Beyond the Byline with Devin Banerjee, Senior Financial Services Editor at LinkedIn News
In what was a difficult year that brought countless obstacles, 2020 did provide one extremely positive development: the rapid growth of LinkedIn News. As more and more finance professionals gravitate towards LinkedIn to both share and consume news, I sat down with the platform’s editor, Devin Banerjee, to discuss the growing popularity of the platform and its benefits.
1. Prior to joining LinkedIn in 2018 as senior financial services editor, you were an editor and reporter at Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal. What has been the most exciting thing about your role at LinkedIn?
It’s hard to choose just one! There were five main benefits that really stuck out to me when LinkedIn first approached me about the role in 2017, and each one remains exciting today.
The first is the reach of the platform. Today LinkedIn has more than 722 million members around the world — all of whom are potential readers of the reporting we do, the news we curate, and the subject-matter experts we cultivate. Related is the engagement that follows publication on LinkedIn. My colleague George Anders, the Pulitzer-winning business journalist, likes to say that even a well-researched, thoroughly reported piece can be half the story on LinkedIn, because readers often advance it the rest of the way via conversation on the platform.
Then there are the formats available to us as journalists: posts, articles, videos, live broadcasts, newsletters — where else can you so easily choose which medium you consume your news? Related is the experimentation that’s become a hallmark of the team, thanks to our innovative editor-in-chief, Dan Roth. I remember him telling me in an early conversation, “The job is to experiment.” I left thinking, well, that’s a pretty exciting job description!
Finally, I was really attracted to and excited by what LinkedIn stands for as a brand. With a mission of connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, and a vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, it’s just one of the most rewarding places to go to work every day.
Yes, about 300,000 subscribers and climbing across the two. Again, many multiples of the reach that my reporting and storytelling would get elsewhere.
I use the somewhat forced initialism below when coaching people to be successful publishers on LinkedIn — both in their newsletters and really in any format:
A: Authenticity is paramount. Remember, nobody else has your unique set of experiences and expertise. Using your own voice to represent that will make your writing stand out.
B: Bring something to the table. Advance the conversation, rather than repeat it, with insights drawn from your unique set of experiences and expertise.
C: Consistency is key. When a reader clicks ‘Follow’ or ‘Subscribe,’ it’s because they expect more insights to follow — right? Give the people what they want. Plus, exercising your writing muscle is the only way to strengthen it, plain and simple.
D: Distribute. Thought clicking ‘Publish’ was the end of the process? Online, it can just be the start. Tag people who you know will be interested in the topic. Share the link across your other social channels. Link to your newsletter or profile in your email signature or on your website. Remember that to grow a following, you have to get in front of readers who don’t already follow you.
E: Engage. When publishing, prompt readers to join the conversation with their own take or experience. Reward them by reacting to their comments. Answer their questions; ask them questions. These are social platforms, so remember to be social.
3. Can you also share intel on the types of executives you look to interview for your Human Capital newsletter?
As the name suggests, it’s really about that human element. Is this person changing the nature of work in finance? Or do they have a personal story that’s driven them to where they are today? Do they inspire others to see things differently?
Finance is, as I say in the newsletter description, an apprentice business. But the world is constantly changing outside the shop window. I love speaking with leaders who recognize that, embrace it, and update their apprentice model accordingly.
Finally, I’m not shy about saying that too many people enter this industry and don’t see leaders who look like them — powerful women, people of color, immigrants. I’m always looking to speak with executives and rising stars who reflect the diversity that’s possible for finance’s future decision-makers.
4. Switching gears, have you seen any interesting trends in the way LinkedIn users are sharing and consuming information since the onset of the pandemic?
First, the demand for information from trustworthy sources — about the health crisis, about uncertainty in financial markets, about the downturn in jobs and the economy — is just skyrocketing, as you would expect.
Content shared on LinkedIn was up about 50% in 2020 from the previous year. About 7 million members attended virtual events on LinkedIn following the launch of our Events feature in early 2020. Just before the pandemic, in January 2020, more than 35% of posts on LinkedIn were related to “information and ideas,” and while we haven’t yet re-run that analysis, anecdotally, the proportion has only risen.
Video is our fastest-growing content type. The number of pages streaming via LinkedIn Live jumped by 498% from September 2019 to September 2020; those streams on average attract 23 times more comments and six times more reactions than native videos.
More qualitatively, I’m seeing those trends play out with the finance community in my own feed every day. In almost any given conversation I have, the other person will mention that they now check their LinkedIn feed on a daily basis. I still find myself doing double takes at some of the industry executives taking to the platform — founders and CEOs and billionaire investors who, just a few years ago, thought a single static page was an adequate corporate website — but even that rapid evolution is surprising me less and less over time.
5. Can you discuss any exciting LinkedIn features and initiatives coming up this year?
In many ways, we’re focused on further improving and expanding access to several features that have recently rolled out, such as Stories, Live, newsletters, and more. Each of those will continue evolving, so get in touch if you’re curious about the latest developments. As always, we’re also working on ways to make the process of discovering new content and creators easier and more powerful.
Editorially, it promises to be another year of nonstop action — if the first few weeks have been any indication. My colleagues and I will be reporting on and curating around developments every day, including annual news events like Black History Month, International Women’s Day, the Milken Institute Global Conference, and our franchises such as Top Companies, Top Startups, Top Voices, Big Ideas, and much more.
As a friend of Prosek, I’m always open to your pitches and ideas on these topics and more. Don’t hesitate to get in touch!