It’s fully integrated with the world’s most popular business networking site and it’s been selected as one of the 50 top apps in Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. So why don’t more people in the business community use — or even know about — LinkedIn Pulse?
If you’re on LinkedIn regularly, you’ve likely seen a Pulse article. Many business professionals continue to use Pulse to promote themselves, their companies and their brands. LinkedIn members can publish on Pulse by simply clicking a pen icon in their status update bar. Anyone can be a publisher, whether you’re a professional journalist for the New York Times, a small business owner seeking to boost sales through blog promotion or simply an individual wanting to spout off about this or that.
Taking the Pulse of news
Pulse, an app designed to make it easy to keep up with news on mobile devices, has come a long way since it was created by Stanford graduate students Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari in 2010 at the university’s business incubator, SSE Labs. Back then, the new app, which cost $3.99, garnered praise and positive reviews for its easy-to-use interface. Wired called it “slick” and “perfectly suited” for Apple’s iPad. Writing for CNN, Amy Gahran called Pulse “an RSS feed reader on steroids.”
“Pulse offers a very slick, user-friendly experience,” wrote Gahran. “It’s actually enjoyable, not just useful. It smoothly transitions from reading headlines to synopses to full stories, including images and all.”
Pulse would soon become the best-selling iPad RSS app. Things got even better in the fall of 2010 when version 2.0 was released and made available for free on both iOS and Android. TechCrunch called it “bigger, faster and more organized” than its predecessor.
The following year, Pulse was named one of 50 apps in Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. This, along with other positive press and industry accolades, helped make Pulse even more popular. Version 3.0 followed in late 2012, boasting improved search, a redesigned sidebar and the ability to add unlimited news feeds.
Again, high praise followed. Time Techland named the new iteration one of its 50 top Android apps for 2013. Then, following weeks of speculation and rumors, came news that LinkedIn was buying Pulse for $90 million in April 2013. Pulse 4.0 followed later that year, featuring a redesigned user interface and a name change to Linkedln Pulse.
The new version was met with more jeers than cheers. Users who loved Pulse, but not LinkedIn, hated that they had to sign in to the latter to access the former. The new design didn’t follow iOS or Android Holo guidelines. Social networking functionality was removed. There were also complaints about the new interface. MacLife’s Michael Simon lamented that Pulse 4.0 “feels like a downgrade from the previous take.”
Pulse articles aren’t written by pro journos but rather brand managers or executives with deep knowledge of a certain niche in their respective market.
Additionally, users can submit their websites to LinkedIn for consideration as featured content on the Pulse app. According to LinkedIn, more than 30 million people in more than 190 countries use Pulse to read news, so getting featured can be a real boost.
According to South African systems designer and ‘knowledge engineer’ Gericke Potgieter, an analysis of 561 Pulse posts found that LinkedIn’s algorithm uses a combination of ratio metrics (views vs. likes vs. shares vs. comments) to identify fast-moving posts, which are more likely to be featured. Additional ratio metrics gauge post popularity, determining which content will be featured as a “top post.” Editors also select intriguing posts and invite standout users to be influencers.
Top posts receive hundreds of thousands of views, as well as hundreds of shares, ‘likes’ and comments. Business topics, naturally, dominate. But after a quick recent scan of Pulse, a post about Americans’ drinking habits was by far the most popular of the day, with more than 370,000 views.
Among the most-searched Pulse influencers are Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, former GE CEO Jack Welch, New Age guru Deepak Chopra and Microsoft co-founder and prolific philanthropist Bill Gates. In a recent Pulse series titled “Let’s Fix It,” Branson made a powerful case for ending the failed War on Drugs. Welch’s recent post, “10 Behaviors That Could Kill Your Career” has received more than 770,000 views in the past week.
Pulse has significant potential to democratize content creation and sharing. But it does suffer from something of an image problem. If LinkedIn can overcome interface problems and win back users who fled in disillusionment, Pulse could reemerge as a user favourite.
Photo via LinkedIn