The Great LinkedIn Follower Riddle

If there is a LinkedIn connection whose posts I no longer wish to see, LinkedIn has me covered. In my Homepage feed, at the top right of any post from one of my connections,  are three dots. Behind those three dots is a menu, with one of the choices being:

“Unfollow <connections name>. Stay connected but stop seeing  <connections name>’s posts.”

So that’s how you unfollow someone. When you unfollow someone you see none of their posts. One would think then, that if you followed someone, you would see all of their posts.

One would think.

Of course, this is not the way it works on LinkedIn. I am imagining this conversation at LinkedIn a couple of years ago….

Product Manager A: “So let’s allow people to follow each other, and see all of each other’s posts.”

Product Manager B: “But when a LinkedIn user says “they want to follow,” do they really want to follow? What if they say they do, but really really deep down, they don’t, but they don’t realize they don’t?”

Product Manager C: “Good point. So how could we allow LinkedIn users to follow other LinkedIn users but only show them some of those posts? Not all the posts they say they want, only the some of the posts that we know they really want.”

(dramatic pause)

All three product managers together: “Algorithm!!”

Now, of course, that may not be the way it actually happened, but I am at a loss to think of a more likely scenario. When you follow someone on LinkedIn, you do so because you want to be notified when they publish an update or an article. You would expect to see all those posts. And you would be wrong. Because LinkedIn uses an algorithm to decide who sees who’s posts. So you may follow me, and I may follow you, but we are not going to see all of each other’s publishing. We may see bits and pieces go by in the homepage feed but that’s hit or miss.

LinkedIn provides us with the means to remove content we don’t want to see. LinkedIn does not provide us with the means to see the content we want to see.

The whole follow but don’t notify thing is like some bizarro world “let’s try and cut down on engagement and the amount of time people are spending here on LinkedIn” experiment.   

Or am I wrong here?

The Key To Writing Good Content On LinkedIn

This one’s easy: Stop thinking of it as trying to write good content, and just write.

If you want to get noticed on LinkedIn – either as a company or as an individual – you need to write and publish. But when I tell people this I get push back, usually something like this:

Coming up with content is hard. We have no idea what to say in our our content should say, no one here has any ideas for content, and we are not sure our customers would like our content. “

So I will say, stop thinking content and start thinking stories. If they still balk, if  someone tells me they can’t write or don’t know what to write about, I ask them two questions. The first is:

“Can you tell me about that time you saved your customer?”

Because everyone has a story about the time they went above and beyond the call in order to help a customer with something difficult or to meet a ridiculous deadline. I usually get this really enthusiastic recitation of a story with a neat twist or lesson in it.

And when the other person is finished, I just ask them the second question:

“That is a great story, now can you write that down?”

So here is a story they can publish that makes the person or company look good, shows the lengths they will go to assist a customer and at the same time, doesn’t come across as advertising or a sales pitch.  What’s not to like?

And inevitably they will go, well that’s just the one story, now what do we do. So I ask them to tell me ten mistakes their customers are making, or ten misconceptions that their customers have. Good, there’s your next ten stories. Go get ‘em.

Some of my articles and posts do really well, and some not so much. And I have no idea which it will be beforehand. Last week I published an article on people using “likes” on LinkedIn. I thought it was an interesting topic, but I didn’t know if anyone else did or would. It has almost a thousand views and forty-six comments so far, so in retrospect, other people thought it was an interesting topic too.

Everyone who doesn’t write on publish on LinkedIn is preoccupied by how hard it is. All of us who do write and publish on LinkedIn just go ahead and do it.

Some Pro’s and Con’s of “Liking” on LinkedIn

(photo caption: “Yeah, it’s been a long day, maybe I’ll just slap a “like” on this one,” Photo courtesy Mark Johnston)

Everyone “likes” articles, posts, discussions, comments and updates on LinkedIn.  But did you ever stop to think what value that liking has? So I wrote some of my own Pro’s and Con’s down. For the purposes of brevity, I use the term
“article” as a catch all for content.

Pro: Likes are easy

Liking something takes no time at all. Click of a button, done. Which leads me to…

Con: Maybe too easy

I always wonder if likes are too easy – you can pull up an article and the option to like it is right there at the top of the screen before you have even read it.

Pro & Con: The “that’s what I was going to say!” like

You come across an article and what you wanted to say has already been nicely articulated by someone else. So either liking the article or liking that person’s comment is the right thing to do, but you still end up a little frustrated.

Pro: The acknowledgement like

Likes  are often a shorthand for “I agree with you” when they are appended to comments in particular. I use “likes” quite often when people make simple comments on one of my articles.

Con: The value add factor is low for likes

When you like an article or post, it adds little value for you. You are one of the rather anonymous like crowd. You pale beside the commenters who are adding to the discussion about the article. When I see someone has liked one of my articles, I think “thank you.” When I see someone has commented on my article, I often reply to their comments and occasionally send them a message thanking them for their comment.

Pro: Added visibility

I see many LinkedIn users who seem to employ likes as a visibility strategy. And if kind of works – authors will see those people in the list of people who liked their content. But….

Con: Too many likes look odd

So I look at someone’s activity and see all they do is like posts. No writing, no sharing, no comments, just likes. This tends to make me wonder if this is a real person or a fake profile.  

Con: Smaller opportunity for engagement

When someone comments on my content it gives me something to latch onto, and provides a possible opportunity to start a conversation with that person. Likes are kind of flimsy. I have sent thank you’s to people who have liked my content, but statistically, I can say they are much less likely to become connections.  

I suppose for me it all comes down to:

If you can, comment. If you can’t comment, like.