What Does It Mean When Someone “Views” Your Post On LinkedIn?

Fifteen months ago 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 article I have written and still receives over one thousand views a week. And while many of the points I raised in that post still appear valid, there have been a lot of changes with LinkedIn, so this is an update to that original post.  

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 to be 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 you write from scratch, you are allowed limited verbiage, and the post gets dumped into our homepage feeds. These stay associated with your profile in the “Your activity” page under “posts”.  

How are views different for posts and articles?

I wrote an article a few weeks ago. A couple of friends shared it (note that under the new 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 and the other had gotten 2,000. 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 is this happening and what does it mean?

 So what is an article view?

I think LinkedIn counts article views by recognizing the URL for your article is open on a reader’s device.

You need to click on and open the article to have it counted as a view. 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.

Over the past couple of weeks LinkedIn has started using the word “clicks” in some places instead of “views” for articles. For my post last week in my “Bruce’s Activity” page, I see “1,095 clicks of your article” instead of 1,095 views. But on my homepage it still says “1,095 views of your article”, and on my profile page it still says “1,095 views of your post in the feed.”  I assume the homepage and profile page will be updated and that clicks will be the new and more accurate terminology.  

And what is a post view?

On January 31, 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.

This also would imply that if you open your homepage and page a 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, so there must be other factors at play – most likely with a heaping helping of LinkedIn algorithms.

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

An article view seems to suggest intent (to read my article), while a post view seems to suggest opportunity (someone could have seen my post).

Note that the counting mechanism for views and clicks may not necessarily be solid yet

Over the past couple of months under the new desktop User Interface, some LinkedIn writers have seen view counts go backwards in their articles, such as seeing 400 hundred views as of last night, but only 380 this morning. I can only assume this is a bug. You can withdraw a like or a delete a comment, but how would one go about “un-viewing” a post?

And in a different vein, a recent article of mine got it’s highest number of views – nine – from a company which was a one person consultancy.  

So what do views really mean?

Lots of views are an ego boost. But note that with the new User Interface LinkedIn has 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 end to itself.

Let’s say you publish one article or post and it gets 500 views and thirty comments. Then you publish a second one and it gets 1000 views and five comments. Which was the more successful post? The first one. More people found that one compelling enough to comment on.

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.   

 

Why Share And Pray Is Not An Optimal LinkedIn Strategy

…and an alternative.

We are told that sharing posts is important on LinkedIn. It’s even part of the (vaunted by social sellers, questioned by me) Social Selling Index. This results in whole clumps of people out there that “share” as a strategy.

But for the most part, they share badly.

How? They just share the post with everyone. Sometimes they add a comment as an introduction to the shared post, but often they don’t. And what does this sharing accomplish? A little increased visibility for the post author and a little increased visibility for the person who shared the post. Possibly someone interesting will comment on the share. Well “a little” and “possibly” don’t strike me as results to hang your hat on. 

We do these things because sharing is easy. Liking is easier. And it is easy to convince ourselves that because we have shared a bunch of posts that we have made good use of our time. And while sharing is easy, actually getting somewhere as a result of sharing is much harder.

So (as usual), please allow me to make a suggestion. By all means share with everyone if you want to, but also share that post with someone where you really know it could benefit them.  Add a message with what you think is in it for them.  

When you share discriminately, three people benefit:

  • The author of the post, whose work gets disseminated to a person who will really value it.
  • The recipient who you shared it with, who receives content that may help him or her.
  • And you. In the end, even if it isn’t a perfect fit, or even if they have already read it, the person you shared it with is going to be impressed that you specifically singled them out for this content. I would take that one little bit of credibility established with that one person over visibility with lots of people any day.  

When you share on LinkedIn, don’t just spray and pray, share with intent. Share discriminately.

Can You Game The LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?

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5 surprising factors that don’t seem to affect published post engagement on LinkedIn and 5 not so surprising ones that do.

I have been publishing on LinkedIn for eighteen months now, and have written a hundred or so posts. I was looking at some of my posts and the engagement they had generated and wondered if any of the obvious factors really had any bearing. So I compared how my posts had done with other people who publish on LinkedIn. I compared their statistics with mine to see if there were clues that were precursors to success. I came to the conclusion that the following have little or no bearing on how much engagement a post gets.

  1. The total number of posts published on LinkedIn

Your total number of posts published seems to have no bearing on the success of future posts, that is people who have many more posts than I do don’t seem to average more views and engagement with their posts than I do. Of course their aggregate views may be higher.  If I have 20 posts at 200 views and they have 40 posts at 200 views, they have more total views.  

Lesson learned:

  • Don’t be deterred from starting to publish your own posts on LinkedIn  because you can never “catch up” to someone who has posted every week for the last two years. You are starting with a fresh page, but so is that prolific person who posts each week.

      2. Engaging with other people’s posts and updates? No discernible effect.

I had a look through the activity for ten people who publish their own posts on LinkedIn. More engagement with other people’s posts and status updates does not necessarily appear to lead those people to your posts. Several people I looked at have three and four times the number of status updates and comments on other people’s posts as I did in the last month, yet seemed to average the same post statistics as I did.

Lesson learned:

  • You don’t need to strive to be visible on LinkedIn in order for your posts to be successful

      3. Monster posts don’t have much, if any, spillover effect on future posts.

Having a monster post with a lot of  views and engagement doesn’t necessarily help with the next post’s reception. I have even seen this with the influencer posts

Jeff Haden November 17, 2015 post: 546,000 views

Jeff Haden’s next post on December 3rd, 2015:  23,000 views  

Lesson learned:

  • Don’t think that a monster post is necessary to be successful.
  • And if you have a monster post, don’t think you can cruise from now on based on that post. You are guaranteed no views or comments on your next post. Just ask Jeff.

     4. Post frequency has no impact  

Publishing more often doesn’t seem to change the results on a per post basis. No difference. Once a month, twice a month, every week, multiple times a day (!!). I reviewed several people who post a lot less often than I do and much more often than I do and our statistics were very close.

Lesson learned:

  • Post on your own schedule, not someone else’s.

     5. Do people with larger numbers of followers get more views per follower? It doesn’t seem so.  

I have 5500 followers. Jeff Haden has 890,000 (between the time I wrote this and published it he may have picked up another 5500).  I did some calculations based on the last nine posts we have each published (Jeff has only published nine times in the past year). Some interesting results:

Per post

              Jeff averaged:                                                        I averaged:

              93,000 views                                                         411 views

              1400 likes                                                               47 likes

              300 comments                                                      12 comments

Lessons learned:

Jeff’s number of followers is more than 160x mine. So three observations.

  • Jeff has better statistics than I do (that was the easy observation)
  • Mine might be comparable to Jeff’s if I took the time to increase the size of my network 160x
  • Jeff’s views and likes per follower are slightly higher than mine, but his comments are much lower. This argues that there is no exponential engagement accelerator with a larger following (for example a following twice as big doesn’t yield two and a half times the engagement).   

Grand conclusion:

You can’t game the LinkedIn algorithm with any of these things.

However, based on my own experience, here are five factors that do seem to affect overall engagement:

1) Writing quality. Not as big a factor as you would think, but being able to write in an interesting and engaging style helps.

2) The photo or illustration you use. Having no photo is bad. Using a stock photo is better than nothing. Using something original beats using a stock photo. How much stock and original photos are is open to debate.  

3) Headline. Better headlines lead to more views and engagement. I know this from my own experience.  

4) The topic of your post. On LinkedIn, a post on social selling will do better than a post on coal mining in Silesia (now I have probably offended all the Silesians)

5) Luck. LinkedIn has decided to put my posts in Pulse channels a few times. I usually tweet at them to feature my post (except when I have been skeptical of something LinkedIn has or has not done) and have been successful maybe one in ten times. Considering LinkedIn has that 130,000 plus posts to choose from every week, I consider myself lucky to have been featured at all.  

And one last one that qualifies as neutral:

Building up your own following

Regular readers who like, comment and share your posts – should help. I have a pretty good following (thank you all), but ironically, due to the nature of LinkedIn’s lousy notifications algorithm, hardly any of them actually do get notified when I post.

Hmm…looks like I won’t be notifying LinkedIn about this post either.