This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
Over the past year, we have witnessed the rise of many business professionals making more use of LinkedIn. Unlike Twitter, which is a fast-paced social media platform for both B2B and B2C users, LinkedIn is specifically designed for B2B networking and outreach.
As we battle a global pandemic and its aftermath, online social networks such as LinkedIn have become more important than ever for maintaining, nurturing and growing our business networks.
In many ways, LinkedIn is like the digital version of a traditional networking event. With over 30 million businesses on the platform and 675 million monthly users, it’s a great place to meet and talk with others in your industry, exchange business insights and share relevant content with your audience.
It may come as no surprise to active LinkedIn users, that the platform changes all the time and it is very secretive about how the technology actually works. That’s why when I came across LinkedIn expert Andy Foote’s article explaining how the algorithm works, I was interested.
Foote consulted with a variety of other LinkedIn experts and compiled an insightful article that I highly recommend. To help, I’ve distilled my top takeaways from this piece and my own experience on LinkedIn to help you get more visibility and engagement from this platform.
Note to readers: Please make sure you read to the end because the LAST point is the most important.
1. Give engagement to people in your network.
Like any social network, you have to give in order to receive. So, give other people engagement, give them your attention, and comment on their posts. It will come back to you.
“Your content is like a steel ball in a pinball machine, your fans operate the flippers at the start of the game and every person who subsequently engages is like a pop bumper making your post bounce again (via likes, mentions, comments re-shares) to someone else, via notifications.”
2. Post to attract comments and respond to each comment you receive.
Anyone who takes the time to comment on your post deserves your attention. Respond to each and every comment. Show people you are listening. This is the path to real ROI from your investment in social networking.
“Comments provide more data than likes and re-shares, they also generate engagement. This is why many successful authors end their post with a question.”
3. Post consistently, no more than 20 times per month, but no less than once a week.
Consistency has long been the rule in social networks. Your network needs to consistently see you and see the value you offer. Avoid long gaps between posts, but don’t do too many in a short time span. If you are going to post multiple times per day, space out your posts evenly through the day.
“LinkedIn users who post at least weekly get 4x the number of clicks per share as those who post less frequently. If you post the most amazing thing in the world once a month, it isn’t likely to be seen by enough people to make a difference.”
4. Don’t include links to off-site content in LinkedIn posts. Add the link you are sharing as the first comment, after the post.
LinkedIn likes people to stay on LinkedIn and comment on LinkedIn. Sharing external links in the body of the post is likely interpreted negatively by the algorithm.
“Anything that takes the user away from LinkedIn is forbidden/discouraged. This is why you can’t add clickable URLs to your profile page. I’ve seen/heard nothing conclusive recently to suggest that this has changed.”
5. LinkedIn Editors prefer content that is valuable and relevant to your network.
Mostly, you should focus on writing for your audience, not some LinkedIn Editor in the hope of going viral. However, LinkedIn Editors do have an eye for content that people tend to like, so don’t ignore the traits of what they deem good content.
“If you look at the type of content that is preferred by LinkedIn Editors, you’ll detect some common traits: feel-good, work relevant, career-related, helpful/valuable/sensible professional advice. Interspersed with heart-tugging, deeply personal or entertaining, social sharing content, which many people will recognize if you’ve spent any time on Facebook.”
6. Articles are indexed by search engines (good), but are not promoted to your audience by LinkedIn (bad) the way posts are.
The perennial question is: Should you write an article or a post on LinkedIn? Do both. Build a foundation of articles, but use posts (up to 1300 characters on individual profiles, 700 characters on company pages) regularly to increase engagement.
“The one major difference between articles and posts is that articles are indexed by search engines and posts currently aren’t. So when you’re writing a post, you’re creating content that never leaves LinkedIn’s walled garden, it won’t get any distribution by google, bing etc.”
7. Re-sharing doesn’t seem to work as well as sharing and attributing credit.
I still do both, but lean to posting and attributing credit more.
“For the algorithm, it is much better to copy the entire post and then give the author credits by tagging him/her.”
8. Hashtags, hashtags, HASHTAGS! (But no more than 3 per post.)
You can make up any hashtag you want, but it’s better to find the ones people are using and leverage those audiences.
“Pay close attention to the hashtags your network is using and jump on that bandwagon.”
Here’s a handy list of highly subscribed hashtags.
9. Reach out to your network and get help from friends with early engagement (within the first 60 minutes) on your posts.
Rapid engagement on your posts matters to the algorithm, so don’t be shy about sending a LinkedIn message to some friends/colleagues and asking for their support within the first hour of publishing a new post.
“I call it the Golden Hour. I’ve found that if no one reacts or comments to my posts within 60 minutes of posting, it will perform badly and get low engagement. If, on the other hand my post rapidly gets multiple likes and comments shortly after being published, I know that it will get good levels of engagement.”
10. Just because your content doesn’t go viral doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s just that the “LinkedIn Editors” haven’t supported it.
“Every hyper viral post you’ve ever seen on LinkedIn has had the full backing of, and perhaps even the helping hand of LinkedIn Editors. A small and powerful committee (50+ people) ultimately decides reach. I am resigned to the fact, and have been for a while, that my content will likely never reach hundreds of thousands of LinkedIn users, not because it’s not good enough – but because LinkedIn Editors will decide that it’s not good enough.”
11. Tagging relevant people on LinkedIn makes sense to increase engagement, but avoid tag stuffing.
Tagging is always good. but be mindful that just stuffing tags of irrelevant people into your posts to get more eyeballs because it may send negative signals to the LinkedIn algorithm. Lots of people do this – but you don’t have to. (And many people don’t like it, so you run the risk of burning connections you’re trying to build.)
“[Tag] Only if you are confident that the folks you tag will respond. I tend to agree with the theory that your content will suffer if people you tag don’t respond, or if they remove their tag.”
12. Company pages have way better analytics and SEO benefits, so use them interchangeably with your personal posts.
If you have access to a company page, use it! There are many benefits of better analytics.
“Treat your co page as another channel for your content and mix it up, alternate between publishing posts from your personal account and to your co page but don’t post the same stuff in both channels. The co page has decent analytical tools to help you keep track of followers and has SEO power, search engines index your co page, so you could attract more eyeballs from web traffic.”
13. Remember, the goal is NOT to game LinkedIn, but to have meaningful engagements online and add value to your network.
This is perhaps the most important point to remember. Don’t lose sight of your objective. You are engaging in LinkedIn NOT to get the most engagement, but to get valuable engagement from people that matter to you and your business. Don’t be lured by vanity metrics. Building an audience of genuinely interested and engaged people will contribute positively to your business in many ways. Quality does trump quantity when it comes to social networks.
With the current state of the world, knowing how to properly use social networking platforms is now more important than ever. When used effectively, LinkedIn is an extremely valuable tool for B2B business professionals and has become a place where we all must do much of our social networking work.
I strongly recommend adopting these strategies into your own posts to optimize your content and get the best return on your LinkedIn investment.
If you need help ramping up your social networking visibility or you know someone who does, please contact me. I’m happy to help.