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Dec. 4, 2023, 12:43 p.m.
Audience & Social

Here’s how 13 news outlets are using LinkedIn newsletters

“While you’re less at the whim of the algorithm, it’s still social media.”

“LinkedIn is cool now” is something I’ve been saying a lot (sometimes received with side eye!) since August when Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier first said it in an in-depth piece making the case for the platform’s future.

“As other networks stagnate, shift their algorithms or burn themselves to the ground, LinkedIn is becoming a site where regular people actually want to hang out and post their thoughts,” Frier wrote. “It might even be cool.”

It might also become a place where regular people (and girl bosses and hustle culture bros) get news, at a time when other social networks are distancing themselves from news or removing it completely.

LinkedIn has been experimenting with newsletters as a way for individuals and companies to connect with readers. There are more than 143,000 newsletters on the platform, with over 500 million subscribers. At least 150 news publishers send newsletters out regularly, said Keren Baruch, LinkedIn’s director of product.

“Social media platforms feel particularly volatile right now, especially for news publishers,” Juliet Beauchamp, MIT Technology Review’s engagement editor, told me. “LinkedIn is rare in that it seems like it’s actually prioritizing news on its site.”

When you launch a newsletter, LinkedIn alerts all of your followers, which can help amass a subscriber base immediately. Newsletters also show up as posts in a user’s feed, which they can react to and comment on. Some publishers are repurposing content from existing newsletters for LinkedIn, while others are curating their newsletters specifically for the platform.

I talked to 13 news outlets using LinkedIn newsletters. They don’t think LinkedIn newsletters will replace email newsletters any time soon. LinkedIn’s customization tools are limited. Publishers have little access to metrics data, and they don’t own their LinkedIn subscriber lists.

There are also challenges on the user side. There is currently no newsletter discoverability feature. To report this story, I manually searched the LinkedIn page of any news publisher I could think of to figure out if they had an active newsletter or not (newsletters are prominently featured on a company’s profile). When you subscribe to a company’s newsletter, LinkedIn automatically follows the company’s page for you. That means all of that company’s content shows up in your news feed.

Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The Wall Street Journal

The newsletter: WSJ Careers & Leadership
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 9.6 million / 2.8 million

Leigh Kamping-Carder, head of newsletters:

Each week, audience interaction producer Gretchen Tarrant Gulla writes an abbreviated version of our existing Careers & Leadership newsletter for LinkedIn, with a prominent callout to subscribe to the on-platform version. [It goes out] an hour or two after the regular newsletter goes out on Monday mornings.

Leading with service journalism has worked well for us. We see the LinkedIn newsletter as the promotional tool — a way to introduce new readers to our coverage and deepen their relationship with us by driving them back to our platforms — not as a destination in itself.

We have just launched a couple of new experiments with LinkedIn newsletters. We collaborated with our colleagues in marketing to add a special WSJ subscription offer for LinkedIn newsletter readers. And we created an abbreviated version of our existing WSJ Networking Challenge on LinkedIn. Every Thursday, subscribers get bite-size exercises intended for networkers at all levels, and our expert careers reporters and editors will be live in the comments interacting with readers and answering their questions.

When we launched in March 2022, LinkedIn notified our existing followers about the newsletter, allowing us to build a list of more than two million subscribers within three months. We were able to build a big audience quickly, but it hasn’t produced the benefits we expected.

Though the company has added capabilities to its newsletter tools in recent months, such as the ability to schedule editions, it lacks basic features, such as the ability to create a template or automatically add tracking codes.

Compared with other email service providers, the available data is minimal: We can’t track open rates or click-through rates, or compare metrics over time. We also had to create our own system for tracking article traffic from the [LinkedIn]. Unlike our on-platform newsletters, we don’t have access to subscribers’ emails — effectively, LinkedIn owns and controls our list. We also can’t serve ads to those subscribers as we do throughout our portfolio.

Our LinkedIn newsletter drives much less traffic back to the site than we expected, especially given the audience size. Our on-platform newsletter drives many more clicks, despite a smaller list.

For all these reasons, we think of our LinkedIn Careers newsletter as an easy, low-lift way to promote our careers content, in particular our on-platform newsletter — more like a bonus than a cornerstone of our newsletter strategy. We devote a minimum of resources to it.

[ Click here to see the future of news in your inbox daily ]

MIT Technology Review

The newsletter: What’s Next in Tech
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 1 million / 470,000

Juliet Beauchamp, engagement editor:

I think of the LinkedIn newsletter as a precursor to an owned and operated newsletter in someone’s engagement/awareness journey. These subscribers are aware of who we are, but not so dedicated that they’re entrenched in the MIT Technology Review [TR] universe. So I want to expose them to as much variety as possible, and if they’re really into one beat, they can subscribe to one of our owned and operated beat newsletters. But now that there’s an option for pages to create multiple LinkedIn newsletters, I wouldn’t rule out a more niche or beat-focused one down the line.

About 90% of the time, blurbs and stories for the LinkedIn newsletter, which we publish weekly, are repurposed from our daily newsletter. I try to feature stories across beats so newsletter subscribers can become familiar with the breadth of TR’s coverage. The other 10% of the time, I’m creating something a little more custom for LinkedIn, especially around some of our biggest editorial projects.

Social media platforms feel particularly volatile right now, especially for news publishers. Some platforms are actively uninterested in news, others have a more neutral stance, but LinkedIn is rare in that it seems like it’s actually prioritizing news on its site. It can feel kind of buttoned up and serious compared to other social media platforms, but a newsletter is a good place to take a more relaxed tone. I feel like a sense of humor is a prerequisite for working in anything social media, so don’t be afraid to lean into that a bit.

I try to think of social media referral traffic as fleeting, especially now. I want to bring as many of our social followers as possible into the TR ecosystem. The LinkedIn newsletter has proven to be a valuable tool to engage our social audience and move them down the funnel, converting them into owned and operated newsletter subscribers and paying subscribers. It also helps you skirt the algorithm a little bit, since LinkedIn newsletter subscribers can receive alerts in their notifications tab and via email when new editions publish.

In particular, it’s an effective tool for gathering newsletter sign-ups for TR’s six owned and operated editorial newsletters. The LinkedIn newsletter accounted for about 15% of all owned and operated newsletter sign-ups gathered via organic social in the past year. LinkedIn was already a higher-converting platform for us, but in the year since our newsletter launched, we’ve seen a significant increase in paid subscriptions coming through organically via LinkedIn, over double the year prior. It’s hard to attribute that increase just to the newsletter, but I do think having a LinkedIn newsletter has positively impacted the overall health of our page.

Subscribers can receive alerts when a new edition is published in their notifications tab and via email. While you’re less at the whim of the algorithm, it’s still social media. A con of a LinkedIn newsletter is that you don’t quite own that audience yet. If LinkedIn disappeared tomorrow, you’re losing your connection to some of those followers.

The Financial Times (United Kingdom)

The newsletter: Editor’s Digest
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 7 million / 1.6 million

Emily Goldberg, U.S. newsletter editor:

We launched Editor’s Digest as a LinkedIn newsletter to build brand awareness among readers who don’t have an FT subscription, particularly in the U.S. It’s a free newsletter that we already send to our registered users. At least two of the stories in each edition are free to read.

Before the newsletter we would post several news and features stories a day to our LinkedIn page, picking topics that have traditionally elicited high engagement on that platform — work and careers, professional services. After seeing an increase in appetite over the past 18 months, we’ve doubled our LinkedIn posts and broadened the range of topics we post about, particularly around big breaking news stories.

The newsletter data LinkedIn provides is considerably patchier than [the data] for posts, so we treat the newsletter as a bonus feature for our regular LinkedIn audience that can further deepen people’s experience of the FT. Our assumption is that our most engaged followers are the ones who sign up.

More than 1.6 million people have signed up, about 20% of our total LinkedIn audience. At the start, LinkedIn told us that most publishers see 10% of their overall LinkedIn newsletter audience sign up to receive a newsletter via the platform in the first two weeks, which we surpassed within a shorter time frame.

While using LinkedIn newsletters has been largely positive, we had expected that it would have led to more significant traffic back to FT.com.

Our measures of success are pageviews, downloads to our FT Edit app (a lower-cost, limited version of the FT), and subscription and trial acquisitions. More than a third of individuals who download FT Edit through Editor’s Digest came via LinkedIn. We also find that those who download the app through LinkedIn are more likely to convert from a trial to a paid FT Edit subscription compared to the channel average.

Unfortunately, we don’t have access to open rate data through LinkedIn. My advice for others would be to use your own tracking tools. It would be great if LinkedIn could offer better options in terms of metrics for its newsletters.

One of our best performing stories was about the secret lives of MI6’s top female spies. Overall, the stories that perform the best on FT.com have the best chance of performing well in the LinkedIn newsletter. However, we do see a lot of our company and opinion stories performing well.

The greatest portion of our LinkedIn newsletter readers are in the U.K., followed by America — one of our growth markets — and India. Three-quarters of readers who come to the FT through the LinkedIn newsletter are anonymous readers, meaning those who don’t have an FT subscription. More than half are reading on mobile devices.

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El País (Spain)

The newsletter: La tecnología que cambia vidas
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 271,500 / 85,900

Álvaro Romero Vacas, head of social media:

We took into account three variables: It should address a topic of interest on the platform to maximize its reach, it should be a product with an author’s voice and not just a selection of links and stories, and it should be a newsletter open to all readers.

It’s first distributed via email and, after two days, it is published on LinkedIn. We want to encourage readers to sign up from the El País website to have access to the rest of the newsletter catalog and end up signing up for one of our paid products. Since we first published La tecnología que cambia vidas on LinkedIn, we’ve witnessed the whole takeoff of AI and tools like ChatGPT, which has been transferred to the content of the newsletter — which for a time has been almost monothematic. Readers’ interest in this topic has been growing in parallel, which has benefited us.

According to LinkedIn’s own statistics, we have a fairly heterogeneous audience. Most of them are readers with higher education; located in Spain; from the IT or digital marketing sector, and dedicated to engineering, project development, or teaching. It is worth mentioning the constructive and positive tone of the comments, something to be grateful for in these times when hate speech is gaining followers on other platforms.

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

The newsletter: The Globe’s Business Cycle
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 51,800 / 9,000

Rebecca Zamon, audience growth manager:

We chose to focus our newsletter on the business columns we published in the past week, as they’re at an intersection of the voice-y content that does so well on social media platforms alongside the news of the day that captures people’s attention. The columns that make up the bulk of the newsletter are published in the Globe, so we’re repurposing and reformatting content that already exists.

As we all know, many platforms are moving away from highlighting news, while LinkedIn remains a partner to journalism. It’s also a platform that has, on the whole, remained true to its identity of staying focused on business and careers, aligning with much of what we do at the Globe. There’s also been a trend of people returning to LinkedIn for information as other platforms transition and change.

We have a great relationship with the news editors at LinkedIn and are in constant conversation with them about which stories they want to highlight and how we can help make that happen.

BBC News

The newsletter: Worklife 101
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 7.9 million / 1.9 million

Meredith Turits, editor of BBC Worklife:

We create the newsletter specifically for LinkedIn. It’s usually a collection of about three of the most relevant BBC Business feature stories, and often led by the story we see has gotten a lot of engagement on LinkedIn organically, or that our on-site audience has responded to.

Engagement is a huge metric for us on LinkedIn newsletters. Content that does well is, of course, shared and clicked on, but some of our most important insights come from the comments on the newsletter. We’re always looking at conversation in the comments or shares. Articles that get people talking — whether they agree or disagree — are considered successes for us. Articles where people say they see themselves in it are an even bigger mark of success.

In some cases, finance and economy stories don’t seem to hit the sweet spot for this audience, unless they’re highly contextualized like “What does this development mean for me in my job and career?” The stories where people see their own situations, anxieties, successes, etc. are a winning approach for us.

Don’t treat it as a traffic play, full stop. One of the things that’s most unique about LinkedIn is that people want to talk, and will talk — its UX makes that easy and encourages it. Lean into it with the newsletter. Yes, you want people to click, but also use it to figure out what users are talking about and what’s missing from the discussion, which you can then add to as a publisher. You rarely have such an engaged, hungry group of users in a place where you can reach them directly on exactly what they want to read and talk about. It should be as useful for the editorial team as it is for the readers.

Middle East Eye

The newsletter: Turkey Unpacked
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 7,400 / 2,550

Yunus Emre Oruc, audience development editor:

[Turkey bureau chief] Ragıp Soylu floated the idea of a newsletter he wanted to do and I thought it would be a good opportunity for us. We launched Turkey Unpacked as a native email newsletter at the end of March, seeing a clear opportunity around the Turkish elections in May. The LinkedIn newsletter came a few months later.

Content is decided by Ragıp in coordination with our head of editorial Faisal Edroos, who edits it. Foreign policy–related pieces (i.e. how Turkey views the Israel-Palestine conflict, its priorities dealing with the U.S., or Sweden’s NATO bid) have been doing particularly well.

We have had a presence on LinkedIn for a while now and we have mostly been publishing articles published on our website. In all honesty, it is a bit one-sided now and we are not actively engaging back with the audience but we are looking into ways to do that in the near future. We have been experiencing a spike in follower growth on LinkedIn since the October 7 attack and Israel’s subsequent war in Gaza, so it is hard to know how much of it was caused by the newsletter itself.

The newsletter for now is published once a week. We’ve found that our newsletters tend to do better in late morning to midday, but we will keep experimenting.

The main downside is you do not own the audience. They’re LinkedIn users, and they are likely to stay that way. We’re exploring ways to make more of it, as well as try and get them to sign up to our email list so they can get other newsletters we are planning to launch in the near future.

[ Click here to see the future of news in your inbox daily ]

The Telegraph (United Kingdom)

The newsletter: Telegraph Insight
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 118,000 / 30,400

Maire Bonheim, head of newsletters:

The newsletter has gone through several iterations and is now completely different from the one we launched with. This is partly down to a change in the way people use LinkedIn, as well as the general approach to working life. But our original newsletter also wasn’t personal enough. As soon as we added a personal connection with our money reporter Tom Haynes, we started to see improvements in performance.

Alongside increasing our audience on LinkedIn, we also had a goal of driving sign-ups to an owned newsletter on our own platform and traffic to the Telegraph’s website which could be converted to subscriptions. We tested both approaches and found that producing an article-style newsletter specifically for LinkedIn generates more engagement in terms of newsletter growth and reactions, as well as traffic to the Telegraph’s site [compared to repurposing email newsletter content].

The Washington Post

The newsletter: Post Grad
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 1.5 million / 251,600

Kyley Schultz, assignment editor, social:

It’s an effective way to double dip with content that’s performed well to reach new audiences.

We choose 5 to 7 of our strongest and most relevant articles daily that range from breaking news to trending topics. The newsletter’s steady growth encouraged us to segment specific audiences on LinkedIn and tap into particular industries. For example, “Post Grad” — in which our Opinions section fellow discusses the transition from college to the professional world — not only reaches a younger demographic, but can span across industries and broader topics like wellbeing and mental health.

We are more authoritative with our headline usage in the newsletter: “How to use X,” “Five tips for X.”

Since we use the platform’s data to target and segment relevant audiences, we’re able to build a more tailored audience. LinkedIn can ping relevant users to sign up for our newsletter or flag to users what they might be interested in based on demographic.

CNN

The newsletter: PM Plug-in
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 3 million / 595,600

Marcus Mabry, CNN Digital’s senior vice president of digital editorial & programming:

The first edition is sent to all your followers, which allows you to grow a follower base quickly.

We realized there was an opportunity for late afternoon and early evening newsletters to offer a recap of the day’s top news. Being a 24/7 global news brand, covering the top news day in and day out, enables us to be a trusted and authoritative voice to target audiences who are wrapping their workday and might have missed the news cycle.

USA Today

The newsletter:: The Money
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers:: 315,000 / 54,300

Ashley Lewis, deputy managing editor for audience:

We have a successful email-based newsletter called “The Daily Money” and we knew it was the perfect product to repurpose for this. We send the LinkedIn version once a week and combine content from different editions of the email newsletter.

We were hopeful that this newsletter would be low lift, high reward — and it was. Before we committed to producing it long term, we gave ourselves 10 weeks to measure the data and see how successful the project was. For us, it was absolutely worth it. We were pleasantly surprised that the newsletter grew quickly after launch, pulling in 45,000 subscribers after just 10 weeks. Engagement is strong: We often see much higher engagement on our LinkedIn newsletter editions than posts in our feed.

The tool to send the newsletter is a breeze to use — the process is easier than our internal tools.

San Antonio Business Journal

The newsletter: Weekly Wrap
LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 29,500 / 6,900

Sharon Brooks, managing editor:

I was already writing a weekly wrap-up report with links to top business stories throughout the week, so I started posting it on LinkedIn. I select some of the top business news of the week and post teasers with links to the articles to highlight the work our reporters do each week.

The newsletter does well if defined by subscriptions, but the weekly newsletter posts don’t do as well as I would like. People are faster to subscribe to the LinkedIn newsletter, but I feel the stories in the daily emails get more traffic right now.

It pays to be consistent. If you say you’re going to post a weekly newsletter, make sure you publish it every week. I credit this consistency with the consistent increase in LinkedIn newsletter subscribers and believe it will ultimately pay off in website subscriptions.

LinkedIn is an excellent outlet for business news. I think it’s growing in popularity because there’s no drama here. It’s all about networking and business.

The Associated Press

The newsletter: AP Climate Watch

LinkedIn followers/LinkedIn newsletter subscribers: 299,200 / 38,200

Natalia Gutiérrez, climate engagement manager:

We aimed to experiment with a climate-focused newsletter to tap into a new audience and help disseminate our global stories. Peter Prengaman, AP’s climate and environment news director, wrote the initial editions, leveraging his extensive expertise in climate journalism. We try to make the newsletter short but powerful. I was pleasantly surprised by the following AP has garnered on LinkedIn.

Hanaa' Tameez is a staff writer at Nieman Lab. You can reach her via email (hanaa@niemanlab.org) or Twitter DM (@HanaaTameez).
POSTED     Dec. 4, 2023, 12:43 p.m.
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