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Linkedin posts; tactics for better engagements & exposure

by Miro Novak September 03, 2021

In this article, we will go in depth into how the LinkedIn algorithm is what decides exactly how much exposure your post is given. This goes for both your personal and business pages and is therefore the deciding factor in how successful your pages will be in terms of engagements such as likes, comments and shares.

How the algorithm works

We’ve all had those posts that flop, that no one seems to notice or care about, maybe you spent a lot of time writing it, or you’re sharing a link to something that you’re very proud of – maybe the majority of your posts are like this? It’s a real kick in the teeth, especially when you see other posts getting hundreds of interactions that don’t seem to be anything particularly special, and no better than your own content. 

Today we’ll be looking at how to hedge your bets with your Linkedin posts. While there are no guarantees that a post will do well, we can try and set the scene and create the right environment for a post to do well, and we do this by ticking Linkedin’s algorithm boxes. 

Please be aware that some of the following advice is conjecture – either my own, or theories from other marketers. Understandably, Linkedin is very protective over it’s algorithm, so please don’t take anything in this podcast as gospel. We’ve tried and tested, but you should too.

So first of all we need to look at the journey that your post takes once you’ve published it. The first thing that happens is Linkedin decides if your content is good enough to share at all. It does this by popping it in one of three buckets; SPAM, LOW QUALITY and HIGH QUALITY.

Depending on what bucket you land in, Linkedin then shows your post to a sample audience – just a few people from your network. If you’re in SPAM then it will be very few, if you’re in HIGH QUALITY then it will be a larger sample audience. However, even for HIGH QUALITY we’re pretty certain it will be a very small percentage of your followers – perhaps just a few percent will be in your sample audience.

Here’s a golden bit of information; If your sample audience engages with the post then the floodgates open a little, if they don’t then basically it’s into the bin with it. If that next wave of audience engages again, then the gates are opened a little wider, for more people to see it, and so on and so on, until your post either disappears due to a lack of engagement, or gets shown to your entire network.

If people go crazy over it then your post will actually go to a human moderator who might share it outside your network, at which point you’ll get a notification telling you that and you get very excited.

Breaking through the algorithm

Before we talk about how to get people engaging with your post, we need to talk about how to increase the chances of getting into the HIGH QUALITY bucket, or at least the LOW QUALITY. We really want to avoid that SPAM bucket.

Again, the criteria here are not public knowledge, but we can make assumptions. Firstly, you know what spam looks like, don’t fool yourself. If you’re promoting a service, selling a product, shouting about a discount or promotion, then it’s spam. It might not be spam to you, but Linkedin does NOT want people directly selling on their platform. You’re not going to get your account blocked or anything, but your post will not be favoured by the algorithms – people won’t see it.

Here’s some other things that will almost certainly see you marked down by the algorithms; 

  • Bad grammar or spelling
  • Tagging too many people or businesses, I’d suggest doing 5 at most
  • Putting multiple outbound links in the post
  • Using obvious spammy hashtags, things like #share, #keepitgoing #tagafriend
  • Posting too often. Leave a few hours between your posts as a minimum

Here’s some things that the algorithm would look favourably upon;

  • Tagging relevant people, particularly if they respond with an engagement
  • Being specific and niche with your post
  • Thinking about keywords, similar to SEO, so including things that people might search for to find your content
  • Using 1-3 hashtags, one broad, one middling and one niche. So with this podcast, I might use the broad #marketing then the middling #linkedintips and then the niche #linkedinalgorithmtips

Outbound Links

This has been a pretty common topic of conversation when it comes to Linkedin tactics for a long time now. Do you get penalized by Linkedin for including links that will take people away from their website or app?

Up until a couple of years ago the general consensus was to not include outbound links in your post, but to drop them in as the first comment instead. This was because Linkedin penalized you for trying to send their users away from their site. Even a theory that you should go back after you’ve posted, hit the edit button and then add your link then, because Linkedin would only review your first submission. 

Whether any of these were ever true or not I don’t know, but what I can tell you is that I directly asked a Linkedin official about this subject who told me it’s no longer true because the mobile app opens outbound links within the app, so therefore the dwell time isn’t damaged because they haven’t really left Linkedin and they’ll be back shortly. 

I believe him – but that call is yours. Try experimenting. But my advice – include links in your post if they are necessary. From what I’ve seen, being genuine and interesting is the best way to succeed on any social media platform, not just Linkedin.

The golden hour

So next up a super important tip. It’s generally believed thatLinkedin gives a single hour for the post to prove itself. It will be shown to a sample audience for that hour and the reaction of that sample audience within that time will decide the fate of the post. 

We call this the Golden Hour, and with that in mind, here’s some logical steps to take.

  • don’t post at midnight in the hope that everyone will see it first thing in the morning. It’s a business platform, post in business hours (or experiment with evenings but monitor success)
  • Tag people who will definitely engage
  • Try to include something in your post that will get people commenting. ‘what do you think?’ or – ‘do you agree with me’? Or ‘was this useful, would you like to see more?’
  • Use this as your hour to hang out on Linkedin. Respond to any comments, thank anyone that shares, and also engage around the rest of linkedin, comment on other people posts or catch up on your linkedin inbox. Any activity in that hour might drive people to your page, then your post, and then to engage.
  • Get it right first time, it definitely seems that editing after you’ve posted upsets the algorithms
  • Ask people to go and support your post. Whatsapp groups of your networking clubs, friends or families, or email your staff, just ask them to go and engage – like, comment or share.

Organic growth

On that last point, I’ve recently been part of an experiment with a local business that seemed to show that Linkedin has probably clocked on to people sharing the link to their post to try and garner support for it – either sharing it by email, txt, or into a Whatsapp group. We think it can tell when someone has arrived via a link share and will subsequently not give their engagement quite the same weight as those that have engaged organically. 

The way to get round this would be to still reach out to those people for support, but don’t give them your link. Just ask them to pop to your profile/business page on Linkedin and support your most recent post. This avoids any kind of tracking that might be in place, and these engagements will be seen to be organic.

I’m very aware that this tip, in specific, sounds like cheating the system and, to a degree, it is. However, this is not the kind of thing you can do on every post. Your friends and family will get bored of your requests eventually and will stop doing it.

I recommend saving this powerful trick for those really important posts – the ones where you’ve spent real time on the content or are delivering a really important or insightful message. There’s nothing wrong with asking people to help you get the word out on those occasions, but please don’t abuse it.

The LinkedIn point system

This next bit of information is the most unsubstantiated, but I do believe that there must be at least some kind of truth to it as it makes total sense. It’s rumoured that Linkedin has a 23 point rule. 23 points being the number of points your post needs to be awarded within the Golden Hour for the floodgates to be flung wide open and your post will be shown to all your network. 

The points are achieved through the engagements on your post, which makes total sense – what better way to judge if a post is worth showing to a wider audience than whether the sample audience liked it. 

The rumour suggests that you get 1pt for a like, 2pts for a share and 3pts for a comment. Linkedin loves discussion, so comments scoring highest seems about right. With that in mind, for your post to succeed, within that first hour you might need a combination like this;

3 people share your post (6), 3 people comment on it (9) and 8 people hit like (7). That doesn’t sound too hard really does it?

Again – this is a rumour that I’ve definitely not been able to confirm, it is pure conjecture, it just also happens to make a lot of sense, even if the numbers are slightly off.

So the final piece of the puzzle is possibly the hardest bit, and it’s all got to come from you – what to post? Firstly we’ll talk about the style of the post, and then about the content.

These are the styles of post you can publish on Linkedin, ordered in the way that we believe Linkedin prioritizes them;

  1.  TEXT – Text is Linkedin’s favourite, unlike most other platforms. This is a business platform, it likes text and healthy debate.
  2.  LINKEDIN’S TOOLS – Anything that Linkeidn is promoting is going to get pumped to the top, so use it’s new or unique tools like linkedin live, articles or slides
  3. VISUALS – We think that photos and videos give no benefit within the Linkedin algorithm, but they might stop people in their tracks as they scroll. Be sure to back either of those up with great text though.
  4. VIDEOS – Keep them short and sweet, get to the point quickly, back them up with good text. If you want to be approved to go LIVE on Linkedin then it’s a good idea to already have some ‘piece to camera’ style videos on your feed already.
  5. SHARES – You can share other peoples stuff but remember people will go through to the original post to read it so won’t be engaging with yours. Make this work for you by adding an opinion to the share, don’t just share alone.

Content

Finally, what kind of content works well on Linkedin posts? This isn’t really for the algorithms sake now, this is for your audience. It doesn’t matter if you tick every algorithm box that we’ve mentioned today, if the content of your post is rubbish, so think hard about what people might actually want or need to know. The key is to be interesting. Here’s a few ideas;

Firstly – Insight. That being your opinion, or insider knowledge into things like your industry, your location, or into lifestyle or wellbeing for example. 

Second – Research. If you or your company has undertaken some research and you think the results are interesting then publish it. Make a poll – ask if people agree with the results. Remember, asking for engagements in the post is a powerful move!

Thirdly – Interesting news about your business. Again, focus on the interesting. Noone cares that you’ve had your forklift trucks serviced, or that you’re all out in the pub after work on a Friday. But new branding or signage, a new location, a merger or acquisition, a charity activity, new recruits – those kinds of things would be great for a linkedin post.

Speaking of charity, altruistic things can go down really well. Obviously all your charitable efforts, but also things about how you’re supporting staff beyond work, maybe events that you put on for your staff like a yearly sports day or a Christmas outing.

I already mentioned Polls, ask an interesting question and watch the answers roll in. 

And finally – your blogs. If you’re working hard to write great blog content, then Linkedin is the perfect place to publish it. Consider sometimes sharing the link to the actual blog post, and sometimes copy and pasting the content as an article instead – see which ones work best for your audience.

Hopefully you have gained some insight into how the LinkedIn algorithm works and how you can use it to grow your LinkedIn page. If you would like any more information on this topic or would like to go a step further and hire a marketing company to manage your LinkedIn page (as we have a good understanding of the algorithm) don’t hesitate to reach out.

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