Lessons Learned From Publishing in the Shadow of the LinkedIn Algorithm
A WRITER'S CONTINUING COMMUNE WITH THE ORACLE...
Preface: This piece is written not as a self-indulgent stroll down memory lane, but because I believe it chronicles one independent writer's experience publishing on LinkedIn. And from which experience I believe beBee management can draw some meaningful lessons and, thereby, be forewarned and better prepared to avoid the pitfalls that are now plaguing LI's publishing platform. Hopefully, beBee CEO Javier Cámara Rica and Executive Chairman Juan Imaz will take this in the spirit of friendship and support in which it is offered.
In April, 2014, I was one of 25,000 independent writers and bloggers invited by LinkedIn to begin publishing on their newly launched "long-post" platform. By that time, I had been a LinkedIn member for about two years, and had spent my share of time running a group, posting business-related updates, commenting, and discussing issues with fellow professionals in my field of specialization.
At the time, I had been for more than two decades a marine industry consultant, specializing in yacht construction project development and management, and shipyard operations and business management. I was also a professional writer and editor with more than 800 magazine articles published in just about every national and international yachting magazine then still in print. I tell you this so that you will understand that I was not a starry-eyed kid, salivating over the thought that I would get my name in print.
Anyway, I jumped at the chance, because I had been beating my head against the publishing wall putting out pieces on my own website and blog...
With not much to show for it.
There was so much competing noise on the Internet, and I understood so little about search engines and SEO, that the number of hits, let along reads of my posts, was barely more than miniscule. So, when LinkedIn invited me to actually publish what I saw as "feature articles" on their platform, I responded positively.
For a while, things went very well, from my point of view. My articles were being read and commented on by hundreds, and sometimes thousands of readers, at a level I had not enjoyed since the four plus years I had spent as Senior Editor of an international yachting magazine.
Unfortunately, the joy in Mudville did not last long. By August of 2014, the LinkedIn general feed was being clogged by all manner of what I came to call Insipidipity — a seemingly endless stream of trite memes, vapid "inspirational" slogans, mangled aphorisms, badly written and vacuous blogs, poorly reasoned discussion posts, and intellectually gratuitous, self-promotional comments. And the natives were getting restless.
There was a lot of agonizing about the almighty Algorithm... and calls for more direct editor involvement...
The anticipation among my fellow writers and self-publishers on the platform seemed to be that increased live editor involvement would lead to a filtering and improvement in the overall quality of the content in the LI general feed. Which content was by them coming to be seen as the same kind of "noise" so prevalent on the Internet in general.
Truth be told, I think many of those who were calling for increased direct involvement of live editors thought that they each respectively and exclusively could curry favor with such live editors and, in doing so, could gain an advantage over competing writers and self-publishers.
Most of these writers and self-publishers had no professional writing or editing background...
Since most of them had always self-published on Internet blog sites, they had never faced editorial review and judgment, which I knew — and still know — is naturally always biased and the expression of personal tastes and prejudices, however nominally professional and objective.
Consequently, I wrote and published a piece that warned my fellow writers and self-publishers on LinkedIn to be very careful about what they wished for. The piece was titled,
In it, I argue that whether we liked the results of applying the Algorithm or not, it was better to avoid increased involvement of live editors in the process, for that could only lead to a deterioration in the equity of the situation. I also argued that the best we writers could hope for was a refinement of the Algorithm to filter out the insipid noise that was drowning out potentially better content, and to be treated fairly by LinkedIn going forward in meeting its commitment to distribute each author's work to his or her connections and followers as promised.
If you would care to read that article, you can by clicking on the link above...
I hope that you do. And I hope that Javier and Juan do, as well. Because I sincerely believe it foreshadowed the eventual spoiling of a forum that originally had the potential to become the world's premiere digital self-publishing platform. Of course, although the piece garnered more than 2,000 views and generated very strong engagement, it was roundly ignored by the LI Pulse editors who went along their merry way mucking about with the way in which posts were distributed — or not — and with what was and was not featured and exposed to the ever growing LinkedIn readership.
We all know what the results were, and why so many dedicated writers and publishers on LinkedIn have moved over to beBee, WordPress, Blogger, and other self-publishing platforms. And I seriously hope that beBee does not go down the same road that LinkedIn did. — Phil Friedman
Author's Notes: If you found this article and the one at the link given above interesting, you may want to take a look at my other pieces about the LinkedIn experience:
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As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.
Feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other LinkedIn articles — whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. I ask only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to the original work.
About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boatbuilder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve the clarity of their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and deal confidently with disagreement.
To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: email@example.com.
Text Copyright 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Images Credits: the Author and FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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