LinkedIn Pulse: The Next Content Marketing Must-Have?
Not too long ago, you, as a marketer, signed into LinkedIn to check your messages, catch up on an old colleague, and maybe update your new profile picture. In the past few years, LinkedIn has made considerable changes – most notably LinkedIn Pulse – to transform the business-oriented social network from a recruiting and job-hunting tool to a powerful sales lead-generating channel, and now to a personalized, one-stop shop for business news hub.
Preceding its $90 million acquisition by LinkedIn back in 2013, Pulse was a news-aggregator app that curated your favorite publications and news sources and presented them in a Flipboard-type manner. Rebranding to “LinkedIn Pulse” in late 2013, the app has quickly become a key part of making LinkedIn a content marketing machine.
In June, LinkedIn Pulse underwent a substantial redesign of its interface for iOS and Android with one goal in mind – personalization. As you can see at right, the app brings you top stories of the day tailored to each user along with a “Daily Pulse” of curated news every day available for all readers.
LinkedIn Pulse essentially analyzes what’s being written and aggregates content based on your industry, your connections and what you choose to follow on the network. Additionally, you can decide what kind of articles you would like to see. Similar to the popular dating app Tinder, you can swipe right to ‘save’ an article or left to ‘skip’ it; LinkedIn’s algorithm will tailor future articles for your newsfeed.
As of July 2015, on average, a typical post reaches professionals in 21 industries and nine countries. Here’s some more numbers for you:
- There are more than one million unique writers who publish more than 130,000 posts a week on LinkedIn.
- About 45 percent of readers are in the upper tier of their industries (think managers, vice presidents, CEO, etc.).
- The industries that generate the highest demand: Technology, financial services and higher education.
Now’s the time for you, as a business professional and a professional communicator, to leverage the power of LinkedIn Pulse. Here are five benefits of doing so:
Benefits of Marketing with LinkedIn Pulse
1) Access to influential people
This one’s a no-brainer. You essentially have front row access to the decision makers of your industry, so why not take advantage of it?
Take Arianna Huffington for example.
As the president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, she would have been inaccessible five years ago. Now, you can follow her feed that’s chock-full of articles ranging from life lessons to introducing new business endeavors. With a following of over three million on LinkedIn, Huffington is an influencer with whom you can instantly connect.
LinkedIn Pulse also gives you a look into CEOs who do not make headline news on a regular basis. Check out Jeff Morgan, president of Morgan Miller Plumbing in Kansas City. According to Morgan, his posts lead to one new client a week.
2) Influence and educate people in your network
LinkedIn Pulse takes your ability to promote your company’s content to a new level by sharing your knowledge in highly targeted ways. As opposed to only writing on your company blog, your content has a higher chance of being discovered on LinkedIn Pulse, because your content will be specifically curated to certain networks with an audience that’s already built for you. Additionally, a notification appears to your followers every time you post on LinkedIn Pulse. If you have 500+ connections, there’s a higher chance your post will be read by your network as opposed to only being searchable on a traditional search engine.
SAP Chief Digital Officer Jonathan Becher particularly excels at both educating and entertaining content marketing pieces on LinkedIn. He stands out among the 94 percent of B2B marketers who use LinkedIn because of his consumer-first mindset, from insightful thought leadership posts and relating Star Wars to business. Although he is not very active on the platform anymore, this early adopter of Pulse averages thousands of views per article.
3) Search engine visibility
Speaking of traditional search engines, if you search ‘LinkedIn Pulse’ on Google News, you will find the channel receives great visibility. When done strategically, your content could rank on Google easier with LinkedIn than your company blog.
A LinkedIn Pulse publisher that embodies great search engine reach is local marketing CEO Lee Odden of Minnesota-based TopRank Online Marketing.
With hundreds of views on each post, Odden has established a strong following of nearly 4,000 LinkedIn users. He leverages content from other facets of his marketing platform – including speeches, blog posts and other content offers – to great success. Most of his posts receive great engagement in terms of likes, comments and views.
4) A relatively untouched social platform
Look at Jeff Jones, the CMO of Target Corp. Last year, he used LinkedIn to admit Target’s faults and shocked the LinkedIn community with his candor. With over 333,000 views and thousands of likes, the post aptly titled ‘The Truth Hurts’ clearly resonated with readers. A public and personalized message is, quite frankly, unheard of from an executive like Jones, especially with a corporation as large as Target. However, at the time, a corporate message would not have had the same effect. LinkedIn Pulse was the perfect avenue for Jeff Jones to voice his opinion and give a real voice and reasons to employees, customers and shareholders.
5) Reach a different type of audience than your company blog
Similar to building a devoted base of readers to your corporate blog, on LinkedIn Pulse, you can reach and build up a unique audience.
For example, as the top influencer on LinkedIn, Richard Branson is a pro when it comes to creating compelling content that relates to his LinkedIn audience. He shares his secrets to success, shows his personality, and humanizes his brand. In his Pulse articles, Branson focuses on the business rather than a multitude of products with his name on it. He’s curated a following of more than 8.4 million LinkedIn users, certainly a number much higher than his Virgin Group company blog.
Tips for LinkedIn Pulse
1) Understand your audience
Your audience on LinkedIn will be different from your audience on your company blog. Instead of focusing on reaching consumers, marketers are best served writing for a business-minded audience. With that being said, blog posts that you would put on your company blog may not be the best option to repurpose on LinkedIn Pulse.
Stumped on where to start for ideas? LinkedIn recommends posts that give:
- Tangible advice for young professionals,
- Specifics industry problems, and
- Fundamental job skills that your company benefits from.
2) Get to know LinkedIn Pulse
Before you begin posting away on the platform, be sure to read what is trending on Pulse. Devour what your connections, influencers and people in your industry are saying to avoid repetitive content and also take note of writing styles. Typically, Pulse articles are written similarly to an informal dialogue than a college essay. Be authentic and let your voice show when writing.
Additionally, be wary of posting just for posting’s sake. Whether it’s new content or repurposed content, ensure your articles are thoughtful and unique enough for your audience to gain something valuable to inspire commenting and sharing.
3) Start the conversation
Also, just posting content is not enough. Participation is a key part of Pulse. The best posters are starting conversations and asking for their readers to engage in topics.
Pulse is an investment; it will take time and should not be viewed as a quick solution. You don’t build a following overnight, so reach your audience by reading other users’ articles, liking their posts, and showing that you’re listening. It’s a two-way street and the bigger picture is more than you and your brand.
4) Format posts for social visibility
This is a key step in getting your LinkedIn Pulse post noticed. First and foremost, follow the ‘write-for-web’ guidelines as you would for a traditional blog post. Additionally, keep your voice authentic and share your opinion when needed.
Use images every chance you get. An image header makes or breaks engagement on your LinkedIn Pulse post. If you need tips on how to create a strong image, check out this HubSpot guide or MaccaPR post on graphic tips for non-designers. As for additional images, find a happy medium. An image every three to five paragraphs is usually a good rule of thumb. This rule also works for links.
Got rich media? Great; throw it in the post. (Bonus points if it is a Slideshare, one of LinkedIn’s partners).
- 10 out of the first 30 headlines had a question mark included,
- Only two articles contained a number in the headline, and
- Top topics included hiring, customer service and professional development tips.
Length also matters. Your post should be longer than three paragraphs with a sweet spot around 1,000 words or more.
Lastly, don’t forget to tag your post – you can use up to three to reach your audience.
5) Consider time of publishing
Just like there’s an optimal time for posting on Facebook and Pinterest, there is also an optimal time, according to blogger Geoff Livingston, to post on LinkedIn – Monday through Friday during business hours with an emphasis on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can reach optimal viewing by targeting times when people will most likely be at their desks. When possible, avoid publishing during the “dead zone” hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when many business professionals are sleeping.
6) Drive traffic back to your site
This step is crucial because it is how all your hard work will pay off. When creating your content, establishing solid call-to-actions throughout your post is necessary. This can be done by linking to previous blog posts, e-books or Slideshare presentations. The main goal is to leave the reader wanting to know more about your company or organization.
The Future of LinkedIn Pulse
In 2013, LinkedIn was merely a career-oriented site that I checked every couple months. Now, with LinkedIn Pulse, it is truly a publishing hub; as marketers, we can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Pulse creates a new kind of marketing unlike Facebook or Twitter. Social users, especially Millennials, are looking for authenticity, not advertising from brands. LinkedIn Pulse gives corporations, large and small, a tremendous opportunity to fulfill this need by marketing content, which shows the genuine side of their business with thoughtful advice and insights from top executives.
In the next two years, LinkedIn Pulse has the potential to be a great weapon in your content marketing arsenal.
Becky Prosser is a former Maccabeast.
Topics: Content Marketing