It’s been more than a year since the mighty Microsoft purchased Linkedin, and there have been many changes, including the interface which now resembles that of Facebook for a reason—it’s this interface that more than 2 billion active monthly users are familiar.
Earlier this year, Digiday reported on how business publishers were seeing growth in referrals from Linkedin.
- August seems to have been a banner month on Linkedin, with more than 50 million shares of new articles during that 31-day period.
- LinkedIn engagement is beginning to rival, or even surpass, their shares on Facebook.
- According to Executive Editor Dan Roth, Linkedin had 3M writers and around 160,000 posts per week at the end of 2016.
- LinkedIn claims that 87% of users trust the platform as a source of information, making it an important destination for attracting attention.
But what sort of messaging works on LinkedIn, and how does it get distributed?
Unlike Facebook, there isn’t a whole lot of discussion about the influence of LinkedIn’s algorithm on what their users see when they log on. As with most algorithm-based newsfeeds, the reasons stories go viral is divided into two sections.
- Analyze the actual substance, tone and presentation of the stories themselves.
- Consider the distribution particulars of LinkedIn, the role of its algorithm, and the influence that a writer or publisher can have on that process.
An emphasis on the jobs marketplace
LinkedIn is fairly explicit about the types of stories that are likely to go viral. They like articles that share professional expertise, suggesting titles such as these:
- What will your industry look like in 5, 10, or 15 years and how will it get there?’
- What advice do you have for career advancement?
Career advice ranks well on LinkedIn
Career advice and professional development insights are extremely popular—because LinkedIn is a huge marketplace for both recruiters and those looking for jobs. The problem is that for those of us who are in the trenches actually doing our jobs, offering advice for career advancement is simply not a likely topic.
LinkedIn attempts to distinguish itself for its higher quality content
LinkedIn discourages the use of listicles (an article format that is written in the form of a list—popular because it’s easy to scan and digest), and obvious clickbait. Linkedin recommends that writers keep articles appropriate for the LinkedIn audience—avoiding that which is obscene, shocking, hateful, intimidating or otherwise unprofessional. Notice that LinkedIn is rarely mentioned in discussions about the spread of fake news, and It’s not known as a place where viral publishers expect to thrive.
LinkedIn articles avoid being overly promotional
It’s fine to mention your work or the project on which you’re working, but endless self-promotion may result in spam status and a visibility downgrade. To its credit, LinkedIn has carved out a niche; it isn’t trying to compete with Twitter for breaking news or Facebook for mass appeal. Rather, it’s become a powerful platform for thought leadership, where users share content relevant to their careers. Becoming recognized for a particular expertise on LinkedIn is an excellent way to build an audience on this platform. LinkedIn recommends that articles be at least three paragraphs long, and to rank well in search engines, an article really needs to be at least 300 words—besides, you need some substance to make your point.
Distribution: The algorithm at work
Distribution of content on LinkedIn is an algorithmic process, and that algorithm is designed for engaging, interesting stories to go viral. In this sense, the algorithm isn’t all that different from the type of stories that the bigger platforms employ, but aimed at a more niche audience. LinkedIn deploys a man+machine approach to classifying content in real time based on signifiers such as early engagement, previous reaction to content from the page, etc.
LinkedIn has a three-stage process for identifying and dealing with low quality content
- As the post is being created, a classifier bucket posts as “spam,” “low-quality,” or “clear” in real time.
- Next, the system looks at statistical models based on how fast the post is spreading and people are engaging with the post which helps determine low-quality posts.
- Human evaluators review posts flagged by users as suspicious.
Each of us has a LinkedIn community
Stories are shared with a subset of our connections and followers. The bigger our community, the better chance that a large number of people will see our articles. This is determined by connection strength, your connection’s notification settings, and notification state (i.e. number of unread notifications). Members who aren’t in your network can choose to follow you, and by doing so, they will receive your articles and posts in their feed. Followers may receive notifications when you publish an article. Your articles may be available in their LinkedIn homepage feeds and can be included in news digest email.
It is LinkedIn’s editorial mission to provide timely, professional content to its users. Want your articles to reach a wider audience? Provide well-written, quality content that addresses the needs of your community.