If you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn recently increased its character limits (which includes spaces, numbers, emojis, and letters) in regular timeline updates, from 1,300 to 3,000. Excellent I think, because this limit has been a pain for a long time. Oh the posts I’ve had to edit down….
But is it a good move? Similar to LinkedIn surveys, I’m seeing people jump on this new opportunity to communicate, often doing multiple long form posts a week, and well…
When I go onto LinkedIn at the moment, I have so many connections sharing long form posts in their standard updates, I literally don’t have time to read any of them. That’s not a good thing.
The feed for me is a quick read – a scan to see if there’s anything worth my time. If a blog or article jumps out, I save the link and look at it when I have time.
Long form updates on timelines need to be read NOW or they will be lost in the history of LinkedIn – unless of course, I take the added step of looking for them again. Most will never take that step.
Who is your audience?
It’s not about me though. It’s about your audience. If you have millions of followers hanging onto your every word, go for it. But most of us don’t, so if you are trying to attract a new audience – especially business leaders – you might want to consider if it’s the right strategy.
Since I began running my social leadership training courses years ago, as well as in my speeches, I have shared an essential truth – we are all in the business of earning people’s time today. Since the pandemic and the rise of digital interactions, this rule has never been truer.
No one will give you all of their time and attention all of the time. No one.
We are all facing a tidal wave of information these days (it’s an Infodemic after all) and between what we want to share and what we want to consume, there is never enough time to consume all of it. So we become very selective.
Breaking into the attention of a new audience takes time, commitment, true understanding of the audience, and long-term consistency that delivers value over time. It’s not an easy thing to achieve at all.
There are no short cuts to becoming someone of value to your audience. You are constantly earning the right to their attention and time. You can lose it in an instant as well.
Let’s look at business leaders
They are running a business, running a team, being there for employees going through challenging times, handling their business during a pandemic, managing their own mental health, and all of the other roles required as a leader, while often working from home, and the added pressure that brings to the table – often the kitchen table!
If you’ve ever seen the calendar of a senior executive, you know they have pretty much every hour of the day scheduled and very little time to commit to anything else. They are desperately time poor and their ability to give you attention is always challenging. It doesn’t mean you can’t get it, but you definitely need to earn it!
If you want to reach this audience, before you share anything, you have to think about what their work-day is like, and then reflect deeply on how you can share information that is not-to-be-missed? Information so good, it will help them succeed, while taking into account all of the above.
Right now, picture them working from home, going to make a cup of coffee (maybe being distracted by their kids or spouse at the same time), and in that moment they’ll scroll through LinkedIn. Was the last thing you shared so good they’d stop and pay attention?
There are many types of audiences. It could be women, middle managers, millennials, and on it goes. Putting yourself in their shoes and asking deeply reflective questions is where you start.
- What is their life like now?
- What do they need?
- How can I help?
- How can I serve?
- How can I make things better for them?
- How can I become an asset in their lives?
Please remember that making people laugh is a great thing too! We all need a laugh right now.
So many of us can’t keep up anymore
For me personally, I wish I could commit more time to my community, because I care about their success, but I just can’t keep up with everything going on at the moment (in life and digitally), and the business executives I work with definitely can’t either.
The long form timeline revolution has resulted in me actually supporting my community less, not more! I am not alone.
And this is happening at a time when more leaders are really jumping on LinkedIn. It’s taken such a long time to get here, but leaders are getting the message that success as social leaders comes from authentic participation, and they are working hard at it.
Yes, far too many are still outsourcing, but it’s slowly changing. However, now that we know they’re actually here, the wall of content being shared has never been more overwhelming, and for a relatively new entrant, I can see them running for the hills!
Social leadership success
To get on any radar, we must always show up powerfully, meaningfully, and in alignment with the challenges our audience is facing today. Don’t do too much, don’t overwhelm, and if you consistently deliver information that will help them, you will start to break through.
So if you want people to listen to you, do less and be awesome every time you show up. Maybe do long form once a week, which is already a lot in my opinion.
Obviously, many people will disagree and suggest you can do it every day, which is fine – that’s the beauty of today, we have the right to different opinions.
However, from all I’ve learnt and seen – as a social leader myself and someone who teaches social leadership – I don’t agree. My focus is squarely on business leaders, and let me assure you, anyone working fulltime for an organisation, isn’t sitting on LinkedIn, eagerly consuming enormous amounts of content all day, every day. They wouldn’t have a job if they did.
Be mindful of earning the right to your audiences time
Show up powerfully but do less is the winning strategy. Be amazing. Serve your audience by delivering value. Participate in intelligent conversations with your community. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience. It’s always about your audience.
Final point. When everyone is doing the same thing, can I suggest you do not follow? So many of us are tired of the “formula for success.” Repetition is tedious too. Originality is what gets attention. Always.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let’s have a chat about it!
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