When you first start posting on LinkedIn, you quickly notice that a lot of what you publish results in crickets. 🦗

Then you find out about the algorithm.

“So, that’s why my posts tank.” and “The algorithm must hate me”, you may think.

This is followed by trying to find out How to beat the LinkedIn algorithm.

The way to “beat the algorithm” is to learn how to work with the algorithm. This means using the best practices: post content directly on LinkedIn, publish consistently, reasonably frequently, and experiment with different types of content. Always, publish quality content (no spam), and provide value whether it’s offering insights, information, or entertainment.

The details?

Let’s dig in.

How does LinkedIn Algorithm work?

First.

LinkedIn and all social networks are constantly working on their algorithms. This means that what works today, may not work tomorrow. Working with the algorithm is a fluid, evolving medium.

LinkedIn’s goal is to show you content that it thinks is the most relevant content to you so that you would spend more time on LinkedIn while having a great experience.

This is directly from LinkedIn:

Second.

We don’t know 100% how the algorithm works. This is not public information.

We have some basic knowledge and we combine it with observations, experiments, and results we gather from multiple sources. LinkedIn nerds, like me, are constantly running tests, from posting time, to frequency to figure out what works the best.

There are a few things the experts agree on as the best practices. Some things are best determined by running your own tests.

The best thing you can do is to test the methods and tactics yourself and find what works for you the best.

👉 Don’t be afraid to do things contradictory to what the experts recommend. For example, writing articles vs. posts. 99.9% of the experts would say to not write articles as they are performing incredibly badly. Yet, when I did this (a while back) it resulted in a viral article.

Third.

You may not have to worry about how much engagement and traction you are getting on LinkedIn.

That’s right.

There are many strategies and tactics where you can leverage LinkedIn, and it doesn’t matter how much engagement you get if any. LinkedIn may not be your main platform or method of generating business. Rather, it could be the icing on the cake, another tool in your toolbox.

Food for thought.

The Algorithm | Filters

The LinkedIn algorithm filters everything that gets published onto the platform.

Filters are straightforward. They check for spam, quality, and other signals.

Briefly here’s how it works:

👉 You publish a post.

It goes through a spam filter PASS | FAIL

If it passes the spam filter it gets shown to a small percentage of your network.

If it gets engagement, it gets shown to a larger audience.

📝 Filters are not perfect at keeping out content that should be filtered out. Some people exploit this “loophole” or unintentionally do this to be shocked by how excellent their post did.

Here’s an example.

Sally publishes a post and it goes viral. People copy that post, word for word (don’t do this, it’s plagiarism), post it on their own feed, and poof the post gets amazing engagement and sometimes even goes viral.

How to Beat the LinkedIn Algorithm?

AKA How to work with the algorithm.

The best practices.

1) Post consistently, but not too frequently

The algorithm appears to reward consistency.

In Real Life

People who have taken time off LinkedIn, report that upon returning their posts are performing much worse than they were when they were active on the platform.

What kind of timeframe are we talking about?

Any extended time off, from a few weeks to months or more.

The longer you are away, the more of a decline you can expect to experience.

On the flip side.

Posting too frequently can get your content caught in the spam filters. And not even directly via the algorithm but from people who mute your posts or unfollow you, because they don’t want to see your posts that frequently.

The Best Practice

Publish content on LinkedIn consistently, whether it’s 5 days a week or once a week.

What the optimal posting frequency is for you depends. You can find more on the posting frequency here.

2) Native Content vs External Links

Every platform wants you to post content directly to their platform, LinkedIn included.

Real Life

When you share content from outside LinkedIn, i.e. include an external link to your post, the performance of the post plummets.

This includes adding a link to your LinkedIn post directing people to your website, blog post, YouTube, mailing list, etc.

Basically, any link that sends people away from LinkedIn is going to devalue your posts and decrease your reach and engagement.

Hacks

Some people use “hacks” in an effort to navigate around this penalty box.

Hack 1

Post your link into the comments immediately after publishing.

There are problems with this approach.

If you get many comments, your link will get buried into the comments. You can’t pin a comment on top.

Also, there are rumblings that adding your own comment to your post, especially with a link is being “downgraded” by LinkedIn (summer 2021).

Hack 2

Publish your post then edit and add your link into the post.

Easy enough and no penalties.

The Best Practice

1️⃣ Publish content directly on LinkedIn without external links.

Vimeo video is Ok. YouTube video links not.

2️⃣ Publish a post. After publishing edit to add your link.

If you want to share external links, do so sparingly.

3) Content Types to Post

The type of content you post can help you reach a larger audience + get more engagement. You can post videos, text, images, articles, polls and carousels.

Regardless of the type of content you decide to post make sure you post high quality content that is valuable to your reader.

VIDEO

Until recently posting videos (natively) gave your content an amazing boost as LinkedIn pushed video content above other types of content.

However, now, great results are not automatic.

In Real Life

Currently video content appears to follow a similar path with the rest of the content. If your video gets good early engagement it will be pushed out to a larger audience.

The Best Practice

Test this for yourself.

Create and publish a few videos. Monitor results especially vs other types of posts you publish.

If you see better performance from your videos = make more of them.

👉 Keep the videos short. Most create videos or post clips that are less than 2 minutes long.

TEXT-ONLY POSTS

Text-only posts continue to perform well.

The length doesn’t necessarily matter, although LinkedIn recently increased the character limit for posts on your personal feed.

What appears to be more important is the formatting of your post – not necessarily for the algorithm but for people.

That is, don’t cram everything into one block, rather leave plenty of white space. And if you are so inclined, sprinkle in some emojis to break up the text. 😎

Like this.

The Best Practice

Text-only posts can be a staple of your content strategy on LinkedIn.

DOCUMENT POSTS

You can upload a PDF on your personal feed that displays as a carousel.

These document posts are reported to get good engagement, perhaps as LinkedIn now looks at dwell time as a metric (more on that a bit later).

In Real Life

Certain types of content are easier to make to a PDF vs others. The PDFs take longer to create, and for best visuals, design knowledge and expertise can make a difference.

When creating the document posts keep in mind that many people view LinkedIn on mobile, therefore if there is a lot of text and info on each page, it may not yield a great user experience and people will scroll past your document post.

Here’s an example of a document post.

The Best Practice

If you have the chops to create an awesome document or you work with a designer + your field lends itself to amazing slideshows, consider adding document posts into the mix of your content strategy for LinkedIn.

POLLS

Talk about something that is hot, hot, hot right now (summer 2021). Polls.

Lately, polls have been having a run on LinkedIn. They get good reach and engagement and as such now it seems that everybody is catching on and the feeds are filled with polls.

My prediction, polls are reaching their saturation point and soon there will be fatigue and a decline. We’ll see.

Polls are great for market research, especially if you have a large following! Ask your customers what they want and what is important to them.

In Real Life

Polls are quick and easy to post.

Not all polls are good.

Polls done by people with larger followings seem to do better and that makes sense. The poll’s reach is larger and the total number of votes is larger giving you a better sample size.

Everybody who votes on a poll gets a notification that the poll has closed. This can help you get residual views if people come back to check the poll results.

The Best Practice

If you want to use polls as part of your content strategy, go ahead. Use polls sparingly and as a piece of the content puzzle. Think really hard about what would make a great poll before creating one. The quality of the poll can make a big difference.

Quality over quantity!

IMAGE POSTS

Typically image posts are done with some text.

Based on data, text-only posts perform better than image posts. However, this is where my data is different.

My image posts have performed extremely well, even without any text whatsoever.

In Real Life

Images can stop the scroll.

You can be creative with your images, provide data, graphs, illustrations, and so much more.

Image posts can be great for branding. They can build brand awareness and recognition when done right.

The Best Practice

Test for yourself.

Some people stick to text-only posts because they work so well, but don’t be afraid to experiment with image posts, you might be surprised.

ARTICLES

Article = long form text

Now, 99.99% of people agree that articles do NOT work. They haven’t for a while.

I too have stopped writing/sharing articles – for now anyway.

In Real Life

Articles are getting dismal reach and engagement.

Having said that, keep in mind that the views for articles are counted differently vs the views for posts.

Therefore, getting 100 views on your article may be better than 1000 views on your post.

The Best Practice

Test this. Who knows? Maybe it will work for you.

One tip!

If you have a blog on your website publish the article on your blog first, then a few days later post the same article on LinkedIn! You won’t get penalized for duplicate content. Make sure you post on your OWN website first!

4) Hashtags

There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of using hashtags and how many is the right number of hashtags.

Here’s a complete post about using hashtags on LinkedIn.

I, along with several LinkedIn experts have run numerous hashtags experiments.

Results vary.

I’m still not convinced that hashtags help with reach, because it hasn’t been the case with my content. But others say they do see a better reach. So, testing continues.

In Real Life

Results using hashtags can vary. You may see an increase in reach, you may not.

The Best Practice

Using hashtags does not hurt your posts unless you use too many.

LinkedIn recommends using 3 hashtags per post. You can run your own tests if you’d like with using no hashtags to using anywhere from 1 – 5 or so hashtags.

WHO SEES YOUR POSTS

Only a small percentage of your network sees your updates.

Thanks to the algorithm.

When you are on LinkedIn you quickly notice that you see content from certain people more than from others on your feed.

Priority is given to content from people you have and are engaging with, who post consistently, and who get a large amount of engagement (even if you don’t engage with their post directly)

Ok, that makes sense.

Several people are reporting they are seeing content on their feeds from people they have recently sent DMs to or commented on their posts. You can use this knowledge to your advantage.

And it would be lovely it if was this simple.

There are issues.

For example.

No matter what you do some people’s posts are not shown on your feed. 😕

For example.

I have tried everything to be able to see updates on my feed from certain people I’m connected with, i.e. 1st connections. No matter what I have tried, I still don’t see their posts on my feed.  It’s frustrating.

What this means is that the only way to see – for sure – updates from people is to literally go to their profile and see what they have posted.

DWELL TIME

LinkedIn is now said to be factoring in dwell time.

That is, how much time people spend with your contentment. The longer people spend on your content, i.e. the longer the dwell time, the better.

This might then make us create longer posts or articles, or video, something that increases the dwell time.

Yet, sometimes posts with very little text, or just an image, do incredible well.

Something else to test. 😊

ENGAGEMENT

The best type of engagement is commenting. To extend the reach of your posts, create content that encourages discussion.

Also, don’t forget to comment on other people’s posts.

LinkedIn algorithm values comments higher than likes.

Commenting is so valuable as a LinkedIn strategy it needs its own article.

Sharing content is the least effective method of engagement.