Helping The LinkedIn Algorithm Figure Out The Content You Want To See

(what we all imagine the algorithm looks like)

The LinkedIn algorithm decides what you see in your feed. So if you understand how it works, you can use that information to your advantage and guide LinkedIn to present more of the content you want to see.

While you can express interest in topics and influencers (they are under the “My Network” tab), a big part of what the algorithm does is look at your recent interactions. It looks at whose posts you are interacting with and what topics you are researching. Then LinkedIn interprets this data and predicts what you would like to see more of. This is where the algorithm is really smart and really dumb at the same time.

If the algorithm sees me commenting on your posts, and especially if we trade a bunch of comments back and forth on that post, the algorithm interprets that as a high interest level on my behalf with regards to your posting. So LinkedIn will show me more of your posts.

The algorithm is very wise.

But the algorithm also sees someone come along who hates your post, acts like a troll, and wants to argue with you and call you names. Because the algorithm just looks at the back and forth and does not understand what is actually being said, the algorithm interprets these comments as a high level of interest on the troll’s behalf and LinkedIn will now show the troll a lot more of your posts.

The algorithm is kind of dumb.

Oh, and I said “looks at your recent interactions” because I went away on vacation for a week and when I came back the algorithm had effectively forgotten everything about me. It had to “discover me” and build its database of who I liked all over again.

So how do we take advantage of this? Well, aside from not commenting on idiot posts, the idea would be to consider all your interactions with other people on LinkedIn as an interest gauge. Especially comments. There is evidence which suggests that comments are weighted heavily by the algorithm. When you comment on LinkedIn you are not just commenting on the post in question, you are telling LinkedIn, “More like this please.”

You will find evidence of this in your feed all the time. For example, you haven’t interacted with someone in months, but then you commented on one of their posts. Over the next week, it seems like every time that person does something on LinkedIn, it shows up in your homepage feed.

So when you make lots of comments on content from people you would like to see more of, your feed will get better as the algo does less guessing as to who’s content you want to see.

When you understand how LinkedIn interprets your actions, you can act accordingly and help guide the content you actually want to see to your feed.

Got an idea for something I should write about? I am Open Profile so you can send me a free message on LinkedIn.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for LinkedIn. The only business relationship I have with LinkedIn is sending them money every month for my Sales Navigator account.

Social Selling Meets Up With The Pareto Principle…And Gets Creamed

The first time I wrote about this idea was in June 2016. I think this concept is so important that when I started an email newsletter in late 2019 that this was the first thing I wrote about.

For all you people who aren’t getting the results from social selling on LinkedIn that you think you should be getting, here’s one likely reason: you’re assuming LinkedIn is a much bigger social network than it really is.

The reality is LinkedIn is a big database with a small social network embedded in it.

As of Summer 2020, LinkedIn had somewhere north of 715 million members. Around 40% or three hundred million of them, log in at least once a month. Think about that for a second. If you are a social seller, you are left contending with the fact that 60% of LinkedIn members more or less just consider LinkedIn to be a resume holder.

So you can follow these 60%, but because they don’t show up very often there isn’t anything to follow.

They don’t post anything, so you will have a tough time engaging them through likes and comments.

And you can share posts that they will never see.

You can congratulate them on their work anniversary and they may see it when they next log in next Spring, where the first thing they will do is delete all the messages that have piled up since the last time they logged in.

There is a very active social network on LinkedIn, but it’s pretty small. If 300 million people log in at least once a month, how many of them log in, say twice a week or more? Let’s be charitable and call it 100 million. For all of you that squawk that this is a low estimate, I have just one question: If LinkedIn had true numbers of daily users to crow about, wouldn’t you think that they would publish that number, and feature it in press releases every week? So, as I was saying, if only 100 million people use LinkedIn a couple times a week or more often, social selling can be effectively used to address all of 15 percent of LinkedIn users. And while 100 million is a lot of people, in context of a social network like Facebook, it’s a rounding error. In Q2 2020 Facebook reported that they had 1.79 billion daily users. 

So what does this all mean? For the sales “hunters” out there – the people that use LinkedIn to find a prospect but then choose between using LinkedIn to contact that person, or use other means like email or cold calling – LinkedIn is a database of 715 million potential prospects. For the social selling “farmers” that rely on LinkedIn members seeing them or seeing their prospect’s content or activity, it is a social network of maybe 100 million potential prospects.

Social selling can work beautifully, but the majority of LinkedIn users are not social. Set your expectations accordingly.

I publish weekly newsletters on using LinkedIn for Sales, LinkedIn for Marketing and Advanced LinkedIn Strategies and Tactics. Each of these 3 is typically a two or three minute read and contains useful ideas you can put into practice right away.

12 Truths About LinkedIn And Using LinkedIn

Staying focused and headed in the right direction.

“Knowledge is good.” – Emil Faber

If you keep these ideas in mind, you will make better use of LinkedIn and the time you invest in it.

  1. Money talks and companies have money. If you have lots of money to spend on lots of premium subscriptions, ads or sponsored updates, LinkedIn will be keen to talk to you. If you don’t have money, LinkedIn is not that interested in you. I have had two people from LinkedIn reach out and take an interest in me and what I was doing in almost ten years. In both cases once they realized I did not have twenty-five thousand dollars a quarter (I’m not kidding) to spend on job or marketing related ads on LinkedIn, I became radioactive and the calls ended very quickly. As an individual, the most interaction you personally will get with LinkedIn will likely come in the form of a survey to complete.
  2. LinkedIn’s primary customers are sales, marketing, human resources and recruiting people. If you are not in one of these four groups, you are not so much a customer, you and your data are the product LinkedIn sells to those customers. LinkedIn makes changes to the platform that will serve their customers, not you. For example, if LinkedIn can persuade us to become more active on LinkedIn, that is good for ad sales.
  3. You are going to be contacted by people you don’t know. Expect recruiters and salespeople to contact you. That’s the price of admission. Be gracious to people who approach you intelligently and respectfully. But if they don’t approach you intelligently and respectfully, all bets are off. Spammers and people who send automated crap messages should be treated with the lack of respect they deserve and reported to LinkedIn with extreme prejudice.
  4. LinkedIn will never be a fabulous user experience. There are just too many different constituencies inherent in seven hundred million users. You have people who use it every day and people who show up once a year. You have people using it for sales, research, recruiting, networking, job search and a hundred other reasons. And each of those groups has a laundry list of features they wish LinkedIn had. As far as the user experience is concerned, “serviceable” is probably the best you should hope for.
  5. If you don’t have a plan, you can waste an awful lot of time on LinkedIn. Plan what you need to do to accomplish your LinkedIn goals, do those things, and leave.
  6. Using automation on LinkedIn makes you less social. You can use automation and go for quantity in your messaging to connections for example. But treating your connections like an email list doesn’t seem very social to me. And if you use automation for things like profile views, connection requests, or messaging, LinkedIn will come after you. Engage one on one with your connections and other people on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a contact sport.
  7. Social Selling on LinkedIn is just like regular selling, in that if you do it well, it works. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of people doing it well (just like regular selling). Remember that LinkedIn is a tool. A good one, but it’s not the Holy Sales Grail. This is mostly because people think LinkedIn is a social network, but it is really a big database with a very small social network embedded in it.
  8. Along those lines, LinkedIn is an excellent people database with good search tools attached, though you need a Sales Navigator or Recruiter premium account to take full advantage of these tools.
  9. LinkedIn can be used to find paths to people you don’t know via people you do know. This is a very underrated and underutilized aspect of LinkedIn.
  10. You get out of LinkedIn in direct relation to what you put into LinkedIn. By all means you can do LinkedIn in ten minutes a week, just expect to get results corresponding to ten minutes worth of effort.
  11. It’s still a give to get world. The minute you start looking at someone’s LinkedIn profile and start figuring out how you can help them, instead of how they can help you, is the minute you will start moving towards effective results using LinkedIn. The single best thing you can do on LinkedIn is invest your time developing your relationships with your connections. Very few people do this.
  12. For B2B sales professionals, LinkedIn is a game changer. What originally attracted me to LinkedIn ten years ago was that it was what I had wished for since I started in high tech sales in 1985: A searchable database of most every customer I could ever want, a treasure trove of researchable material on those people and their companies, and the possibility that LinkedIn itself may be the best method to reach out to them.

If you see LinkedIn for what it is, and not for what you wish it was, you will make effective use of the time you invest in it.

What would you add to this list?

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.