A picture of Mark Chambers, a white guy with a full beard wearing a white button-up shirt and a loosened collar and necktie.

In the early 1990s, elementary schools across the US were opening the first “computer labs”. As a 9-year-old, using an Apple IIe and being responsible for my own floppy disk was pretty cool. One of our projects was to write a short fantasy story. Once we had our final draft, we entered it into a word processor, saved it to our disk and gave it to our teacher. Each student's story — along with our own illustrations — was compiled into a book. In retrospect, there was likely a purpose behind this assignment. My first impression of the computer had been connected with creativity.

The computer lab got an upgrade almost every year. We watched it go from megahertz to gigahertz, megabytes to gigabytes, 2-tone screens to millions of colors, floppy disks to thumb drives. It was an exciting time to grow up! If that was your thing.

Public libraries 

In 1995, we purchased our first family computer, an IBM Aptiva. Having our own computer at home was very different. I stopped visiting the public libray. It was a gaming was Microsoft Paint. I recall painstakingly illustrating the front of a diesel locomotive pixel by pixel.

Our generation either embraced the computer or got by without it.

Having mastered my first video game titles like Myst, Tomb Raider, and MechWarrior II, I started dabbling with Microsoft Paint. I recall painstakingly illustrating the front of a diesel locomotive pixel by pixel. I actually found the file.

Later I got my hands on Adobe Photoshop and started experimenting with photo manipulation and layers.

“Yes, I love technology,
But not as much as you, you see,
But still I love technology,
Always and forever.”

This new hobby continued on the first floor. In my sister's bedroom sat a brand new beautiful blue and white Apple Power Macintosh G3. After adding a few more video games to my repertoire (Avernum, Cythera, Riven) I decided to put my graphics skills to practical use. I began building my own Smashing Pumpkins fan website from the ground up with the original Macromedia Dreamweaver. DW never did what you wanted it to, so I learned HTML by studying the code it generated. It was this foundation which would later help me find my way into the professional world.

I put my creativity on hold for a couple years. After working in the service sector, doing a bit of travelling and binging on games (StarCraft, Morrowind, Lineage II), it was time to think about my future. I decided to go to college and study graphic and web design — the obvious choice. I enrolled in every art and design class I could, also breaking into photography for the first time.

I bought my first Apple computer for my studies: a brand new Mac Book Pro. It was the first of the Intel line, a vintage machine. That baby was my daily driver for over 10 years. Lots of work done on it, new skills acquired and of course gaming (Age of Empires, Civilization, Railroad Tycoon). Now I'm doing things I never imagined: bringing my designs to life with content management systems. People talk about WordPress, but Drupal is where it's at. I can spend hours on end turning my ideas into realities — it's better than gaming!

Mark Chambers

Early this 2017, LinkedIn made some significant changes to its desktop browser layout and design. Features have come and gone, elements have been shuffled around, and some terminology has changed. But the most important question remains: What is the best way to share content to boost my visibility?

We will look at the 2 choices on your home page:

  • Share an article, photo, or update
  • Write an article

LinkedIn home view

So what’s the difference? When do we use the one or the other?

Share an article, photo, or update

As the word "share" suggests, this is quickly-served content that you want to have appear on your home page (feed). Let’s use the 3 suggestions—article, photo and update—to paint a picture of what kind of content goes here.

1. Article

Browsing the web you come across an interesting article you want to share with your professional network. Simply copy and paste the URL into the field and LinkedIn will automatically fetch an image from that page. But don't post just yet!

It’s good practice to delete the text link. The image itself will remain and be linked, as will the content title and domain beneath it.

In place of the link write your own thoughts on the content. Why are you sharing it? Is there a particular benefit you would like to highlight? Who in your network would be most interested in reading this? What you don’t want to do is arbitrarily post content without providing some context. If you say something meaningful in your own words, people are more likely to engage with your shares.

2. Photo

Clicking on the camera icon will prompt you to upload an image. Whether it’s an infographic, a photo of your tidy workspace, or you just want to show off some new tech, this is the place. Again, some kind of caption text is in orderhere. But please, no selfies!

3. Update

Think Facebook’s ”What’s on your mind?”. Are you brainstorming and need to think out loud for a moment? In the middle of an exciting project? Out of the office for a few days on a business trip? Feeling compelled to confess how much coffee you’ve needed to stay focused today? Just keep in mind that this is a professional network. 

Choices

A feature exclusive to posts is mentioning. Doing so will notify people or companies of your share. Type '@' and start typing the person or company’s name and a list of matches will come up, even from outside of your network. Click on the one you want and continue typing whatever else you wish.

You can choose who will see the content you are sharing. Public is the default option. If at the same time you want to tweet, choose Public + Twitter. Or be discreet and let only your Connections know about it.

Limited

Shares are limited to 700 characters, including the space needed for fetched link and image data. This limitation underlines the intent of this share feature: quickly serve content that is relevant to your network.

So what if you have more than 700 characters on your heart? If you aren’t satisfied with sharing other people’s information but want to be the source of useful information, then write an article.

Write an article

Why?

Creating your own content is a great way to share your expertise with the world. A well-prepared, proofread article with images that compliment it can become a go-to reference for others in your field. An article that appeals to a more general audience but is very interesting and an entertaining read has a chance of going viral on LinkedIn.

Articles are always public. Your connections will not be notified about them. It could show up on their or anyone else’s feed as Recommended for you. But If you really want everyone on your network to know about an article you published, just share its link the same way you would any other content in your feed.

A big advantage of LinkedIn’s articles is that they enjoy a good standing on Google. The more attention an article gets, the higher up the ladder it goes.

For all the reasons just mentioned, writing LinkedIn articles have some clear advantages over blogging on your own website. However, sometimes you want to direct traffic to your website to build a marketing list. If that is important to you, then publish your content in both places. On LinkedIn, include a snippet of linked text at the top and bottom, saying for example: “This article was originally published on MyBlog.com. Click here for similar articles.”

For more reasons why writing articles (or blogging) is beneficial, read this Forbes article.

How?

Clicking on the Write an article link will open up a new page with a simple-to-use full screen text editor. Some basic knowledge about content structuring (headlines) and layout (text alignment and image positioning) can make your article stand out.

A recommended length is 1,600 words, which would take 6-7 minutes to read. Anything longer and people will slowly begin to drop off. For more information on social media content lengths, check out this comprehensive blog article on Buffer.

Since a good amount of work is involved here, you can save your article as a draft. Don’t rush it. Take your time! Reread it more than once before publishing. And if you can, sleep on it. Letting time pass in between helps you to be more objective when reading your own words. This in turn will refine the way you express yourself.

In Summary

Shares are short. They are great for posting found content, photos and brief updates about yourself. They can be just for your network or the public.

Articles are longer. They focus on a particular topic you wish to present in your own well-prepared words. They are public and given more search relevance than shares.

This sums up the current content sharing situation as an individual on LinkedIn. But if Internet history has taught us anything, it’s that nothing stays relevant for very long, including this article. Hope it can help you in the meantime.