates around them because they handed out these little saucers – which, of course, I was as oblivious as I could be. I didn’t notice them — and there are piles of these empty pods growing on them. I was like, “Are you supposed to not eat the shells?” So, of course, there was this roaring laughter as my social inability to eat edamame failed miserably.

Jerod Morris: I think you need to turn that experience into a song. “Chewing on edamame … ”

Demian Farnworth: Hey, man, sounds like a good challenge.

Jerod Morris: Well, there’s no possible segue from that story, so that’s probably a good place for us to end this episode.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah.

Jerod Morris: But we will be back with another one on content syndication because you have another thought in mind for another episode of this, right?

Demian Farnworth: Yeah. This time we’re going to take a step back and take a 30-foot view of content syndication — look at the process of re-publishing on big sites with advice from one of my favorite writers Belle Beth Cooper, who was formerly with Buffer. Then also some advice from Shane Snow, who is the CEO of Contently. This is really where you will probably get the biggest boost for your money when it comes to content syndication. So that’s for the next episode.

Jerod Morris: Excellent. And we’d probably be remiss if we didn’t say this. This episode is unofficially sponsored by The Missing Link, which is a brand new show that recently debuted on Rainmaker.FM, which is about LinkedIn.

It is hosted by our very own Sean Jackson. Mica is also co-hosting with him. The first episode came out just a few weeks ago. The first few minutes of it will shock you and entertain you, so I definitely recommend listening. Then, of course, all the information that’s given is excellent. Sean is a LinkedIn expert, and probably of all the people I’ve ever met who have talked about LinkedIn, the person who’s the most passionate about it. I think he’s going to do a really good job with that show.

If you’re interested in LinkedIn and you want more information about it, I highly recommend The Missing Link by Sean Jackson. Just go to Rainmaker.FM, and you’ll find it up in the menu with new shows.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, I have to say, I haven’t listened to it yet, but now I’m looking forward to listening to it. But I am a bit disappointed that we didn’t go with The Link Hole as the name of the show.

Jerod Morris: The Link Hole. There were a lot of ideas thrown around for that one.

Demian Farnworth: Clearly, Link Hole was the best one, but no one seemed to agree with that. It would be kind of odd saying, “Hey, I’m listening to The Link Hole. Leave me alone. Let me finish this episode of The Link Hole. I’ll be right back.”

Jerod Morris: By the way, I can’t wait to pick out which statement from your chewing edamame story’s going to work for the cold opening of this one.

Demian Farnworth: Great. I’m looking forward to it. All right, buddy.

Jerod Morris: Or from the song. There are a lot of options.

Demian Farnworth: Yeah, indeed. Indeed. All right, buddy, good talking to you, man. We’ll talk soon.

Jerod Morris: Alright, sounds good.

Demian Farnworth: Take care. Buh-bye.

What do you think? Should I write a song about my failure to eat edamame? Let me know on Twitter @DemianFarnworth, or drop a comment here on the blog.

Oh, and by the way, I followed up with Gregory, and he did say that his conversion rate for the call to action to join the Help Scout email newsletter was around 36.5 percent — which is not too shabby at all, particularly for the amount of work involved. You can read the full article that this episode is based upon Gregory’s site. It will be in the show notes.

And I think I speak for Jerod when I say, thank you for listening. Thank you for your ratings and reviews on iTunes. If you haven’t yet, drop us one. It’s a great way to show support, and we love hearing from you.

So, until the next episode, take care.