LinkedIn’s algorithm tends to fly under the radar; #broetry exploded last year. But not for lack of news.
In the past two years, updates to the LinkedIn algorithm have resulted in a more than 50% increase in viral activity. More than two million posts, videos, and articles are now filtered, sorted, and viewed in the feeds of over 645 million members of LinkedIn.
What is the reason for this algorithmically driven increase? According to Pete Davies, LinkedIn’s senior director of product management, the mantra of the feed is: “People you know talk about things you care about.” In other words, the LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes personal connections based on interests.
This guiding principle is simple in theory and in practice, at least once you understand how the LinkedIn algorithm works. Learn the signals and filters that affect it so you can make it work for you.
How does the LinkedIn algorithm work?
The LinkedIn algorithm has two main goals:
- To prioritize related content
- Encourage participation
Relevance outstrips innovation, so the home feed is set to “top” posts by default. However, members still have the option to switch to “recent” posts.
Prior to the most recent update (2019), LinkedIn discovered that its algorithm inadvertently created a “superstar echo chamber.” Mega users like Richard Branson can easily turn popularity into viral. However, average users had a hard time paying attention.
It was a classic get-rich-get-rich cycle, just imagine dollars being exchanged for likes, comments, and other social accolades. Average users were less likely to receive engagement and were less motivated to post.
To address this disparity, LinkedIn updated the algorithm to show members posts from people they actually know. And content relevant to the topics they are interested in (since the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive).
This change increases the likelihood of engagement and even more content creation and greater engagement. It turns a negative feedback loop into a positive.
Tens of thousands of posts are created every second. But LinkedIn’s machine learning algorithm is designed to quickly sort, score and rank content based on different signals.
Top 3 ranking signals of LinkedIn algorithm
The LinkedIn algorithm uses the following signals to filter and sort the posts that appear in members’ feeds.
1. Personal connections
You can follow Oprah Winfrey on LinkedIn, but you probably don’t know her personally. New LinkedIn algorithm aims to give personal links more weight.
To determine which posts are most personally associated with members, LinkedIn considers implicit and explicit signals. It takes into account who you interact with directly through comments, shares, and reactions. It also takes into account information about profiles, such as interests and skills, and who members work with, among other signals.
You may be personally connected to someone, but that doesn’t mean you enjoy the same content. That’s why the LinkedIn algorithm measures a post’s affinity for someone’s interests based on the groups they’re in and the hashtags, people, and pages they follow.
According to LinkedIn’s Engineering blog, the algorithm also looks at the language of the post and the companies, people, and topics mentioned in it.
3. Possibility of interaction
Interaction is the key to the success of the algorithm’s performance. The LinkedIn algorithm ranks this component in two stages.
First, the algorithm evaluates how likely you are to share, comment, or react to a post. It can measure this by who you interact with most often, as well as content you’ve liked and shared in the past. LinkedIn calls this all-purpose optimization.
Second, as LinkedIn points out, “the model also takes into account timely feedback to creators.” In other words, if the post starts to rise faster in interactions after it’s published, LinkedIn is more likely to include it in other people’s feeds.
You may have noticed that these factors have a lot in common with Instagram’s algorithm signals.
8 tips on how to “beat” the LinkedIn algorithm
LinkedIn is well aware that some members intend to manipulate or reverse engineer the algorithm. That’s why the company has provided the tips and best practices featured here, along with a few more from me.
1. Be relevant
Easier said than done, right? There are several ways that creators can look at relevance.
First there’s the ground rule: Get to know your audience. Start by doing a thorough audience research. Use analytics, insights from your other platforms, or even a competitor’s audience to build contacts, graph interests, and better understand what your audience is interested in. Use these findings as starting points for your LinkedIn marketing strategy.
Relevance can also apply to formats. LinkedIn members prefer to interact with rich media. Posts with images get twice as many comments as text posts, and videos are five times more likely to get comments. Overall, LinkedIn videos get three times more engagement than text-only posts.
By using formats popular with LinkedIn members, creators are likely to earn points in both the “relevance of interest” and “likelihood of interaction” columns.
2. Promote your posts
One of the best ways to increase engagement with your posts is to increase the number of people who will see it. There are several tactics that creators can use to gain extra traction on LinkedIn. Tag relevant companies and members, use keywords strategically and add relevant hashtags.
Branded hashtags can also have high potential here. If you create a hashtag worth following, there is a possibility that the algorithm will show posts using it to the hashtag’s followers. Examples include Lyft’s #LifeAtLyft, Nike’s #SwooshLife, or Adobe’s #AdobeLife. Google’s #GrowWithHashtag creates a community of over 2,000 trainees who can connect and share experiences on the platform. For more tagging tips, read our LinkedIn hashtag guide.
Not all promotions need to happen on LinkedIn. If you think a new post might be of interest to employees or customers, share it on Slack or in your e-newsletter. This can be a great way to engage LinkedIn members who are inactive with your content. In turn, engagement will improve your rankings with the LinkedIn algorithm. It’s a win-win.
3. Encourage participation
The LinkedIn algorithm rewards engagement, especially posts that inspire conversations. One of the best ways to start a conversation is to ask a question. Ask your audience to share their views or insights with you. Asking the right questions positions your brand as a thought leader and provides an opportunity to learn more about your target audience’s interests.
Of course, if you want LinkedIn members to interact with you, be sure to return the dialog. As Pete Davies explains, “As a general rule, better conversations are authentic and constructive.”
4. Be broad versus niche
This tip comes directly from LinkedIn. “We know from our data that members are more interested in digging deeper into the topics they’re interested in,” Davies explains. “We’re constantly seeing better conversation around niche ideas.”
This is a common hurdle for companies, especially startups, who promise to change the world or revolutionize an industry. Spare exaggeration in favor of tangible features. And don’t forget tip #1: Be relevant.
This can apply to your entire content strategy, down to the hashtags you use.
Get KLM. While the airline may use popular hashtags like #travel, it usually prefers more niche tags like #aviation. It’s an insightful distinction, as #travel connects KLM to the occasional travelogue, while #aviation connects the airline to a permanent #avgeeks base.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore common hashtags altogether. Find the right balance without going overboard. LinkedIn recommends a maximum of three hashtags.
5. Publish at the right time
The faster the likes and comments come in, the higher LinkedIn’s algorithm will rank your post. One of the best ways to optimize engagement is to post when LinkedIn members are online.
According to Moyens I/O data:
- The best times to post on LinkedIn are 7:45 am, 10:45 am, 12:45 pm, and 5:45 pm EST.
- Wednesday (followed by Tuesday) is the best day for B2B brands to post on LinkedIn.
- Monday and Wednesday are the best days for B2C brands to post on LinkedIn.
Be sure to cross-reference these findings with your own analysis. For example, if a significant portion of your audience is in a certain time zone, you may see some differences.
6. Build your network strategically
Connections and relevance are crucial factors when it comes to the grace of the LinkedIn algorithm. As a result, developing a healthy and active network has the potential to reap exponential rewards.
Whether you’re managing a personal profile or a Page on LinkedIn, make sure you:
- Fill out your personal profile and Page as completely as possible and keep them up to date.
- Add links (people you know or think it would be interesting to see updates).
- Encourage your employees to state that they work for your company and use your corporate hashtag.
- Follow others and attract followers (these are different from links on LinkedIn).
- Join LinkedIn Groups or host your own.
- Give and receive recommendations.
- Make sure your profile is public so people can find you, add you, and see your posts.
- Join conversations in general and be active on the network.
- Promote your LinkedIn pages on your website and in other appropriate areas (for example, employee bios, business cards, newsletters, email signatures, etc.). It is useful to set up customized URLs for this. You can find the right logos here.
- Consider creating a LinkedIn Showcase page.
7. Optimize with LinkedIn Analytics
If something is performing well, replicate it. Use LinkedIn Analytics or Moyens I/O Analytics to understand which posts are performing best and why. Maybe it’s because you posted them all at a certain time. Or maybe every post asked a question? Whatever it is, find and use this information to improve your LinkedIn content strategy.
8. Be personal
According to LinkedIn, authenticity is key. “A real conversation around real experiences ignites a better, deeper conversation,” Davies explains. “Better conversation leads to a stronger community and connection.”
Assume a sincere and approachable brand voice. Accounts that pull the company line to a tee or use too much corporate jargon can deter LinkedIn members from engaging. Be genuine and relatable, and your audience will be more likely to offer the same in return.
Easily manage your LinkedIn Page along with your other social channels using Moyens I/O. You can schedule and share content, including video, and interact with your network from a single platform. Try it today.