AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOMAAAAJDZiOGY3ODZlLTA5ZDYtNDkyZi1hNmFmLTI1YjhmODU1MTBmZAAs a professional who uses LinkedIn both in my business and for my business, I both enjoy and learn from seeing how other LinkedIn members use the service. I especially like how they use the long-form post feature to share valuable content with their connections.

For the most part, anyways.

You see, many of my connections utilize the long-form post platform in much the same way I do: to provide valuable content that our connections can use in their daily professional lives. That’s called building thought leadership or a reputation, and that’s exactly what the platform is designed to do.

Most important, they share content that doesn’t require a purchase to implement.

Some of my connections, though, don’t use it for that purpose. Instead, they use published posts to blatantly push their goods or services, in ways similar to a newspaper ad or an advertising email, like the example to the left.

In my mind, and the minds of many others, this post is not intended to share and spread valuable information in the hopes of building thought leadership. This, my friend, is spam.

Think of it like this: If you’re publishing a post with your content because you don’t want to buy an ad, you’re doing it wrong.

Thank goodness only some people are using it as a spam-spreader. Even so, it’s bad because LinkedIn doesn’t want us to use long-form posts as a vehicle for spam. It’s up to us, then, to use it in the way it was intended.

Here are five tips on how to make sure you’re not spamming your connections and followers:

  1. Does the title of your post match the content, or is a bait and switch?
  2. Look at the post from the reader’s perspective. Does she or he have at least one take-away that is not just about hiring you, or buying from you?
  3. Is the intent of the post to get your readers to learn something or hire you? (If it’s the latter, consider a pay-per-click advertisement, which does work.)
  4. Does your post solve a problem, fill a need or satisfy a want? If it’s only about selling your solution, you’re done it wrong.
  5. Do you offer enough value in the post that you have earned the right to ask for a call, offer a download linke or sell your book?

As implied in tip #5, I do believe it’s more than okay to sell on LinkedIn. There’s a huge difference, though, between selling and “pitching.” Nothing will turn off readers faster than a pitch. The post I highlighted above is a perfect example of a pitch.

The key here is to publish content above the call-to-action (CTA) that’s useful to your readers. This way, you’re “earning” the right to promote your wares.

I strongly recommend placing your CTA after the main body of the post. I also recommend making the CTA stand apart from the rest of the content body by bolding and/or italicizing the text. Placing a dotted line between the end of the main body text and the ad is also very helpful.

On a platform where your reputation is key to your success, you really don’t want to have a reputation as a spammer… do you? Follow the above tips, and you’ll be sure to share only quality content that your audience will love, and in the process will build your reputation as a thought leader.

This article was originally published on LinkedIn