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B2B Marketing

How to smartly use the LinkedIn algorithm in B2B marketing?

How to smartly use the LinkedIn algorithm in B2B marketing?


Social media is an invaluable platform for connecting and building relationships with potential B2B clients. However, not every contact in our network will see everything we publish on LinkedIn in their feed. The algorithms determine which content is displayed to users. This naturally arouses marketers' desire to understand the workings of the platform and leverage them for effective content distribution. How can we approach this without getting lost along the way?

What do we know about the LinkedIn algorithm?

We know a lot and yet very little about the LinkedIn algorithm. Official sources are limited to LinkedIn blog posts, which only provide fragments of information. The rest we have to speculate, and many brave individuals, including those working for LinkedIn, try their luck in this regard. We have some additional information from them, but it should be remembered that these are not definitive facts. They are the result of research and experimentation and, similar to official statements, only allow us to understand some aspects of how this medium works.

Understanding the behavior of each platform is aided by knowledge of how it generates profits. In the case of LinkedIn, it is the sale of HR solutions, training and sales solutions, and paid promotions. Of course, the platform is interested in acquiring users and capturing their attention because it increases its potential in all these aspects, including the time it can expose users to ads.

The algorithm should, therefore, present us with content that has the potential to keep us engaged, as that means we will watch more ads. LinkedIn gathers data on how to capture our attention from our profile and the analysis of our actions: what we like, comment on, share, or click. But that's not all, and this is where we come to the key feature of how the LinkedIn algorithm works.

In his annual report on the LinkedIn algorithm, Richard van der Blom points out that the first 90 minutes after publishing a post are crucial for its distribution. Based on data from the LinkedIn blog, we can speculate why this is the case. Initially, our post is not displayed to everyone in our network, only to a selected group. We don't know how large this group is or how the algorithm selects it. However, we know that based on the reactions of this group, the algorithm decides whether to continue showing the post. If the test group reacts positively to the post by liking it, sharing it, or reading it, LinkedIn considers it to be in line with user preferences and shows it to more people. Of course, the reactions of our connections also influence whether the post is displayed to their contact groups. Therefore, content that engages the initial recipients receives a "double boost" and has the potential for significant reach.

What is the conclusion? Let's listen to another expert and practitioner: "In my opinion, the key parameter in this algorithm is engagement. Content that generates engagement is supported by LinkedIn because it is in the interest of the company and its shareholders," says Łukasz Kosuniak, author of the Business Marketer podcast. And since it is the users who inform the algorithm about which content is engaging, it is essential to interest our audience. Wait a minute... does this mean there are no ways to achieve easy success?

What to avoid when publishing on LinkedIn?

Wherever algorithms are involved, there is always a temptation to take shortcuts. Perhaps there is a magical hour when content spreads best? Or a mystical hashtag that will carry our post on its wings?

However, such thinking can prove counterproductive. To avoid falling into the trap of overly simplistic solutions, it is worth knowing which practices can limit the reach of our content on LinkedIn.

  1. Posts for family and friends. Since user engagement is crucial for the success of a post, it might be worth asking some relatives and friends to like and share all our posts. While this solution may seem logical, it can turn out to be detrimental. LinkedIn has announced that it will limit the reach of posts if such practices are detected. These "like-sharing cooperatives" are particularly easy to identify when posts receive responses from users outside their industry.
  2. Begging for likes. Perhaps it is worth encouraging recipients to share and like our posts? It is not a bad strategy as long as encouraging interaction is a natural part of our post. If we can skillfully ask recipients for their opinions and encourage discussion, it is undoubtedly valuable. However, adding comments whose sole purpose is to encourage liking our posts may also result in account restrictions. For our own good, we should avoid "begging for likes."
  3. Strong emotions. Posts that are based on emotions naturally generate discussions and high engagement. In this case, the ability to use storytelling can be helpful. However, too much heated emotion can lead to the blocking of our statements if they are deemed aggressive. For this reason, it is better to avoid posts with purely political dimensions, for example. Although they undoubtedly generate audience engagement, they may not serve us well.
  4. (Excessive) automation. Finally, a trap can be the acquisition, including automated acquisition, of too many recipients in our network, especially those outside our industry, as well as the use of bots. Even the best posts may not generate reactions in a large group of readers with diverse interests. In that case, the algorithm may deem them unworthy of promotion.

Since it is better to avoid so many practices, are there really no "ways" on LinkedIn?

How to increase the reach of posts on LinkedIn?

We already know that posts on LinkedIn are best written to generate engagement. But what does that mean in practice? Here are several possible strategies recommended by experts.

The most important aspect is, of course, creating valuable content. Substance is the foundation, but let's not forget that it should also be readable. Well-planned paragraphs and appropriate use of emoji can help with that.

Not only the topic but also the format contributes to creating interesting material. Occasionally, research shows that the LinkedIn algorithm values document formats and videos the most. However, the basic principle remains the same: what our audience likes is what engages them. Of course, watching a video may keep them engaged for longer, but it has to be an interesting video. They may also be willing to read a document if the topic sparks their interest and the document is appropriately readable. Once we have developed interesting content and have a group of recipients, we can experiment with different formats. Not for the sake of experimentation alone but to determine which format works best within our network.

Another parameter that is sometimes overestimated is the publication time. Usually, it is suggested that posts published in the morning hours during the week receive the best distribution. People often start their day by browsing new posts, right? However, comprehensive reports may not suit a specific group of recipients. Maybe our audience wake up later than others? Or maybe they have their own reading habits? It is worth experimenting with the publication time once our post format and content are well-refined.

Another area to explore is the style of our communication. Perhaps our readers will appreciate it if we occasionally post more personal content or use a more casual language? Research shows that including a selfie in a post has a positive impact on its performance. This may be because users prefer content backed by personal experience rather than overtly promotional content. Overly perfect graphics can immediately be associated with impersonal advertisements. Of course, we should check what our audience prefers. They may prefer an official communication style focused on professional content. It is worth checking and respecting that.

How to generate engagement?

Here are a few strategies that may be helpful in generating engagement in our posts, provided we apply them skillfully and tailor them to the preferences of our target audience:

  • Clear and valuable content
  • Appropriate format of the asset – e.g., graphics, videos, documents
  • Storytelling - concise, interesting stories that emotionally engage
  • Sharing personal perspective
  • Emotions – with a certain degree of caution
  • Humor – keeping in mind that not everyone may find our jokes funny
  • Dilemmas and comparisons – which help the audience make decisions

It is important to remember that each LinkedIn user can indicate what kind of posts or posts from which users they don't want to see on their feed. Bombarding readers with poorly targeted posts can result in being "muted." On the other hand, if our posts turn out to be very interesting, a user may choose to receive notifications for each new publication. Therefore, it's all in our hands!

How to smartly use social media in B2B marketing?

Finally, a few general remarks about using social media in B2B marketing. These also apply to LinkedIn.

When checking statistics, always ask yourself what you are aiming for. Which parameter is crucial for you? Do you want to get as many likes as possible, or perhaps clicks on the link included in the post? Likes are something that is visible at first glance and serves as a clear signal of the post's popularity for all users. However, from a marketing perspective, the number of "clicks" is probably more important. We can track the number of clicks using publishing planning tools – it's worth considering their use. However, keep in mind that social media communication should be based on building long-term relationships, so let's not forget about another important metric, which is engagement.

We should also be aware that social networks are external commercial platforms. The rules of their operation are adjusted to the economic interests of their owners and can always change. As free users, we have limited rights, for example, regarding the resources stored there, to which we may lose access. Let's use them, but let's not become dependent on them. Completely abandoning our own tools, such as vlogs, blogs, newsletters, or webinars in favor of LinkedIn publications, newsletters, and livestreams is not a wise idea. They can complement our core activities. It's valuable to publish source content on our "own land" and promote it on social media channels, while keeping in mind the specificities of each platform.

The conclusions from the research on LinkedIn's mysterious algorithm are, however, optimistic. In the end, it turns out that the best approach is to take an interest in what interests your audience, understand their needs, and encourage respectful interactions. Obvious, isn't it?

Of course, you don't have to personally manage a company profile on LinkedIn. If you don't have time to prepare a strategy, regularly publish, or promote our content, it's worth entrusting social media communication management to professionals.