My 3 lessons on the LinkedIn algorithm
Sorry not sorry, you folks are my guinea pigs
I have been playing with, flirting with, and cheating on the LinkedIn algorithm. My little LinkedIn love affair.
Over the last few months, 33 newsletters and posts, to be exact. By sharing my lessons learned, you can improve your content and my timeline along the way.
- What you give is what you get. It's social
- Recycle, repost, reuse. Content is up for grabs
- Predictable unpredictable. You are my guinea pigs (sorry, not sorry)
- Some more tips
- It's not about reach after all
Why it matters
Social can be amazing; you'll get reach if the algorithm likes you.
As a non-paying human being without a media budget, I have to rely on organic and if LinkedIn favors my content. Or not.
Learn from me and my pitfalls, including the vanity-seeking ego.
Lesson 1: What you give is what you get
The more you give, the more you get, just like in real life. LinkedIn is a social platform; it logically prefers people who are social and interact. If I’m on the network only to publish my own sh*t and I don’t like and comment on posts or be active in the DMs, I’m a selfish pr*ck. And nobody, including LinkedIn, likes a******s.
Here are three main rules to keep in mind
- Post once every 18h. If you post more often, you’ll lose 20 to 30% of your reach
- Interact at least three times with others after posting
- React to comments on your post immediately to boost your reach
Read more on the LinkedIn algorithm.
Honestly, I can’t say if all of the above is true. I already do all of this, as I’m on LinkedIn daily. My only real confirmation by experience is that I do notice a difference in reach if I post more than once a day.
And I keep this in mind in my planning.
Planning, the best day and time
Speaking about planning… to spread all my content over the seven days and not wanting to post daily, I have to stick to some kind of schedule. Notice that this is not set in stone; I move along with timings, sentiment, and relevance. And maybe most important, my own mood :).
I publish newsletters, I post the newsletter on the timeline, and I also post other content on the timeline; please take this with a grain of salt. The newsletter content and posts seem to be handled differently by the algorithm.
I tested and retested between Sunday morning, Monday at end of the morning, Tuesday, Wednesday around lunch, Thursday mid-morning, and Fridays. Rarely do I post on Saturday. Best days: Tuesday and Thursday. If I feel funky and productive and want to post three times, I opt for Friday mid-morning or Sunday early morning.
Also, I tested posting at odd times; this doesn’t work for obvious reasons. For me, the best time to post is between 9 to 11 am, so you have it just before your lunch break.
You can find more on how I plan one content piece over multiple days below in lesson 2.
My advice (April 2023)
Maximum three newsletters a week. For me, I get the most reach on Tuesday and Thursday. And if I post on Friday or Sunday, I keep that content a bit more fun and lighter with the weekend in sight. We're all human and can't be overbearing and too serious all the time.
If you stumble upon content worth sharing as a regular post, I always keep the 18h rule in mind – and adjust my planning on the go.
A planning is not set in stone. Most important is to add value, be relevant, timely and have some fun.
The newsletters are weird. Unpredictable. The only thing you know is that it changes weekly. Creating a newsletter is easy and fun. Posting and distributing are intangible and slippery.
- I’m obliged to create a post to be able to publish my newsletter article. No post is not publishing. This post has an absolutely shameful low reach, usually around a few hundred.
With my number of followers and newsletter subscribers, I’m baffled about this reach. People do react and interact; that rate actually is very high. So, I’m puzzled about how this works.
- Newsletter in your email inbox. This seems to work pretty well. When I started publishing, the entire content was in the email. Nowadays, it gets shorter and shorter. Currently up to about ~100 words. The subtitle (H2) is visually more prominent than the title (H1).
So that’s something to keep in mind when you’re writing.
- Visual matters. This is the eyecatcher in the post and in the newsletter. So, it’s worth paying attention to it.
- I have a weekly growth of ~ten followers, still more subscribers as un-subscribers, so I must be doing something great ;). In the beginning, it was mainly first-degree contacts; now, I’m reaching a broader audience.
Lesson 2: Recycle, repost, reuse
You don’t always need new content to be relevant.
You can spread your content over multiple socials on multiple days. I don’t shoot and fire at once; I spread it a bit. I just don’t want to bombard all my followers with the same thing. I like to keep things fresh.
Planning, different socials on multiple days
Day 1: publish on thinklikeapublisher.com to get the copy and visuals mobile-ready and for SEO. I sleep on it and iterate the next day. Always sleep a night on the content you’ve written and improve it the next day
Day 2: publish the LinkedIn newsletter. Sometimes if I feel like it, and also on Twitter
Day ~3: publish on Instagram stories
Day ~5: publish on Instagram feed
On day 2, I usually publish some previous content on Instagram, with different content for stories and feed. Different strokes for different folks. For the nerdy observants: on one day, I can post three different content pieces over different socials.
This works for me. At least, that’s what I see in the statistics.
Repost and reuse
If your content is a success and has great reach, why not publish again? Just don’t do it within a few weeks; keep some patience. This is also very useful if you’re out of inspiration, just had a rough weekend, or the creativity isn’t flowing.
Just check your analytics for the best-read post and repost that one – with a different caption, of course. Below you find a screen dump of the thinklikeapublisher.com PressPage analytics.
Or update the content and publish again. I picked out my best-read newsletter on the LinkedIn algorithm and updated it with some details for the upcoming month. Bam, new content that ranked high again. Below are the links to my LinkedIn newsletter, as on thinklikeapublisher.com, I updated and reposted the same page to keep the SEO ranking high.
Or I create a ‘top 3 or 5’ post with a collection of the three best-read posts. Or the most important content pieces on ChatGPT, strategy, social, or...
Content is up for grabs
Honestly, the content options are endless. No one can say they are short of content. At best, they're narrow-minded, lazy, blindsided, or maybe even stupid and obviously not fit for the job.
You don't need big budgets and expensive agencies to get your content in place.
Lesson 3: Predictable unpredictable
There’s no such thing as sit back and relax, especially once you think you know the trick. Within a second, the algorithm changes. Or the newsletter changes. Or the technology and features change.
Already mentioned above, how you receive my newsletter in your inbox changes continuously. I adapt accordingly to how I create and publish my content; copy and visuals.
Another thing is the timing I can’t influence (yet). My newsletter used to be immediately distributed after publishing. As of last week, now it takes 60 to 90 minutes before I see the notification of my newsletter and get the newsletter in my email inbox.
This can be annoying, especially if you are fixed-minded. Honestly, I absolutely enjoy this crazy wild ride. It keeps me sharp and on top of the algorithm game.
And you folks are my guinea pigs.
Some more tips
Besides all the above, we're all humans and can't be captured in a rigid scheme. So it's good to keep in mind…
- The algorithm depends on timing and mood. Just before a long weekend, nobody is interested – no matter how great your content is. If the sun is out after some rainy days, people are occupied with drinking beer in the sun, not your business content.
- Same for the first working day of the month. The timeline is bombarded with ‘started a new job’ posts. Don't even try to get in and wait another day or two. Don't steal their spotlight.
- Check out what works for you. You do you, me do me. It all depends on your content, your audience, and, mostly, what you want to achieve. I don't aim for the highest reach; I just want to reach the right people and trigger them. And if I do, I'm totally happy with far-below-usual-reach. Noticing my DMs, I am touching some souls and minds to think differently about content. Sure, I'm in the game to get a new assignment. However, that's not all that matters to me. I want to raise the content bar and inspire others to do a better job.
It's not all about reach
However, all tested and iterated; in the end, for me, it's not about reach. My ego strongly disagrees as the rising numbers are great for vanity and to show off.
I want to reach the right people. Sometimes, that's just one or two of you.
And you might even give me a call for more information about working together to implement content excellence for a brand.
As a content and social evangelist and devil’s advocate, I keep on learning.
So should you.
Just don't be lazy. There's no such thing as a quick fix in content. Or in social. Or in storytelling. It's hard work. And a craft for a reason. No ChatGPT can compete with that.
If you want to know some more details, don’t hesitate to drop me a DM or jump on a quick call.
Sorry, not sorry. You folks are my guinea pigs to test and learn what works. Happy to share my lessons learned with you all.