Whose Content Do You See On LinkedIn?

What the heck difference does it make if you Subscribe, Follow, Connect or Ring the Bell? I recently had a hard time explaining the differences to a client when in all four cases LinkedIn seems to assure us that making any one of these choices will result in us receiving that person’s content.

When we visit someone’s LinkedIn Profile, we are offered one or more of Following, Connecting, Subscribing and Ringing the Bell. But what are the differences between the four with respect to seeing their content? So today we venture into the weeds to see what those differences are.


You decide you don’t necessari;y wish to connect with a person you find on LinkedIn, but you are interested in what they have to say, so instead you follow them. LinkedIn tells us that when we follow someone, we will receive their posts, articles, and shares in our homepage feed. And as far as I can tell, this is typical LinkedIn speak: it is both true and disingenuous. If I follow you, your post winds up in my feed…somewhere. I may have to scroll down for fifteen minutes and it is the four hundredth piece of content in my feed, but it’s there alright. And this makes sense. If ten people you follow all post early next week and you check in to LinkedIn mid week, all those posts can’t be at the top of your feed at the same time.

I think that it would be more accurate to say following someone will result in a largely random smattering of their content showing up in your feed where you can see it from time to time.

LinkedIn does say that you will get notified for their “top posts,” but of course the algorithms will decide what those top posts are. This is the thing that makes me grind my teeth. I either like someone’s thinking and writing, or I don’t. I would like to be the one deciding whether I want to read it, not LinkedIn.


LinkedIn used to use something called the Connection Strength Score to decide which Connections’ content should appear prominently in your feed. The Connection Strength Score was based on how much you had engaged with another person’s content recently. I have not seen any mention of this anywhere in the past couple years, so this may have quietly gone away, and as far as seeing someone’s content is concerned, Connecting is really no different from Following (does that mean a Connection is just a “Follower with privileges?”).

Newsletter Subscribers

Now we are getting somewhere. When Newsletters came out on LinkedIn two years ago they included the option to Subscribe to them. LinkedIn would notify subscribers via Email, a LinkedIn Notification or both that a new issue was available. While I have heard multiple complaints, the subscribe feature seems to work, and LinkedIn has since added Newsletters as an option for companies on their Company Pages.

Ringing the Profile Bell

Ringing the Bell on someone’s profile results in LinkedIn notifying you when a person publishes any new content. But there’s a catch. If you hover over the Bell, it will offer you either “only get notified about X’s top posts” or “get notified about all of X’s posts.” You want to choose the latter. You can always go back and change it again. LinkedIn actually says you should hit the bell if you want to “subscribe” to someone’s content. So  you can subscribe to someone’s Newsletter, or you can subscribe to all their posts, which is an interesting and useful distinction (I have made use of it several times already).

One aspect of this I don’t like is that you can’t Ring the Bell unless you are already Connected or Following the person. In fact the little bell icon won’t even appear on someone’s profile until you either Connect or Follow them. I would rather that LinkedIn had the Bell there for people to see, even if clicking it resulted in a pop up saying they need to Follow or Connect first.


If you Connect or Follow someone on LinkedIn, you will likely see some of that person’s content. If you Subscribe to their Newsletters you will be notified when they publish. When you Ring the Bell, you will be notified when they publish anything on LinkedIn.

With all this in mind, here is what I have done: I subscribe to several dozen LinkedIn newsletters and I have been on a Bell whacking campaign for key people whose content I appreciate and I want to see more of. I am getting to the point that for new content, ninety percent of it comes from my Notifications tab. I scroll through my Notifications like I do the subject lines in my email. Instead of scrolling down my Homepage feed to “see if there is anything interesting today” I make better, focused use of my time on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is finally allowing me to hone in on the content I want to see.

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. 

I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains one or two articles like today’s, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/


6 Ways To Get More Engagement From Your Content On LinkedIn

“I am publishing content but just not getting any engagement.” is a popular refrain I hear. People want to know how to get more engagement with their posts, polls, articles and newsletters. Here are six ways you can help yourself. 

1) Grow your network

This is both remarkably obvious and remarkably overlooked. And it completely has to do with LinkedIn’s algorithms. When we publish, LinkedIn puts our content in front of a small percentage of our connections and followers, thought to be somewhere in the five to seven percent range. Let’s say it is six percent. You have 500 connections and followers. I have 5,000. So LinkedIn puts your article in front of 30 people for you and 300 for me. Advantage: me. For publishing on LinkedIn, the more connections and followers you have the better. Having more people that can engage with your content is a good jumping off point for actually getting that engagement. 

Note that the only real loophole you can use with this is by using a LinkedIn newsletter. If you have a newsletter with 500 subscribers, LinkedIn promises that 500 subscribers will be notified when you publish. That’s a huge advantage that newsletters have over all other types of content on LinkedIn. 

2) Have your own voice 

When I write, I poke fun at just about everything, including myself. The comment I get more than any other about my writing is that I am different from most everyone else. I don’t write clinical boring prose, and I don’t just regurgitate LinkedIn’s press releases. I write about what I think. I have opinions.

My main suggestion for most people is to write like you are speaking with a friend. Be engaging. Tell stories. Let your personality come out. Don’t be a robot. If you come across as interesting and engaging people will be more disposed to read and comment on your content.

3) Be a specialist 

Find your niche, the part of your work that really intrigues you and write about that. You do need it to have broad enough appeal though to attract the interest of enough people to be worthwhile. I suppose you could sum up what I do as being “studying the way LinkedIn works, and helping people translate that into making LinkedIn work for them.” I avoid parts of LinkedIn that I think are flawed or have little value. You may have noticed I rarely mention LinkedIn Groups (now there’s a topic for a future newsletter) and that’s because I don’t think they will help my clients and readers. I don’t try to be everything. You shouldn’t either. 

4) Be regular

It’s hard for people to comment when you don’t publish something for them to comment on. If you have problems coming up with ideas, sign up for ChatGPT and use it to come up with ideas. You just feed it prompts like “Give me ten problems quality control managers have to deal with.” It’s a terrific tool for people with writer’s block. Just don’t use it for the finished article. That’s your voice, as I mentioned earlier. 

Also being a regular publisher helps people set expectations. I usually publish on LinkedIn every second Tuesday. If I alter my schedule I actually get messages from people asking where my latest article is. If you are writing genuinely interesting content that people want to read, you will develop regular readers.

5) Invite your readers to comment 

Ah, the CTA – Call To Action. If you want comments, you need a call to action. What not to do: ask a question that is easily dismissed or results in an answer that will go nowhere. An example of this that I often see is “Do you agree?” Which results in a yes or no answer. Hardly a compelling piece of engagement. 

Instead, think of your Call To Action as an invitation for your readers to tell a story. Then, word your Call To Action in that manner. Close your article or post with something, like one of these:

“What would you add to this list?”

“Based on your experience, is there anything I have left out?”

“When faced with a similar situation, what have you done in the past?”

You want to get across the idea that you welcome their ideas and that you consider them additions to your original content. 

6) Lastly, when you do get comments, be responsive 

If someone takes the time to read your post or article and then takes the additional time to write a thoughtful comment, reply to it. First, thank them, and then add something further – respond to their question or point, putting your take or spin on it, and then maybe add another question back to keep the conversation going. 

Three good things happen when you respond to your commenters: LinkedIn thinks your content is more relevant, and puts it in front of even more people, the person you responded to is encouraged to continue the conversation, and is more likely to comment on your next article, and also more likely to become a follower or connection (maybe that’s four things, but they are all good).

And that’s it. I was trying to come up with an acronym for these six ideas, but “ghbbib” sounds more like someone clearing their throat or maybe the name of a town in Wales.

Have a look at your last few pieces of content against these six ideas and see if there are places you can shore up your posting. And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask, what would you add to this list? 

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two articles like the one above, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

Obligatory boilerplate: 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.

Just How Big Is LinkedIn As A Social Network?

Author’s note: file this one under, “this isn’t going to make me very popular.”

Answer: not very. 

I have long posited that LinkedIn is a big database with a tiny social network embedded in it. 

And now I have some tangible figures to go by, courtesy of all people, the folks at LinkedIn. 

First, some background. 

LinkedIn has always been circumspect (coy? opaque?) with respect to how often users visit LinkedIn. Before LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft a few years ago, LinkedIn used to include a figure in their quarterly results for how many users logged in at least once a month. Back in those days it was around forty percent. Occasionally, someone would come up with “new” numbers – always wonderful fabulous numbers – which did not stand up to scrutiny (and I have scrutinized many of them).  

LinkedIn has never published weekly or daily user numbers. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say that LinkedIn’s daily user number is big, like really huge. If you were LinkedIn, would you keep it a secret? No, you would be shouting from the rooftops. In the absence of said shouting, I suspect that the number is pretty small, and LinkedIn would rather people don’t talk about it. 

But this past summer I was able to pull back the curtain and see for myself. Not everything, but some hard data and some clues. 

What happened was, I ran a LinkedIn ad for a client. When I finished setting up the target market for the ad, it was 82,000 people in size. The way the ad worked, when someone in our target market logged on to LinkedIn, they were shown (or more accurately, had a chance to see) our ad. The ad ran for a month. 

When I tabulated the results at the end of the month, 11,553 unique recipients had seen the ad a total of 38,571 times. 

Let’s translate that out of advertising-speak and into plain English: Over the course of a month, 11,553 out of 82,000 had logged on to LinkedIn. That’s 14% or much worse than the monthly user number was a few years ago. My thinking is this can be explained by the fact that we only showed the ad to engineers, and they must not show up as often as say, HR or sales people do. 

And those 11,553 people saw the ad an average of three and a half times each. So there are people coming by more often than once a month, but not a lot. If two thousand of them logged in every day or 20 times a month, that would make 40,000 ad views, but there were only 38,571. The type of distribution that would make this work is 1,000 daily users (20,000 views of the ad), 2,500 weekly users (10,000 views) and 8000 monthly users (8,000 views) for a total of 38,000 views. That would leave the following usage numbers for the engineers in our ad group:

Daily users: 1.25%

Weekly users: 3.13%

Monthly users: around 10%

These are interesting figures, and if close to the mark, would explain why LinkedIn remains mum, even if engineers are much less regular users. 

So what does all this mean? Just this: unless they are power users of LinkedIn like sales, marketing, solo practitioners, consultants or HR people, only a fraction, and a small one at that, of your target audience will  be around on LinkedIn today, or this week for that matter. 

Does this mean you shouldn’t be using LinkedIn? Of course not. But it does mean that you should be checking how your target audience uses LinkedIn, and there are a few ways you can do so. The clues I look for are completed profiles, lots of connections and followers (at least a thousand), and most of all LinkedIn activity. You can see someone’s recent activity on their profile, and see what they have posted, commented on, and liked. Taken together you can judge whether someone sees value in LinkedIn and how much they participate. 

In the case of my client, we discovered that only a very small percentage of their prospects were truly active on LinkedIn, so we now use a strategy that is less social and more credibility based, posting daily  instructional and educational content on their company page. This presents a body of content that their occasional LinkedIn user prospects can find. 

While people like to call LinkedIn the “professional social network” the facts point to it not being one for most LinkedIn members. 

Are you knocking on doors when there is nobody home?

Want more like this? I publish a weekly email newsletter on using LinkedIn effectively for Sales and Marketing. Each newsletter typically contains two articles like the one above, it’s free, and you can unsubscribe anytime. Here’s a link to the sign up page: https://practicalsmm.com/contact/

Obligatory boilerplate: 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.