LinkedIn is a bit of a different beast in the social network universe because the LinkedIn algorithm is specifically designed to prevent content from going viral.
Yes, you read that right. The LinkedIn algorithm is based on connecting its users with only the most relevant professional advice and expertise. That requires a completely different approach than you use on other platforms, where content is often designed primarily to entertain.
Recent LinkedIn algorithm updates mean focusing on your own expert knowledge is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know to work with the algorithm heading into 2024.
Bonus: Download a free guide that shows the 11 tactics Hootsuite’s social media team used to grow their LinkedIn audience from 0 to 278,000 followers.
What is the LinkedIn algorithm?
The LinkedIn algorithm is a recommendation system that selects the posts that each user sees in their feed.
The topics, people, and types of posts an individual is most likely to engage with determine what their feed will look like.
LinkedIn has 950 million members and counting. The algorithm processes billions of posts per day — all to make the newsfeed as interesting and informative as possible for every user.
LinkedIn’s ultimate goal is to prioritize relevant, high quality content and promote engagement. The more time you spend on the platform, the better the algorithm will work for you.
That said, LinkedIn is not a platform where you should expect your content to go viral. LinkedIn specifically says it “is not designed for virality.” It’s about sharing knowledge and updates with people who care about that information and can use it to advance their careers.
How does the LinkedIn algorithm work?
1. LinkedIn decides if your post is spam or good content
If the AI detects clear violations, the content is filtered. Some clear-cut examples of spam as defined by LinkedIn are:
- Emoji or reaction polls designed to artificially boost engagement
- Chain letters
- Requests for likes, reactions, and shares
- Excessive, irrelevant, or repetitive comments or messages.
If the content type is not clear enough to filter automatically, it’s sent for human review. If it passes the human review, the content continues to be displayed on the platform.
Source: LinkedIn Engineering Blog
2. LinkedIn puts your post to the test
Once the LinkedIn algorithm has established that you haven’t posted something too spammy, LinkedIn watches for engagement signals to determine how valuable your post is to people in your immediate and extended networks.
Engagement is a good signal that your post has value—but not all engagement is created equal. As you’ll see below, recent changes to the LinkedIn algorithm specifically value meaningful engagement. That means thoughtful comments from people in relevant fields.
(This is why joining a LinkedIn pod is not likely to cause a great boost in your distribution, unless it’s a highly targeted pod of people who are genuinely interested in your content anyway).
3. LinkedIn delivers your most valuable content to relevant users
Who gets to see your post from here depends on three ranking signals:
Recent changes in the LinkedIn algorithm are specifically designed to ensure your first-degree connections see more of your content.
In general, the more closely you’re related to a follower, the more likely they are to see your posts. That may include people you’ve interacted with in the past in your extended network. Factors like your skills and profile location also come into play here.
This is where the LinkedIn algorithm analyzes how relevant any given piece of content is to a specific LinkedIn user based on how well it’s performing with other users on the platform. This includes signals like:
- How often the content has been viewed and engaged with
- How relevant the topic is based on the identity signals above
- Whether the content shares knowledge or professional advice (more on this below!)
- The language of the content
- How professional and constructive the conversation in the comments section is
- Which companies, people, and topics are mentioned
The LinkedIn algorithm determines a user’s interests based on the groups, hashtags, pages, and people they follow. It also analyzes a user’s interest in a topic based on social actions like writing a post, liking content, or commenting on a relevant post or article.
Users will see more content similar to topics they have engaged with in the past, and from the people they engage with most frequently.
Recent LinkedIn algorithm changes
LinkedIn announced significant algorithm changes in June 2023. The changes were based on user feedback, and are intended to accomplish two main goals:
- Surfacing more content that shares knowledge or advice
- Strengthening connections among people who know each other
What does that mean in practical terms? First, your content is most likely to be seen by people in your network. This is especially true for personal and professional updates. After all, your connections might be interested to know about your new role, but their extended networks probably are not.
The new LinkedIn algorithm means your followers and connections are actually more likely to see your content than they were before, since there will be less content in their feeds from people they’re not connected with.
For your content to extend beyond your connections, it needs to share knowledge, advice or insights. LinkedIn will surface content relevant to members according to their interests and skills.
9 tips for working with the LinkedIn algorithm to get your content seen
1. Be relevant and informative
Remember, the LinkedIn algorithm now surfaces knowledge members are likely to be interested in based on their skills and interests.
That means you need to know the skills and interests of the target audience you’re trying to reach. Ideally, those skills and interests should have significant overlap with your own so that you can speak as a credible expert on relevant topics. LinkedIn knows your areas of expertise based on your LinkedIn profile. Posts on those topics are more likely to spread beyond your followers and 1st-degree connections.
For example, this Hootsuite post on LinkedIn shares benchmark engagement rates on social media for various industries. Since this is highly relevant information directly from Hootsuite’s benchmarking tool, it received a lot of engagement and reshares.
Start by looking at analytics and intel from your other social platforms. Graph interests, and get a better understanding of what your audience cares about. You can even use a competitor’s audience to build personas. Then map those interests back to your own skill sets and areas of specialist knowledge.
Use these findings as starting points for your LinkedIn marketing strategy. Hint: LinkedIn members said 98% of posts related to professional knowledge were valuable, even if they came from people outside their direct network.
Relevance can apply to formats, too. LinkedIn members prefer to engage with rich media:
- Posts with images get twice as many comments as text posts
- LinkedIn videos get five times the engagement.
2. Schedule your posts for the best times
Getting good engagement in that first hour is critical. You’re not going to get the conversation going if your audience is fast asleep.
For maximum exposure, schedule your posts for when the majority of followers are usually online and most active on the platform.
Generally speaking, the best time to post on LinkedIn is 1 p.m. on Mondays. But every audience is unique. The Best Time to Publish feature in the Hootsuite dashboard generates a personalized recommendation to maximize engagement with your own network.
Be sure to post fresh content regularly. LinkedIn data shows that posting weekly leads to a 2 times lift in engagement.
3. Promote your posts (on LinkedIn and off)
One of the best ways to increase engagement on your posts is to increase the number of people that will see them.
There are several tactics to gain extra traction on LinkedIn:
- tag people and relevant companies
- use keywords strategically
- include relevant hashtags.
Branded hashtags also have potential here. If you create a hashtag worth following, the algorithm will surface posts that use it to the hashtag’s followers.
Examples include Lyft’s #LifeAtLyft, Nike’s #SwooshLife, and Adobe’s #AdobeLife. Google’s #GrowWithGoogle hashtag creates a community of more than 21,000 followers that can connect and share experiences on the platform.
For more tagging tips, read our LinkedIn hashtag guide or watch this video:
Tip: Not all promotion needs to happen on LinkedIn.
If you think a recent post might be of interest to employees or customers, share it in Slack or in your e-newsletter.
This can be a great way to engage inactive LinkedIn members with your content. In turn, the engagement will improve your ranking with the algorithm. It’s a win-win.
4. Avoid outbound links
LinkedIn doesn’t want you leaving the platform. So it’s no surprise that the algorithm doesn’t prioritize posts with outbound links as much as other types of content.
We did an experiment on this just to be sure. Our posts without outbound links always outperform other types of posts.
If you need to share a link to something off-platform, pop it in the comments.
5. Encourage meaningful engagement
LinkedIn’s algorithm rewards engagement—but only if it’s relevant and meaningful. Generic comments from random people won’t extend your reach. You want comments that show people in a relevant field have understood and thought about your post.
Try asking a question that encourages your audience to share their opinions or insights. Posing the right questions positions your brand as a thought leader and encourages those meaningful conversations.
It also provides an opportunity to learn more about your audience’s interests, so you can develop even more relevant content.
Finally, be sure to join the conversation yourself. Rather than a one-way stream of comments, LinkedIn wants to see an active conversation, with you as a primary participant. A tool like Hootsuite Inbox ensures you never miss a comment or mention, so you can show your followers (and the algorithm) that you’re active, informed, relevant, and engaged.
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Manage all your messages stress-free with easy routing, saved replies, and friendly chatbots. Try Hootsuite’s Inbox today.
6. Craft original content with a unique perspective
Original posts go a lot further and spark more engagement than a shared post.
If you’re going to repurpose content or have a user-generated content strategy, try to find a way to reframe it, adding your own perspective and insights. Remember, LinkedIn wants to surface content that shares knowledge and builds connection. Adding your own perspective is critical to both.
For example, when Thinkific shared this post from Keenya Kelly, they added their own perspective based on their ThinkinColor event.
Don’t forget that adding a conversation-provoking question can really get people talking. (Psst! Our AI-powered LinkedIn post generator can help with that.)
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7. Build your network strategically
Connections and relevance are crucial signals for the LinkedIn algorithm. That means growing a healthy and active network of professionals in your field.
LinkedIn data shows that once your page reaches 150 followers, there is exponential opportunity for growth. Here are some ways to get there:
- Fill out your personal profile and Page as completely as you can, and keep them updated. (According to LinkedIn, Pages with complete info get 30 percent more views each week!)
- Use relevant keywords and phrases in your Page overview, since LinkedIn members can search by keyword.
- Use the Invite button to let your first-degree profile connections know about your LinkedIn Page.
- Encourage employees to show that they work at your company and use your corporate hashtag. Allow them to invite their own profile connections to follow your company Page, too.
- Use employee notifications (found under the three dots icon when you create content) to alert employees to your most important posts once per week to boost reach and engagement.
- Follow other relevant Pages and connect with professionals in your field.
- Take part in LinkedIn Groups, or host your own.
- Make sure your profile is public, so people can find you, add you and see your posts.
- Join conversations and be active on the network, generally.
- Promote your LinkedIn pages on your website and in other appropriate spaces (e.g., employee bios, business cards, newsletters, email signatures, etc.). Setting up customized URLs is useful for this. You can find the right logos here.
8. Optimize with Analytics
If something performs well, replicate it.
Use Hootsuite Analytics to understand what posts perform best and why. This is an important way to interpret the algorithm based on your own past performance.
Maybe it’s because you posted them all at a specific time? Or, maybe each post posed a question?
Whatever it is, find out and use these insights to refine your LinkedIn content strategy.
9. Post LinkedIn-appropriate content
Users are on LinkedIn to be a part of the professional world. You need to consider that when you’re crafting your posts.
This isn’t a place to share a video of your dog’s birthday party. Rather, keep the focus on business.
Don’t just take our word for it. This is baked into the LinkedIn professional community policies:
Know the niche, and live in it. Your vibe on LinkedIn doesn’t need to be totally heartless roboto-corporation. Authenticity, humanity, and humor are more than welcome and are, in fact, rewarded.
Assume a brand voice that’s friendly and approachable. Accounts that tow the company line or use too much corporate jargon may deter LinkedIn members from interacting.
Be real and relatable, and your audience will be more likely to offer the same in return.
For example, check out this recruiting post from Allbirds. Rather than just highlight available roles or list desired skillsets, they took a unique approach to showcasing the work of one particular employee:
Easily manage your LinkedIn Page and all your other social channels using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and share content (including video), reply to comments and engage your network. Try it free today.
The post How Does the LinkedIn Algorithm Work? [2023 Changes Explained] appeared first on Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard.