How LinkedIn suddenly became cool
In 2017 everyone was getting excited. LinkedIn had reinvented itself. It was no longer seen as a boring database for CVs but as the number #1 publishing platform for business-related content with 500 million active users.
LinkedIn offered four content types initially.
- LinkedIn Pulse articles
- Text only posts
- Photo posts
- Link posts
Later in 2017, it added another content type to the mix:
- Native videos
Some content types performed better than others. For a long time, the LinkedIn algorithm favored text-only posts. A well-written post could easily go viral and attract 10,000 to 100,000 views, some posts even several million and thousands of likes, comments, and shares.
When LinkedIn introduced native video to the platform the number of impressions was very limited. LinkedIn began to expand its video infrastructure, and over time the algorithm started to prefer video content.
Suddenly content creators were forced to create video posts to appear up in other people’s newsfeeds.
High-quality videos could easily see 10,000 to 50,000 views.
Business and marketing focused videos performed very well.
But also video about career advice, mindset and success in life did a great job.
In September LinkedIn introduced some radical changes to its newsfeed algorithm.
Most content creators noticed a significant drop in organic reach in all of their posts of 50% and more.
The big question was: Where did all the views go?
I did a bit of research and noticed four patterns:
- The number of ads in the newsfeed had increased
- A significant number of internal ads for the LinkedIn learning platform and specific courses started to show up
- LinkedIn Influencers with a blue icon started to get more engagement
- External articles on big media outlets received thousands of likes.
Curated Content by the LinkedIn Editorial Team
Here are a few examples of LinkedIn content with high amounts of engagement.
It is important to notice that the following two articles were not “shares” by LinkedIn members. They were natively injected into the newsfeed for people who follow specific hashtags. The most likely explanation for the extreme amount of engagement is that a LinkedIn editor has manually curate these articles and has given them a manual boost to outrank other newsfeed content.
Another observation I made was that articles were AMP versions, meaning that a cached version was served via LinkedIn itself.
Content from official LinkedIn influencers
Here is an example of a LinkedIn Influencer post.
Before the “Drop” LinkedIn Influencers on average, with a few exceptions, had a much lower number of impressions and engagement in the newsfeed. Now most posts get a much engagement on average.
Promotion of LinkedIn Products
LinkedIn Learning / the former Linda.com is now part of LinkedIn Premium. As such, LinkedIn is trying to push courses and to create awareness for its platform.
Why is LinkedIn changing its algorithm?
Even if we don’t like it, LinkedIn is foremost a for-profit organization.
According to LinkedIn’s third quarterly SEC filing in 2016, its annual earnings were $960 million.
For a precise breakdown of this amount, we have to rely on 2016 data. After LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft, it stopped publishing a detailed breakdown and only mentions “LinkedIn revenue primarily consisted of revenue from Talent Solutions.” in its 2018 Third Quarter Form 10Q.
LinkedIn’s three primary income sources:
- Talent Solutions (Recruitment) with $623 million (65% of total revenue)
- Marketing Solutions (Ads) with $175 million (18% of total revenue)
- Premium Subscriptions (Sales) with $162 million (17% of total revenue).
It isn’t in LinkedIn’s interest if people can get the same results organically instead of paying for them.
Instead of creating a viral content to
- Attract the perfect candidate for a new job opening, LinkedIn wants companies to invest in LinkedIn Recruiter.
- Sell products and services, LinkedIn wants companies to buy LinkedIn Ads and invest in LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
What can you do?
Well, unfortunately, there is not much that you can do about LinkedIn’s strategies.
Algorithm changes are part of social media marketing. We have seen many such changes in the past. The most prominent examples are Facebook Pages, of which organic reach is almost non-existent today.
Complaints about it didn’t change Facebook’s mind, nor would they change LinkedIn’s.
What we can do is to make the best out of the situation and to work towards future proofing ourselves.
Here are my five top recommendations:
- Diversify your content and distribution
- Build a brand
- Focus on your website
- Create an email list
- Make friends
Content diversification and distribution
You should never focus and rely on a specific content type. Any social media network can make changes to preferential content types at a moments notice.
The best way to protect yourself against such changes is to utilize all content types at the same time.
Most of these content types can further be broken down into three different chunk sizes:
- Long (Articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, …)
- Short (Text, photo posts with descriptions, …)
- Micro (Tweets, Instagram stories, …)
You can easily take one idea and create multiple forms of content from it.
- An article can be summarised in many short form text posts
- The same text can become a description for an image post
- You can talk about an article, text or photo in a video
- You can create short clips from longer video and post them on other platforms
- Videos can be turned into audio files and become part of a podcast
If a social media network supports more than one content type, for example, Facebook or LinkedIn, make sure to mix them up.
Using different content types also allows you to attract different audiences. Some people are more visual; others prefer to read texts. By mixing it up, you attract a diverse audience, and everyone can enjoy your content.
The same is true for social networks.
Never focus on just one. Create different chunk sizes of content and re-publish them across all social media networks.
Within each social network take advantage of the different channels. For example, on Facebook and LinkedIn you can post content on your personal profile, on a company page, and in groups. Use all channels!
Some social media networks will initially grow slower than others, and that’s perfectly fine. What’s important that you allow people to consume your content wherever they are.
Many people are very active on one social media network and then spend time on other platforms for a while.
By being everywhere, you’re adjusting to their ever-changing habits and moods.
“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”
~ Francis Bacon
Build a brand
Creating a personal brand for yourself, your company, products, and services are one of the most powerful ways to become resilient against any social media algorithm changes.
If you allow people to form an emotional bond with you and your mission, people will start to search for you, if you’re not showing up in their newsfeed anymore.
If people love what you’re doing, they want to connect with you everywhere.
Make it as easy as possible for them to do that by promoting all of your other social media networks on all other social media profiles, content and website.
Even if you shouldn’t show up as frequently in one network anymore, they could still see it in another network. And then, who knows, share your Facebook content back to LinkedIn or vice versa. 🙂
Focus on your website
This strategy is so important! You can never truly trust any social media network, but your own website will always be under your control.
Create a social media funnel and structure your content to get people to visit your website.
One of the best methods to do this is by creating lead magnets and content upgrades for every social media post.
You can check out my article How to create an email list on LinkedIn for how to do this in detail.
Create an email list
Ok, great people are now visiting your website, but how can you make sure that they visit your website over and over again?
Today’s world is so fast-paced and busy that it’s very easy to get distracted. People might love your website but then forget about it. What can you do?
You can build an email list and keep people in the loop via weekly or monthly newsletters!
This works perfectly with lead magnets and content upgrade. Make it a requirement for people to enter their email address to download these and you’ll quickly grow an email list.
Your email address and website are the only two things that you truly own.
Imagine this. You have 100,000 followers on one social media platform vs. 100,000 people on your email list.
If the social media shut down or dramatically switched its algorithm, you are in bad shape. Usually, social media networks don’t announce changes; they just happen from one day to the next. When they do, it’s often too late. Your announcement to move over to another platform might not be seen by the majority of people anymore.
On the other hand, emails will always work (assuming that you always provide value and never are perceived as spam). If you have people on multiple social media networks AND on your email list, you can just inform everyone that you’re now focusing on other social media networks.
My last recommendation is about making friends. Social media cannot be a one-sided one-way street from influencers to follower all the time. You have to build real relationships.
One of the best ways how to do this is by engaging with other influencers in the form of comments and shares.
Leave meaningful comments whenever someone is publishing great content and start conversations.
Your focus should be on creating genuine engagement and building real friendships, never on “engaging” to get something back. If you can do that, you’ll create a powerful network of like-minded influencers who are more than happy to return the favor and engaging with your content in return.
If everyone in your network is sharing similar interests, it is very likely that your audience would be interested in their content, and their audience in yours. This way you can quickly cross-pollinate each others audience, grow faster together and as an added benefits create more engagement for each others content which in return triggers most social media algorithms into thinking that the content is of high relevance and quality and will reach more people organically.