Cold reading and aphorisms. Or how to write a great LinkedIn post.

First pick an already trending topic. Remember that you are following trends not setting them. Also make sure the topic is in line with a widely-shared belief, you don’t want to upset anyone. Moreover this makes your job much easier, your arguments do not have to be well constructed since they will not be argued against.

The title

Shape the title in such a way that it appears as if it was at the center of heated debates.

“Why your company website should be mobile optimized”

That is a good one. Though the better Linkedin publisher will go for the Buzzfeed or Upworthy type of heading.

“Top 5 reasons you absolutely have to optimise your company website”

Much better – clickbait~ish.

We all hate it but everyone does it so it has become acceptable. No, this is not a contradiction, this is just an observation.

That topic is popular and the turn of phrase successfully misleads the reader into thinking he or she is going to be enlightened by the supposedly crucial pieces of information you are about to devulge.

Stock Image

We are also going to need a stock image. One loosely related to our article. This will be our featured image. I will be honest with you, I am not sure why. But they all seem to include one.

stcok_IMAGEClose up of typing hands. We’re hacking!

A stock image and a deceptive title. Great. This will certainly generate views.

Now onto the content.


These posts can easily be filled with aphorisms. Aphorisms have flooded politics, meetings, and more recently, LinkedIn. They are meaningless statements that contain a general truth i.e.: killing people is bad, helping people is good.

Let’s go with;

“Due to the increase in mobile usage it is important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.”

However be careful, these may seem bland to the keen eye.

Quick. Throw some figures in there.

“Due to mobile usage increasing from 20% in 2012 to 50% in 2014 it is important to make sure your website is mobile-responsive.”

Wow numbers! It helps. Don’t worry about the reference, it’s not necessary. We’re in 2000-and-now, god dammit! However if you really need to specify sources remember that The Huffington Post is a newspaper and not a blog which makes it a trustworthy source of information.

Wait a minute. This does not make any sense. Mobile usage represented as a percentage–percentage of what exactly? Forget it. It’s an increase and proves your point.

In any case.

The statement reinforces our already made argument so no one will notice. By then your average LinkedIn “expert” has already commented “So true!” or “Thanks for the great post”. Hopefully he or she has also shared it with other “experts”.

There are plenty more pointless observations to be made. Write them down.

Pie Chart

Still we need to finish this post. Ten lines and a stock image do not always cut it. Add a chart. This must be a pie chart! Ideally your pie chart is a screen grab of another un-named blog or made using Excel. Leave everything on default. We don’t have time to change the colours. Calibri or Arial will do fine.


These colours make it look like a rainy day in England. It does not matter! The numerically disinclined favours ugly pie charts over bar charts because he does not know that it is more difficult for the eye to judge areas than distances. On the pie chart above the mobile slice looks as large as the browser slice. Great, this goes your way. Plus Steve Jobs himself used this trick. He was successful thus so will be your post! #logic.

Barnum Statements

Now we can use some cold reading techniques.

Start with Barnum~ish statements. Barnum statements are sentences that appear specific to a topic or person yet are applicable to many. They are extremely useful when you essentially have no idea what you are talking about. The ideal filler. We just want new connections and few profile views after all.

“When your mobile experience is optimized for functionality and consistency it fosters trust and affinity with users.” – The Huffington Posts it’s reliable, we have already established that.

Replace the term “mobile” with “car” or “coat hanger” and it still works. In addition it is true. Or is it? Well it is now!

The “rainbow ruse”

Onto the second cold reading technique.

Use the “rainbow ruse”. These are statements that contradict themselves. They are easy to produce when cold reading but more difficult in our case. So you have to be careful. Ideally the contradiction is not direct but rather silent.

“Because mobile Internet usage is increasing steadily, it’s extremely important that your website is mobile friendly. Usually this isn’t a major concern. You have a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users.” – source-you-are-not-going-to-check-anyways.

This is similar to a shotgun approach. The contradiction makes it such that the satement cannot be wrong.

There we go. This should do for our LinkedIn post.


Ideally the entirety of the article could be summed up by “Good is good and bad is bad. Do good. Don’t do bad.”

You will often find these kinds of phrases and statements in such articles as they have no reason to be in the first place. It’s not as if you were expected to find out that “you should not make your company website mobile-friendly. You should limit access to it and make it hard to reach.”

This would simply defy the purpose of a website.

In any case.

The reader was brought to your post because he likely already agreed with its title and needed his opinion reinforced. If you have not made a great article at least you have made someone feel more secure.

[Watch for my next post on “Why you should avoid a PR crisis” ]



One thought on “Cold reading and aphorisms. Or how to write a great LinkedIn post.

  1. Reblogged this on .

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by laiq | February 28, 2015, 3:42 pm


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