Every social media platform has its own algorithm that brands need to figure out to create a compelling strategy and reach their audiences—and LinkedIn is no different.
What sets LinkedIn apart is the fact that it’s a more professional social network. Instead of interacting with regular B2C consumers, you’re interacting with business professionals. B2B companies thrive here—but they still need to figure out the best content to share.
Throughout this article, we’re going to talk more about what the LinkedIn algorithm is, how it works, the types of posts your brand should be creating and more. Let’s get started.
What is the LinkedIn algorithm?
The LinkedIn algorithm is a program created to put engaging posts in front of users, ensuring that each LinkedIn user sees the most relevant content to them at the top of their feed. Just like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other platforms, LinkedIn’s algorithm is meant to provide the best possible experience for each of its users.
This means the algorithm pays attention to the types of posts and profiles that each LinkedIn user interacts with and caters their feed to feature similar content—all in the name of increasing overall use and engagement on the platform.
Ultimately, the LinkedIn algorithm determines what content is prioritized in your LinkedIn feed, as well as the amount of reach your content receives in the feeds of others.
How does the LinkedIn algorithm work?
By default, your LinkedIn feed is sorted by “Top Updates.” These posts are populated based on your activity (think: accounts you regularly interact with via “Likes,” shares and comments).
However, LinkedIn does allow you to sort updates chronologically if you choose.
In general, a few best practices on how to thrive in the wake of LinkedIn’s algorithm include:
- Users should encourage genuine, meaningful conversations versus self-promotion and jargon
- The algorithm (allegedly) does not favor a particular post format (think: text, images, video and so on)
- People should “post things that encourage a response” rather than simply drop links and expect engagement
That said, these tips don’t tell the whole story of the LinkedIn algorithm. Pointers such as “encourage conversations” and “post things that encourage a response” are standard principles of social media at large.
However, there are four main factors that the LinkedIn algorithm takes into account when deciding which content to showcase to each of its users. Those factors are as follows.
First, LinkedIn’s algorithm does a quick check to decide if your post is up to snuff. Does it violate spam guidelines? Or does it pass all of LinkedIn’s professional community policies? Spammy content obviously won’t be shown as often (if at all) to users. Clear content will take priority. And low-quality content will lie somewhere in the middle.
Some examples of spammy content according to LinkedIn are:
- Emoji or reaction polls meant to artificially boost engagement
- Posts misrepresenting LinkedIn platform functionality meant to artificially increase engagement
- Chain letter-type content that requests likes, reactions, and shares
- Excessive, irrelevant, or repetitive comments or messages
There’s an automatic filter used to filter out obviously spam content. Posts that are a bit more nuanced are sent for human review before deciding whether they pass the quality test or not.
LinkedIn shared a flowchart detailing what this process looks like:
If your post passes the initial quality control, next it’ll be put to the test. The LinkedIn algorithm will start showing your post to your immediate and extended networks, keeping an eye on engagement. And if your post does well, garnering a lot of engagement, the algorithm will start to spread your post’s reach to an even wider audience.
Engagement is a strong sign that your post is high-quality and of interest to LinkedIn’s users, which is why this is the base measurement for whether or not the algorithm will push your post out to more people.
However, LinkedIn won’t push your post out to random users. Their activity on LinkedIn—interests, hashtags they follow, posts they interact with, etc.—has a major impact on the types of posts they’ll see. This member activity helps LinkedIn’s algorithm ensure they’re pushing your post out to people who likely have something meaningful to comment on your post, improving engagement even more.
Relevancy to users
And similarly, LinkedIn’s algorithm pays attention to how relevant your post or your profile is to other users. For example, first-degree connections are going to see your content first. People LinkedIn can already see that you’re connected to will be prioritized. And more than that, the connections that LinkedIn sees you regularly interact with will also be prioritized.
Then, LinkedIn will look at the piece of content and how relevant it is to your extended network. Things like the post’s topic, language, mentioned people or companies, and other factors play into who will see your post.
All in all, the LinkedIn algorithm does a great job of putting the most relevant content in front of the right users to maximize engagement and the user experience.
What kinds of posts get LinkedIn engagement?
For starters, let’s break down the basics of an effective LinkedIn content strategy.
Even if the LinkedIn algorithm itself doesn’t prioritize a particular type of content, these are the types of posts that typically receive engagement and go hand-in-hand with the platform’s best practices.
Posts that pose a question should be the bread and butter of anyone looking to grow on LinkedIn.
After all, questions serve as a call-and-response to encourage conversations among your audience. When your posts are posed as a question, others are naturally encouraged to answer rather than simply pass you by.
Here’s an example of what this could look like from design company Superside.
Oftentimes, questions are used as a hook to pique the interest of followers and encourage them to read through a longer-form post.
Listen: questions are natural conversation starters. Like, literally.
If the LinkedIn algorithm wants us to “encourage conversations,” we should be asking (and answering!) questions constantly. Coming up with questions doesn’t have to be rocket science, either.
“What new marketing tools can you recommend?”
“What marketing trends do you think are totally overhyped right now?”
“In your opinion, what makes the “perfect” client or customer?”
The beauty of LinkedIn is that most people are chomping at the bit to get in front of others in their industries. Asking questions is a simple way to get those conversations started.
Timely updates and industry insights
Posting about topical, time-sensitive news proves to followers that you have a pulse on your industry.
And LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to piggyback on fresh stories thanks to the “LinkedIn News” feed.
Additionally, new studies, factoids and statistics can also spark conversations among your audience. This post from The Economist is a prime example, featuring an interesting study coupled with a visual representation of data to catch the eyes of users.
And speaking of visual…
Visual content performs well across all social channels and LinkedIn is no different.
There’s a reason why the most active accounts on LinkedIn are consistently coupling their posts with visuals.
For example, infographics are a time-tested way to score engagement and shares as people can digest your data at a glance.
Meanwhile, professional quotes like this one from Forbes are popular, too. (hint: you can whip up images like this in no time with free tools such as Canva).
Note that LinkedIn isn’t quite as “suit and tie” as it once was. Although professional content is still the platform’s focus, we’re seeing a rise of memes and humorous content similar to those that usually perform well on any social platform. Here’s a good example from Semrush.
Businesses and solo accounts alike should strive to show off their human side on LinkedIn.
From employee showcases to office photos and team-building sessions, employee-centric content is a welcome break from purely promotional pieces.
Recognizing your employees on LinkedIn is an awesome way to boost morale and score engagement from your audience at the same time.
If your business is out “in the wild” at an event or conference, make sure to let your followers know.
Event coverage represents an opportunity to both educate and entertain your audience, reeling in those ever-so-important “Likes” in the process.
And again, behind-the-scenes conference coverage is a welcome break from promos and links. This is especially true if your event has notable speakers or lots to see—or if members of your team are speaking at the event.
It’s no secret that LinkedIn loves video content, releasing their own native video format back in 2017.
As a result, marketers should make a point to upload to LinkedIn’s platform when possible rather than simply dropping a YouTube link.
Bear in mind that video marketing on LinkedIn doesn’t have to represent a big-budget production. Sure, some brands will publish full-blown commercials. That said, we also see plenty of off-the-cuff vlogs, short-looping videos or quick tutorials like this one from Visme.
As noted earlier, LinkedIn continues to roll at new features as the platform continues to evolve. Among those is LinkedIn Live, which is similar to Facebook Live in terms of its format.
Broadcasters receive reactions and comments from viewers in real-time, opening up new possibilities for businesses looking to cover events and conduct Q&As. Conventional wisdom tells us that fresh features will be favored by the LinkedIn algorithm, so expect to see more and more brands experimenting with it in the near future. Plus, these live Q&As are a great prompt for engagement just like question-centric posts are.
Awards and accomplishments
Building an audience on LinkedIn means flexing your influence and showing off your accomplishments.
Did you score a mention from a major publication? Make a best-of list? Don’t be shy about letting the world know.
Accomplishment-based posts are “Like” magnets as fellow users give you a virtual pat on the back for a job well done.
A growing trend on LinkedIn over the past couple of years is the use of punchy, text-based posts.
No links. Nothing salesy. Just a bit of advice or a quick story and that’s that.
These sorts of “words of wisdom” posts get shared like crazy and seem to point to the idea that LinkedIn favors native content over external links. Regularly sharing meaningful tips with your audience can help cement yourself as an influencer without hammering your followers with promo after promo.
Of course, figuring out the best types of posts for the LinkedIn algorithm really boils down to looking at your analytics. With the help of Sprout’s LinkedIn integration, you can see directly which types of posts score the most engagement and spot trends among your top-performing content.
The importance of employee advocacy and the LinkedIn algorithm
As a side note, businesses on LinkedIn can’t afford to ignore the role that employees play in winning reach from the algorithm through tactics like LinkedIn employee advocacy.
Employee advocacy is the practice of having your employees promote your brand and its content online—or in this case, specifically on LinkedIn. Getting your company and its content in front of as many people as possible means encouraging your employees to re-publish posts and engage with your brand’s page.
Visme’s social media strategist reshared a post from Visme sharing a big launch from the company. This helps the brand’s news reach even more people.
Here’s another example from the marketing person at Ahrefs sharing a blog post he wrote for the Ahrefs blog. Ahrefs also reshared this post on their own LinkedIn page to expand reach as much as possible.
The takeaway here is that your employee’s activity on LinkedIn has a direct impact on your brand’s reach. The point here isn’t to micromanage your team, but rather empower them to promote your business effectively. Employee advocacy tools like Sprout’s Employee Advocacy platform can actually streamline the process to do exactly that.
Additional tips for maximizing your reach on LinkedIn
To wrap things up, let’s talk about some quick strategies that gel with the best practices of the current LinkedIn algorithm.
Publish more than external links
As we’ve seen, LinkedIn isn’t a platform to just dump links and walk away. Visual content, video posts and even text-based posts perform extremely well on this platform. Plus, social platforms would prefer you keep users on-site rather than bounce.
Makes sense, right?
While you should absolutely promote your blog posts or case studies, also consider how posting bite-sized advice or LinkedIn exclusive content makes your page more compelling to follow.
Tag brands and users in your posts
Much like tagging on Twitter or Instagram, tagging fellow companies or employees is a smart way to give a post additional reach and send notifications to the users who are tagged.
According to LinkedIn’s best practices, @mentions should only be done to “people who are likely to respond.” LinkedIn also recommends limiting @mentions to five per post.
Use up to three hashtags per post
Hashtags on LinkedIn make your content discoverable and help define your business’ audience.
As noted by our guide hashtag analytics and LinkedIn themselves, stick to three hashtags per post. LinkedIn recommends using specific, niche hashtags (#businesswriting) versus solely general ones (#business).
Engage with other LinkedIn posts
The more proactive you are about “liking” (or other reactions) and commenting on content, the better.
Note that activity on your personal account can help boost someone else’s content (and vice-versa).
Remember: LinkedIn wants its users to have conversations. Given that LinkedIn requires less of a commitment in terms of content creation and distribution, having those conversations should be a top priority.
Publish at the optimal times
Finally, don’t neglect the importance of timing when it comes to maximizing your engagement rate.
Based on our best times to post on LinkedIn research, weekdays during the morning and early afternoon are optimal. This makes sense considering the platform’s professional audience who are likely browsing during their breaks.
However, you can also take advantage of Sprout Social’s “Optimal Post Timing” feature when scheduling your content to publish at just the right times for your specific answer.
As for how often to post on LinkedIn, there’s no one “right” answer. Some major brands publish daily, others just a couple of times per week. For personal accounts, publishing daily (or more often) isn’t uncommon.
We recommend experimenting with frequency while keeping track of your engagement over time. With Sprout’s publishing suite, you can keep an eye on your analytics and publish to LinkedIn all in one platform.
And with that, we wrap up our guide!
What are you doing to rise in the new LinkedIn algorithm?
As LinkedIn continues to grow and roll out new features, it’s crucial to understand the platform’s algorithm. Keep the above content types and tips in mind and watch as you grow your reach on the platform.
And with more and more users flocking to the platform, you need to make sure your conversations stand out from the crowd. Expand your strategy with our free LinkedIn for business worksheet.