July 2019 update: This post was updated to reflect the latest changes within the LinkedIn algorithm, including suggested scheduling times, post frequency, information on the Content Marketing Score, and new video capabilities.
Nearly 600 million business professionals congregate on LinkedIn to find jobs, grow their networks and share content. Half of B2B buyers rely on it to make business decisions.
Whether you’re developing your personal brand or marketing on behalf of a business, LinkedIn is not a social network you can ignore. You need to develop a strategic plan for it to succeed on social in 2019.
Get started by understanding how the LinkedIn algorithm works.
Also see: The Essential LinkedIn B2B Marketing Guide for 2019 and our explanations of the most recent changes to the Facebook Algorithm and the Instagram Algorithm.
- How the LinkedIn algorithm works
- How to get your posts to show up in the LinkedIn newsfeed
- Decoding the LinkedIn Content Marketing Score
- Making LinkedIn’s algorithm work for you
How the LinkedIn algorithm works
The two main things to understand about the main LinkedIn news feed are: (1) it is primarily concerned with native, organic content, and (2) it is based on an algorithm, not recency.
Much like Facebook and Instagram, the LinkedIn algorithm prioritizes content you’re most likely to find relevant and engage with over the most recent content.
Fortunately for everyone’s sanity, that means that you don’t need to post 20 times a day to stay on top. While you should be posting regularly — no week-long holidays — the LinkedIn algorithm actually favors “natural” posting schedules over very regular ones. That means that your posts could actually be penalized for appearing every day at exactly the same time.
Pro tip: Post frequent, high-quality content at irregular intervals — including the weekends.
For a more detailed look, LinkedIn released this helpful graphic that visually explains how their algorithm works:
In general, content is ranked and displayed based on your account’s reputation, how users have engaged with your content before, and what else is being posted. Here’s how it works:
Every time you post something, the LinkedIn feed algorithm determines whether it’s spam, low quality, or good to go. Obviously, you want to be in the “good to go” category.
If you passed go, your content appears in the feed temporarily. During this stage, LinkedIn’s algorithm bots look at how your audience engages with the content.
If they’re liking it, commenting on it, or sharing it, that’s a good sign you’ll make it through to the next filter.
If people mark it as spam or hide it from their feed, LinkedIn is going to penalize your content.
“Report this post” and “Hide this post” are two different options, but are often used interchangeably. People may hide your posts because you’re posting too much or because your content is irrelevant to them.
Pro tip: the more engagement your post receives right away, the better. You can optimize your post times based on your own analytics or these best times to post.
At this step, the LinkedIn algorithm will look beyond the content of your post to determine if it should keep showing up in users’ feeds.
They’ll look at you and your network to determine whether or not this is a spam post and whether your network will enjoy it. This is because LinkedIn wants to avoid rewarding spam accounts and content with viral visibility.
Based on this stage, LinkedIn can remove your content from the feed or display it less frequently.In either scenario, it’s up to your network to engage with your post and keep it around for another review.
Finally, humans enter the process. At this point, editors review your post to determine whether it should keep showing, whether they might include it somewhere else like a channel, or whether they can derive any takeaways from it for future algorithm tweaks and product development.
They want to know: why, exactly, is your post performing so well?
This is why sometimes you’ll see posts in your feed that are weeks (yes, weeks) old—something you definitely wouldn’t see on the fast-paced feeds of Facebook and Twitter.
How to get your posts to show up in the LinkedIn newsfeed
The beauty of the LinkedIn algorithm is this: as long as your post is performing well, it will keep showing up in the feed.
However, it takes a lot of work, strategic finagling, and some luck based on what LinkedIn defines as good performance.
Follow these three tips to optimize your posts around the LinkedIn algorithm in 2019:
1. Optimize your posts
Use the same tactics you do on your blog and other social media channels, but tailor them slightly for LinkedIn:
- Tone of voice
- Your voice may have to be a bit more professional than it is on Twitter, but don’t be overly formal (it is a social network after all). Feel free to give your posts personality and a sense of humor.
- Mobile first
- Nearly 60% of LinkedIn users access the network from their phones, so prime your posts for mobile viewing with compelling messages and interesting imagery.
- Diversity rules
- Mix up your content with tips, opinions, videos, images, quotes, and links to other content.
- Use keywords, but don’t sound generic
- Add hashtags and work in keywords where you can, but don’t make your copy read like an SEO bot. You want your post to show up when people search for related content, but you want them to actually click through, too.
- Time your posts right
- People can be on the platform at all times of the day, working hours or not, so review your analytics to determine when your audience is most likely to be on LinkedIn.
- Use #hashtags appropriately
- LinkedIn is still a professional network, so #thirstythursday and other semi-NSFW hashtags won’t help your content get seen. Think of LinkedIn hashtags as categories or labels, use them wisely, and save the funny ones for Twitter.
2. Work their bias to your advantage
LinkedIn is clear about what kind of content they want to display. It is first and foremost a professional network, so they recommend that your content:
- Be relevant to your audience and your brand
- Be of particular value to someone’s career, such as tips for their professional growth
- Have industry relevance
- Be from a credible or trustworthy source (this refers to you as well as any website you link to)
LinkedIn also favors certain content types over others—particularly formats they’ve made a technological investment to develop, such as:
- Long-form content shared through LinkedIn Publisher
- Pro tip: you can always invite people to read more elsewhere or add a canonical tag to your post.
- Conference frames
- Local events are highly relevant and therefore favored by the LinkedIn algorithm, so spice up your videos with conference frames to stand out in the feeds of industry folks and other attendees.
- Native videos
- LinkedIn, like pretty much every social channel, definitely prefers native video, so stop sharing YouTube clips and start uploading videos natively.
- LinkedIn Live videos
- LinkedIn is currently testing a new live streaming feature, available in Beta to select participants. Sign up here and get ahead of the game.
3. Grow your network
LinkedIn wants you to post professionally inspiring or helpful content because that’s why people are on LinkedIn in the first place—to get a job, to get a better job, or to grow their professional networks.
LinkedIn reviews the relevance of your posts by looking at your audience’s careers. That is the demographic information it has to work with, so it’s a large part of what the algorithm is based on.
While you can’t control everyone who follows you, you can:
- Ask all your employees to follow your company and set it as their workplace on their profiles.
- Follow influential people in your industry who are prominent on LinkedIn to demonstrate your interests and industry affinity.
- Join and participate in relevant groups (now re-integrated into the main LinkedIn app and feed), sharing your content when appropriate.
- Comment on content relevant to your industry.
- Set up links to your LinkedIn page on your company website and careers page to encourage more relevant follows.
- Mention (@) people when you post something they’ll particularly like or if you’ve named them in your post.
Decoding the LinkedIn Content Marketing Score
One of the key factors that influences how your content performs is your company page’s Content Marketing Score. This score is constantly being evaluated and adjusted by LinkedIn’s algorithm, and it is influenced by four factors:
- LinkedIn evaluates the quality, relevancy, and frequency of content posted through your Page. In short, content that engages your audience helps demonstrate that your company is sharing valuable content within your network.
- Influencers, Partnerships & Employees
- Speaking of engagement, LinkedIn prioritizes certain areas of influence over others. They keep track of how many likes, comments, and shares your posts get from influencers, partners, and employees, respectively.
- Employee Shares
- Any time an employee tags your Company Page in a post, LinkedIn keeps track. High employee engagement works to your Page’s benefit.
- Paid Efforts
- LinkedIn rewards Pages who invest in LinkedIn. Having a smart and effective paid strategy on LinkedIn will also benefit your organic posts.
To increase your Company Page’s Content Marketing Score, it’s important to have a strategy in place for each of the four factors. If your content is great, but no one (not even your employees) are sharing it, LinkedIn won’t promote it in the organic feed. On the flip side, encouraging a few key partners or influencers to engage with your content or your brand can have a hugely beneficial impact on your overall score.
Pro tip: having a good Content Marketing Score can actually help you optimize your LinkedIn advertising budget. Pages with high scores tend to see lower costs in Campaign Manager.
To learn more about your Page’s score, contact your LinkedIn account manager.
Making LinkedIn’s algorithm work for you
Performing well with the LinkedIn algorithm in 2019 all comes down to relevance. Are your content and your brand relevant for your target audience?
Share content that resonates with people in your industry. Optimize the timing of your posts. Regularly review your analytics. Make real friends and connections. Engage with your industry community through posts and group comments.
Be relevant. Be engaged. Build your authority on LinkedIn.
Michael Quoc is the CEO and founder of ZipfWorks, an e-commerce lab with forward-thinking web products. He’s currently at work on Dealspotr, creating the most comprehensive and accurate promo code database on the web—all through the power of crowdsourcing and AI. Previously, Michael was the Director of New Products at Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.