Hacking LinkedIn’s Algorithm

The secret to hacking LinkedIn’s algorithm has been revealed. And the answer may surprise you. Unless you’re George Costanza.

“Nothing”

Experienced sales coach Jay Jensen ran an experiment last week. Three posts (1, 2 and 3) containing close to no content amassed 40k views, over 160 likes and almost 230 comments.

The lesson’s obvious:

“The more nothing & less value you add in a post, the more LinkedIn wants people to see it in their feeds”

seinfeld nothing

Jay isn’t being serious of course. And while topics like history’s best sitcom have obvious answers, what constitutes high performing content on LinkedIn’s still up for debate.

Most theories revolve around best practice: what time to post, how to add value and willingness to engage with followers.

But exactly how does the notorious LinkedIn algorithm work? And what can you do to boost your chances of getting a priority position in the newsfeed?

From the horse’s mouth

According to LinkedIn, a number of factors can allow a post to go viral. When a post is created, it’s labelled by bots as either “spam”, “low-quality” or “clear”.

These can be understood as ‘diabolical’, ‘not completely hopeless’ and ‘has the potential to be good’

Posts are initially tested in the feeds of a few connections. LinkedIn then predicts how likely the post is to go viral, based on the network reach of the original poster and the speed in which likes, comments and shares rack up. 

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LinkedIn employ a “man + machine approach” once content reaches a certain level of attention. If your post’s ignored or flagged by users, this will count against you when it comes to ranking in the newsfeed.

“Since our team of human evaluators is highly trained in assessing whether a piece of content conforms to LinkedIn’s standards, it also allows us to walk the fine line between freedom of expression and filtering out spam or low-quality content”

Just as LinkedIn rewards good quality content with a better position in the newsfeed, it’s also invested significantly in fighting spam and will demote content it deems to be dodgy.

Quality content

There are three things you can share on LinkedIn: words, pictures and video. Getting each one right will ensure your posts have the best chance of performing well.

Contrary to popular belief, great writing’s more a science than an art. From the Hunted blog, How To Write Anything contains 12 tips to get the most out of the written word. Things like:

“Always write from one person, to another. It’s the most simple form of communication and will stick in the reader’s mind longer”.

The Dos and Don’ts of Employer Photos is your timely reminder that the high-res camera attached to your mobile makes capturing decent recruitment photography way easier than it sounds.

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And if you’re stuck for inspiration we’ve knocked up a list of 10 FREE Stock Image Sites to try instead.

The moving image is slightly newer ground for recruitment. But because videos hog attention, they’re also more likely to elicit a reaction.

How To Use Video In Recruitment includes a clip from ‘Recruitment: This Time It’s Personnel‘ by Hunted partners Girling Jones and recommends a free download of the software used to edit The Wolf of Wall Street.

Videos demand attention, so they’re more likely to elicit a reaction from your audience. Which is one reason you’ll find them at the top of your newsfeed ahead of other posts.

elmer wheeler steak sizzle

“Don’t sell the steak. Sell the sizzle”

“Greatest Salesman In The World” Elmer Wheeler coined the phrase in 1920 and it’s good advice for marketing your jobs, candidates or services as a Recruiter.

Posts that add value, provoke discussion or brim with satire usually rank well in the newsfeed. Keep a close eye on your metrics and incorporate the Pareto Principle to scale high performing content consistently.

Timing

According to data gathered by Hubspot the best times to post are:

  • 7.30-8.30am
  • 12.00pm
  • 5.00-6.00pm

Mondays and Friday are typically slower than the rest of the week although obviously this depends on your network. If you know when your newsfeed’s going to be busy, queue your posts in advance to go out at peak times.

These three programs will do that for you.

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Postfity

The free Starter plan links to up to 5 social accounts and allows up to 10 pending posts. The Postfity app comes with an image editor to customise content on the fly and advanced analytics are unlocked with premium plans.

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Buffer

The ‘Free Forever’ plan also queues 10 posts per social network, initially linking 3 accounts with more unlocked at different pricing tiers. Buffer also comes with a mobile app, browser extension, image creator and a video/GIF uploader.

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Hootsuite

The go-to name in social media management, Hootsuite’s free for 30 days and then you’ve got to pick a plan. Link 3 social accounts and queue up to 30 posts. And if it’s working for you, unlock bulk scheduling, ad spend, analytics and unlimited RSS feeds as well.

Also worth having a look at is Yala: an AI program that queues posts to go out on multiple social media platforms when they’re most active.

Yala will post “when she detects high engagement on your specific social network property”.

She works on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (with Instagram coming soon) and formats posts appropriate to the individual platforms they’re going out on.

Yala also integrates with Slack, allowing you to message the AI from a chat window.

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On Slack, set up a channel to alert your team to new posts. The faster likes, comments and shares come in, the better the post is likely to do.

Outside of various recruitment controversies and the odd viral post on #leadership, it’s rare to be active on LinkedIn. Most normal people are only on there when they need to be.

Extend the olive branch to your 2nd connections that like and comment on relevant posts in your feed. If you’re posting similar content, it stands a good chance of prompting engagement, which means being better placed to reach a prime slot on the homepage.

Ask questions. Reply to comments. Like and share other people’s stuff and they’re more likely to return the favour. And if all else fails, you can always sponsor content for extra circulation.

The gamification of LinkedIn’s algorithm is a broad, evolving topic. So it’s possible that by the time you read this article, a new feature or line of code will have made it all completely redundant anyway.

Which is testament to how complicated it is. Although at the heart of it, it’s deceptively simple. Publish good content consistently and the more attention it gets the higher it’s likely to rank.