If you’re trying to improve your reach on LinkedIn, you may be wondering how the LinkedIn algorithm works. For example, how do you get more views on your LinkedIn post? How do you reach an audience outside of your own? How does content on LinkedIn go viral…?
There are a lot of variables and nuances to these questions, but an underlying factor to each is the LinkedIn algorithm. Below, we’ll explore what the LinkedIn algorithm is, how it works, and ways in which you can use it to boost your presence on LinkedIn.
What Is the LinkedIn Algorithm?
In all likelihood, LinkedIn uses many different algorithms. Some of these algorithms may also work in concert to form combined algorithms. Before delving into these details, it’s important to understand what an algorithm is and what it does.
Simply put, an algorithm is a set of computational steps that produce a particular outcome. In this way, you could think of an algorithm similar to a mathematical formula used to solve a problem. It’s these formulas that underlie and determine many functions in our digital world.
When most people talk about the “LinkedIn algorithm,” they’re probably referring to the platform’s feed algorithm – or the process by which LinkedIn serves up content to you and other members.
The truth is, very few people know how LinkedIn’s feed algorithm actually works. And most – if not all of those people – are strictly bound by nondisclosures. Algorithms are often referred to as “black boxes” because we can see what goes in and what comes out, but we’re not privy to what happens inside.
When revenue and profit are on the line, however – as they are for many companies using LinkedIn to find clients or sell their wares – understanding how the platform’s algorithm works can be hugely valuable.
Benefits of Understanding LinkedIn’s Algorithm
In marketing, we talk a lot about understanding your audience. In sales, it’s understanding your client or customer. But to be effective at these things, it’s imperative to understand your lines of communication. For many sales funnels, these lines can begin on LinkedIn. And the more beginnings or introductions you can initiate, the more opportunities you have to find and woo new customers.
Understanding LinkedIn’s can help you:
- Amplify your voice
- Increase views on your posts and profile
- Bolster your connections and network
- Meet new leads and customers
How Does the Linkedin Algorithm Work?
As stated before, LinkedIn’s algorithm is largely a mystery. However, as also mentioned, when you can observe the inputs and outputs, you can start to make certain inferences. Over the years, the digital marketing industry has identified three categories by which LinkedIn classifies member posts:
- Spam - Posts flagged as spam are deemed unfit for the LinkedIn community.
- Low quality - This is content that proves to be of little interest to members.
- High quality - Engaging, “sticky,” viral content.
It goes without saying that you want LinkedIn’s algorithm to label your content as high quality. To see how this is possible, it’s helpful to understand the three step process by which content is sorted:
- First, LinkedIn will push a new post out to a small number of your own connections and followers. This is a test to see what people close to you think of the post.
- If the post is flagged as spam, that’s often the end of the road for your content. If the post isn’t spam, but gets little engagement, it will be labeled as low quality. It may get some additional exposure, but if it doesn’t perform, the post will find itself among the annals of other unsuccessful LinkedIn content.
- On the other hand, if the post gets a lot of engagement within your network, LinkedIn will push it out to more of your connections. If it gets even more engagement there, it’ll be pushed to more and more followers. High quality posts are also pushed out beyond the walls of your own network to others whom LinkedIn thinks might enjoy your content.
What’s the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn?
Some people say mornings. Others swear by Wednesdays. Lunchtime and the end of the work day are popular too. The key is learning when your audience is on the network perusing their feed.
While these habits are less tied to the LinkedIn algorithm, time does play a factor in determining the grade of your post. LinkedIn’s feed is meant to be topical, so stagnant and slow burn content isn’t necessarily prioritized.
When creating content, be cognizant of your audience – what interests them, how busy they are, what would cause them to stop scrolling, etc. Broadly speaking, create and share content that engages them.
Growing Your LinkedIn Engagement Rate
The way followers interact with your post tells LinkedIn how valuable it may or may not be to the greater community. The higher the engagement, the more likely your post will be interesting to other members.
Engagement on LinkedIn can come in many forms:
- Reactions (like, celebrate, support, funny, love, insightful, curious)
Again, while very few know how these specific engagements are measured by LinkedIn’s algorithm, it’s clear that the more engagement, the more your content gets seen.
Follow Alexa on LInkedIn.
How Do You Increase Your LinkedIn Post Engagement Rate?
We’ve written about simple ways to grow your LinkedIn engagement. In short, it comes down to two factors: posting and commenting.
The more you post and comment on LinkedIn, the higher general engagement you’ll get. This means commenting on others’ posts, as well as replying to comments on your own posts.
To simplify even further, think about interacting with someone at a business conference. You don’t tend to say something to a contact and then just walk off. You discuss, ask questions, offer resources, etc. Engaging on LinkedIn is no different.
Follow Nick on LinkedIn.
When interacting with your network, remember to keep the time factor in mind. The more prompt your response, the more topical your post will appear. It’s these kinds of contextual inputs that the LinkedIn algorithm is paying attention to and processing.
How to Leverage LinkedIn’s Algorithm — 8 Best Practices & Tips
So, how do you beat the 2023 algorithm on LinkedIn? If it were known, everyone would be doing it. Still, there are certain practices that can improve your posts and comments while pursuing a higher engagement rate:
- Don’t spam.
- Post valuable content (relevant, informative, engaging, thoughtful).
- Invite engagement in your post: Ask for people’s thoughts, feedback, contrarian views, etc.
- Reply to comments on your posts and keep the conversation going.
- Pay attention to when your followers are engaging with your content and post during these times. (There are even tools that allow you to schedule your posts).
- Post consistently.
- Use keywords and hashtags thoughtfully. They should include your desired audience's search terms, while accurately describing your content.
- If relevant, promote your posts on your website and other social accounts. The key words here are, “if relevant.” Other networks have their own algorithms and audiences, and you don’t want to devalue your presence elsewhere.
In addition to a “do” list, there’s also a “don’t” list as well – and it’s potentially even more important:
- Don’t spam (it’s worth repeating).
- Don’t tag (@) people who you don’t know in your posts.
While neither on the “do” or “don’t” list, use external links with discretion. There are times when an external link will be the subject of your post, or perhaps offer a helpful resource. However, there’s debate over whether external links help or hurt the promotion of your content. Pay attention to patterns and see if you can tell what the algorithm is doing.
Lastly, track your results and test new approaches. Trends change, audience appetites change, and the LinkedIn algorithm changes. Even if you’re successful – maybe especially so – don’t get complacent.
LinkedIn Algorithm for Business
Businesses from around the world and a myriad of industries understand the value of LinkedIn as a marketing tool. One approach is leveraging LinkedIn Ads to find new leads and customers.
Another approach, social selling, involves interacting with LinkedIn members via the posts and commenting we’ve highlighted above. But when searching for new leads and customers on the network, it’s important not to be “salesy.”
Reputation and network trust are two of the most important aspects of your LinkedIn presence and they can be very difficult to reestablish if compromised.
The LinkedIn algorithm decides who sees what – and when – on the network. Understanding the algorithm’s behavior can help boost your engagement on the platform.
If you’re new to LinkedIn, you can start by commenting on other peoples’ posts. You can also share others’ content with your network – adding your own insights or opinions.
You can then move on to posting your own content and engaging with commenters through replies. Monitor your results, gauge the kind of content your audience responds to, the times, and the frequency.
While many might feel more satisfied with a magic formula for ”beating” the LinkedIn algorithm, posting organic content and authentically interacting with your audience can offer a more sustainable path to growing your LinkedIn reach.