LinkedIn bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network” — and they have the numbers to prove it. With over 774 million members in more than 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn is one of the most popular social media platforms, offering job-seekers, businesses, and professionals the opportunity to connect on a global scale.
The social network’s revenue increased 23% in Q2 FY21, and advertising played a major role in that growth. LinkedIn’s ad business accounted for more than a third of LinkedIn’s total revenue, with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions up 50% “as advertisers increasingly turn to the platform as the trusted way to reach professionals ready to do business.”
40 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs each week, and 40% access it on a daily basis, clocking up over 1 billion interactions every month.
Beyond that, nearly 25% of LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, and about 10 million are categorized as C-level executives. And that high-powered audience is an international one: Over 75% of LinkedIn users are from outside of the US.
So whether you engage with users through paid advertising or organic posts, LinkedIn gives brands the opportunity to connect with a unique demographic.
In this article, we will walk through how the LinkedIn algorithm works in 2021, best practices for beating the algorithm with organic content, and how brands can elevate their presence on the platform.
How does the LinkedIn algorithm work in 2021?
LinkedIn users’ feeds don’t show posts in chronological order. Instead, the LinkedIn algorithm determines which posts show up at the top of users’ feeds, meaning that sometimes users see older or more popular posts before they see more recent ones.
Several factors influence the LinkedIn algorithm, and the factors change relatively often. Two major factors for the 2021 LinkedIn algorithm include Social Selling Index and dwell time.
Social Selling Index (SSI): Your SSI measures “how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships.”
A higher SSI boosts a user’s posts closer to the top of their feeds. While this impacts post visibility for individual posters rather than brands and companies, it remains a major influence on LinkedIn’s algorithm and is worth noting.
Source: Business 2 Community
Dwell time: The LinkedIn algorithm tracks how much time a user spends looking at the content of a post, also called “dwell time.”
The longer someone spends interacting with a post — for example, watching a video or reading a document — the more likely LinkedIn is to boost it to the top of the feed.
In the next section, we’ll dive deeper into three of the main ranking signals for LinkedIn’s algorithm.
What are the ranking signals of LinkedIn’s algorithm?
Beyond the factors we talked about above, there are three ranking signals that the LinkedIn algorithm uses to rank posts in a user’s feed:
- Personal connections
- Interest relevance
- Engagement probability
Here is how each signal impacts a post’s ranking.
As of 2019, LinkedIn began deprioritizing content from mega influencers (think Oprah and Richard Brandon) and instead began highlighting content from users’ personal connections.
To determine a user’s personal connections, LinkedIn considers two things:
- Who a user works with or has previously worked with
- Who a user has interacted with before on the platform
At the top of the feed, users now see posts by people they engage with often, as well as by anyone who posts consistently. Users also see more posts from connections with whom they share interests and skills (according to their LinkedIn profiles).
LinkedIn explains on its engineering blog: “We already have a strong set of explicit and implicit signals that provide context on what content a member may find interesting based on their social connections and the Knowledge Graph (e.g., a company that they follow or news widely shared within their company).”
LinkedIn uses what they call an “interest graph” to augment the Knowledge Graph and personal connections signals. The interest graph represents relationships between LinkedIn users and a taxonomy of topics. In turn, this lets the LinkedIn algorithm measure:
- How interested users are in certain topics
- How related different topics are to one another
- Which connections share a user’s interests
To predict interest, the algorithm also considers the companies, people, hashtags, and topics mentioned in a post.
Interaction plays a big role in a post’s ranking on LinkedIn. The platform uses machine learning to rank interaction in two ways:
- How likely a user is to comment on, share, or react to a post based on the content and people they have interacted with in the past.
- How quickly a post starts receiving engagement after it’s published. The faster that users start interacting with a post, the more likely it is to show up at the top of others’ feeds.
When a user interacts regularly with others’ posts in the LinkedIn feed, they’re more likely to see interactions on their own content, which in turn means that they’ll be more likely to show up on other people’s feeds.
4 best practices to beat the LinkedIn algorithm
Now that you know how the LinkedIn algorithm works, here are four tips to reach more people on LinkedIn.
1. Stay out of the spam trap
When someone posts on LinkedIn, the algorithm determines whether it’s spam, low-quality, or high-quality content. The first step to a high-ranking post is showing LinkedIn that your post is not spam.
Here are a few tips for avoiding the spam filter:
- Use no more than 10 hashtags, and stay away from hashtags like #follow, #like, and #comment.
- Don’t tag more than five people.
- Use good grammar in your posts. Watch out for typos.
- Don’t post more than every three hours.
- Don’t use hashtags like “follow,” “comment,” or “like.”
- Don’t include multiple links in the text of your post.
2. Know your audience
Following this tip will win you points in both the “interest relevance” and “engagement probability” ranking categories.
Create content focused on your niche and your audience’s specific interests. Pete Davies, LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Product Management, explains: “We know from our data that members are more interested in going deep on topics they’re interested in. “Consistently we see better conversation around niche ideas.”
Use customer research and analytics from other social media platforms to learn more about what your audience wants to learn. Focus on creating high-quality, valuable content that helps professionals succeed. Industry relevance is key.
3. Encourage engagement
Your post format can play a significant role in user engagement. While the LinkedIn algorithm no longer prioritizes videos over photo and text posts, videos are five times more likely to get comments and earn three times more engagement than text-only posts.
Asking a question is another great way to invite engagement with your post. If you’re sharing an industry insight, open up the conversation to commenters by asking them to share their opinions or experiences on the topic.
Last but not least, you can tag someone in your LinkedIn post to expand its reach. The tagged person’s connections and followers will see your post in their feeds, too, which gets your content in front of more people. That said, don’t overdo it — make sure you only tag relevant users in your posts.
4. Post (and engage) at the right time
Data suggests that the best time to post on LinkedIn is 7:45 a.m., 10:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. EST. Cross-reference these times with your own analytics and knowledge about your audience — like a common time zone, for example — to find the best time for your posts.
Why is posting at the right time so important? The LinkedIn algorithm looks at how much interaction a post gets within the first hour after it’s published. It also considers how much you interact with commenters within that same time period. To make the most of these ranking factors, make sure to post at a time when your followers are online and respond to every commenter.
Elevate your brand’s LinkedIn presence
All in all, LinkedIn presents a unique opportunity for individuals and brands alike to reach influential decision-makers across industries. The LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes engagement, relevance, and connection. To get your posts in front of more LinkedIn users, keep your audience’s interests and needs front of mind and offer plenty of opportunities for them to engage with your content.
Tinuiti helps brands strengthen relationships with new and current customers through expert social media strategy and brilliant creative. Contact us today to learn more.