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LinkedIn’s Algorithm is Changing: Here’s How To Ensure Your Brand’s Content Rises to the Top of The New Feed

Marketing

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LinkedIn’s new algorithm promises to level the platform’s playing field, placing less emphasis on power users.

Over the past 12-18 months, LinkedIn has been hard at work tweaking its algorithms to lessen its reputation for virality, and increase substantive conversation and engagement. Sound familiar? Platforms like Facebook and Snapchat have already made that switch, and now the professional networking giant is making moves to do the same. Driven by a pair of algorithms designed to “select likely content for a member’s feed,” and then “finalize what actually pops up in the feed,” the goal is to prioritize “people you know, talking about things you care about,” according to the company’s Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies.

Under the old guard of an algorithm, content that rose to the top was not unlike what rose to the top of previously optimized algorithms elsewhere: content engineered to go viral. To quantify it, “much of the attention on LinkedIn was skewed toward the top 1% of power users,” said LinkedIn’s Director of AI Tim Jurka. The result? As Social Chain’s Steven Bartlett put it, “those with fewer followers get for the most part, ignored.”

But now, four criteria will be determining how LinkedIn’s new systems prioritize, rank, and display your content. We’ll explore each, with tips on how to use them in a way that gets your content seen and meaningfully engaged with.

Factor 1: Individuals a Member Has Interacted with Directly

Your Charge: Prime posts for engagement, then respond in kind.
Social Chain’s Bartlett cited “post regularly about things that will encourage a response or conversation” in his top tips for success with this new algorithm. Under the new rules, showing up with content to share simply won’t be enough. Posting in evocative and participatory ways, to provoke a follower or reader to respond, will be key in helping your posts rise.

In parallel, Bartlett also recommends that brands “efficiently engage in conversation that occurs on your post.” This feed change was deployed “to get people to engage more, instead of just passively scroll through the app and website.” While this is far from new advice, the implications for not doing so are; an algorithm that “consider[s] ‘contribution’ and ‘timely feedback to content’ as key factors” will reward you with better connections and higher ranking, in a manner that differs in many ways from prior viral roots.

Factor 2: The Member’s Profile

Your Charge: Position yourself and your organization as authorities in a niche area.
What do people associate with your organization’s brand or profile? Using this space to not speak broadly about what you do, but instead identify and then pursue niche areas of conversation, will serve you well under these new constraints. Axios identified “posts from someone closer to a user’s interests” as prime targets for algorithmic elevation. This means that the closer you can get to solving a specific problem or addressing a specific need, the better your content will perform.

The company’s relatively new introduction of hashtags will understandably help with this; tips to succeed in this space include using no more than three per post and aiming for more specific communities (for example, targeting followers of #dtcmarketing versus the broader #dtc or #marketing).

Factor 3: The Member’s Colleagues

Your Charge: Start conversations that matter, with people who can contribute to the dialogue.
Just as hashtagging will create affinity across users, tagging employees, divisions of your organization, or other individuals in your content will signal intent for a thoughtful conversation. Again, overdoing it will flag your content for the wrong reasons, but doing so intentionally is one of the markers for prioritized placement, and will raise your profile as a result.

This news bodes especially well for those who engage less frequently but ask questions that are key to ongoing conversations. Previously, if these posts weren’t coming from a “power user,” they’d get buried under less substantive but more snappy content. Starting conversations of importance, and prompting people of influence to participate is the path forward, and I look forward to seeing a LinkedIn that allows this to happen.

Factor 4: Who Would Benefit from Hearing from The Member

Your Charge: Post and participate as an organization worthy of LinkedIn users’ time and energy.
Speaking of which, this factor might be my favorite: whose voice should be louder? In many ways, this metric is the one best suited to protect against posts engineered to go viral. A reported added benefit to this process: content type will (at least initially) not be factored into how posts are ranked. This is a stark departure from the company line of a year ago, where video was prioritized significantly over other types of content. Now, if this model works as reported, content of all types (video, images, multi-images, text, and longform articles) has the opportunity to be seen easily- and Ecommerce Times reports that “support for more formats is on the way.”

I’m sure many of us can think of colleagues or local thought leaders who start important dialogues on their page, share thought-provoking content, and provide value to their connections and their followers…only to be dwarfed by users who flood their feeds and get rewarded for it. This new era of engagement on LinkedIn means that these deliberate users will have the opportunity to be a part of bigger conversations, and their knowledge will travel further than ever before. Knowing the decision factors for such elevation, and keeping them front of mind as we develop and deploy content on the site, will help us and our messages make an impact in a crowded marketplace.

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