As a platform for building your personal brand, LinkedIn is the best. At least it is if you use it properly.

Pulse, LinkedIn’s publishing platform, gives professionals a real opportunity to present themselves as experts in the field.

Whenever you publish a piece of content on Pulse, your current connections are alerted to the fact in their notifications. While it’s easy to scroll through your LinkedIn timeline and not take any of it in, people tend to check their notifications with greater scrutiny.

It’s one of the reasons Pulse content garners impressive figures, time after time: my ‘Hire Expert Writers’ piece from earlier in the year attracted over 240 views, 33 likes and five comments.

Better still, ‘Making the Most of your White Paper’, published on Pulse in October 2015, saw over 1,100 views, 188 likes and ten comments. They’re still open for engagement, if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Goofy

Those pieces are not particularly clever or sensationalist – but they’re (hopefully) well-written and informative, on subjects that haven’t been done to death. Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

However, some people still manage to get it wrong, writes Cloris Kylie, for Jeff Bullas’ website. She has identified the most common mistakes people make on Pulse:

1. Selecting wishy-washy headlines

When LinkedIn notifies you that one of your connections has published a new post to Pulse, it will present you with the headline of the piece. Therefore, it’s crucial that a Pulse post has a headline which sparks the reader’s curiosity. Otherwise, they won’t be compelled to click.

Professionals don’t have the time to take a chance on wishy-washy headlines which give no clues as to whether the post is going to be of any use to them. Sure, make the headline interesting and social proof, but ensure it sums up the essence of the article, too.

2. Linking to your website

Once you’ve managed to grab the reader’s attention with your headline, you’ve actually got to deliver with your content.

Being met simply by a link to the author’s website feels like a slap in the face. We all know that the ultimate aim of Pulse content is to get readers to want to find out more about the author (their business etc.), but using the white space to just post your website’s URL is cheeky, at best.

3. Failing to offer a solution

The very best Pulse content solves a pain point that has been plaguing your connections as they go about their work. Some of the most frustrating Pulse content, however, promises to solve a pain point, but stops short of offering a solution.

It’s easy to see why someone might not want to give out valuable advice – preferring readers to get in contact in person to discuss their problems, thus starting the sales dialogue – but in the reader’s eyes, the content serves no purpose. They’ll just be left frustrated, rather than compelled to pick up the phone.

4. Giving no thought to presentation

Sometimes I will use visuals in my Pulse posts, sometimes I won’t. Sometimes the piece calls for visuals, sometimes it doesn’t. However, I will always make sure my posts are presented in a way that scream “read me – all the way through to the end!”.

That’s not easy to do in this day and age, when attention spans are just a mere eight seconds, according to a Microsoft study from last year.

They key is to break the piece up, don’t write in long paragraphs, and don’t whittle on. Similarly, writing in one-line paragraphs suggests laziness, so you’ve got to get it just right.

5. Giving no thought to the platform

While your content should always be informative and entertaining, it needs to be those things AND guide people on how they can further their careers/business. That’s why they’re on LinkedIn in the first place.

If it was throwaway content they were after, they would make their way over to Facebook. So be sure to reflect LinkedIn’s purpose in your choice of topics. As JeffBullas contributory Kylie puts it: “If your expertise is in a non-career-related topic, find a twist that makes your content ready for LinkedIn.”

6. Forgetting the call to action

When creating written content for your company blog, the general best practice is to not include a call to action. After all, the reader is already on your website – they don’t need to be sold at; let them make their own minds up.

It’s a little different on LinkedIn, though, as readers aren’t anywhere near your product/service pages. That’s not to say you should go all-out salesy – after all, proving your expertise is the primary goal here – but a nice, inoffensive call to action at the end of the piece wouldn’t go amiss.

For the final word on how to make the most of Pulse to build your personal brand, I’d like to hand over to a new member of the M2 team, Claire van Dyk, who takes up the role of Account Director here.

She says: “It isn’t ‘job done’ once you’ve published your content to Pulse. Hopefully, there’ll be some comments beneath the article to respond to, which act as a platform to nurture relationships with the people who have taken the time to comment.

“Similarly, if people share the article on LinkedIn or elsewhere, you should drop them a message of thanks. Also, make sure you use the article to its full potential, sharing it on other channels and referencing it in your next post. Linking back to a relevant piece of content will extend its reach and lifespan.”

Ben Hollom

October 7, 2016