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With rumours of ‘fake news’ and bots spamming social networks with political content, channels including LinkedIn are working hard to preserve the authenticity of content shared with their users.

Although this is a step in the right direction for the longevity of LinkedIn’s user base, unfortunately this change is making the job of marketers more challenging in the meantime, by limiting the reach of certain pieces of content.

LinkedIn is a fantastic channel for brand awareness, recruitment, and business development - so how can you ensure that your organisation’s messages will still be heard? 👂

In today’s blog we will be outlining how LinkedIn categorise content, the impact this has on reach, and crucially how your organisation can ensure your content still performs!

How does the LinkedIn algorithm work?

There are 4 stages to the algorithm that determine whether your content will be shown to your entire audience, just a sample, or in some cases, not shown at all! This selection process is all to do with RELEVANCE – how relevant your content is for your given audience.

LinkedIn have published an in depth blog about this process that you can find here: https://engineering.linkedin.com/blog/2017/03/strategies-for-keeping-the-linkedin-feed-relevant

However, we have summarised the key elements that you need to know below.

Step 1: Content categorised by a computerised filter:

Each post on LinkedIn is immediately placed into one of the following categories by a bot:

  • Spam
  • Low quality
  • Clear

Content should be in the clear category but if for some reason it is marked as ‘low quality’ there is a chance it may still move onto the next step.

Step 2: Sample audience feedback

At this point, the content is displayed to a sample of your LinkedIn audience to get initial feedback in the form of likes, comments and shares which will indicate that the content is relevant enough to move through to step 3.

However, if the content is marked as spam or hidden by this sample audience LinkedIn will register this as negative feedback. To avoid this fate, be careful not to over-post similar content, keep your audience in mind, and focus on sharing unique and value-adding content.

Step 3: Computerised virility check

Once LinkedIn has assessed the initial quality of the content, the algorithm then examines the quality of the individual or organisation that posted the content and their network to determine whether it could still be spam. This is because a spam post could still show lots of engagement if other spam accounts have been instructed to like, share and comment on it.

It is at this stage the algorithm decides whether to demote the content and send it backwards in the queue for further investigation, or whether to progress it to the final stage.

Step 4: Review by human editors

The final step is where LinkedIn’s human editor team come in to filter through the user-generated content to determine whether or not the post is valuable enough to stay in the LinkedIn feed. If the content continues to get engagement, the cycle continues, and the post will appear on the feed for much longer – the holy grail of LinkedIn! 🙌

An example of the power of this can be seen below, this piece of content was created 5 days ago, yet with a steady stream of engagements, the results are amplified for many days afterwards. 

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Four tips to work these rules in your favour

Now that we know how LinkedIn treats content, we have detailed five ways in which organisations can ensure more of their content reaches step 4 and beyond.

1. Understand what content works

From advice created by LinkedIn it is clear content that has a professional or work-place focus will perform well due to the fact it is relevant. When LinkedIn looks to determine relevance, it focuses on audience members’ profiles and their interests which of course tend to be career based and so content that fits with this theme will be deemed relevant.

Therefore, a content strategy with themes such as new job opportunities, updates from your organisation/industry, CSR, and career advice are all sound starting points with the ultimate objective of adding value to your audience.

2. Tweak your content for maximum engagement

In order to ensure that your content not only makes it through to step four of LinkedIn’s assessment, but is also successful content – consider how engageable the content is! There are a number of quick ways to encourage more engagement with your content to help you gain visibility. These include:

  • Include humour or puns – just because it is a professional channel doesn’t mean it can’t still be fun!
  • Ask questions of your audience such as their thoughts on an issue
  • Include multimedia to capture attention
  • Evoke an emotion

Of course, this is a process and so it is often a case of experimenting with different styles of content to explore what resonates best with your audiences. Responding to comments and thanking audience members for their interest is also a great practice to get into that will drive further conversations.

3. Post at the right time

In step two of the algorithm, your content has a relatively short window of time during which to prove its worth. This challenge can be made easier by learning what times of day your key audiences are online and publishing content in line with this. That way your hard work is less likely to get lost amongst others and more chances of securing better engagement.

The most successful times of day to post will vary from organisation to organisation and so analysis must be done to identify your own ‘hot spots’.

4. Build the right audience -

As with any social channel, organisations cannot achieve their social media objectives if their audience are not made up of individuals and organisations who are relevant to your product or service. With this in mind, quality over quantity is an essential attitude when it comes to building a following. Think about promoting your LinkedIn pages on your website, in stores and branches, email signatures, and newsletters to ensure the attract the right audience that have an interest in your organisation. This will have a direct impact on the relevance score that the LinkedIn bots credit your content with.

Finally, encourage your colleagues to indicate that they work at your organisation, and to engage with your content to further it. After all, employees are one of an organisation’s greatest assets and therefore employee engagement should be a key part of your social strategy.

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