Is LinkedIn Throttling Back Our Content Distribution?

Is LinkedIn barring the door to wider content distribution? I don’t think so.

I have been hearing a lot lately from LinkedIn users complaining that they are not getting the same number of views that they used to get on their content, and that LinkedIn is throttling back on content distribution; the upshot being that LinkedIn is not as good a place as it used to be for publishing content and should we be putting the effort in and so on.

So why does content distribution seem to be growing smaller and smaller?

Some people are gravitating to the theory that LinkedIn is limiting distribution in order to make everyone pay for enhanced distribution, and indeed LinkedIn is offering a “pay for post boost” feature for company page content.

But I think there are several factors that, taken together, offer a simpler explanation.

New feature experiments

Think of all the new content oriented features that LinkedIn has introduced over the past two or so years – videos, LinkedIn Live, polls, newsletters and so one. Every time LinkedIn introduces one of these, the algo gets tweaked to feature these and get us users interested in them. I know that for a while last year all it seemed I saw was LinkedIn Live, and then this past summer that changed to a blizzard of polls in my feed. And if LinkedIn is pushing polls to the forefront, all other types of content are being pushed further back in the queue.

More paid content in the feed

More sponsored content and now, more boosted content from companies. Every time one of those shows prominently in our feed, something else has to be moved out of the way for it.

More people are publishing 

Using my Sales Navigator account I can get a good idea of how many people are posting on LinkedIn. Over 17 million in the past 30 days. And that’s just people’s posts, that does not include companies.

So it’s also just plain more competitive out there.

The net net here is that I agree it’s tougher to get noticed but I don’t think LinkedIn is purposely throttling back. After all, LinkedIn keeps offering these new posting features like polls and video in order to get more people involved. Getting them involved and then immediately cutting them off would be weird.

So what can we do about all this? May I suggest that you stop thinking in terms of reach or views? That’s because I think focusing on views misses the point. I think the big opportunity is in writing content that will be discovered when someone comes across your profile or searches for a topic or hashtag associated with you. For example when someone goes to my profile they can see three things – I have featured content I have written, they can see my activity and what I have written and they can see I have a newsletter and can read my back issues.

Let me put it another way. Which would you rather have: someone by chance seeing that post you wrote appearing in their feed. And “someone” could be anyone. Or… someone visiting your profile and seeing what you have written. That person has found you and your content by intent, not by chance. They are looking for more info on a topic, or have heard of you somewhere and want to know more.

I will take one of the latter over twenty of the former any day.

That’s who you are writing for. Not the possible ten thousand largely random people chosen by LinkedIn who could have viewed your post, but the few dozen who chose themselves to come to your profile.

Write for your ideal reader, not for the masses.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.

Want more like this? (the newsletter I mean, not the disclaimer) I publish a weekly email newsletter where I don’t talk about “levelling up” or “surface new ideas”, just about using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

More and more people have LinkedIn Newsletter privileges these days. Thanks for choosing to read this one.

LinkedIn Polls Have Worn Out Their Welcome

Last week was the breaking point for me.

When I logged in to linkedIn, there was a poll waiting for me on my homepage feed. A few minutes later I was notified that there I had new posts waiting for me. Another poll. Later on, another one. So I started counting. I refreshed my feed ten times before I stopped. Here is what was at the top of my feed those eleven total times.

Poll

Poll

Poll

Poll

Poll

Poll

Poll

A post by a connection

Poll

Poll

Poll

I am sick of polls taking over my feed.

The way I see it, there are two reasons for the proliferation of Polls on LinkedIn. The first is that the algorithm for some reason seems to think that Polls are what we want to see. The second is that when people see LinkedIn rewarding Polls with prime placement in the feed, that’s what people are going to post. And how can you blame LinkedIn users if they see LinkedIn rewarding the Pollsters?

But the problem isn’t the Polls in and of themselves, it’s the general low quality of them. Yesterday I saw one asking which of the colors listed wasn’t a primary color. A few minutes ago someone asked who the respondents wanted to win the football game tonight.

The worst part is that now I don’t participate in Polls that I think are worthwhile as the LinkedIn algorithm may take my participation as a signal that I want to see more polls.

So I came up with my own system for a low Poll diet. For any poll that is mundane or uninteresting (which is most of them at this point):

  • If it was posted by a connection, I unfollow them.
  • I see a lot of Polls from second degree connections. In these cases I mute the Pollster so I don’t have to see any more of their junk, and I unfollow the connection who commented or participated or liked the poll.

My feed has already started to improve.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month. For some reason LinkedIn gave me early access to the LinkedIn Newsletter. I have no idea why, but thanks for reading.

Want more like this? (note that that was a question, not a poll) I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two to four articles, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

LinkedIn Newsletters – What I Have Learned In 12 Months Of Publishing  

In late July 2020 I received an email from LinkedIn saying I now had publishing privileges for the LinkedIn Newsletter. I published my first LinkedIn Newsletter a couple weeks later. The tacit agreement you have with LinkedIn is that you publish on a regular basis and in return, LinkedIn will notify your subscribers when you publish. So I have had this thing for a year now and here are my (very opinionated) observations so far. 

When you publish your first issue, LinkedIn sends a notice to all of your connections and followers telling them you have a newsletter and offering them an opt in. It seems LinkedIn only does this the one time

I mentioned above that you have a tacit agreement with LinkedIn on publishing frequency. I have never tested this part as one of my core practices in publishing regularly is paying attention to the “regularly” part. I don’t know what, if anything, would happen to someone who failed to publish regularly. 

As of this writing I have just over 21,000 subscribers, with another 200 or so signing up each week. That’s the awesome part. There are some not so good parts. The first is that LinkedIn doesn’t really give you any tools to parse your subscribers. I can scroll through the list and that’s it. 

LinkedIn says they send a notification to all my subscribers whenever I publish, either on their mobile, via email or through their notifications on LinkedIn. It’s configurable. While I have heard from a few people saying they have not received notifications, it seems they are the exception, not the rule. I have no clue whether there is any distribution of the newsletter outside of the subscribers.

For each newsletter, I can view the same statistics we would see for a post or article – the number of reactions, comments and reshares, along with the vague stats on top companies my readers came from, where they are located and their job titles. I wish LinkedIn would provide statistics that were more valuable. For example, I would love to be able to see the distribution of my subscribers by title, function, geography, and company size. I would love to be able to see how many of my readers are regular readers. 

The one stat that is different and it’s a big difference is the number of “views”. In the case of LinkedIn newsletters, these are all the people who opened it. I can see that my newsletter from last week has been opened over 5700 times. That’s an open rate of around 27%. I don’t know how other LinkedIn newsletter writers do with their open rates, but this 27% area seems to be how I usually do. It’s lower than my email newsletter’s open rate but my gut feel is that my LinkedIn Newsletter subscribers are a little more ephemeral in terms of their interest than my email subscribers. One of the indicators for this is the fact that I get thirty new subscribers every day, but only one or two bother looking at my profile. 

And as I was able to ascertain a couple weeks ago, a goodly number of my subscribers really are ephemeral. I was able to identify a whole whack of fake LinkedIn profiles, a handful of which had signed up for my newsletter. I will have more on that little adventure in a future newsletter. So maybe we should be taking those subscriber numbers with a large grain of salt. 

I am also thinking that that “opens” percentage is going to become more important as the “open”  statistic looks to become less usable on email newsletters this fall (for more info on this, just look up changes Apple is making to their email utility).

I have found that with the LinkedIn Newsletter that I don’t have to publish opuses (is the plural of opus “opii” ?). I have the same attitude towards the newsletter that I have always had towards other publishing on LinkedIn – less is more. If I can explain some aspect or idea about using LinkedIn in three hundred words then that’s how long the newsletter is going to be. I have never had complaints that my writing is too long (though maybe I will today, as this edition is just shy of eleven hudnred words).

As someone who writes and publishes on LinkedIn, I think the LinkedIn Newsletter is a very good feature that has some drawbacks. As someone who also publishes a weekly email newsletter, I wish there was more information and feedback on the people who choose to unsubscribe like how many and why. 

LinkedIn says they are rolling this out to everyone. It is invite-only right now. I know a dozen people (out of the hundreds I know pretty well on LinkedIn) who also have the Newsletter feature. It seems to have been offered to people who have a track record of publishing regularly which makes sense. Maybe LinkedIn thinks these people will write better newsletters and keep it going (which is kind of important for a newsletter). I don’t know this to be the case but I had heard something similar was done with LinkedIn Live when it came out – you had to apply and LinkedIn was looking for people who were used to doing this type of thing already. They seemingly wanted it to look good for the masses. 

But…LinkedIn says they want to support Creators. And this rollout is taking forever. My only guess would be that LinkedIn is concerned that the newsletter will make a mess of some other program that either exists now or is in the works. Maybe newsletters will somehow sidetrack users and make them less available for sponsored content in the feed.

As a LinkedIn user, this is the feature that would truly allow me to curate and create a feed of content from the people I truly want to follow and whose content I want to be aware of. Having that ability would make me want to invest more time on LinkedIn and also get me more involved. I don’t think I am the only person who feels this way. 

LinkedIn has added a pile of new features in the past year – big deals like Creator Mode and Service Pages, and their Clubhouse killer is in the works. So why is the newsletter rollout so slow?