Updated: Aug 15, 2019
Parent company Microsoft reported last year that LinkedIn’s engagement is up year-after-year. While that's great news for LinkedIn and it's users, they also discovered that the engagement wasn’t HUGELY inequitably distributed and was trending towards an even greater disparity. An article posted by LinkedIn in October showed that they were in fact “in danger of creating an economy where all the gains in viral actions accrued to the top 1% power users, while the majority of creators who don’t receive much feedback were receiving less than ever."
LinkedIn expressed concern for “the little guy” (which includes all but 1% of us) by demonstrating their understanding of the dangers of this imbalance of engagement and opportunity:
“Members who receive 10+ likes when they post are 17% more likely to post again the following week compared to members who post but don’t get any feedback. In light of this, an increase in posters receiving no feedback at all was very concerning, especially when, overall, feed viewers were giving more feedback. It was clear that we couldn’t just grow our way out of this problem by encouraging feed viewers to give more and more feedback. If that feedback kept going to the top 1% of posters, who were already getting plenty, the lesser-known creators would continue to be starved.”
The content ranking model LinkedIn was using had a blind spot when it came to the value of feedback to the creator because, as they admit, “historically, we always considered the ranking problem primarily from the viewer’s perspective.” So they considered how getting a few more likes and shares to the 1% might go unnoticed, while “for the average creator, getting one more piece of feedback from a close colleague can actually be very meaningful”. So in an effort to stop the “rich get richer” cycle that was showing to be increasing, LinkedIn re-worked its algorithm, to consider the content creator and how he/she contributes to the LinkedIn ecosystem.
While the previous focus was on “what the viewer wants to see”, to solve the “concentration of likes” problem they took the creator’s perspective into account and began to “spread the love”. In the words of LinkedIn's Pete Davies, “We also consider who would benefit from hearing from you, and may rank a connection’s post higher if their post needs more engagement. We call this, ‘Creator-Side Optimization’”.
Something else LinkedIn discovered was that “irrelevant hyper-viral posts were gaming the feed and crowding out posts from closer connections”. One of the changes was to recognize that while “top news” was important, connection to users is also important - as you are likely to want to hear news from those you know and trust. So starting with your LinkedIn connections (who they assume you know) and then diving further into how you engage with those connections will help to prioritize how a viewers feed is populated on LinkedIn. It's good to note that you may want to do some housekeeping of your LinkedIn connections.
Of course, another large ranking factor in LinkedIn is relevance. Is the content likely to be of interest to you? LinkedIn invests heavily in understanding this. The most obvious signals of interest are the groups you join, hashtags you follow, people, and pages.
LinkedIn’s new news feed framework is based on what they call, “People You Know, Talking About Things You Care About.”. Pete goes on to summarize, “your LinkedIn feed is made up of the conversations happening across your professional communities: among connections; in the groups you’ve joined; and the people, pages, and hashtags that you follow. To decide what goes at the top, we use to look at who’s talking (People You Know) and what they’re talking about (Things You Care About).”
Pete Davies (my Grandmothers Sur-name) generously provided this list of tips on how to reverse engineer and maximize your reach and engagement of posts within the new LinkedIn feed algorithm:
Tips and Best Practices For LinkedIn Content Posts
Post things that encourage a response. For example, if you’re posting a link, express an opinion with it.
Think about using the best type of post for the topic. Despite the rumors, the algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format. We have video, images, multi-images, text and long-form articles. More are on the way.
Use @mentions to pull other people you know into a conversation when you think they’ll have something valuable to add. Be thoughtful: only mention people that you think are likely to respond, max five is a good rule of thumb.
Engage in the conversation, respond to commenters and encourage back and forth.
Niche over broad
We know from our data that members are more interested in going deep on topics they’re interested in. Consistently we see better conversation around niche ideas (eg #performancemanagement) than the broad (#management).
Use hashtags (we recommend no more than three) to help other members find the conversations that match their own interests.
Authenticity is key: all the tips above work out better when members talk about things they truly care about, in a way that’s natural for them. Genuine conversation around real experiences spark better and deeper conversation. Better conversation, in turn, leads to stronger community and connection.
As as small business entrepreneur who is not in the 1%, I'm very excited about this change both for myself and for my clients. I am humbly impressed by the human side of LinkedIn that Pete has so thoughtfully shared with us. I think it was wisely intuitive of LinkedIn to give such thought and consideration to the connections and contributions of the smaller people and businesses that are on LinkedIn making (or trying to make) genuine connections. LinkedIn, in general, is creating a more engaging and active place of discussion for it's business minded users. Cheers, to LinkedIn for “Spreading the Love” with “Creator-Side Optimization”. I think it’s pretty awesome!
What do you think?
Are you planning to create more content on LinkedIn - or will you support your LinkedIn network by engaging more with more of their content?
Help a little guy with "Creator-Side Optimization" and if you found this useful, please like, share or post a comment below. :) Cheers!