LinkedIn or Pushed Out? The Corporatization of LinkedIn Pulse

LInkedIn or Pushed Out?

 

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.

The List

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

6 Authentic Ways to Inspire Other People When You’re Not Great With Words” – Inc. Magazine

Shonda Rhimes Responds to Petition Calling for ABC to Fire Jesse Williams Over BET Speech” – Time Magazine

Being a Good Boss in Dark Times” – Harvard Business Review

20 Great Questions To Ask Your Hiring Manager” – Forbes

6 tech gadgets that will improve your daily life” – Mashable

America’s Top Colleges 2016” – Forbes

Edelman hires UK new business chief from MSLGroup” – PR Week

PBS Admits Using Old Fireworks Footage in Fourth of July Broadcast” – The New York Times

7 Face-To-Face Networking Mistakes That Could Kill Your Professional Image” – Forbes

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

The Best Question To Ask If You Want To End The Interview On A Great Note” – Forbes

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

Reaction

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?

What Now?

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.

11 Comments on "LinkedIn or Pushed Out? The Corporatization of LinkedIn Pulse"

  1. Peter Morscheck | October 21, 2016 at 6:55 am | Reply

    For further reading, check out Jim’s follow-up post with featuring his views on this same subject. Well worth a read for a more in-depth (and “four months later”) take: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sincere-message-non-influencer-writers-linkedin-jim-murray?trk=mp-reader-card

  2. Me too, Peter. I published a lot of content, started building a network and got some attention. After almost two years, LI changes the rules and pushes out the little guy. Now, I go elsewhere…Bebee for one. I still put stuff on Pulse on occasion, but for the most part, not so much. Lesson learned that I need to distribute more efficiently and broaden my horizons. LI has changed for the worse, and does not give a rat’s ass.

    • Peter Morscheck | September 28, 2016 at 7:33 am | Reply

      Andy – I’m with you.

      I published my first original post (er “Buzz”) to Bebee only yesterday, and it’s already received over 200 views.

      Given that I have less than 80 followers there, I was impressed with that reach.

  3. Peter, you wrote, “To me, LinkedIn’s algorithm change that tanked everyone’s views just underscores the danger of not owning your own platform or distributing it through several channels.” Did you mean “…owning your own platform AND distributing it through several channels”? Post first on my own site, then cross-post and inform other channels that I choose, right?

    • Peter Morscheck | September 28, 2016 at 7:30 am | Reply

      Good catch, Veronica! I actually did mean the “or” because many of the most successful Pulse bloggers I met published directly (and exclusively) to LinkedIn rather than to their own blog. And I see the same thing happening now with Medium — where people don’t even bother with their own blogs anymore but rather house all of their writing exclusively on Medium. That works…for now. Until it won’t anymore.

      Does that make sense?

  4. Peter, it was not just “amateur bloggers” who found LinkedIn’s management of the long-post publishing platform to be less than desirable. There were several previously professional (that is, paid) writers and editors, myself included who believed that LinkedIn has breached an implied, although wholly legal contract with all the independent writers it invited to “publish on LinkedIn” — contract in which, in LI’s words, LinkedIn would help them build and maintain their own readerships.
    See, for examples:

    1) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/arrogant-control-leadership-social-media-anywhere-else-phil-friedman
    2) https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/take-your-algorithm-shove-phil-friedman

    • Peter Morscheck | September 23, 2016 at 9:43 am | Reply

      I’m not sure I knew that, Phil. I’m impressed that you were paid by LinkedIn! But yes – I’ve been reading your stuff for years through the Publishers & Bloggers group on LinkedIn. To me, LinkedIn’s algorithm change that tanked everyone’s views just underscores the danger of not owning your own platform or distributing it through several channels. Thanks for commenting! I just discovered we’re not yet connected on LinkedIn, too. Request sent!

  5. I wrote some 85 Pulse pieces in 7 or 8 months. First, engagement and readership rose then dropped like a stone. I chalked it up to me and my choices of topic. Then I was approached by clients wanting me to write for them. So maybe not.

    I made the switch to Medium. I found the writing platform clunky, but usable. I particularly liked the Twitter tie-in. Engagement was better but not much.

    Then I found beBee. It’s a writer’s platform. Content is given full organic reach and they even help in distribution via the hive structure. I mothballed by WordPress blog and write on beBee and cross-post to LinekdIn. I promote on Twitter

  6. I discovered beBee, after I wrote a post on LinkedIn about the degradation of content. Now I spend a considerable amount f time trying to bring people over to beBee from LinkedIn and Twitter. My posts get read by thousands of people on beBee and hardly anyone on Twitter or LinkedIn. Those platforms aren’t really set up to generate reach, but beBee is.

  7. Peter Morscheck | July 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm | Reply

    Thanks for reading, Jim. And agreed on the homogeneity of the titles and topics that populated the top trending articles that morning. A year ago there was greater diversity on Pulse in not just the voices, but the topics they discussed. Since writing this, I’ve started my profile on beBee but I’m not yet truly active on the platform. What’s your blog?

  8. Good analysis Peter. I was one of those writers who got crowded out. I can see how the trend deflated a lot of hopes and dreams. Fortunately I don’t make my living through writing of this type or need an online network to get business. I just like to write. But I do feel bad for anyone who has this in mind for a career. BTW, very few of those titles you listed in your article are anything that I would be interested in as a communications writer. Useless crap is the dominent characteristic of a lot of what’s ‘popular in The Lumpy Kingdom Of The Mighty Microsoft Hamsters. That is exactly why I moved by blogging tent to beBee and back to my WordPress site. Good piece.

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