Unveiling the Technology Behind LinkedIn Publish


The Technology Behind LinkedIn Publish

LinkedIn has opened its publishing platform called LinkedIn Publish to the rest of us that are not "Influencers". You know you have this feature if there is a pencil icon in the "Share an update" field on your LinkedIn homepage. If you don't, you can ask for access here: http://specialedition.linkedin.com/publishing/.

It's been promoted as a way to publish "long form posts" (as opposed to the limited character length status update). Not exactly clear why this isn't called a blog, but maybe it's to avoid comparison with the other blogging platforms.

The social media commentators have been active in discussing it, and their advice on whether to use it seems to be: Why not? It's another way to get engagement. And, it's a more focussed and targeted audience then other platforms.

But it isn't a 'silver bullet'. You need a large number of connections or followers to be effective and your content needs to be read, liked, and shared to be promoted. There's also the assumption that your connections are interested in what you have to say - many of us have a mixed bag when it comes to LinkedIn connections. When I joined (in 2004, according to my Account info) the main rationale was to stay in touch with former work colleagues. They are now doing all manner of things, and not necessarily interested in what I am doing today.

I have no insights into whether this or Facebook, Google+, or something else is the future of social media. So I did the obvious geeky thing and looked instead at the technology. The rich text editor they're using is TinyMCE (the main alternative is CKEditor). It's been themed in the LinkedIn style but otherwise looks like an 'out of the box' TinyMCE toolbar. You can do the expected things like embed images and other media, but you can't use embedded HTML. That still means you can (for example) embed a video sharing code, so it may not be all that important to you. But you can use HTML in WordPress.

If you follow the advice I've seen on the web and use Microsoft Word to edit the post then directly copy/paste into TinyMCE, I think you will encounter formatting issues sooner rather than later.

One major difference / deficiency compared to WordPress is the lack of categories / tags that you can assign to a post. That will severely hamper search for your future readers when you've amassed a decent number of posts. If I understand correctly, tagging your content to suitable channels is something that LinkedIn Publish does by algorithm. You can't control it.

Also, WordPress is more transparent when it comes to where your posts are stored. It's my guess this post will be stored at one of the two LinkedIn data centres in either Virginia or Texas. But it's under their control, not mine.

It raises two thoughts for me. The first is that I'd prefer to have my content stored in a document control repository (for version control, review, approval) and then upload it automatically to the LinkedIn Publish site. The second is that marketing folk will want to publish content to many sites (content syndication) and it might be a good feature for us to consider adding LinkedIn Publish to our existing WordPress publishing plug-in. One for the roadmap.

Tags: Company News

Paul Walsh

Written by Paul Walsh

Paul Walsh was one of the founders of Cognidox. After a period as an academic working in user experience (UX) research, Paul started a 25-year career in software development. He's worked for multinational telecom companies (Nortel), two $1B Cambridge companies (Ionica, Virata), and co-founded a couple of startup companies. His experience includes network management software, embedded software on silicon, enterprise software, and cloud computing.

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