The Australian Financial Review enjoys the largest LinkedIn following of any Australian publisher.
This unique position has been steadily built with a strategy that leverages our best and most relevant content for the platform. Career advice and CEO profiles from our long-running BOSS section, top companies and start-up coverage, and business and finance news are a natural fit for LinkedIn’s professional audience.
More recently, as the platform more heavily features news, we have also extended our political and breaking news coverage to LinkedIn. Our top-performing posts this year were all breaking and exclusive news stories, including those relating to our Walkley award-winning reporting on the PwC Australia tax scandal. Plus, many of our journalists are active users and utilise it to share stories, find leads, and start conversations with their networks.
This strategy means the Financial Review page now has more than 700,000 followers — more than double our nearest local competitor. And the opportunity is not just in the size of the audience but its value.
Conversion data shows us new readers who visit afr.com via LinkedIn convert at a higher rate than any other social platform. We also know it’s a place for us to reach our subscribers outside of our owned platforms: Subscribers are more likely to come via LinkedIn than any other social platform, and analysis conducted by our marketing team found that 60% of our subscribers are “reachable” on the platform.
These factors make our LinkedIn audience one of our most valuable on social media.
At the same time, it’s worth noting major changes across other platforms, including Facebook deprioritising news across global markets and the antics of Elon Musk rapidly eroding the effectiveness and security of X (formerly known as Twitter) as a partner for news businesses.
This has led to newsrooms shifting resources. In a Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism 2023 trends and predictions report earlier this year, 42% of news leaders named LinkedIn as the most popular alternative to X. Additionally, the 2023 Digital News Report showed that 34% of LinkedIn users in Australia are using the platform for news — an increase of 6% for the year.
We found ourselves well-placed to double-down on LinkedIn, leverage the large audience we have built, and further prioritise it within our social strategy.
This is certainly baring out in our experiments with LinkedIn.
In April 2023, we launched our first LinkedIn newsletter, AFR Success, an abridged version of our Work & Careers newsletter. It’s designed to let our large audience sample our newsletter product inside the LinkedIn platform and outside of our paywall.
It has since become Australia’s most-subscribed LinkedIn newsletter and, as of December 2023, has amassed more than 187,000 sign-ups — a number that grows weekly.
While the click-through rate on articles linked in this newsletter is surprisingly low — a phenomenon that has also been observed by competitor publications — it has paid dividends in audience growth and overall site referrals from LinkedIn as a whole.
In the three months following the launch, we gained more than 45,000 new followers; this is 94% more than we had gained in the period prior. LinkedIn’s analytics show these newly gained followers skew toward early career professionals, helping with our goal of reaching younger audiences.
We are considering expanding our LinkedIn newsletter offering to address more niche interest areas in 2024.
Additionally, in a year where audiences have become increasingly fatigued and disengaged with the news, we were also able to offer some respite with LinkedIn polls. We currently operate a twice-weekly poll strategy with a news-focused poll running around Monday lunchtime and a lighter poll later in the week, often focused on a workplace issue like “can you wear sneakers to the office?”
The posts consistently receive between 1,200-10,000 votes and attract dozens of comments. These high-engagement activities foster a connection with the reader. We are also able to use these posts to resurface older evergreen content, take a second bite at a news apple from earlier in the week, and promote our events, like the Financial Review Property Summit. Commenters can also be contacted as potential case studies for follow-up articles if reporters require.
This engagement has contributed to an overall lift in monthly impressions, which have increased 82% over the course of this year. Referrals to afr.com from LinkedIn have increased 6% year-on-year, and they continue to grow.
In addition to focusing on LinkedIn growth, this year we have expanded our short-form video content strategy across platforms, including TikTok. And, we continue to experiment with different social media story formats.
Unpredictable infrastructure is a hazard of the social media landscape, but our highly engaged LinkedIn audience and unique position on the platform provides the Financial Review with the perfect place to experiment and innovate.