How to Make the LinkedIn Algorithm Work for Your Business

Social media feeds have “grown up”!

Here’s a brief snapshot of social media algorithms over the past 15 years.

During the adolescence years (2003 – 2010) social media news feeds showed what was posted in the moment. Then in the teen phase (2011 – 2014) platforms started tinkering with algorithms and advertising.

In 2011, Facebook’s use of preference-based algorithms changed news feeds dramatically, shifting prioritization from recency to “assumed relevancy”.

Everything changed. 

Now in the young adulthood era of social media (since 2015) just about every major platform has some sort of algorithm balancing relevance with other priorities.

Just about all digital platforms, internet search engines, SEO, and social networks are governed by complex algorithms that try to offer the most appropriate information (from their point of view) to its users. In simple terms, the LinkedIn algorithm is the way in which the platform decides what type of content is served up in someone’s news feed.

Understanding what the algorithm is favoring and how to appease it can impact how (and if) your content is delivered to your followers. Within Linkedin, there are several algorithms that operate behind the scenes.

Keep in mind the companies who create these complex formulas have tremendous resources. Once you think you have it all figured out, you can count on the algorithm changing.

The best way to ensure your content is successful is to always provide value in what you share and publish.

The “rules” of the game

First, let’s look at the data.

According to Business Insider Intelligence, TechCrunch & Fortune, LinkedIn has officially crossed the half-billion user mark in 2017. Of the 500 million total LinkedIn users and 250 million monthly active users, only 3 million share content on a weekly basis – just a touch over 1% of monthly users.

And of those same 500 million LinkedIn users, only 0.2% have published an article using LinkedIn’s publishing platform, once known as Pulse.

So you can see there is a huge opportunity here to share your insights and point of view.

But first, it’s helpful to understand how LinkedIn serves up your content.

Nobody actually knows the “secret sauce” recipe of the LinkedIn algorithm but there is some data that supports how content is delivered in the newsfeed. Most recently, Sara Grosz published her theory about a point grading system and her guess is as good as anyones. 

Passing the Initial Filter

When you publish content, you pass an initial evaluation; it is an automated process that tries to classify the content as Image/Text/Video/Long form/hyperlink. Depending on the classification, the content is then distributed to a sample size of people (a sampling of your connections).

Any type of content that has a link that opens off the platform is given the lowest priority. I know this because I’ve tested it.

Interaction Evaluation

Once placed in front of the sampling of your connections, their level of engagement actions have different weights to determine whether the post should be either (1) demoted because it’s low quality or (2) expanded reach to more people because it’s considered higher quality.

If your followers or contacts mark your post as spam or hide it from their home pages (heavens forbid), it will negatively impact your content within the Linkedin algorithm.

Viral Score

After your connections and their connections (expanded reach) interact with your content, you will pass “GO” and collect the equivalent of $200 dollars in a wider expanded reach.

According to Rushi Bhatt, Director of Engineering at LinkedIn “Our online and nearline classifiers label every image, text, or long form post as “spam,” “low-quality,” or “clear” in near real time.”

Besides credibility, the algorithm also evaluates the relevance and usefulness of the post on the overall network. At this point, the algorithm determines whether or not the post will remain in the feed but it will not show up very often on the news feeds of your followers and their connections.  

Human Editors

Believe it or not, there are real live human editors reviewing content to see if it’s worthy of distributing beyond that users’ network. According to a post on the LinkedIn engineering blog:

“Since our team of human evaluators is highly trained in assessing whether a piece of content conforms to LinkedIn’s standards, it also allows us to walk the fine line between freedom of expression and filtering out spam or low-quality content.”

Imagine these human editors working like Lucy and Ethel on the chocolate assembly line, ensuring every single piece of candy is “presentable”.

Your News Feed Preferences

Linkedin is a fundamental social network for business and when you log in, the first thing you can see is your home page, where the posts of your contacts appear and the pages you follow.

You may have noticed that Linkedin does not show you everything that your contacts have published, but only shows you what they (the algorithm) think might be more relevant to you. The LinkedIn algorithm is designed to make landing page feeds more attractive and easy to use.

As in other social networks, you can modify your settings to show you the recent activity instead of the most relevant; you have a filter where to select how you want to order it, by the “Main” or “Recent”. So the key in business is how to make your content appear in the publications feed of the largest possible number of people.

Key Takeaways

The relevance of your subject matter, the credibility you’ve established with your connections, the quality of followers, and the level of engagement you have with your connections all play an important role in how the LinkedIn algorithm handles your content and visibility.

Mix up your content posts varying from images, text only, video, article link,long-form post. Pay attention to the engagement metrics and if a certain type of content performs well, take note.

A primary driver is the amount of engagement your content garners, especially within the first 60 minutes of posting. If it generates lots of engagement (ideally comments but likes are good too), particularly from 2nd and 3rd-degree connections, it’s going to perform very well. 

Building and engaging with a community strategically based on your business objectives will yield the best results as opposed to throwing “spaghetti on the wall technique”.

In the real estate world, it’s location, location, location. On social media, particularly LinkedIn, it’s content, content content.

Bottom line, know your audience and provide QUALITY not QUANTITY. It will always perform better.