Last week during our annual conference, one of our delegates wanted to sit down with me and talk about content. He mentioned that his firm's website didn't have the capability for publishing articles, and there were no current plans to change that, but indicated that he had things he wanted to say about his area of practice.
While some of you may think a blog is the answer, he had some other caveats - he wanted something that he could update and publish to as frequently or infrequently (due to his busy schedule) as he liked, and something that wouldn't require too big of a learning curve.
"Ah ha!" I thought - LinkedIn's new publishing platform is exactly what he needs.
I know I said last week that I wasn't sold on it yet, but I'm coming around - it's exactly right for this type of attorney: someone who doesn't have the ability to publish articles on their website, is looking to get more information out there, but without as big of a commitment as a blog would be.
On a side note, bloggers, I can hear you arguing with me already - I LOVE blogs, and I think they're a great tool for many people. But I see LinkedIn's publishing platform as providing a compromise between blogging and not blogging, and offering a comfortable place for lawyers such as the one I'm referring to to get their feet wet. Plus, I like that for an infrequent writer, having a full and complete LinkedIn profile keeps the page from looking abandoned, which can be very obvious on a blog, with the date of the last post always so visible.
My attorney agreed when I mentioned LinkedIn, and we talked about a few other things to consider, with the promise that I'd send him a quick tutorial on how to use the platform. It's possible that at some point in the future he'll realize that he has enough to say to warrant developing a blog and a network of readers outside of LinkedIn. But for now, leveraging his existing LinkedIn contacts as an audience and using his LinkedIn profile as a springboard for more dynamic content is exactly the solution that he needs.
I finally understand why LinkedIn's publishing platform is useful!
I'll share with you my tutorial on using the platform below, and it drills down quite specifically into the buttons available and so forth, so even if you're not familiar with LinkedIn or word, you'll feel comfortable using it. (And if you are, just skip all of that stuff!)
First, you'd log in to LinkedIn as you normally would. You'll see that at the top of the page, there is a comment box where you might normally post a status update.
In the lower right hand corner, there's a pencil icon - click on this, and it will take you to the section where you can write a longer post. LinkedIn offers you a few pop up windows of instructions to start with, and then you can use the platform.
To publish something, you can click and edit the word "Title" to add your personal title, and then click just under your profile picture to write your post. (The date is static, so if you want to wait to publish something, you'd click "save" at the bottom, rather than "publish" - here's hoping LinkedIn changes that so we can schedule posts like you would on a blog).
There are a few formatting icons at the top that are similar to those available in Microsoft word.
- The first drop down menu is "formats" which allows you to change the text to be in a paragraph format, or in one of four heading sizes. You might use this if you have various sections in your articles that you want to separate out - it's helpful to break up an article as much as you can visually because of the way that people read information these days.
- Next, you have two arrows - the first is an "undo" arrow, which will undo the last action that you did, and the second is a "redo" arrow, which will redo whatever you undid, in case you change your mind.
- Next, you have B for Bold, I for Italic, and U for underline.
- The T with a line through it is for typing text that has a line through it (it's not something I've ever used in a professional post, though I saw it used yesterday successfully).
- The quotation marks allow you to cite someone's words (you can also include your own quotation marks from your keyboard, but this adds some formatting that will also add interest to the reader).
- The next three are more formatting tools, for you to set the text as left-justified, centered, or right justified.
- Next, you have two list options - the first is if you'd like to make something a bulleted list, while the second is to make it a numbered list.
- The next two buttons that look like chains are for linking to another site (this is a good idea if you've been inspired by something you've read, and want to link to it so those that read your article can read it too). The first will allow you to link to another site - you'd click on a word or phrase to highlight, and then click the button, and a box pops up where you can copy the URL. The second button removes the hyperlink from a word or phrase if you want to get rid of it.
- The two arrows button allows you to add HTML coding, so I wouldn't worry about that one unless you're confident in playing around with HTML.
- And finally, the camera button allows you to add an image, which is something else I highly recommend, since article with images are read more regularly than those without them.
There are some tips for how to get started that LinkedIn offers on the right hand side of the screen, if you feel that you've gotten stuck, and they recommend making sure to preview your article (by hitting the preview button at the bottom), to check for any typing mistakes or things you'd like to change.
Once you've got your article looking the way you want it to, you can hit publish. LinkedIn will ask if you're sure you want to publish, and you can hit "Yes." Once it's published, you can either share it on LinkedIn (it's not clear whether it shares it automatically or you have to manually share it with your connections - can anyone of my readers speak to that?). You can also edit the post if you need to, give it a thumbs up or comment on it, or even create another new post from that screen.
It may take a little bit of getting used to, because although the actual process of posting is fairly intuitive, it's a bit difficult to locate the "dashboard" for your posts (for example, if you wanted to delete one). But having blogged for a long time, and just reviewing this, I can say that this will be easier than blogging at this point, and will be a great first step!
I've also confirmed that it's possible to subscribe to an RSS feed of someone's posts on LinkedIn through RSS, which is a great feature.
I still haven't published anything to LinkedIn either than my test post to create the tutorial, since I'm already publishing here, but I can see it as an interesting tool for someone with something to say, but caution about how much time they can commit or how comfortable they are with learning a new tool - clearly, an excellent destination for risk-averse attorneys!
The same rules for blogging will apply though - make sure you have passion for your subject and use the medium to connect with your audience, through referencing people and articles in your posts and responding to and engaging with commenters. I'm curious to hear from others as it grows (and even now) as to your experience with it, and any other tips you may have for my attorney!