Have you been 'invited to subscribe to a new series' on LinkedIn yet? If not, be on the lookout, especially if you're connected (or follow) one of the 117 writers on that are a part of this pilot. Yes, LinkedIn has rolled out a hyper-exclusive feature, allowing you to invite others to 'subscribe' to your article series, and it's super intriguing.
I've explained my reasoning below breaking it down in terms of what makes it exciting not only for audiences but for authors as well. Here are the 4 most likable aspects of LinkedIn's new subscribe feature:
1. It combats the overwhelming nature of content overload.
There is simply way too much to keep up with these days. Even in a defined space (like LinkedIn) with strict parameters (the algorithms that govern what appears on your feed), you're virtually guaranteed to overlook a lot of the information available to you. Flagging your interest up front will ensure you don't miss the things you're most interested in. I know what you're thinking--"I already have enough push notifications"--sure you do, but relevancy is key, and you get to define that.
For the wordsmiths, this amounts to an easier way to get your work in front of more viewers without worrying about whether or not an article you wrote will make it through to a connection's news feed. Even if a reader has engaged with your work in the past, there's no guarantee that reader will come back to check you out again--until now.
2. Audiences can influence topics.
How many times have you read an article and thought, "I've got some valuable input on that topic--I wish they'd asked me". Of course, it's a bit tongue-in-cheek because clearly, you should just expect someone to invite you to opine on their work. Only with LinkedIn's opt-in model, that's exactly what can happen. If you want to weigh in on the direction a series is going, you'll be able to, and maybe be rewarded in the form of the author addressing your specific question, concern, or interest. And that is the evolution of content consumption, my friends.
This is an excellent chance for writers, as well, to gauge the appeal of their writing not just after the fact, but during the process of creating a series. This is especially significant when it comes to huge topics with many possible angles to explore--it can be helpful to have the guidance of your audience regarding what in particular they want to read about and understand. This kind of writer-reader collaboration might not be appropriate for all pieces, but in the same way that choose-your-ending books are fun to read, and Kickstarter campaigns give investors a chance to influence the final product, there's certainly some appeal to this format.
3. It allows like minds to congregate.
Put simply, subscribing to an article series will open the door for users to connect with others on LinkedIn who are passionate about the same topics or have expertise in related areas. The result can create a more hyper-relevant network. At its core, isn't that what LinkedIn is all about?
This works in writers' favor by allowing to build readership via the online version of 'word of mouth.' Subscribers will be more likely than opportunistic readers to like or share your articles, so even a small number of subscribers could be a huge advantage in terms of overall exposure. And the higher the number of subscriptions, the greater the psychological tug on readers to jump on the bandwagon. Jonathan (Jasper) Sherman-Presser, Group Product Manager at LinkedIn described it like this:
"First, it's hard for creators to find an audience of people who care about what they have to say; many give up writing because they feel that they're speaking into a vacuum. Second, so much of that great content is confined in email inboxes -- people discover a great newsletter only when a friend or colleague forwards it to them and they don't know who else out there is also reading what they are, so they miss out on the chance to have conversations with others who share their interests. With LinkedIn's professional network of 575 million members, we're in a good position to solve both of these problems."
4. Shorter pieces can do more.
This kind of speaks for itself, right? We're interested in deep, complex issues, but frankly, we often don't have time to do the deep diving necessary to really grasp them. Series of shorter articles are a natural solution to that problem. Sign me up.
Naturally, this works from the other side, too. Writers are busy people, many of whom have families, full-time jobs separate from publishing, and other time commitments. Not only does this make life easier for writers in terms of time and focus, but it also gives them a chance to step away from a topic between parts of a series (possibly granting even more perspective) without worrying about losing the reader.
The change is marginal--but that doesn't mean it's insignificant.
Most social media sites, from Twitter to Tumblr, already allow you to follow (or unfollow) whoever you want. This takes it a step further, following in the footsteps of YouTube, which uses a notification feature that allows subscribers to be advised of every new post by someone they've followed. Bottom line, it seems like something that may totally revolutionize the way we consume medium-to-long form content, at least on this one platform.
If you're wondering where to get started, the most obvious place is probably LinkedIn Editor Lorraine Lee's 'LinkedIn's Must-Read Series', where each week she'll highlight the top series to subscribe to. Or when in doubt, there's a ton of info on LinkedIn's Help Center.
Happy reading--or, subscribing!