Does Your LinkedIn Activity Generate Engagement?

I define engagement as people reacting to your activity on LinkedIn. They respond with in one or more of what I call the “big five” ways – likes, comments, shares, followers and people who view your profile.

When people engage with you in one these five ways it is possible for you to identify them – which you can’t do with people who view your content. And if you can identify them, you can reach out to them.

And if you are about to complain that your engagement isn’t what it used to be and it’s all LinkedIn fault for strangling the distribution of your content….you’re right. Now get over it. Either pay for sponsored updates, or figure out how to work within LinkedIn’s rules.    

We interrupt this article for a sidebar:

I am always amused by the people who say they don’t use LinkedIn anymore. But while not using LinkedIn anymore, they find the time to be on LinkedIn, come across a post or article, read it, stop to add a comment saying they don’t use LinkedIn any more, and come back repeatedly to argue with anyone who disagrees with them.

My content generates engagement. And when it does I engage right back. It’s a great way to meet new people and develop my LinkedIn network. I meet people that may become customers and just as importantly, I meet people that may refer me to potential customers.  

Writing content that works, whether it be writing articles or posts, is time consuming. Sharing other people’s content, or getting involved in the discussions that revolve around other people’s content, is time consuming. Make sure that that time consumed on LinkedIn is time invested and not just time spent.  

 

What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Article Or Post On LinkedIn? (updated for 2018)

Back in early 2016, I wrote an article trying to define what a “view” actually was on LinkedIn. In a twist of LinkedIn irony, it became the most viewed content I have written and published on LinkedIn, and still receives hundreds of views every week. And while the core of that article remains valid, LinkedIn has made a lot of changes since then, so this is an update to that original article.

So What does it mean when someone “views” your post on LinkedIn?

Well that depends, because a “post” is not simply a post anymore on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has separated published content into “articles” and “posts” and views appear are counted differently for each one.

Article or Post? A critical distinction

From the top of your Homepage, when you click on “Write an article” you are taken to LinkedIn Publisher. This is intended for long form content. These articles stay associated with your profile in “Your activity” page under “Articles”.

But at the top of your Homepage when you “Share an article, photo or update”, you are creating a post. For posts that you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage (1300 characters), and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “Posts”.

LinkedIn can be inconsistent with the terminology, and it can sometimes be confusing, but if you went into the LinkedIn blog-style Publisher and published something it is an article. Everything else is a post. Shared someone else’s post or article? That becomes your post. Shared a photo? That’s your post. “Shared an update” ? That’s your post too.  

How are views different for Posts and Articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note again that under the post/article definitions that at this point my article served as the basis for their posts). One told me he had gotten 400 views on his post (sharing my article) and the other had gotten 2,000 (sharing the same article). Meanwhile, my original article had received 200 views at that point. It was obvious that post and article views were being counted differently. But how was this happening and what does it mean?

So what is an Article view?

You need to click on and open an article to have it counted as a view. I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

Note that a view is not the same thing as a “read”. Someone could open your article, read the first line and lose interest, or get interrupted at the office, or decide the article wasn’t for them, or stop reading for any number of reasons.

The good news? All your article views are “legitimate.” Someone had to take a specific action to open your article.

And what is a Post view?

On January 31 2017, this explanation appeared in the help section on LinkedIn:

When you share an update, a “view” is counted when the update is loaded on the viewer’s screen. Viewers do not necessarily need to click or read the update to count as a view, but rather have the update loaded on their Homepage.

(Note that this is an instance of LinkedIn referring to a “post” as an “update”.  Arghh.)

This also would imply that if you open your homepage and hit “page down” a few times, you have just “viewed” twenty or thirty posts. This would go a long way to explaining how posts seem to get so many more views than articles.

But…basing post views purely on appearances in the homepage feed would seem to favor people with huge LinkedIn networks. If you have five hundred connections and I have five thousand, and our posts get loaded on our connections screens, my posts are always going to get more “views” than yours. This is clearly not the case, so there must be other factors at play – enter the LinkedIn algorithms. LinkedIn sends your post out to small subgroup of your connections and if the post gets enough love – likes, comments and shares – then LinkedIn will distribute it further.

I think the best way of thinking of article views versus post views is:

An article view seems to suggest intent (the person had to click to read your article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen your post).

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that in 2017 LinkedIn stopped showing us how many views someone else’s post or article has received, so LinkedIn obviously doesn’t want us focusing on views as an end in itself.

Let’s say you publish two articles (or posts):

The first one gets 500 hundred views and 30 comments.

The second one gets 1000 views and 5 comments.

Which was the more successful? I would say the first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

I think it is instructive that LinkedIn notifies us when people engage with our content. And I can see which individual people liked, commented on and shared my content.

We don’t get notifications saying things like, “Hey, your post got another 85 views”. And being told I got four thousand views when I can’t tell who any of those viewers are doesn’t help me engage with those viewers.

Views are nice, but engagement with your posts or articles can lead to conversations that can lead to connections that can lead to networking and other business opportunities.  

 

A Reminder To See LinkedIn As It Is, Not Like You Wish It Was

Never forget that LinkedIn is first and foremost a database. A database of somewhere around 550 million people.

I call it a database because the majority of LinkedIn users rarely use it. The last public results from LinkedIn said 22% of users logged on at least once a month. That was eighteen months ago, and I have seen nothing in the intervening time that persuades me that that percentage has gotten much bigger.

If the 22% figure still holds, that is around 115 million people accessing LinkedIn at least once a month. How many people are showing up two or more times a week? Half that? 60 million?

I have seen wild claims that there is a much higher active component on LinkedIn, including one claim (in January) that LinkedIn now had 500 million daily users. If “daily user” means “did not close their account today”, then I suppose that’s true, but otherwise, no.

I don’t believe these claims of increased usage for two reasons. The first is, they don’t pass the smell test. In order for me to believe that LinkedIn now has, say, 120 million daily users, the first thing I need to ask myself is, “what has changed in eighteen months that makes LinkedIn at least twice as attractive for users?” Answer: not much. Lots of good incremental feature and usability improvements, but twice as good? No way.

The second reason is if daily use had doubled – or tripled or quadrupled – I really think that LinkedIn and Microsoft would have mentioned it somewhere. Most companies don’t radically improve what is arguably one of the most important metrics they have and keep quiet about it.

The upshot here is that embedded within that big 500+ million person database is a tiny active social network. Well, sixty or so million people isn’t tiny, but compared to Twitter, or Facebook it is.

Where am I going with all this? Simple. LinkedIn is an unmatched resource for searching for people, and it’s an unmatched resource for doing research on companies, the people that work at those companies and their relationships. It is not as good for reaching out and contacting those people you find, because there is a big difference between “member” and “uses LinkedIn a couple of time a week or more.”

See LinkedIn as it is, not like you would like it to be, and you will use LinkedIn more effectively.