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How to Become a LinkedIn Top Voice (From Someone Who Did It)

How to become a LinkedIn top voice

Work Life

05 Jul 2024 • 8 min read •

Sarah Maloy

 

If you're anything like me, you've been spending more time on LinkedIn recently. And you've probably noticed the blue and gold badges that some active users have listed next to their names. These Top Voice badges signify thought leaders in a particular industry, and they're becoming a hot commodity among people who are trying to build their personal brands on LinkedIn.

Myself included. (Because who doesn't love a shiny gold star on their work?)

When I was invited to contribute to LinkedIn's collaborative articles and earn my Community Top Voice badge, I thought, "Why not?" In less than a week, I had earned my Top Social Media Voice badge. Since then, I've seen some interesting results on my LinkedIn account.

In this article, I'm going to walk you through some frequently asked questions about these badges, plus my own experience and takeaways from the process. I'll cover:

  • What a LinkedIn Top Voice badge is
  • The difference between blue badges and gold badges
  • How to get both types of Top Voice badges
  • If it's worth it to become a LinkedIn Top Voice

What is a LinkedIn Top Voice badge?

LinkedIn’s Top Voice (blue badge) and Community Top Voice (gold badge) programs are built to distinguish skilled practitioners and thought leaders in a particular industry. Unlike verification badges on Meta or X (Twitter), you can’t pay for LinkedIn badges. Instead, they’re doled out based on your knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience.

As you’re scrolling through the platform, you’ll notice there are two different types of LinkedIn Top Voice badges. One is blue, one is gold.

LinkedIn Top Voice (Blue Badge) vs LinkedIn Community Top Voice (Gold Badge)LinkedIn Top Voice (Blue Badge) vs LinkedIn Community Top Voice (Gold Badge)

Here’s the difference:

  • Blue badge = LinkedIn Top Voice: LinkedIn Top Voices is an invite-only program, featuring just 300 users who have been hand-selected by LinkedIn’s Editorial team every year. These people cover a range of topics and industries, and they are typically some of the most engaged and engaging users on the platform.
  • Gold badge = Community Top Voice: The Community Top Voice program awards users who contribute their skills, knowledge, and experiences to collaborative articles on a specific topic. These collaborative articles feature AI-generated prompts that users can answer based on their expertise. If you contribute enough quality content to a specific topic, and your answers receive enough engagement, you’ll be in the running to earn a Community Top Voice badge for that topic.

How to become a LinkedIn Top Voice (blue badge)

Only 300 LinkedIn users are selected to become a Top Voice every year. It’s an exclusive program that’s based on a hand selection process, so there aren’t exact steps that will guarantee you a spot. However, LinkedIn Top Voices all have these traits in common:

  • Senior leaders in their industry, many of whom are also keynote speakers, prolific content creators, and well-known industry personalities
  • Consistent LinkedIn presence with at least three posts per week
  • Extensive use of LinkedIn features, including all profile page sections and a variety of post types
  • Highly engaged community with frequent comments, likes, and reposts

Example of a LinkedIn Top Voice userExample of a LinkedIn Top Voice user, Shama Hyder

Your best bet for becoming a Top Voice is to get really serious about your LinkedIn content strategy. Here’s what that entails:

  • Find your niche: the sweet-spot topic area that overlaps with your industry, your expertise, and a content gap (i.e. something people want more information about).
  • Start posting your original thinking in that niche: Share data, create charts and graphs, build carousels full of insights and tips, repurpose video interviews into short clips, etc. 
  • Build and nurture a community: Build goodwill inside and outside of your industry by commenting on and sharing other people’s content. Engage in thoughtful conversation in the comments section of your own posts.
  • Post frequently: Publish a variety of post types at least three times per week.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn presence is fully optimized: Complete your profile page with your full work history, about section, featured content, skills, and more.

But keep in mind that intentionally seeking a Top Voice badge may not prove particularly fruitful. Considering only .0004% of LinkedIn users get a Top Voice badge, this distinction is out of reach for most users. The good news is, any effort you put into earning this distinction means you’re building your LinkedIn presence. It will still pay off for your personal brand.

This doesn’t mean you should give up on your goal of earning a Top Voice badge — you’ll just have to go about it a different way.

Enter the gold badge, aka the Top Community Voice.

How to become a LinkedIn Community Top Voice (gold badge)

Example of a LinkedIn Community Top Voice user Example of a LinkedIn Community Top Voice user (aka me!)

Becoming a Top Community Voice is a great way to show your expertise, build your presence, and stand out in the LinkedIn community. And it’s much easier to secure than the blue badge. Here’s how to get your Community Top Voice badge:

1. Get invited

This is probably the hardest part of the process. Before you can start contributing to collaborative articles, you need to get invited! Here’s how to check if you have access to collaborative articles.

  1. Got to the Collaborative articles content hub and pick a topic that matches your expertise
  2. Pick an article that you want to contribute to
  3. If you see a button that says “Start a contribution” or "Add your perspective," then you’re good to go! You can start contributing to articles.

If you see a button that says "Start a contribution," you can start working toward a gold badgeIf you see a button that says "Start a contribution," you can start working toward a gold badge

If you don’t see this button, you need to build up your presence a bit more. Here are a few tips and some additional context from LinkedIn:

“LinkedIn has invited a select group of experts to contribute insights within these articles. LinkedIn identifies members who are likely to be experts in a certain topic based on their work experience, skills, proficiency, and prior engagement on the platform... To be considered, you can engage with the articles by liking or reacting to them.”

Let’s break that down. On top of building a robust LinkedIn presence, there are a couple of shortcuts you can take to get invited to collaborative articles.

  • Make sure you have your full work experience listed on your profile, including using LinkedIn’s skills tags to define your responsibilities.
  • Engage with the collaborative articles in your industry by liking or reacting to them.

Once you're invited, you'll start to get notifications across the platform to contribute to different articles.

LinkedIn collaborative article question

2. Pick your category and stick to it

There are almost 2,400 collaborative article categories to choose from. They cover every imaginable industry and skillset, from Agroforestry to Real Estate to HTML5 to Social Media.

LinkedIn collaborative articles topicsJust a sample of the topics available in LinkedIn's collaborative articles hub

We’re sure you have expertise on more than one of the listed topics. For example, my personal career journey means I could probably contribute to Marketing Strategy, Marketing Management, Content Marketing, Social Media Advertising, and even Journalism.

But your goal isn’t to go broad — it’s to go deep. When you’re starting out, focus on building your authority on a single topic. If your core topic isn’t immediately clear to you, or you’re bouncing between a few options, think about your LinkedIn personal brand and/or business goals. What topic area do you most want to be affiliated with? This might depend on your desired career path or the type of clients and/or business relationships you want to attract on the platform.

It also depends on the competition. Since badges are awarded to the top 5% of contributors, it will be harder to secure a badge in a competitive topic. Don’t let that deter you from your own expertise area, but if there’s a related topic with lower competition, it might be a faster path to success. I got the Social Media badge, but I also could have gone for the Social Media Marketing or Social Media Communications badge.

You can earn multiple Community Top Voice badges, but only one appears on your LinkedIn profile. That’s why we suggest sticking to just one topic, at least in the beginning.

3. Make your answers short but thoughtful

Now it’s time to start answering questions! Think of these as answers to FAQs — they should be quick, to the point, and easy to scan.

How to answer LinkedIn collaborative article questions

While there’s no need to write an essay, quality is still important. Your ranking for a topic depends in part on the engagement you receive on your answers. You’re much more likely to get engagement if you contribute content that’s thoughtful and experience-backed. People try to game the system with AI-generated answers, but you can’t fool most users with that type of low-quality content.

4. Contribute to at least 3 articles in a category (but probably more)

Now that you’re contributing to collaborative articles… when does your badge show up? LinkedIn suggests contributing to 3+ articles in a category in order to be considered in the ranking for a badge. LinkedIn says:

“To earn a badge, you’re typically in the top 5% of contributors and one of the first 2500 badge holders for a particular skill. We determine the top 5% of contributors by looking at a variety of factors, including quality, engagement, and quantity of contributions.”

Here’s what those factors mean:

  • Quality = content that’s based on personal experience, unique perspectives, and professional opinions
  • Engagement = the number of likes, comments, and shares on your answers
  • Quantity = enough article contributions to rank for a given topic

Depending on the competition in the topic, three or four answers might be enough to rank. But your topic might be much more competitive. To get my Top Social Media Voice badge, I set a goal of contributing to three articles per day a couple times per week. Social Media is also a very competitive topic — just look how many contributions there are on Social Media articles vs. a less competitive category, like Trend Forecasting.

Low competition LinkedIn top voice categories vs High competition LinkedIn top voice categoriesSome Community Top Voice topics are more competitive, meaning there are more people trying to rank for a badge.

5. Keep building your LinkedIn presence otherwise

A big factor in your ranking is engagement, so if all you’re doing is answering questions without investing in other sources of content, you might not see the results you want.

Your collaborative article answers will show up in your followers’ feeds, where they can then engage. But what if you don’t have a ton of followers? You see now why it’s important to build up your LinkedIn presence outside of these articles. Expanding your overall LinkedIn follower base helps you get more engagement on your answers.

After a few weeks of consistent answering, you should be on your way to earning a badge!

6. Next steps: Keep contributing to your topic!

Buried in the fine print is this note from LinkedIn: “The Community Voice Top Badge is active for 60 days after you earn it. LinkedIn may remove a member without notice from the Top Voices program, which includes removal of the profile badge, at its sole discretion.”

LinkedIn Community Top Voice badges may expire after 60 daysThat means your Community Top Voice Badge is only safe for 60 days. If you want to maintain your badge after that point, keep contributing to articles on a regular basis.

Is becoming a LinkedIn Top Voice worth it?

It’s hard to gauge the concrete impact of becoming a LinkedIn top voice. Here are some of the stats that I noticed after I got my gold badge:

  • I gained 1,600 followers in the first two months after becoming a Top Voice, averaging 26 new followers per day. My account is growing at a much faster rate than it was before I had a badge.
  • My content is also getting seen more. In that same two-month period, I had 225,000 impressions on LinkedIn, an exponential increase (+7,000%) over the same period last year.

I've also been posting more on LinkedIn this year. So while the gold badge does seem to correlate to some increased followers and impressions, it's not necessarily the sole cause for that growth.

In itself, a Top Voice badge is not a magic bullet. While it might help you build a presence on the platform, just answering questions in contributor articles is not a foolproof way to gain your followers’ trust and investment in your personal or business brand. That requires a more robust LinkedIn content strategy — one that’s tailored to your business goals.

Think of the gold badge as nice-to-have element of a successful personal brand built on:

  • Consistency: Posting frequently enough that your target audience (and the LinkedIn algorithm) starts to recognize your name.
  • Relatability: Posting on topics that you and your target audience care about.
  • Originality: Bringing your unique perspective to everything you post; don’t just relay facts and data points — share your point of view on them.

If you have these three pillars covered, then the Community Top Voice gold badge might just take your personal brand and LinkedIn presence to the next level.

 

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