Online self-publishing isn't the bore and chore it used to be. Today almost everything is automated, and the most important choice for individuals and brands is picking the right platform, based on the goals they're trying to achieve.
LinkedIn has never been the most natural (or even capable) online space to publish or distribute long-form content. However, the social stalwart recently embraced long-form publishing, and it's attracting more and more writers — and readers.
Publishing with LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn's self-publishing platform was at first an exclusive club that eventually evolved into its "Influencers" program, which is currently composed of roughly 500 specially selected experts. It opened up "Pulse" to all of its 230 million English-speaking users a little more than a year ago.
Pulse gives publishers a wide potential audience, and it allows for specialized targeting, according to Brian Meert, CEO of digital agency AdvertiseMint. "The downside of LinkedIn is that people only visit it from time to time, thus limiting your potential to reach the individual," Meert says.
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Authors and readers are Pulse's primary beneficiaries, according to Akshay Kothari, Pulse cofounder and LinkedIn's product lead for content. "As an author, you have this amazing potential to reach millions of people [who are] really interested in what you've written about," he says. "It really goes beyond a few hundred or thousand connections you have."
Kothari also says publishing on LinkedIn isn't only about the number of people who read the posts. "You want to make sure the right people are actually reading your content and you're getting the right commentary on it."
A million long-form posts on LinkedIn Pulse
More than a million long-form posts have been published on LinkedIn to date, and authors add an average of 50,000 more articles each week. This vast library of insights and commentary is categorized by a hybrid of algorithms and editorial staffers, to give users relevant daily news and opinions on their professions, according to Kothari.
"If you think about why people are doing this today, it really goes back to their professional identities," he says. "It helps them build identities that go beyond their connections … and a lot of these posts have also led to opportunities, which is unique to LinkedIn."
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LinkedIn wants Pulse to be the professional self-publishing platform for everyone, from any industry, but most of today's publishing is related to ad tech marketing, finance, career development and professional growth, Kothari says. The quality of conversations also sets LinkedIn apart. "We don't see a whole lot of spam or people just writing low-quality stuff on our platform, because anything you do on LinkedIn is tied to your professional identity."
Anna Julow Roolf, senior active executive at BLASTmedia, a digital marketing agency, says LinkedIn stands out as a self-publishing platform because of its capability to help users showcase expertise to relevant and interested audiences.
LinkedIn is a viable and less rigid alternative to more traditional blogging platforms, such as WordPress, according to Roolf. "The biggest benefit [is] that you don't have to do as much of the promotion legwork required with something that's independent from your existing social network profiles," she says.
LinkedIn Pulse is a blog and a social network
LinkedIn's self-publishing platform "lies somewhere between blog and social network," Roolf says. "How and when to use it, depends on your business objectives."
Kathy Caprino, a career coach and leadership trainer, wrote the second-most-viewed LinkedIn post of all time (including Influencer posts), which has nearly three million views to date. After that June 2014 post went viral, Caprino told LinkedIn that it "opened doors for new projects, consulting gigs, speaking engagements, and radio and TV interviews."
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Simple, insightful ideas from experienced individuals are indispensable in any professional, according Kothari. "People have all these learnings but it's really hard for them to communicate that or get to the right audience," he says. "This is where LinkedIn really shines because we know a lot of interesting data points and we can connect those dots and get the right content to the right people.
"We believe that for all the professional content there is no other place that can get you to the right audience better than LinkedIn," Kothari says.