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SMT Expert Series: Keren Baruch Discusses LinkedIn Content Trends and Creator Tools

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SMT Expert Keren Baruch

Over the last few years, LinkedIn engagement has gone through the roof, with the company reporting record levels of on-platform activity – specifically, engagement with posts and updates – for five straight quarters running.

That’s seen LinkedIn put more focus on content creation, and building community on the platform, which has lead to the development of new tools like Content Recommendations, and Content Suggestions for Company Pages, enabling brands to boost their on-platform performance, along with new analytics to measure the impacts of such efforts.

And now, LinkedIn is looking to the next stage.

One of the people working on this is Keren Baruch, the platform’s Product Lead for Creator Strategy, which also means that Keren is well-positioned to provide insight into the latest LinkedIn content shifts, where things are headed, and what brands can do to maximize their performance on the platform.

We recently got a chance to ask a few questions of Keren, which could provide some valuable pointers for your LinkedIn approach.

1. What are the key content trends that you’re seeing on LinkedIn?

This continues to be a dynamic year in terms of how people relate to work, and we see that in the conversations happening on LinkedIn. We’re seeing millions of conversations every day about topics that deeply affect our members’ lives from the pandemic, and protests about racial injustice, to increased sharing about mental health challenges that people have faced, and how remote working is changing business. The most recent trending topics we’ve seen include return-to-office plans, Pride month and business travel. 

For creators looking to keep up on trends, you should definitely check out LinkedIn Editor Dan Roth’s Creator Weekly newsletter where he shares trending topics on LinkedIn each week. As a creator, you can use this information to spot trends on the topics people want to hear more about, as well as trending hashtags. If these subjects are areas on which you have a point of view or expertise, consider sharing an interesting video or lesson that riffs off the topic – or add commentary to a conversation already in progress.

2. How is LinkedIn looking to develop its creator tools and build on its engagement growth?

We’re so excited to be doubling down on our efforts to make creators feel at home on LinkedIn. For many creators, this already is a home, where they contribute regularly via posts, articles, newsletters, Stories and Live Video. And although we’ve had user-generated content since 2012, we’re seeing conversations on the platform scale, and creators engage with their community via comments, reactions and messaging to help their followers stay informed. 

We’re excited to continue investing in and rolling out new features to give creators the tools, guidance and support to publish great content, spark conversations and build an engaged following. We’ve got a super passionate team here that’s running quickly to get updates and features out, and to continue learning from creators. The recent launch of Creator Mode on LinkedIn is a first step in creating a dedicated experience for our creator community that we will continue to build upon.

LinkedIn Creator Mode

I would recommend that you stay updated on the latest creator tools by following our LinkedIn for creators page

3. What are the key elements of an effective LinkedIn content strategy?

It’s important to start with a few basics: 

  • Build a strong Profile – Your Profile is your personal story, where people can find you and stay updated on your activity – so make sure that it showcases who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re interested in. Include a profile photo, add your experience, highlight your best work in your ‘Featured’ section and write up a summary to share more about your experiences and interests. You can now also add a video cover story to your Profile to share more about yourself and your expertise, in a more human and engaging way. For inspiration on how to bring yours to life, check out this blog post.  
  • Optimize your Profile by turning on Creator Mode – If you want to build your following and engage with an audience on LinkedIn, I recommend turning on our new Creator Mode. This will reorganize your profile to lead with your featured content and more of your recent activity, while it also enables people to easily “Follow” you instead of “Connect” – an important distinction, since you should only connect with those you know and trust.
  • Diversify your content type – Beyond posts and full-length articles, there are many ways you can connect with your followers and engage your community on LinkedIn. A few tools you can try include LinkedIn Stories, creating your own newsletter or hosting a LinkedIn Live to broadcast video content to your LinkedIn network in real-time.
  • Timing is everything – The more timely and relevant your posts are, the more you’ll likely see responses and engagement. We’ve also seen that finding the right cadence of posting is key – regularly posting, without over-posting in a single day, will ensure that your audience has time to see and engage with your posts in their feed.

4. Should businesses be adding hashtags to their LinkedIn posts – and if so, what hashtag tips would you recommend?

Using hashtags on LinkedIn helps you to establish your credibility and expertise, reach people who value your insights, and jumpstart meaningful conversations over shared interests by surfacing in search. 

A few helpful tips for using hashtags on LinkedIn include: 

  • Use them correctly – Be sure to include the # sign before any keyword or phrase. Avoid any spaces, punctuation, special symbols or emojis
  • Don’t overdo it – We recommend using no more than three hashtags per post, and leveraging both broad and niche hashtags for increased exposure 
  • Do your research – Before including a hashtag, type it into the LinkedIn search bar to make sure it has strong usage in order to connect you to the most relevant audiences.
  • Go niche – Try going as specific as possible for increased exposure (#TED2021 vs. #marketing)

5. What’s the most common mistake you see people make on LinkedIn, in regards to their content and posting approach?

It’s one thing to start a conversation, but it’s another thing altogether to cultivate a meaningful discussion. We’ve seen a lot of magic happen in comment threads, where creators are engaging with their community. The most successful creators are the ones who take the time to give more than they get, who are curious, and stay invested in learning. That’s why we encourage creators to not only to create content that’ll spark a conversation, but also to actively engage in that conversation through the comments.

Some prospective creators are also afraid to share because of a misconception that posts need to be “polished” or “professional looking”, as if they’re writing an academic paper. Our best advice to content creators is don’t be intimidated: experiment with different post and content types and don’t worry about crafting the “perfect” post.

6. Do you think that LinkedIn is getting too casual and personal, or is there room for both professional and personal insights on the platform?

Over the past year, we’ve seen living rooms become board rooms, and closets become workstations. Remote workers have been a part of countless kid cameos. With everything that’s changed about the professional world in the past year, all of us need to rethink the lines between personal and professional.

LinkedIn should be, and is, a place where people are encouraged to share their personal experiences and insights in a genuine way, as it can inspire others who might be dealing with a similar situation. We’ve seen a number of posts recently from women talking about their return-to-work experience following leave or a career break, unemployment challenges, working from home with children, coming out at work, and more. I’m personally excited to see how LinkedIn creators continue to push the boundaries around bringing the real, raw authentic experience into the professional community. 

For example, Elizabeth Gullivers talks about her very real experiences of being a mom during COVID, while Samantha Lamont has shared her personal journey as a trans woman, and how it’s impacted her career and relationships with coworkers.  

Each of these creators sparked a vibrant conversation among members, who relate to these experiences, creating a real sense of community. 

7. What content types are gaining the most traction on LinkedIn? 

People have been receiving strong engagement on LinkedIn when they utilize a variety of different content platforms. We’ve also seen creators who leverage multiple content types to tell their stories – for example, a member might post a long-form article and then leverage stories to help promote the article or give a behind-the-scenes look at how it came together. 

We’ve also seen that using visuals within posts, such as adding video, photos, etc., tends to help boost content views.

Ultimately, regardless of content type, it’s about developing a relationship with your audience and ensuring your content resonates with them.  

8. What’s an underrated strategy that you’ve seen produce strong results on the platform?

I really love LinkedIn Polls as a great way to get input from your audience on a topic, and it can be the type of content that can help continue a conversation.

LinkedIn polls

Through polls, you can gather and analyze data that can also then be used to create additional meaningful content. LinkedIn Creator Carson Tate, for example, leveraged data from her LinkedIn Poll about work structures to influence a larger LinkedIn Newsletter on the topic.

Keren Baruch is the Product Lead for Creator Strategy at LinkedIn, developing the next stage in creator tools for the platform. You can check out more about Creator Mode, and LinkedIn’s coming creator plans, here.

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Stand Out in a Crowded Market By Focusing on Organic Growth

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Stand Out in a Crowded Market By Focusing on Organic Growth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

My partner and I have seen the power of organic growth, even in a significantly competitive market like fashion. Our company, named BJ Positive Wear, was able to create something captivating to our customers within the last two years. I saw a complete transformation of our business in that time, all due to organic growth and the philosophies that we used to succeed.

Even though we had no idea what to expect, we decided from the very start to go in with organic growth being the ultimate goal. We did not benefit from outside help, so we chose to do this. We knew it would take longer, but in the end, every action brought us one step closer to where we are today.

I believe everybody could benefit from focusing on organic growth in a competitive market. If you’re unsure where to start, I will share with you what we did to achieve our success today.

Related: How Thinking Like a Designer Can Unlock Organic Growth

Why organic growth matters

You might not think much of it, but organic growth is the ultimate powerhouse for success. Organic growth is an important area of focus because it encompasses various areas of outreach and focuses on genuinely connecting with the audience you want to reach with your business.

Back in the days before the internet, organic growth was increasingly difficult. People had to do traditional marketing, create posters, billboards and more. Today, my partner goes on social media and shares content.

Social media has so much power, and many people I see and talk to in the business world don’t even grasp the full potential of it. For our firm, social media was what ultimately made us powerful and gave us the organic growth we wanted. You can have the same, and it comes with a few specific steps that we took as we embarked on our journey to success.

Create conversation

One of the essential tips is to create conversation. Organic growth is about engaging with the audience and making them feel a part of what you are doing. Your customer is the ultimate source of direction as a business. Even if you start with an idea for a specific product, you need to listen to the customer and see if what you have to offer is going to benefit them or not.

Create these conversations, and focus on what they say. Even if it is entirely different than what you might have expected, your customer is the ultimate tool for you to spearhead any decision to allow you to further expand and experience growth as a business.

Present value and transparency

Transparency is one of the most valuable tools in any business. If you want to succeed and capture any audience demographic’s attention, you need clarity in your messaging. You must lay out the value for your specific product or service to the audience. Customers like honesty. This is something that I have come to appreciate as a co-founder.

People want to hear exactly what you have to offer. So, don’t leave a mystery. Instead, present your value and be transparent in your messaging. This is what ultimately creates organic growth, but it also leads to another essential aspect of how we were able to achieve our success.

Related: How Transparency In Business Leads to Customer Growth and Loyalty

Differentiate and remain competitive

One of the ultimate tools people often do not tap into is the potential for every social media user today to understand their competition. Everything is publicly available, and there are no surprises. If you find yourself in a position where you are genuinely struggling to remain competitive, point out where you think you can defeat your competition.

When we were focusing on creating our clothing business, we wanted to create something meaningful. Additionally, we wanted to create something that would ultimately stand out compared with every other company we’d seen in the industry. This eventually led me to differentiate and focus on innovating what was already in our market. If you want to succeed, take it from us: You need to determine and figure out what your competitor offers that you can beat and defeat.

Organic growth accelerates when you become a creator

Organic growth is ultimately the most meaningful because it allows you to create conversation and value while remaining competitive with your competition. But there’s something else that many people often forget.

There are multiple kinds of organic growth facilitators in this world. Some people stick to diversification, while others focus on offering something of value that is a necessary product to people. Finally, some people, like our business and myself, become creators.

Why creators stand out and defeat the competition

You can choose any path you’d like to accelerate organic growth, but ultimately, I see the most value in becoming a creator. As a creator, our business built something that truly did stand out compared to other competitors. We focused on innovation first, then differentiated and ensured that there would be immense value offered in whatever we did in the industry. As a startup, I can offer you so much advice, but this is ultimately one of the most important: If you want to see success, inspire people, and become a creator of your own.

You have the power to create value

Creators are essential and stand out because we build value with our products. We value each service we offer, and new business models will be created. We create a massive following and see our company take off in ways we never thought possible. Organic growth accelerates when you are a creator, and this is because you find a way to inspire people.

Be an underdog and stand out

People like a success story. Everybody wants to root for the underdog, and quite honestly, my business was the underdog, but we were also extreme innovators in what we were able to do. If you want to see success in the industry you are part of, then I urge you to consider what you can create to stand out.

Related: 4 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Stand Out From Your Competition

Revisit your ideas and improve them

If you have already begun a product, differentiate yourself and re-envision what you’ve already done. I guarantee you that when you think of something impactful and creative, others will see it and flock to you and your business. They will believe in your mission and see you as inspirational.

Focus your success on your organic growth

No matter your path, you need to consider certain factors if you are a startup. Remaining competitive and finding a way to differentiate yourself honestly is the ultimate goal of organic growth.

For us, especially with how significantly our business grew in such a short time, we don’t owe anybody anything, and it’s a risk we took. We chose to put everything into creating something nobody had ever done, and even in the end, it was far more tiring and more prolonged than we ever envisioned. Still, I promise you that the journey will be worth it in the end.

Hopefully, I provided you with the insight and inspiration needed to take that leap and take a risk. No matter what business you run, I hope you present something nobody has ever seen before, but also attempt to inspire people to follow you, no matter where your journey takes you.



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Elon Musk Says That Twitter Will Continue to Offer Free API Access to Good Bot Accounts

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

It’s honestly difficult to make any assessment of Elon Musk’s time in charge of Twitter as yet, because while he has made some bad decisions, he’s also reversed course on most of them, and while he continues to try things that seemingly have no chance of working out, he’s also not taking past precedent as definitive.

Which is maybe a good thing?

In the latest example of Musk’s shoot first, ask questions later management style, Elon has seemingly reversed the unpopular decision to charge for all usage of Twitter’s API, at least in some applications

As per Elon’s tweet, Twitter will continue to allow ‘bots providing good content’ to access Twitter’s API for free, which looked set to be one of the key losses of Twitter’s recent decision to paywall all API access.

Though much of the angst in this case came down to poor communication – last week, Twitter announced that, starting February 9th, it would be cutting off free access to its API, which is the key connector that many third party apps and Twitter’s bots use to function.

That triggered a strong response from the developer community, though a day later, Elon further explained that:

This wasn’t an official announcement, nor was it communicated via the Twitter Developers account. This was Elon, in an exchange with another user, randomly providing valuable context that would have avoided much of the angst and concern that came with the original Twitter Dev statement.

Now, the bigger question is whether $100 is any disincentive to spammers, who likely make way more than that from bot activity. But regardless, $100 is likely affordable for most of the third-party apps which looked set to lose the most from this update in policy, so it’s actually nowhere near as bad as the first announcement seemed.

It’s just bad communication, and given that Twitter no longer has a comms department, that makes sense.

But it’s also the perfect microcosm of the Elon experience, which he both benefits and suffers from, though maybe not in equal measure.

The key thing to note is that Elon loves attention. His one undisputable skill is that he knows how to make headlines, how to get people looking his way, which is why his main money maker, Tesla, has never needed a comms department either. They just let Elon say whatever he likes, good or bad, and the press comes running – and in this respect, you can see how his approach to such announcements at Twitter actually helps them get wider coverage and awareness, as opposed to them being outlined through regular channels.

But is that a good thing? Getting the developer community offside seems like unnecessary collateral damage, while the negativity this creates also seems less conducive to functional working arrangements with external partners and suppliers.

It seems like that could be harmful for his companies, long term – but then again, the more transparent nature of such, and his willingness to change course in a responsive way, could also be beneficial. Maybe?

Essentially, what we’re getting with Twitter 2.0 is a window into Elon Musk’s ‘hardcore’ management style, which is not entirely reliant on internal debate and decision-making, and also takes into account audience response, and factors that into its process.

Which is actually, probably, better, at least in some ways. I mean, Twitter, in times past, took months, even years to gain any traction on updates, before rolling them out, then it was forced to stick with them, even if they were unpopular, due to the amount of time invested.

With 70% fewer staff, Musk doesn’t have that luxury, but he has repeatedly shown a willingness to listen to the case for and against each update, and shift tack accordingly.

So while he has made some bad decisions, and will continue to do so, Twitter is moving fast. It’s breaking things too, but it’s still running, and Musk seems confident that he can convert it into a revenue positive business sometime soon.

And now, your weather bots, your system updates, your automated accounts that let you know what you want via tweet, will continue to operate. Unless Elon changes his mind again.



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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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