Marketing

Mastering the LinkedIn algorithm

LinkedIn can be a powerful platform for getting your content in front of C-suite members, buying committees, and other relevant audiences. However, getting your content to ‘win’ the LinkedIn algorithm is no easy task - not only do the actual contents of your post matter, but so does the engagement (or lack thereof) from your network. However, there are steps you can take to help your content reach users’ feeds.

LinkedIn’s algorithm sorts all content into three categories: high quality, low quality, or spam. Here is how LinkedIn determines which of these categories your post falls into:

High quality posts

These posts follow all of LinkedIn’s recommendations for content, including:

  • Easy to read and free from spelling or grammatical errors

  • Encourages responses by asking questions

  • Uses three or fewer hashtags

  • Incorporates relevant keywords

  • Tags other users, who then engage with the post 

  • Does not contain outbound links in the post body

These posts are far more likely to be prioritised by the algorithm, and will therefore reach a wider audience, which will in turn net higher engagement.

 

Low quality posts

These posts aren’t quite spam, but they also don’t necessarily follow the above guidelines for ‘high quality’ posts. If your posts aren’t getting very much reach or engagement, LinkedIn may be flagging your posts as ‘low quality’. You may want to consider a few things when posting to LinkedIn:

  • Does your post encourage other users to engage? As stated above, asking a question at the end of your post opens it up for discussion, which LinkedIn’s algorithm heavily favours. In fact, the best kinds of comments (algorithm-wise) are longer and more thought out, signalling to LinkedIn that your post is engaging and interesting to its users.

  • Does your post contain a high number of hashtags, and are all of the hashtags really relevant to what you’re writing about? Too many hashtags can signal to LinkedIn that you’re trying to artificially inflate the reach of your post - even when the content may not be relevant to users. Use hashtags judiciously; this is where researching your hashtags can help boost your posts!

  • Are you tagging other users, and are those users engaging? It may seem like a no-brainer to tag as many users as you can to get easy post views and engagement, but going on a tagging spree can actually hurt your post’s quality score if the users you tag do not engage with the post!

  • Does your post body feature outbound links? LinkedIn may seem like a great way to drive your page’s audience to your website, however it’s also in LinkedIn’s best interests to keep users on its platform for as long as possible - which is why including outbound links can negatively impact your post; in fact, according to Hootsuite posts without outbound links get 6x higher engagement. If you want to lead users to your site, it’s best to include outbound links in your post’s comments!

 

Spam posts

Posts that are considered spam by the Linkedin algorithm are heavily penalised, and therefore their reach is practically non-existent. These posts might have:

  • Many spelling or grammatical errors

  • A high number of outbound links

  • Too many hashtags, or hashtags such as #comment, #like and #follow

  • More than five tagged users, and/or tagged users who do not engage with the post

Posting frequency can also affect whether LinkedIn treats an account’s posts as spam; posting too frequently (more than once every three hours) can negatively impact your posts.

If you think your posts are getting marked as spam, it’s a good idea to reconsider your posting schedule, as well as quality-checking your content and ensuring you’re following LinkedIn’s posting guidelines.

 

Does engagement affect my post quality?

The short answer is yes. As mentioned above, it’s not just the content of your posts that matters to LinkedIn’s algorithm, but the engagement you get (or don’t get) from your network is also very important - and, unfortunately, much harder to control. While this can feel a bit like a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, knowing exactly how LinkedIn engagement works can help you optimise your content and posting strategy.

Before they reach the wider LinkedIn feeds, new posts are first ‘tested’ on a small group of users in the first hour of its life.

  • If the post gets engagement, then it is pushed out further.

  • If it doesn’t get any engagement, or users hide, mute or report the post, LinkedIn classifies it as a ‘spam’ post and it is not pushed out any further.

 

Tips and Tricks

Engagement is key

We’ve covered this extensively in the section above, but it’s important to reiterate - LinkedIn’s algorithm highly values engagement, and getting little or no engagement on your posts can seriously hinder the reach of your content. To that end, engagement should be top of mind when you create content for LinkedIn.

  • Know your audience and what content they want to see - whether it’s keyword research, keeping up to date with industry news, or even talking to current clients. And while topics are important, so is the format of your content - does your audience prefer video, or long-form articles, or shorter posts? Knowing your audience will help you not just focus your content strategy, but will also boost your post engagement.

  • Ask questions - Asking questions in your post copy can bring in the engagement you need - whether you’re asking users to share their experiences, insights, or challenges. Not only will this drive engagement, but it can also help you understand what your audience is interested in, and what content you can create in the future.

  • Engage, engage, engage - As the saying goes, “you get out what you put in”. On LinkedIn, that means that you can’t just post content and wait for engagement to happen; engagement with other users’ content is just as important, as well as answering comments and questions on your own posts.

  • Colleagues - Depending on the size of your organisation, colleagues can be a huge help in broadening the reach of your posts. Invite colleagues to follow the company page and encourage them to like and share content. Those in customer facing roles such as sales and marketing may find this particularly powerful.

 

Make connections

With all the new features and functions of LinkedIn, it can be easy to forget this was once a networking tool - and networking is still very important when it comes to organic content on LinkedIn. Connecting with other users, engaging with their content, and in turn receiving engagement from your connections, can be a great help in making your content more visible on LinkedIn feeds. 

However, that doesn’t mean that you should start firing off connection requests at random; make sure that the users you’re connecting to are relevant to your role, industry and/or content, and that they are active users on the platform (which you can check by visiting the Activity section of their profile). A personalised connection request message can also go a long way in sparking that initial engagement.

 

Paid or organic?

… Why not both?

While this guide focuses on organic social, we can’t ignore the role that paid social can play in boosting your organic engagement. LinkedIn offers a Boost option for organic posts, which allows users to spend some budget to ‘boost’ their post to target audiences based on their job function, seniority, and/or industry. While boosted posts aren’t a cure-all for organic engagement, they can certainly get your content in front of the right people, and ideally net you some new page visitors and followers that will engage with your organic content further down the line.

 

What's next?

When it comes to social media marketing, it’s easy to get discouraged when faced with low reach, low impressions, and low engagement - after all, why invest your resources into something that’s not getting you results? However, it can take time to build a following, often what’s missing is a solid understanding of how the LinkedIn algorithm works, and how you can make it work for your business’s objectives; once you have a handle on that, you’ll be able to craft a focussed, effective LinkedIn strategy and meet those once-elusive engagement goals.

If you’re finding the LinkedIn algorithm to be a challenge, why not get in touch with us and see how we can help?

 

 

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