Demonstrating Thought Leadership Through LinkedIn Articles

During the COVID-19 crisis, Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, made headlines with his thoughtful video message in which he showcased strong leadership skills. Given the major global impact of the pandemic, his approach was touted by many as being an example of how executives should address the situation—by being honest, genuine, and outlining a clear path forward.

In today’s Executive Spotlight, we analyze his LinkedIn and Facebook social media profiles to see how Sorenson has translated his leadership style to his online content. As an executive on social media, his strengths lie in establishing his thought leadership through long-form LinkedIn articles and video content, in order to address topics important to him.


LinkedIn: Establishing a Thought Leadership Strategy

With over 770,000 followers on LinkedIn, Sorenson’s content draws a lot of user engagement in terms of reactions and comments. Many of his recent posts have reached anywhere from 1,000 to over 5,000 reactions. What sets him apart from many other executives on LinkedIn is that he frequently writes long-form articles related to Marriott, which is an effective way to share updates about his company. He covers a variety of topics, such as how Marriott is working to be more environmentally friendly in his article, Farewell to the Small Toiletry Bottle. More recently in his article, Honoring George Floyd with Real Change, he spoke out about racism and his thoughts on the situation.

The ability to upload and post articles is part of what makes LinkedIn unique and why it is an effective platform to build an executive’s thought leadership. Long-form content allows business leaders to convey their thoughts in a different format compared to shorter posts. While we have seen many executives who post a small handful of articles, Sorenson is more consistent in his posting, generally posting one or two articles per month.



Facebook: Delivering Powerful Messages Through Video Content


Moving to Facebook, his content is similar to LinkedIn with the same posts adapted to this platform. Whenever he publishes a new article on LinkedIn, he makes a post about it on Facebook. This is an effective way for executives to promote their content across different platforms, especially since Facebook does not have an article section that Sorenson uses on LinkedIn.

With a separate video category, users can see Sorenson’s video content on Facebook all in one single location. His video content has performed very well, given that he has 41,000 Facebook followers at the time of this article’s publication. With over 1 million views, his video during the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of how executives can use video content to deliver key messaging that requires a more personal approach.



Strengths: Effective Use of Profile Banners


We have already mentioned how his long-form articles and video content contribute to a strong thought leadership strategy, but there are other ways his online presence is effective. The “Featured” section on a user’s LinkedIn profile is an effective way for executives to customize their profile. Sorenson has used this to link to a Marketplace article that features him. However, we do recommend that executives insert images when using this category to make it more visually appealing.

screenshot of arne sorenson's featured section on linkedin profile

On both his LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, Sorenson has done an excellent job choosing his featured banner image. His featured banner on his Facebook profile is effective for many reasons. It is high-quality and features the Marriott brand in a more authentic setting with a group of people holding up the banner.

On his LinkedIn profile, his featured image is a collage of different images that represent him and the Marriott brand. This gives visitors an immediate sense of what the brand stands for, such as travel and appreciating employees. When choosing a banner for social media profiles, ideally the image should reflect the executive’s and brand’s values.


Improvements: Tightening Up Best Practices

While Sorensen’s banners are effective, the collage on LinkedIn means each image is quite small. Since the featured banner size on Facebook is larger, we recommend switching the two (i.e. using the current Facebook banner on LinkedIn and vice versa) so that the individual images on the collage are more visible.

Executives should make use of tagging and hashtags on LinkedIn as these are simple ways to increase a post’s reach. Sorenson does not use either, so this represents an opportunity for him to optimize his content.

On LinkedIn, there are frequent double posts, such as the one shown below. In one post, Sorenson links only to the article, while in another post, he provides a short comment. We recommend posting articles only once with an original short comment to avoid needless repetition.

screenshot of a post posted twice in a row on linkedin


In the example above, there is also no featured image uploaded to the article, which is why no image is populated in the link preview. Executives should take the time to select an appropriate image for their article as it adds a nice visual element to their feed.

Depending on the content being posted, executives can manually upload an image with brand-related visuals, such as a logo or custom copy. This can give the post a more personalized feel, while also promoting the brand. In cases where an executive or their internal marketing team is not equipped to create custom graphics creation due to lack of time or capability, they typically look to third-party marketing agencies to fill the gap.

On both platforms, Sorenson goes through periods of inactivity, ranging from posting a few times a week to a few times per month. Developing a consistent posting schedule is one way executives can improve their online presence.


Thought Leadership Opportunities With LinkedIn Articles

Arne Sorenson has developed a strong social media presence that utilizes LinkedIn articles. Writing long-form content is an effective way that executives can establish their thought leadership and help set themselves up for the future.

For executives who are looking to start their social media presence or want to make their existing online presence more strategic from a brand standpoint, our team can help. Click the button below to book a consultation with our experts and let us show you how executives can be a powerful marketing tool for your company.