LinkedIn holds a unique professional experience promise. Members seek and consume content very differently on LinkedIn than on other platforms with many wearing both consumer and content curator hats.
The scale of Australia’s member growth (11 million-plus) and resultant content competition for eyeballs and traction is as ferocious as it is divergent. And over the past few years, there has been an explosion of new services to fulfil video and content curation, all peddling their model as the key for success.
So, with the recent roll-out of LinkedIn polls, it was the ideal time to ask members how they most preferred to consume content.
The results showed that 77.8% preferred written information (combination of texts/images at 47.3% and articles 30.5%), 20.1% preferred videos, and only 2.1% preferred podcasts.
Get business news first
Sign up to SmartCompany’s daily newsletter
Every industry and level had a representation including law, finance, IT, recruitment, marketing, government, sales, digital, medical, NPO, education and science.
Each choice would be driven by an individual ‘why’. And it was insightful that the same reasons were quoted across the written/image and video preferences. Efficiency of time, easy to digest, and short-and-sharp soundbites were top line.
Many stated their loathing of talking-head and unprofessional videos with self-serving rambles. Yet others preferred videos, as it gave them a deeper human connection and a sense of body language, trust and energy. Those who voted for videos and podcasts found it simpler to absorb information that way.
However, those who preferred written content resoundingly felt that it was easier to browse for relevance and cut to their business needs. The consensus also was that articles were less intrusive, and demonstrated deeper insights and consideration to the reader.
It was considered that the time taken to write well with outstanding infographics and images inspired more trust and business engagement.
Clearly the results are divergent from what has been the populist ‘video sales’ rhetoric. Yes, it is essential to have video as part of a strong multimedia mix of content. But the selfie, talking-head, casual type is frowned upon — short, sharp and polished videos seem are preferred.
Content which is meaningful and gives insights and depth is the key. Professionals are hungry for meaningful content that is either educational, enlightening or entertaining.
If you are not a good writer, just hire someone to pen your knowledge in your voice and cadence.
Graphs, infographics and highly visual PDF documents have a very high eyeball and engagement rate. Use them frequently.
Don’t follow the flock of sheep who shout that video is the golden goose of value on LinkedIn, no matter how you do it.
LinkedIn has introduced the new feed ranking system of dwell time. This is a game-changer.
Previously, content value was ranked by clicks and viral actions. But these were not a true indicator of member engagement, as many were vanity, pod-driven or automated.
Dwell time ranking gives great content more oxygen to the right audience who values it.
Feedback from a few content experts
“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, author of Marketing Rebellion
“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 of Digital Citizen
“There’s no doubt audiences are consuming content differently than they did five years ago which this result indicates. Brands need to be mindful of the content preferences of LinkedIn users and capture their attention fast in the newsfeed by helping, entertaining or informing potential customers given 77.8 % of users prefer text/image/article updates. Typically, video content is consumed on other Medias and while LinkedIn now has a native video platform users are still more likely to seek video on YouTube.”
— Cath Vallence, head of content at Private Media
“We’re all busy people and don’t have time to watch some wannabe in their car, talking through something you could read in a third the time. Plus if it’s written, it’s more likely to have been redrafted and edited into something worth your attention.”
— Ian Whitworth, co-founder of Scene Change
While not a Roy Morgan survey or Gartner census, this poll is a very strong indicator of member sentiments and how businesses need to factor that into their content strategy.