Episode 3 – How to make the LinkedIn algorithm work for your posts today

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Your Host
Andrew Travers

Andrew Travers

Business Development and Executive Search

About Speaker:

Arrived in Zürich in 2004, created the Zürich Networking Group in 2009 and have been active in business development and executive search projects since that time. 

Previous work history was retail banking, corporate asset finance and leasing before a switch into Wi-Fi and telecommunication startups for hospitality. Active on LinkedIn since 2003-2004 with multiple group ownership.

About In The Loop Podcast:

In The Loop podcasts are a series of business or personal development podcasts for and by Zurich Networking Group members showcasing their work, knowledge or company activities. 

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Show Notes

#003 – In this podcast Andrew explains how the LinkedIn algorithm can be best used by Solopreneurs and small business owners have little time to maximise their marketing time with and on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is one of the best B2B marketing tools for a solopreneur or small business owner.
Unfortunately, you may like me get caught up in the LinkedIn algorithm issues and only when I understood it more a few years ago did things improve. 

Tips will be shared about LinkedIn groups, repurposing posts and other time saving tips. In understanding the LinkedIn algorithm you will:

  1. Improve the number of followers you will get
  2. Focus on your niche or sector and then be seen on a frequent basis 
  3. Add leads to your sales pipeline which we hope results in good profitable business for you.  

Questions covered include:   

  1. 00.49 – What is the LinkedIn landscape solopreneur or small business owner benefit
  2. 02:31 – My 10 day daily LinkedIn experience share using Canva as main tool 
  3. 03:07 – Why you need to be careful using automated LinkedIn social media posting
  4. 05:19 – How does the LinkedIn algorithm work? 
    • 05:56 – LinkedIn Algorithm post filter stage 1 – Content Check – Is it safe? 
    • 06:16 – LinkedIn Algorithm post filter stage 2 – User flagging
    • 07:19 – Algorithm monitoring of Report this post and Hide this post user flags
    • 08:18 – LinkedIn Algorithm post filter 3 –  Universal Content Filtering 
    • 09:19 – LinkedIn algorithm post filter 4 – Human Editors – check your post 
  5. 11:16 – Aligning to the LinkedIn algorithm to make it work for you 
  6. 12:11 – Why you should make your LinkedIn posts mobile friendly and other tips
  7. 14:54 – How you can make the LinkedIn algorithm work for you
  8. 17:37 – Understanding the LinkedIn algorithm to grow your LinkedIn network
  9. 20:21 – Your LinkedIn company page, the algorithm, your posts and followers

Show notes :

Link to Zurich Networking group website – www.zurichnetworkinggroup.com with podcast show notes, speaker bio.

Content References / Useful Links (No affiliation): 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Blog – Website

Social Content Publishing:

Canva – Images – Post Design – Free or low subscription per month
Zoho Social – low subscription required as client
Loomly – posting – initial free period then a subscription

 

We hope you enjoyed our first LinkedIn podcast and the third “In the Loop” episode.   

Should you want to know more about LinkedIn and other small business or solopreneur business topics, why not hit the subscribe or rss feed button and join us in our journey. 

Download Transcript

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#003 – LinkedIn: How to use the LinkedIn algorithm to your advantage as a small business owner – In The Loop Podcast

Andrew Travers 

Hello and welcome. It’s Andrew and again another episode of “In The Loop.”

Today we’re actually going to cover the LinkedIn algorithm and for small business and solopreneurs, how it affects your posts and why you don’t need to get so stressed up about it.

In this episode, I hope to throw some light on:

  1. Understanding the LinkedIn landscape
  2. Help you gain insight into the LinkedIn algorithm and it’s working
  3. Explain a little bit about how your posts show up in the LinkedIn newsfeed
  4. Help you to know how you can make LinkedIn`s algorithm work for you and your posts so that you can extend your reach and keep growing your network.
  5. Finally, a bit strange, but the actual importance of your company page.

Let’s start with the landscape of LinkedIn

The opportunity size is massive, you’ve got a problem. As a solopreneur, or small business owner, there’s over 590 million business professionals out there, you don’t want to target all of them.

You must know that they are looking for, to find jobs upskill themselves with training, to find a mentor or a coach, or simply some inside knowledge on their particular job role. Seeing how a competitor does something because they posted a video, it could be as simple as that. They’re all points of interaction.

So, whether you’re developing your personal brand or marketing on behalf of a business, LinkedIn is not a social network that you can ignore.

You need to develop a strategic plan (Listen to SOSTAC Podcast to learn more) for it to succeed on social media platform, and on the business platform, especially after their update in 2019.

Part of that plan will include the understanding of how this simple overview of LinkedIn helps and the algorithm, how it works and how it will help you.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that is AI assessment as a major tool in the algorithm and not a human one.

There are some steps in the process of how your posts are reviewed where human AI does come into the game.

For small business or solopreneur, there’s some good news, you don’t have to spend all day on LinkedIn posting 15 or 20 times, just because you think you might be missing out. Or alternatively, there is a problem that you think you’ve got to keep up with a competitor who’s got a much bigger marketing department.

I ran in mid-May a daily job tips for job seekers over 10 or more days.

In the first 10 days, all I posted was a simple Canva image as a card and a comment with no links. So there was an image on one side of the half and a statement on as a tip on the other half, the average view count was actually 500 to 1000 and I wasn’t actually looking for any huge view count, I just wanted to see what would happen.

Weirdly, the best one I posted was 11pm in the evening, because I forgot to do it because I was busy during the day earlier. Now was it a one off? I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that you need to be careful when you’re using social media posting tools like Zoho Social or Loomly.

The algorithm does pick it up as a sort of trigger or signal on your account simply because too many people try to schedule it at 6am to be the early bird special because of past LinkedIn experience with auto posting tools, and some were more aggressive than others. It was ridiculous and it was losing post quality. LinkedIn was concerned for its user base.

Now these tools have a purpose in a busy time.

For a solopreneur or small business, when you actually go away on holiday, they ensure there’s no gap in your activity. It means as well that if you think about being a normal person, you can use them. Vary your posting schedule so that you can automate everything, put a different time of the day or day of the week that you will post doesn’t have to be every day three in a week or something like that. Then literally just let them go and see what happens.

The important thing with that is that normally if you have an absence or you don’t post for an extended duration of time, then you will actually see that the LinkedIn algorithm will drop a few points on you. Likewise, if you overdo it and produce a schedule, which is a little bit crazy, it will also penalise you for being too frequent.

Remember, it’s not Monday to Friday, it can actually be weekends. So, remember that people travel, they work in different time zones. It’s all about LinkedIn being global, as well as local, and people are on there at different times.

They can be bored because their wife is with them shopping for clothes and they’re just thinking, got to avoid this. On the other hand, the husband could be playing golf and the wife is thinking, forget it go do something more meaningful.

So, lots of different reasons why people can be on at different times, especially over the weekend. Keep that in mind. I’ve had some interesting post results on a Sunday evening, as well as on a Saturday morning, possibly because somebody is up before the kids are up, don’t know that hopefully we’ll cover point one with regards to understanding the LinkedIn landscape and give you a little bit of insight into the algorithm.

Now it’s time to sort of dig in a bit deeper and cover the LinkedIn algorithm itself and how it works.

How does the LinkedIn algorithm work?

It’s basically just common sense. Just think about it, it’s going to do what normally somebody would do, which will be to look at a post, see how it’s behaving, look at what’s happening with it and are people liking it. Do they not like it? Are they flagging it as spam?

It is essentially an automatic intelligent set of filters in four stages.

So, you’ve decided to post and dropped it up there, right? That’s it, it’s all you are going to do.

You fire it off from your profile on LinkedIn, then it hits filter one, which is the decision?

Is it spam, low quality to be released, you want it to be posted and accepted, there’s nothing in it content wise that could trigger anything like an alert or something to say, send this off for review.

Then that moves it straight into second area where it’s sort of user flagging.

Now, at this point, you see your post in front of you on your feed, it’s there.

The algorithm bots are working on it already and looking at it to assess how the audience is going to engage the content. What is likely to happen when it’s out there going through your network.

Then it’s monitoring, the emoticon use, is it being shared? Always a good sign and it’ll then move forward.

If it is into Step three, the assessment process, if not, it’ll start to put it on the back burner, or eventually in the lucky to be found bucket as I call it.

Now, if people mark it as spam, or hide it from their feed, LinkedIn is going to penalise your content.

This is why whenever you post, you need to do a bit more than just an advert for your services. There’s already too much rubbish on LinkedIn.

So many of us have seen posts and just thought oh no, not again. A lot of users don’t use it but I actively do, which is report this post and hide this post.

They are two different options, they do enable me to sort out because of the number of connections I’ve got, what posts I see in my feed and which ones I don’t.

I don’t do that based on just one post I do it based on possibly three or five, if I can remember. People who hide the posts are doing it, because you’re posting too much to them, the content is irrelevant.

Those that report it as spam or report it are objecting to it, because whatever you’re posting is definitely not what they’re in agreement with.

Now, if your posts are reported or hidden by users repeatedly and quickly, expect to see a low view count, even if you’ve got a low network of connections, because that will alert you to whatever you made a mistake. Essentially, it’s all being filtered out by the LinkedIn with user activity flagging filter.

It then moves into what is called the step three, which is the universal content filtering, where the AI is really making decisions on your post and whether or not it should appear in the feed of others.

The AI is really looking out now for spam. It’s also making decisions on should we show this to second or third level contacts.

The last thing, of course, that they want is to have some sort of viral mass network visibility of something that is clearly spam and should not be seen, a scam, which sometimes can occur on LinkedIn, even with their best sort of controls.

Now, at this stage, stage three is where LinkedIn can start to remove your content from the feed or display it less frequently, your network is effectively deciding.  

Not everything with LinkedIn can actually be decided by the LinkedIn algorithm and the AI is running across all the profiles and all the posts.

Filter Four is actually the human touch. It’s like an editor review.

Think of it as a newspaper where the editor has the final view and the final word. They come along, they review the post, they decide to archive it, keep showing it, possibly even spin it into another channel.

They’ll also take time to assess it for any enhancements or behaviour tweaks to their own algorithm.

They want to know what made the post interesting, why did it happen based on your network and also their knowledge and past posting experience.

They are always comparing and contrasting, for me being a bit of a cynic. I think it’s a great way that they then take that information, give it to the LinkedIn sales team, who then go out to sell some advertising.

However, let’s forget me being a cynic for a moment.

And get back to the point of it being a small business owner or solopreneur.

Congratulate yourself, because if you’re in stage four, once you get through that point, you will have got a post with longevity, because it starts to appear in people’s posts even weeks later.

It’s something you will never see on Twitter or Facebook, because that’s all about recency.

What makes a good post, hopefully, I’ve explained a little bit about that there.

It’s something which you can have the silver, you know, the golden ticket post, if you get one on a regular basis, then please let me know, because you might be able to help others.

For me as well, it also explains a little bit why I don’t spend my time trying to analyse the LinkedIn algorithm all the time, because even if you get it right, they’re going to come along and change it.

Then you’ve got to start your experiment all over again, probably said that before, but somebody with a small business or solopreneur, it’s just not worth it at all.

So now we’ve covered how the LinkedIn algorithm works, and how your posts show up in the newsfeed.

Moving on to point three: Making LinkedIn`s algorithm work for you

Making sure that your posts reach as far as they can with regards to your marketing and your information, shares and efforts.

First things first, I would say is be yourself and don’t post anything your mother wouldn’t be happy reading.

It’s quite simple, but it’s quite true.

Take the tactics you use on your blog or other social media and tailor them slightly for LinkedIn.It is a social media platform and it works quite similar but in slightly different ways as well.

You don’t need to be overly formal, stay relaxed, be yourself especially if you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur.

People are going to want to do business because a you more than because you wrote like the prime minister or a bot, if I’m pretty blunt about it, because so many people seem to like to write in the third person at the moment on LinkedIn.

Make your posts mobile friendly. What do I mean by that?

Well, 60% of LinkedIn users are now using the app on a regular basis.

So great images with big fonts. Hence, the reason why I mentioned before, with a series of 10 that I used before. What I did was I went into Canva literally put an image on one half of a post and the other half was writing, but made sure there was a contrast.

It was white on black, or white on blue, or white on red or red on white. Strangely, not all of them worked as well as I thought they would. For me, it does seem to be that colours which are red, white, orange, green, do seem to work a lot better than some of the subdued blues that I tried.

It could be my network, it just could be that I need to test it a bit more. The reality is, I was just trying to make things look standard for colours for my brand, but also for representing the series of 10 cards.

A good point is to mix up your content, videos, tips, image could be a quote.

I’ve seen everything from racking cabling, in terms of images, before and after on lots of different things that can be done. Don’t be afraid.

Also, to reference other content on LinkedIn, some great content out there, use some keywords in your write up, think of it as you would do a blog post.

Remember, nobody wants to see a complete wall of keywords and a statement because:

  1. It’s not readable
  2. You’ll be just not aligned with the AI LinkedIn algorithm.
  3. As far as I’m concerned, it’s messy, horrible, and not easy to read.

We just leave that to the SEO bots, which is their normal job when they go around crawling around pages and things.

Another point I’d like to make is hashtags. use them properly, about five to seven are good.

Do a quick search on them, because some have a few followers and some have a lot more. Some work on Facebook and Twitter better than they do on LinkedIn. A little bit of testing is required.  

You can just go to the search bar on your profile, put in the hashtag, #engineering, #finewine, whatever and then it’ll actually tell you how many people are following.

Now we move on to how you can make the LinkedIn algorithm work for you and your posts.

An easy thing to say here is they tell you. If you work their way, it’ll actually work to your advantage, and even tell you what they want.

The LinkedIn blog is actually the main source of information for many and when you see these people that are LinkedIn experts and all that sort of thing advertising, their services, all they’re doing is following the LinkedIn blog.

For solopreneurs and small business owners, you only have to look at it for a bit of bedtime reading once a quarter for half an hour, and you’ll still stay up to date.

This is especially important because LinkedIn still want to be a professional network.

They are similar to Facebook in style, especially after the big update in 2018 yet fundamentally, they do want to be different.

They do post regularly on the LinkedIn blog and recommend that your content has relevancy to your industry niche, or activity is relevant to your audience and your brand, is of value to someone’s career, or is a knowledge share.

It could be just tips for their professional growth, alternatively, it could be something to do with a CNC milling machine that is worth sharing with other people that operate, sell or insure CNC milling machines.

Interestingly, for many, LinkedIn also favours certain content types over others, like long form content, known as articles, or Pulse articles as was, video and from 2020 being involved more in events, feeds from conferences, their LinkedIn live service and reducing the dependency on YouTube or other platform video shares.

They seek to fence in their LinkedIn reservation or space and reward those who only publish on LinkedIn. As far as they’re concerned in the right way.

An interesting thing to do to help you with your post and get it wide is from your conference, take video, take a screenshot, tag the people in the conference as attendees.

You’re actually repurposing one image out of the video content, you tag them with the at @ and first name, family name, so that when you post it, it alerts them to it, which of course then generates its own conversation or shares, because you’re all there at an conference at the same time.

That covers how you can make it work for you.

Now we’ve got to make it work for you in the way that you grow your network.

And, for me, I deliberately left this little bit to last because you’ve got to know how to post good content, you’ve got to know how to make it relevant.

You’ve also got an understanding of why people are on LinkedIn in the first place to get a job, to broaden their horizons, to cover topics related to what you’re posting.

You’ve got to grow your network, you may start off small, you may already have one that’s quite large.

You’ve got to do it the right way and a simple way is to ask all your friends, business contacts and others to follow your company.

Then if you’re looking for a marketing or business partnership, or an advertising partnership, you can incorporate that within your newsletters, so that you add another layer on, you can also follow influential people in your industry, or location.

You can be active join groups, like the Zürich Networking Group if you’re in Zurich, or be part of a larger group, which there are many, including super large groups, as well as I call them super groups. And I wrote a post about them on the Zurich networking group website.

Groups will help you scale up because obviously there’s a lot of people with good interest.

And there I say 50 groups, if you’re a solopreneur that’s the maximum.

Don’t bother with too many and split it:

  • 15 that you expect your potential client to be in
  • 15 that are related business relationships, could be presentation coach could be some if you’re a coach, handling job seekers or something, and a way of complimenting each other with different activities.

Also understand as well that in 2018 groups were updated as LinkedIn updated, so they’re now actually reintegrated into the main LinkedIn app and feed.

This gives you a chance to get involved in more groups with more people.

Make a comment on content that’s relevant to you and your work, build up your profile, and at the same time, attract more visitors to come to your company page and to follow you.

It’s a bit old, but everyone does it and you should never be afraid to ask, and quite simply, it’s a simple one off: “Please can you follow me or my company.”

LinkedIn provides you with the tools to do that quite easily.

Not everybody will respond back, but few people will and that’s just getting more and more numbers into the cycle.

Your LinkedIn company page and it’s influence

This is the final point I wanted to cover because not many people do and I think it’s quite important if you’re a solopreneur, or small business, because it’s actually part of the assessment process by the algorithm.

Many people fail to post regularly on it. There are so many company pages, just like a directory entry and they’re quite stale. At the same time, if that is what your competitors are doing, then you now have a competitive advantage.

I also understand you can’t be posting here can’t be researching there can’t be making comments, doing all of that sort of stuff.

Let’s think about how we grow this in a time efficient way.

One would be to comment on an existing post of interest that’s in your feed by someone else, or someone in your network, then use the three dots on the top right, and copy link to post a menu item, click it to copy it, then go to your page, company page, upload a nice graphic, make a polite comment, paste the link into the post, just as if you’re referencing an author or a photographer. Add @ and the name of the person is who made the post, so that they are actually pinged, and they will get a notification that they have been named.

It’s a small thing, but from little acorns do big oak trees grow.

The next thing I’d think about as well is planning a social media schedule Yes, that old chestnut.

They’re actually quite easy to create and you can do quite a lot on a wet Sunday in the middle of November, when there’s absolutely nothing else to do.

Think of it only as you needing 52 posts.

10 could be Canva posts, which are like my tip panels.

10 could be images with a quote on.

And then strangely, that’s 20, then you could look at your internet browsing history, and look for articles that could be worth sharing, or set up a Google News alert on that particular topic so that you’ve got something that’s recent that you can post into group or into your company page, or into your personal profile.

In fact, you can do all three from just one, but just make it slightly different with regard to the comment.

Then all of a sudden, you’re into halfway through the year.

These then go into the personal feed your company page feed, and you can do it in a mixed order.

If you’re a small business owner with employees, ask others in the team to share them, to like them and to even post or come up with some ideas for themselves. Especially the young apprentice in the corner who may come up with something quite interesting.

The reality is, you’re actually then spreading the generational posts on your company page. And I don’t care if it’s Generation X, Y, Z millennial, an old fart like me or whatever.

The whole thing then becomes much broader and a more diverse range of posts and that actually goes in your favour.

Now, the other thing with the company pages, quite often people will try and promote it or pay for advertising.

Now what I would say there is if you’re doing all of this posting and everything else, hold back a little bit. Because you don’t need to necessarily promote your posts aggressively by paying for adverts.

What you can do is hold events, webinars and other things and then use the events tags and the event on the company page. That will then be shared and act as another way of doing something.

Of course, on a webinar when everybody’s there, you can ask them all to follow your company page, follow you on LinkedIn, connect you on LinkedIn etc. That would result probably in having much lower costs.

To summarise:

I think I’ve covered understanding the LinkedIn landscape, giving you some insight into the LinkedIn algorithm and how it works, explained how posts appear in the newsfeed how the algorithm works for posts, also how you can make use of what LinkedIn provides you to get a better reach and also the importance of the company page.

Now, for me personally, I wouldn’t worry about why Post did or did not go viral.

I would be looking at, what are the metrics? Who were the people looking at it? What are their job functions? Am I posting the right stuff into the right target?

A regular heartbeat for post is good. What I mean by that is once a week, if that’s all you can do, just do once a week, but there are times like for the events, or a webinar, etc, you need to blast it out, maybe to all the groups. As a solopreneur, and a small business owner, use your events to your advantage as well.

Focus on sharing. I know, people prefer to like and clap, and it’s dead easy to do, but the reality is that if you share something 99% of the time, the person will only get a few shares on their content, they will then look at your profile.

You can also do another thing, which is something I do on my posts.

I tell readers that I want them to clap on this one and not to like it, or I make a joke with a post and a misspelling.

Now, that makes it all interactive and the purpose of that, and this is a reason why I like sharing as well is you’re actually engaging with the audience and with other people.

At the same time, it’s putting the social into LinkedIn, because it is a social platform, you can stay professional, that’s not a problem and it all fits the matrix as far as LinkedIn is concerned.

Do I expect any real outcome and a call regarding business or by a candidate when I do the more social type post, no. 

So, from my side, hopefully this has helped, explained the algorithm, how to adopt a simple strategy to get those posts read, and at the same time not eat up too much of your time. If you’re a solopreneur, small business owner, you haven’t got a lot, you’ve only got so much with so many other things to do.

I wish you a lot of fun with your posts, keep them relevant. And remember in time, you’re going to have followers and have some great partners who are going to buy or promote your services or products.

Until next time. Oh, and before I forget if you would like to subscribe, that’d be fantastic.

We will be providing other great content which I hope will be meaningful in the future.

Have fun.

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