5 Tips for Posting Pulse Articles on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Pulse uses an algorithm to determine how it should source your post. It matches content to an industry professional’s interests. So if you are a healthcare provider, you won’t receive posts on accounting.

There are ways to optimize LinkedIn Pulse to better reach intended audiences. Here are some suggestions based on research:

1) Social Validation Ratio

Social Ratio

The LinkedIn Pulse algorithm uses as social validation ratio to determine how often it sources a member’s Pulse post, says data scientist Andy Foote. The relative number of views doesn’t matter. Instead, the percentage of likes, reshares and comments per view is what triggers a featured article in Pulse.

Sharing your post as soon as you publish is critical. Send it on to your most engaged communities. You need people to like, share and comment to achieve the right ratio. I can already see scenarios where people are gaming initial social engagement to trigger featured Pulse articles.

2) Timing Is Important

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Because social validation drives success you want to publish on days when most people use LinkedIn. Those tend to be Monday through Friday during business hours, with an emphasis on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. You can further refine time-based optimization by targeting times when people are at their desks; before work, lunch hours, or the end of the business day.

3) Format Posts for Social Validation

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Creating strong posts means requires a few things to make content more share and comment worthy. These are blogging best practices, but just for the sake of being intelligent about formatting let’s offer a few reminders:

  • Use relevant and interesting images. There’s a reason why LinkedIn suggests a strong header image. But go further. Build subheads, and use a new image every three to five paragraphs. Or you can build a BuzzFeed-esque post with subheads for every paragraph. List posts do seem to go further than the average essay, but you better be sure the content is awesome. There’s nothing worse than a lame, self-promotional BuzzFeed hack. You can also embed rich media if you have good video content or Slideshares you’d like to add.

  • Titling is important to drive interest from readers. It should also be descriptive and match back to keywords that will signal to the algorithm which audiences will prefer the post.

  • Offer links to give readers additional insights and depth. LinkedIN’s editor recommends you do this as a matter of good form.

    The social network does recommend generous linking. As far as ranking content goes, LinkedIn’s Pulse algorithm is closely guarded, but if it is anything like Google’s, it rewards posts with strong links. Generally speaking, Google likes sourcing content with frequent and credible links, as it provides an extended and good user experience. Since Google actually indexes LinkedIn posts, this a good practice regardless of how LinkedIn factors links into its algorithm. You want to rank well with your post.


  • There are those that preach long form, and others who say short form matters most. Most of the posts I see succeeding on Pulse are greater than 500 words, but not more than 1000. Brian Lang’s research confirms this observation. At the same time given how few posts actually extend beyond 1000 words, it may be the odds of success are higher with long form.

4) Write for the Audience

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It’s really important to keep content laser focused within the sector. The algorithm will source content to audiences based on keywords and phrases. And it will also exclude audiences if the content won’t appeal to them.

5) Tag Your Posts

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The 10 most overused buzzwords on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn specifically recommends tagging your posts. You can add up to 3 tags in each post, but you cannot customize the tags, instead using what LinkedIn has offered for categories. To add tags:

  • Scroll to the bottom of your post.
  • Click the Tag icon next to Add tags like consulting, sales, marketing…
  • Click into the text box and begin typing.
  • Select an available tag from the drop-down.

These five tips should help your LinkedIn Pulse Article go further than just a standard text-only piece that one might be tempted to post.

5 Tips to Help You Write a Book, Too

Many people dream about writing books. I did for the first 34 years of my life. Seven years later, I just sent the draft of my fifth book to my editors last week. Thanks to independent publishing, writing a book is something anyone can do.

The trick is to demystify the aura of writing a book (featured books image by Moyann Brenn), and just do it. Publishing a book is similar to any other significant undertaking — such as learning a new language or hobby, training for a marathon, or surviving your first year in business.

Let me explain. The first time you finish writing a book, it’s a huge deal. You can’t believe that you actually did it, and you go and paint the town red.

After the fifth book, it’s less of a moment. I shut down my computer, and let myself read a little more of Plague Year, an awesome post-apocalyptic nanotech thriller. Then I went to bed a little earlier than normal. Woohoo!

Why the lack of emotion about completing the War to Persevere, a book I like better than my last two, Exodus and Marketing in the Round? A book drains you like any other major effort. So while this may be my last book (I doubt it, but you never know), one thing is certain: Rest is a great reward for me (A trip to Hawaii wouldn’t suck, either).

Now I see writing and publishing a book as an achievement, but one like other major undertakings in my life. With that mindset, here are five tips to get you started:

1) See Your Book

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One mark of successful novel today is a movie adaptation. When I consider a plot, I like to consider it as a movie.

A screenplay’s wordcount represents a fraction of a contemporary novel. And that’s much better than it used to be. Today’s novel is not yesterday’s, meaning that modern novels are shorter, more direct, less esoteric and more entertaining than your classic piece of literature.

Still it helps to think about how the plot would work on the big screen. While a hypothetical movie adaptation shouldn’t dictate character development, it does help me to eliminate unnecessary content that I really don’t need.

If you are writing a business book, a classic overarching theme/thesis and supporting chapters works well in this case. Theming a book with an overaching arc makes a huge difference froma readbility standpoint.

Hobiton image by Alison Thomas.

2) Peer Support

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Most people view writing as a solitary activity, but it doesn’t have to be. To help me get into the writing groove last autumn, I participated in NaNoWriMo and the Google+ Writer’s Group to help me work through kinks and barriers. It helped to discuss the mechanics of writing with peers at times. Though I didn’t complete the book for another eight months, peer support helped me realize my situation was far from unique.

One caveat here: Be careful sharing plot details and book concepts. I have been burned in the past by other authors.

3) Discipline

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If you commit to doing something, then it can happen. Every day activity makes a project like a book (or getting a training certification or…) become a reality. I maintain momentum by staying in motion. Discipline yourself and write each day or at least most days. One rest day per week is OK, but anymore than that causes my writing process to lose momentum, and forces me to write as opposed to it being a natural process.

With War, I stopped writing at the end of January because of my grandmother’s death and SxSW. I didn’t get back on the writing wagon until June. Life happens and I don’t regret that, but I must acknowledge that decision to focus on other activities caused the book to fall to the wayside.

4) Creative Mojo

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Part of writing is maintaining creativity. Do whatever is necessary to feel free, and keep the words flowing. Here are 15 methods I use frequently. Or if I am still blocked, I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I find her exercises to be extremely useful.

5) Put the Book to Bed

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These days I draft a book, then proof it, and move on. I put it to bed. I will never be 100% satisfied with a book, and there will Always be opportunities for improvements. Believe me, I know. I just read ExodusI, and want to rewrite it. Again. And I rewrote that damn thing several times over 20 years.

If you want to publish, then you have to let go. You are too close to the book. Finishing is important!

I personally use developmental editors to coach me. Get objective readers to help you shape your novel or business book, take their advice, make the changes, then press go. Lessons learned can be applied to the next book.

Those are my five tips for aspiring writers. What would you add?

Whittle: How To Write a Novel

The following is a guest post by Rob Whittle, who recently published his first novel Pointer’s War. I know Rob from the local DC marketing community (he is CEO of Williams Whittle), and the book looks awesome. Any book that features both Lucky Lucciano and Nazis has to be interesting.

Periodically, someone will ask me how to write a book, especially since publishing Exodus. So when Rob suggested this topic, I was delighted to publish his guest post. Here you go!

How To Write a Novel (Or, At Least How I Wrote One)

by Rob Whittle

My novel, Pointer’s War, was published this month. Friends are uniformly amazed, asking a) how did I find the time?; b) how did I know so much about World War II?; and c) had I always wanted to write a novel? Answers: less sleep; research; and sorta.

I write a blog on my agency website www.williamswhittle.com called “Tales of a Mad Man”. These are stories of my experiences as an ad guy and are usually only tangentially about advertising. They are more in the vein of human interest.

For example, one is called “Gore Vidal and Me” about the time I was traveling in Bangkok and was at the hotel pool reading Vidal’s latest book, Hollywood. I felt eyes on me and peered over my shades to find Gore Vidal watching me read his book. Another is about Dr. Atkins and the Atkins Diet, which was our PR client for a few years during the height of the Atkins Low Carb diet craze. It’s about how the Atkins business side tried to screw me—but I had the last laugh.

My most popular blog by far was “Mad Men Battle the Elements”, the story of my partners and me sailing through the edge of a hurricane from the Chesapeake to Bermuda. It’s a harrowing tale. My niece told me that halfway through the story she thought I was going to perish in the storm. Before she caught herself.

That got me thinking. Could the story of four guys sailing to a far off port be turned into a book? A novel?

My first idea was that the hero and his significant other would sail to Sicily as a vacation. There would be adventures along the way, but what they wouldn’t know is that the hero’s father had killed a Sicilian in WW II and the son who was a Mafiosi had gotten wind that my hero had landed in Sicily and there would be hell to pay. A real vendetta!

That idea didn’t go anywhere, but what if I combined the Sicilian Mafia with the World War II invasion of Sicily? Hadn’t I read somewhere that the infamous Lucky Luciano had helped the Allies in their invasion of Sicily? Yes! That’s it!

And so, the beginning of the story took shape. All I had to do was invent a hero, mix in real historical events, throw in some treason and a love affair, mix it up with famous people (General Patton, FDR, Wild Bill Donovan, and some bad-ass Nazis), add a dash of humor and I was off and running—or writing.

Writers will tell you that when things are going well, books “write themselves”. And that’s what happened with me.

Big plot twists seemed to suggest themselves out of nowhere. It helped that I had a real time and history arc to work with. What became Part One was all about Sicily. But I didn’t think I had a complete book, so I sent my hero to Berlin to participate in the famous Valkyrie plot to assassinate a certain Fuhrer. The plot failed so I had to figure out a suspenseful way for him and his compatriots to escape from the belly of the beast. That became the ending.

So, in less than 600 words, that’s how I wrote Pointer’s War. It’s gotten off to a very fast start, beyond my expectations. You may order it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1492953873.

Brutal Economic Reality of Fiction and Those Reviews

People don’t make money from writing novels. Some bestsellers generate just a little north of $10,000. That’s why writers find jobs working as marketers, teachers, lawyers or journalists.

Some can make a living on fiction. They are the few and the lucky.

Don’t kid yourself. If you commit to writing novels do it because writing is your art. And if you need to make a living for family or lifestyle reasons, don’t quit your day job.

I don’t think Amazon and its $0.99 cent independent author world has helped anything. You are basically encouraged to price a book at $0.99 or $1.99 if you want to sell anything as a first time novelist. Guess what the royalties are on that? $.33 a pop, boys and girls.

The Book Hustle

They tell you to market better. Go blog, and build a social media following to sell books. Yeah.

Really, you sell books en masse via speaking engagements, direct marketing, media relations, virtual and live blogging tours, and third party reviews. So the social aspect is really out of your hands. The other people in your network have to rally behind the book. Even then, you are looking at only a few books that go 100% bananas. By the way you can buy some peanut butter and jelly afterwards with the royalties. Or if you also have a day job, you can use the money for a massage to relieve you of sleep deprivation induced stress.

Coincidentally, to be included in many blog-driven social email lists that refer independently authored books, you must 1) pay and 2) have a minimum level of reviews to be included (on Amazon, of course). That in turn creates another need for reviews.

I hit this wall last week when I tried to get Exodus into a few of these lists and didn’t have enough reviews. It really turned my stomach having to basically beg for reviews. My brand of blogger ego comes in the form of self reliance, but in the end I needed your help. I asked my community for help, and you delivered. For that I am grateful. It’s moments like this request over the weekend that I learn real humility, and an appreciation for others.

I used to poo-poo authors who asked for reviews. If there is anything I have learned over the past three years with the Fifth Estate, Marketing in the Round, and now Exodus, it is how necessary reviews are. Books must be discussed publicly and frequently, good or bad, if they are to succeed.

I have been rejected by two of the four blog/email sevices already, one based on the number of reviews, the other on subject matter, but at least I am in the game. And if I breakthrough and have a big social email? I might make a few hundred bucks.

More importantly, I will be read by more folks. For me, the book is my art. And that’s what I care about.

You Can Make Money as an Author

Now look, you can make a living as an author. Thousands already do so in the United States.

By the way, more than ten thousand people make a living as pro sports athletes in the United States. That includes the minor leagues, and some minor league players only earn $1100 a month.

To succeed, you have to build a repertoire of books, more often than not a series, which creates a back catalogue. Each new work helps sell the older works. Movie rights and big breakthrough moments create a macro effect on an author’s entire catalogue. Prolific successful authors make money.

The rest of us, well, it’s what we do. Until (or if) our time comes.

We live to be read, make a few extra bucks, and most importantly to have our art read and seen by the world. The currency to get there is word of mouth conversation and reviews.

For those of you who have helped me this past week, thank you. I am so grateful, you have no idea. It’s what this business is all about, and to have so many folks who have read Exodus come out of the woodwork and drop a review, well, it overwhelmed me. Thank you!

What do you think about the fiction ecosystem?

Featured image by sbluerock

Writing with Negative Space

In graphic design and visual arts, artists use negative space to emphasize their subject. The same could be said of words, in particular stories where you leave enough to the reader’s imagination so they can enjoy the novel, essay, short story, or whatever it might be.

I received this nugget of knowledge at WorldCon last August. Stina Leicht mentioned applying the negative space principle to words during a panel on how to write yourself out of a corner.

Some writers will be quick to say negative space represents the show, don’t tell meme that is driven into every writer’s head who ever attends any sort of workshop. I’m not so sure I agree, though.

While no one wants to read a ton of drivel and boring details from the writer’s perspective, I’ve seen enough authors tell and get away with it. Great writers, in fact, like Philip Roth, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Kim Stanley Robinson. Some go as far as to say the show, don’t tell rule is the great lie of writing workshops.

In reality, “show, don’t tell” seeks to eliminate weak writing. Telling often fails to captivate, and leaves nothing to the imagination. “She was pretty,” for example.

Instead, we show. “Johnna’s brown eyes held my gaze gently. Her full lips curled into a small smile as auburn locks moved slowly backward toward her ears. I tried, but could not stop looking at her.”

However, note the absence of detail there. I did not show you what color or style her clothes were, what her body looked like, what her hands were doing, etc., etc. No, that is the reader’s purview. You assume she is pretty because of the narrator’s reaction, but she may not be.

Over-showing, in my opinion, does as much damage as flat-out telling. Like the straight forward tell, it robs the reader of negative space to imagine.

In considering tellers, the celebrated ones unveiled their stories in straight forward terms. I am stuck by their uncanny ability to do so in an interesting manner. For example, Kim Stanley Robinson gives us whole chapters dictating the scientific laws of the 2312 world through how-to manuals. It’s insane, but delicious, tickling your mind! When you finally understand who is narrating those chapters, your mouth drops open.

Robinson succeeds because he fuels the imagination with negative space instead of robbing the reader of an imaginary journey. It’s the art of grabbing enough to draw, while hiding details so the reader can fill them in with their own opinions, hopes, views and beliefs. A story that grabs the reader engages them in a form of mental interaction, even if they are observing through straight-forward telling.

That is the power of negative space in conjunction with a well-delivered written image.

Personally, I can develop my own expository style further, continuing to move away from tell to show. However, I don’t think a complete yield is the full answer, rather a commitment to tickle the reader’s imagination.

What do you think?

Want Success? Then Work Hard!

Image by JD Hancock

Last week I spoke at the All Sports United Summit at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. It was a great time, and I got to meet several current and former athletes who have built foundations to better their communities.

Smoking cigars and talking with NFL players and Olympians was an eye opening experience.

We were very, very similar in our approaches toward work. Professions aside, we were all type As. Each of us enagaged in a different activity, they the world of competitive sports, me in the blogging and writing world.

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