Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Caitlin covers social media, marketing and technology and is BRW's social media editor. She has worked as a journalist in Sydney, London and San Francisco, writing for titles including The Guardian and The Australian Financial Review.

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How to become a LinkedIn Influencer

Published 10 October 2012 09:41, Updated 21 November 2012 07:33

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How to become a LinkedIn Influencer

Naomi Simson of RedBalloon and Matt Barrie of Freelancer.com were the two Australians to make LinkedIn’s list of 150 global ‘thought leaders’ at the launch of its new Influencer program. This puts them in elevated company as the list also includes the likes of Barack Obama, Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra.

LinkedIn has called for applications as it expands the Influencer program, so we caught up with Simson to find out more about it. Here are her tips on how to become a LinkedIn Influencer – aside from applying, which you can do here.

1. Be prepared to invest the time

Unlike other social media platforms, the Influencer program is curated and LinkedIn wants to keep the quality high. You get the opportunity to publish to LinkedIn’s 175 million users and it wants something in return. It is part of LinkedIn’s move to position itself as a destination for content and create greater engagement for users.

So you can’t expect to be selected and just publish links and company information. You can already do that to a limited audience via status updates and groups. LinkedIn wants original content.

RedBalloon’s Simson says she is expected to contribute up to three articles a week over the initial six-week period to demonstrate the quality and quantity of the content. So you need to be prepared to work hard.

“This an opportunity for the group to lead by example before the program is opened up to more contributors,” Simson says. “Rather than feel intimidated by the task, I feel driven and inspired to take the time, energy and effort to think about what I can contribute to this audience, and what value it can bring. This is such a worthy investment for business and leaders.”

2. Demonstrate runs on the board

A track record in publishing compelling content is essential. In Simson’s case, she was nominated by LinkedIn’s Australian team for inclusion in the initial list, largely on the strength of blog posts and opinion pieces she writes on her own site and for publications such as BRW.

“This new adventure with LinkedIn really started back in February 2006 when I put my first blog live on naomisimson.com,” she says. “Since then, I have posted more than 700 blogs and contributed countless articles to countless publications. It’s a lot of content.“

There is no doubt that prior writing experience will also be part of the selection criteria as LinkedIn expands the program. In fact, the application form asks you to provide examples of professional content you have written.

3. Have something to say

The application form asks you to think about which industries you would be influential in and provide some sample topics you would like to write about. This forces applicants to refine their focus – you can’t just answer “everything!”

Simson cautions that this is not another marketing channel for business. “It’s really important that messages are not promotional, because as soon as there’s a marketing message it not only cheapens the intention but invalidates this as a medium for sharing professional insight,” she says. “This as a wonderful opportunity to use a networking channel for good; to agitate for change; inspire debate; and encourage discussion.”

Simson’s first submission, “Is happiness at work a ‘dirty’ word?” looks at how businesses can promote an environment of fun, gratitude and celebration, to promote increased productivity.

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