How to hack LinkedIn
Every Monday and Wednesday I do a LinkedIn post that I put some special effort into. I’ve been doing this religiously for some time and (including a few ‘normal’ posts that got a bit of traction, I’ve now done 176 such posts.
The last few have had really good ‘viewing figures’:
- 34,875 Will you come to a conference that doesn’t have all the answers?
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: Requisite Agility - speakers and panellists | 39 comments
Will you come to a conference that doesn't have all the answers? Requisite Agility Unleashed is next week. And while…
- 40,381 Transformation is a load of old b*ll*cks, isn’t it? Five questions to get thinking
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: five key questions and the learning ladder of purpose | 35 comments
Transformation is a load of old b*ll*cks, isn't it? People often ask me this - or they might put it a bit more…
- 65,049 What capability do public services most need in 2022 and beyond?
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: adaptive public service, the adaptive council | 60 comments
What capability do #publicservices most need in 2022 and beyond? << The degree of stress, pressure, and overwhelm seems…
- 91,373 Requisite Agility unleashed: do you want to do the work of the future, or the past? Which work are you currently doing
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: Requisite Agility unleashed | 40 comments
Do you want to do the work of the future, or the past? Which work are you currently doing? The work of the future is ·…
- 122,107 What’s your most controversial view about #digitaltransformation?
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: Accelerating Enterprise Digital Transformation | 32 comments
What's your most controversial view about #digitaltransformation? We should all just straight-up refuse to use the…
And, writing on Monday on a topic I’m no expert in, with ideas I’ve posted before without much attention, a surprising 314,000 views of this:
Benjamin P. Taylor on LinkedIn: down with jobs #futureofwork | 237 comments
Do you want a job in the future? Is my theory crazy? I believe that the future of work is - no jobs. The idea of an…
I’m a classic overnight success.
So if you would like to replicate this glorious victory, here’s the formula:
- let the LinkedIn algorithm make you its b*tch (can anyone offer a more politically correct version of this colourful and necessary phrase?)
- invest in LinkedIn as a platform seriously, over an extended period of time
- write and respond religiously, rope in some friends, and learn all the time from your feedback
1 — Be a slave to the algorithm (Gee now, that’s hardly much better a phrase, is it?)
Because who sees your post is heavily driven by the algorithm — and the algorithm is constantly changing — you need to follow ‘the rules’ (of a truly fakakta game), and adapt when they change.
This means subscribing and following some true LinkedIn gurus. two I’d recommend are:
- Maureen Kane https://www.linkedin.com/in/lbreakfastclub/ (see a video from her at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ji5iY1sdg8)
- Mark Williams https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrlinkedin/ (example article at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-creators-mark-williams/ )
And don’t be afraid to sign up for others and the occasional free course or pdf — because the algorithm is so important, and ever-changing, people and companies with their ear to the ground and a large network to get data from are valuable. I got some good material from https://linkgenius.net/ once, for example.
So what I say here is provisional, could have changed already, and could be wrong (the algorithm is, of course, a black box). And, pleasingly, there are exceptions to algorithmic dominance. But here’s my summary:
- Post from your personal profile; Company Pages are worthless here.
- Write a rich, long-ish post — never an article (those sink without trace).
- Make the first three lines attention-grabbing with a very clear and response-provoking question: those three lines are what most people will see before they click, so they need to generate views and, most importantly, responses.
- Attach a multi-page pdf with relevant and interesting content. This type of attachment is successful at the moment, whereas pictures, videos and so on will stop your post being seen (polls can do OK, though). The title of the pdf will show — and it’s downloadable — so keep that in mind.
- LinkedIn is apparently measuring responses (comments wayyyyy more than likes), and ‘dwell time’ on your post. Because obviously Microsoft has decided that a business networking site is best served by keeping people reading and scrolling…
- Make sure your post isn’t obviously spammy or ‘selling’; it will get marked down. It used to be the case that including a link killed the post (hence all those ‘link in first comments’ posts) — not the case any more, I think, but make sure the link ‘expansion’ is replaced with a pdf. (Apparently LI is now punishing ‘link in first comment’…)
- Get responses and likes within the first few hours; this is critical. Make sure yours isn’t the first comment. They do say that only comments of ten words or more ‘count’ in the algorithm (some say five…)
- Use hashtags. Three to six, no more, no less. Make several of them appropriate ones from the ‘top 100’ lists (e.g. https://medium.com/@mlattuga1/top-linkedin-hashtags-2020-800f3e0baf84, https://blog.chaitanyaarora.com/top-100-linkedin-hashtags-that-gained-maximum-followers-in-the-past-three-months-march-2021).The first three are somehow used in indexing/the post name and are most important.
- Don’t post again; more than one post in a day will massively reduce your numbers (I used to do twelve) — but less than one a day will see your profile marked down, and you need a minimum of two or three a week.
- Some say it is not worth sharing your post into relevant groups (and most groups are dead anyway, destroyed by LinkedIn), but I’m an owner of some very large and relevant groups so can occasionally ‘feature’ my posts which alerts a proportion of group members.
That’s the core — there’s more, of course, but follow the gurus for that!
2 — invest in LinkedIn as a platform seriously, over an extended period of time
You need to have a beautiful, complete ‘all star’ profile, a paid subscription, and most importantly, thousands and thousands of followers. I got into LinkedIn early, was a ‘LION’ accepting all connections for a while, and so on — I have nearly 24,000 connections and now some followers too.
And of course to get real business benefits, your profile has to have a clear offer. You also need to make sure your profile and activity are ‘public’ and your profile and posts are open to all (not private, hidden, or first degree connections only)
You probably (see below) need to be relatively active, commenting on other people’s posts occasionally…
But remember, don’t ever trust that your investment is safe! Like every IT company these days, they can ‘sunset’ or ‘deprecate’ things you’ve spent months and years building up at the drop of a hat. Look at the sorry story of LinkedIn groups or the way they pushed video. And has anyone heard of LinkedIn Live?!
3 — write and respond religiously, rope in some friends, and learn all the time from your feedback
So, as I’ve said, engagement is key. LinkedIn shows your post to a small proportion of your network as a test, and if they ‘dwell’, and particularly if they comment, it can snowball from there.
The first two or three hours are critical, and you need people leaving comments of ten words and more, ideally comments that provoke more comments. In any case, you need to like every comment, then reply… with more than ten words. LinkedIn is counting how much time you are spending being pulled back to the post, too. Like your own comments, too — hard to believe it works, but some say it does (oh yes, there’s nothing dignified about this, as CJ says).
What you absolutely can’t do, and might get you banned, is assemble a so-called ‘pod’ of people to do rote ‘very good post, I liked that very much!’ style responses. What you can and should do is send your post to a bunch of like-minded friends and get their meaningful comments as soon as you can.
If you’d like to connect with me on this, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org (or connect at www.linkedin.com/in/antlerboy).
So, that’s it. It’s not ‘Think and Grow Rich’ but I hope it’s helpful!
Coda: CS Penn
CS Penn, who writes the interesting Almost Timely Newsletter (https://www.christopherspenn.com/newsletter/) had this to say, which takes a somewhat different approach and got some great results.
Here’s what we know from various research papers, developer interviews, etc. about LinkedIn:
It uses multi-objective optimization and takes things like complaints and “I don’t want to see this” seriously.
It uses your network of connections to help decide what to show you.
It weighs your content by how fast people interact with it, and measures not only the probability of people doing stuff with your content and their networks (“downstream metrics”) but also how likely it is to keep the creator engaged and active (“upstream metrics”).
So, what I changed was this:
I stopped curating content on LinkedIn because I didn’t have time to interact with it.
I pruned a lot of first degree connections that were irrelevant to my interests and that I had never really interacted with.
I cleaned out my pending invites.
I posted once per day — and not even every day — and then checked back in frequently on that post, interacting with ANY interactions on it.
I made sure to interact with at least 3 people’s content each day.
I made sure to flag “I don’t want to see this” on anything in my feed 3 times a day, 60 seconds per checkup, and reported obvious bad behavior.
I made sure to tag relevant people and organizations in those posts as appropriate.