Stop writing about Muhammad Ali

*Disclaimer — this post is not an indictment on Muhammad Ali who was, without question, one of the greatest boxers who ever lived. It’s a comment on what tends to happen after figures like him pass away. For some great coverage on his life + death check out this

It’s a well-established formula.

Public figure dies = succession of link-bait articles on the lessons discussing the lessons that we can learn from their life.

Logging into LinkedIn this morning I saw:

  • 3 Knock-Out Lessons on Personal Branding from Muhammad Ali
  • 6 Business Lessons from Muhammad Ali
  • My Personal Win Inside Muhammad Ali’s Fight Club
  • Why Muhammad Ali was the Greatest at Public Relations and Branding
  • How Muhammad Ali Taught Me Values For My Education Career
  • etc

This isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact it’s commonly known as ‘newsjacking’.

Newsjacking definition:

“The art of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story and generating tons of media coverage and social media engagement.”

It’s a favourite of PR agencies who live or die by the number of column inches that they can generate for their clients. They scan the news headlines, looking for opportunities where they can insert opinions from their clients and build brand awareness.

Is LinkedIn Bikini Ready?

It isn’t just PR agencies who are getting in on this though. You might have spotted bikini-clad girls popping up in your LinkedIn home feed of late.

While these posts are continually flagged as inappropriate by people commenting, the sad truth is that they’ve been hugely effective at generating interest and awareness for the Bikini Retailers that have been posting them.

These feed-jacking companies are provoking incendiary comments with their images, fully aware that the result will be thousands of clicks through to their website. It might not be appropriate for LinkedIn, but one company reported that their posts were getting huge traction, (huge means over 1 million impressions from LinkedIn a month!)

“My personal updates are getting more comments than 95 percent of Bill Gates’ posts. He has five million followers while I only have 25,000 on LinkedIn” — Candice Galek, Bikini Luxe CEO

(If you want to see a key piece in the debate around what is appropriate on LinkedIn, you can find it here)

Ultimately everyone is under pressure to attract more traffic, more clicks, more likes to their business. I’m no different, running Marketing at Beamery means that all of this is key to my job description!

Social media makes it easy to get visibility for your business. There are millions of potential customers out there that you can reach with the right “tweet” or “share”.

The downside is that because it’s easier to share there is a LOT more noise out there. It’s harder to get noticed as a business, which leads directly to newsjacking and clickbait pieces (like the Muhammad Ali articles referenced above).

There has to be a better way than this. I don’t have a concrete answer on what to do and even if I did, the answer for my business might not work for yours.

Ultimately I’m just asking everyone to be a little more sceptical when it comes to articles and pictures on LinkedIn, ask why they’re being written and who has something to gain from you clicking, reading and sharing.


Bio: Ben Slater is VP Growth at Beamery, beautiful recruiting software powered by machine learning.