The saturation of LinkedIn Pulse is complete.
Media brands and celebrities (“influencers”) have so dominated the platform that what was once an incredibly valuable and even groundbreaking platform for amateurs – strong but unknown writers – to gain wide recognition for their work is now a ghost town, inhabited nearly exclusively by large brands.
Gone are the days when ordinary people could publish quality content and get it picked up and widely distributed (i.e., read) beyond the network of one’s own connections.
This isn’t exactly new news – a broad network of amateur bloggers I know have been complaining about this shift toward corporate dominance for awhile now.
And things may only get worse as the full ramifications of Microsoft’s recent purchase of LinkedIn continue to be revealed.
But what struck and surprised me this morning was the complete and utter totality of it.
A Case Study
It’s July 6, 2016 and the sun has just risen, revealing a calm blue Virginia sky outside my window.
I opt to check in on Pulse’s trending articles for my industry: Public Relations and Communications.
And lo and behold – literally every trending article is from a major publishing brand.
Here’s the list of the 16 top trending articles, in order:
“Internships Are Not a Privilege” – The New York Times
“An Intelligent Way to Sell More of Anything” – Inc. Magazine
“Being a Good Boss in Dark Times” – Harvard Business Review
“6 tech gadgets that will improve your daily life” – Mashable
“America’s Top Colleges 2016” – Forbes
“PBS Admits Using Old Fireworks Footage in Fourth of July Broadcast” – The New York Times
“Meet the 31-year-old who mentors the CEO of a $44 billion company” – Business Insider
“This Personality Trait Can Lessen Your Stress and Anxiety” – Inc. Magazine
“3 Reasons Why Talent Management Isn’t Working Anymore” – Harvard Business Review
“Setting the Record Straight: Using an Outside Offer to Get a Raise” – Harvard Business Review
At least four of these articles belong more probably in the “Careers” section than PR and Communications, as they discuss HR rather than PR issues.
At least three of these articles are worth reading regardless, as they discuss potentially game-changing business trends. These are:
- “Internships Are Not a Privilege”
- “PBS Admits Using Old Fireworks Footage in Fourth of July Broadcast” and
- “Meet the 31-year-old who mentors the CEO of a $44 billion company.”
I’m heartened to discover two of these are from the stalwart New York Times, the gold standard in traditional journalism.
And, to be fair, the use of stock footage by PBS for its July 4th fireworks broadcast is arguably the most important story in public relations this week, as it touches on the pressure to deliver against sky-high (hah!) expectations and ethics in PR and journalism.
But when 100 percent of the trending articles are from established media giants and a non-trivial percentage don’t even belong in the category in which they’ve been tagged, what chance do amateurs have to have their voices heard?
I don’t have the answer.
There are other platforms (Medium and BeBee among them) but even there it’s just a matter of time before the major brands once again squeeze out the little guy in the omnipresent battle for attention, for eyeballs, and for clicks.
For now, I urge aspiring writers to simply keep at it – practice, publish and persevere.
Because eventually true talent does shine and the cream rises to the top.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below.