Five things to do over Christmas to improve your LinkedIn presence

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Does your LinkedIn profile need a polish? Our Digital Director Emma Maule explains how you can spruce up your presence and outlines the algorithm updates you need to know about.

With its latest algorithm update, LinkedIn likes to keep us on our toes. Read on for a more detailed exploration of what’s happening, but for the TL;DR people out there (that’s me!), here’s a quick round-up of what you can do to increase your reach on the platform.

  • Complete your profile – this will unlock more visibility for your posts in the timeline, and for your profile when people search for it. LinkedIn will nudge you each time you login if you haven’t filled in all the sections, so follow its suggestions.
  • Be generous – LinkedIn wants you to engage and will reward you for this. Comment, repost, share and like others’ content as much as you can and you’ll soon see your own posts travelling further.
  • Comment every day – comments are gold dust. Try to do one every day, and make sure it is longer than 12 words. If you can add an opinion, additional insights, a question, emotions, or tag someone, then your comment will have more visibility and be more valuable to both you and the post’s creator.
  • Abide by the three rules for a better post – hashtags + mentions + long form content. LinkedIn wants you to make use of the platform’s best features to create a better quality post, and if you do, you’ll be rewarded. Always use three to five hashtags, tag someone (who is likely to react to your post), and make sure you write at least three sentences, so that users will need to click the “see more” button to read the whole thing. A couple of words won’t cut it.
  • Post selfies – LinkedIn likes images as much as every other social platform. People react best to pictures of people’s faces in personal posts, especially images of you. Research shows that selfies deliver 3x more engagement and up to 2.5x more reach.

Five updates to the LinkedIn algorithm you need to know

For the nerdier among us, now comes the more complicated part. LinkedIn underwent several algorithm updates throughout this year, the latest of which was in September. Complaints abound about the ever-evolving platform and it may not have the popular appeal of TikTok, but it is still the number one business networking site with over 850 million members, so it is essential for businesses and business professionals to have a presence.

So what did LinkedIn change? Here are five key aspects to consider:

Like, comment, share, or repost?

If you’re wondering which of these actions to take when you see a post that resonates, the research is clear: comments are still gold dust. Longer comments work best, with an opinion, additional insights, a question, emotions, or tagging someone else to alert them to the post. Shares are less favourable to both you and the post’s creator (see below on how to hack your share). A repost adds traction if you’d rather not comment, but adding wording at the top makes it stronger. Currently, a ‘like’ has the least positive effect of all the actions (comment, share, repost, “see more” clicks) people can do to engage, so if you want to like a post, you may want to bundle that with another action (for example, repost and like or comment and like). But ensure it is in the right order – for the algorithm, only the first engagement action counts. For example, if you first give out a ‘like’, and immediately after that a comment, the latter hardly has any influence anymore.

Best posting practice

This determines how your post will fare once you’ve created it. Too many hashtags, too many external links, or poor grammar means the bots may classify it as spam. High quality content uses between three to five hashtags, tags a few people/companies (not more than 15), is easy to read and encourages engagement. However, this system also takes into account your other actions on the platform – the more you interact and engage daily, the more engagement you will receive and the more likely you are to appear in other people’s feeds.

Tagging etiquette

There are some interesting differences on the impact of tagging people in your posts with this update. The key thing to remember is that you need the person / people tagged to engage with your post, or the reach will be penalised. The loss in growth equals the growth of three people who did respond to the notification. Is your tag worth three potential reactions? This was brought in to discourage spammers, but still seems a heavy toll. If you have a post that needs to mention lots of people, it’s best to do it in the comments, as whether they respond or not when placed here appears to have no effect on reach.

Posting frequency

LinkedIn has always discouraged over-posting, and the latest study confirms this: publishing a new post within 18 hours of a previous post will negatively impact the growth of both posts. So post max once a weekday, avoid weekends, and focus on crafting a longer, more informative post rather than spamming your audience with many short posts. Think about quality over quantity: the algorithm remembers the relevance (by engagement, dwell time and clicks) of your last 10 – 15 posts. Publishing multiple posts in a row with poor engagement rates means LinkedIn will reduce the reach of the next post. Be warned: shares and reposts count as posts, so be choosy when clicking the repost button!

Hack your share

Shares never did anyone any favours, and many wonder why the share button has been left as an option. They are now less harmful, but they’re still not great. If you must share something, here are the hacks for optimising it:

    1. Add at least 100 words of description to the shared post
    2. Add three to five unique hashtags (not the same as in the original post)
    3. Tag the owner of the original post that you are sharing
    4. Make sure the original owner of the shared post comments on your post in the first hour
    5. Respond to all comments within the first two hours of posting

The crucial part of this is getting the original owner of the shared post to comment within the first hour – no mean feat! Ideally you would check in with them first to ensure they will be available to react speedily to your post.

Overall, LinkedIn is sticking to its ethos – that it is a platform for engagement, and if you engage with others’ content and put in the time to create quality posts, you will be rewarded. Taking shortcuts to bulk up your output, for example by sharing posts without your own wording at the top, posting multiple short posts in a day, or posting one-word comments, won’t do you any favours. LinkedIn also likes variety – making use of different formats of content (image, video, documents and articles) will result in 10% more reach.

Thank you to Richard van der Blom and his extremely extensive research on the LinkedIn algorithm.

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