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More than 700 million business professionals congregate on LinkedIn to find jobs, grow their networks, and share content, plus many B2B buyers rely on it to make business decisions.
Whether you’re developing your personal brand or marketing on behalf of a business, LinkedIn is not a social network you can ignore. You’ll need to develop a strategic plan to succeed.
Get started by understanding how the LinkedIn algorithm works. It will help you expand your reach on the social network as well as engage with the right audience.
Overview of this article:
The two main things to understand about the LinkedIn news feed are:
Much like Facebook, the LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes content you’re most likely to find relevant and engage with over the most recent content. (That said, users can sort the content in their LinkedIn feeds by recency if they chose to do so).
Fortunately for everyone’s sanity, that means that you don’t need to post 20 times a day to stay on top. While you should be posting regularly, the LinkedIn algorithm favors “natural” posting schedules over very regular ones. That means that your posts could be penalized for appearing every day at the same time.
Pro tip: Post high-quality content frequently at irregular intervals — including the weekends.
In general, content is ranked and displayed based on your account’s reputation, how users have engaged with your content before, and what else is being posted.
Here’s how it works:
Every time you post something, the LinkedIn feed algorithm determines whether it’s spam, low quality, or good to go. Obviously, you want to be in the “good to go” category.
If you passed go, your content appears in the feed temporarily. During this stage, LinkedIn’s algorithm bots look at how your audience engages with the content.
If they’re liking, commenting on, or sharing your post, that’s a good sign you’ll make it through to the next filter.
If people mark it as spam or hide it from their feed, LinkedIn will penalize your content.
“Report this post” and “Hide this post” are two different options but are often used interchangeably. People may hide your posts because you’re posting too much or because your content is irrelevant to them.
Pro tip: The more engagement your post receives in the first hour after posting, the better.
If your posts are reported or hidden by users repeatedly, they’re likely to be filtered out by the LinkedIn algorithm.
At this step, the LinkedIn algorithm will look beyond the content of your post to determine if it should keep showing up in users’ feeds.
It will look at your profile and network to determine whether your post is spam. This is because LinkedIn wants to avoid rewarding spam accounts.
Based on this stage, LinkedIn either removes your content from the feed or displays it less frequently. It’s essentially up to your network to engage with your post and keep it around for another review.
At this point, editors review your post to determine if it should keep showing, if they could include it somewhere else on the network, or whether they can derive any takeaways from it for future algorithm tweaks and product development.
They want to know: why, exactly, is your post performing so well?
If it keeps getting engagement your post stays in the mix, continuing its algorithmic journey through the feed.
Therefore, sometimes you’ll see posts in your feed that are weeks (yes, weeks) old—something you wouldn’t see on the fast-paced feeds of Facebook and Twitter.
The beauty of the LinkedIn algorithm is this: as long as your post is performing well, it will keep showing up in the feed.
However, it takes a lot of work and some luck based on what LinkedIn defines as good performance.
Follow these three tips to optimize your posts around the LinkedIn algorithm:
Use the same tactics you do on your blog and other social media channels, but tailor them slightly for LinkedIn:
LinkedIn is clear about what kind of content they want to display. It is first and foremost a professional network, so they recommend you:
LinkedIn wants you to post professionally inspiring or helpful content because that’s why people are on LinkedIn in the first place—to get a job or to grow their professional networks.
LinkedIn reviews the relevance of your posts by looking at your audience’s profiles. That is the demographic information it has to work with, so it’s a large part of what the algorithm is based on.
Here are some tips on what you can do to boost your brand on LinkedIn:
So how do you understand what works for you on LinkedIn? Here are four main factors to have in mind:
If your content is great, but no one (not even your employees) is sharing it, LinkedIn won’t promote it in the organic feed.
On the flip side, encouraging a few key partners or influencers to engage with your content can have a hugely beneficial impact on your overall score.
Performing well with the LinkedIn algorithm all comes down to relevance. Is your content relevant for your target audience?
Be relevant. Be engaged. Build your authority on LinkedIn.
Michael Quoc is the CEO and founder of ZipfWorks, an e-commerce lab with forward-thinking web products. He’s currently at work on Dealspotr, creating the most comprehensive and accurate promo code database on the web—all through the power of crowdsourcing and AI. Previously, Michael was the Director of New Products at Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.