With LinkedIn's new blogging feature, anybody can become an "Influencer"

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If you've got something big to say, you can now count LinkedIn as one of your blogging options.

Yesterday, LinkedIn announced that it will begin rolling out a new feature that will allow all its users to post long-form blog posts to their profiles. 

In a blog post, LinkedIn's director of product management Ryan Roslansky said:

The valuable Influencer posts and the wide range of professional content from millions of publishers that we currently aggregate on LinkedIn are powerful, but only the tip of the iceberg. Combined, our members have extremely valuable and varied experiences; however, their knowledge and expertise has not yet been captured and shared.

By opening up its publishing platform to everyone, LinkedIn hopes to create even more value for its users with engaging, original content that isn't just restricted to the 500 CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, experts and celebrities on its Influencer program.

Starting today, 25,000 LinkedIn users will be able to post a blog by clicking on a small icon that appears in the right corner of where they would normally type status updates. Clicking on the icon then takes them to a new window, (which resembles the Wordpress interface) where they can write and edit their post. Once they publish, the post will be seen by all the people they are connected too, or if they choose to make it public, anyone can see it. LinkedIn says it encourages users to write about things they are passionate about, that will bring real value to other users.

The blogging platform space is already pretty crowded, with Tumblr, Wordpress and most recently Medium being the platforms of choice for most writers. The difference, according to LinkedIn executive editor Dan Roth, is a readily available readership. "One of the difficulties of maintaining a blog is building an audience," says Roth. "With LinkedIn, you already have a audience you're connected to through your network."

In addition, Roth says blog posts on LinkedIn connect directly to the authors profile. "It's all about building up and enhancing your identity," he says.

It's a smart move by LinkedIn. By letting everyone publish on its platform, it's taking on the competition, especially from Medium, which was beginning to get traction as a place where important people vent their thoughts on the industries they work in. Along with creating extra activity and having people spend more time on its network, LinkedIn now gives users a strong incentive to connect with as many people as they can, so their posts get more views.

Engaging people through the use of original content? Sounds like a marketing opportunity, and there is one for brands, but only if they go about it in a certain way.

"The publishing platform is not open to brands, it's open to people," says Roth. "Smart brands will try to leverage their individual employees to write engaging articles that are useful to the people who read them."

Roth says people could potentially be self-promotional, or talk about their products and brands, but ultimately "you never want to spam your own network."

Unlike Facebook, there isn't a way to get greater visibility for your posts by using images, or getting more likes. Everyone in your network will see your post as they scroll through their homepage (depending on what post view options they have set up. However, Roth says people shouldn't just rely on the LinkedIn algorithm to get people to read their posts, and he encourages using Twitter and email for further promotion. 

"In this day and age, it's acceptable and expected to try and get attention for the things you are working on," says Roth. "As long as its interesting, and useful for the folks that follow you."

You can hear more from Dan Roth at Hub Convene, The Hub's first all-day conference on the new channels of digital influence. Roth will be a keynote speaker at the event. To attend, click here!

"As long you're talking about things you are passionate about and are useful for the folks that follow you"
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