As one of the oldest social networks on the block, and with a niche audience of professionals, LinkedIn finds itself either liked or loathed and often overlooked. But with one of the highest engagement rates around and an openness about how their algorithm works it could be a star of your social media strategy if you think beyond recruitment and toward B2B comms, employee engagement, and sharing with peer groups.

Who uses LinkedIn?

LinkedIn stats infographic by Dustin Stout

LinkedIn started up in 2002 and has grown to have 546 million users worldwide, with 25 million in the UK (Kinsta). Of those 200 million are active (using the platform at least once a month), and of those active users 40% are using it daily.

As well as personal profiles – with decision making upper management position holders making up 45% of users, with recent graduates the second fastest growing demographic – companies are building a presence with pages designed to showcase their talent and their workplace, as well as support recruitment.

While you might only have a few minutes to make an impression engagement rates on LinkedIn remain competitive to those on the major social networks. Company pages on the network see an average engagement rate of 0.054% which may sound low – but with Facebook at 0.073% and Twitter at 0.03% LinkedIn shouldn’t be ignored.

Recruitment, HR, employee engagement and Comms on LinkedIn

But how – and who – should be using LinkedIn. If you’re not a regular on the platform it can seem like the place you go to update your CV when the Monday Blues get particularly bad, and for some comms teams it will feel like it’s more relevant to HR than it is to their work. While this isn’t entirely untrue there’s a lot of benefits to comms and individuals beyond it being an online situations vacant – remember that 91% of execs say it is their first choice for professional content.

LinkedIn works best when you are focused on a niche, and when the communication is personal and relevant to others. This isn’t the place to share updates about your holiday (keep those cocktails at sunset pics for Instagram) but to discuss with others topics relevant to your job role and industry.

Individuals can build a strong peer group and reputation through posting useful information, discussing ideas, and sharing case studies or experience. You don’t always have to be generating the content either – comment on other’s posts, or find a wider network through LinkedIn Groups or hashtags. Be part of the community.

Comms teams should think about niches – for large organisation’s such as councils you may want to break down what you do on LinkedIn by service. Those who are focused around economic regeneration, local capacity building, or business support are likely to find a good home on the network which is a hive of B2B activity and leads.

HR should look beyond recruitment to retention and reputation too – empowering employees to be active on the network and share their work showcases talent as well as provides a view of an organisation who trusts and believes in those working for it. As each employee grows their own network not only is there a benefit to them but they also have an engaged audience when you want to communicate more widely as an organisation – whether that be spreading the word about jobs, or more general organisational updates and news.

LinkedIn algorithm update – June 2019

Whichever teams or individuals in your organisation are using LinkedIn there are some things to bear in mind to make the most impact.

Last year LinkedIn took a look at how things were working across the network and found their algorithm was favouring the top 1% of content creators on the platform – LinkedIn influencers were benefitting more from the algorithm while the majority of those sharing were being virtually ignored. Trying to create a fairer landscape and encourage relevant discussion LinkedIn has updated the algorithm as of June 2019 to ‘identify the best conversations for our members’ (LinkedIn engineering blog – with the fine detail of the algorithm update).

So, what should you be doing if you want to be taken notice of? There’s no magic formula but it comes back to comms standards of being social, being relevant, and creating good content.

Know your audience

On LinkedIn it seems to pay to go niche and specialise in what you’re talking about. This doesn’t make it easy or obvious for organisations with a wide and diverse remit trying to manage a Company Page (hello again local government) but may lead you to focus on what individuals can achieve and empowering employees, who likely do have a more specialist interest and knowledge.

For organisation’s use your Company Page as a foundation block from which to jump into discussions in Groups – find those that reflect the topics you want to post about and make sure you’re sharing and engaging there, not just broadcasting from your Page with your fingers crossed for success.

Create great content

There’s few limits on the type of content you can create on LinkedIn from native images and native video, through to text and links. While the algorithm doesn’t favour particular content types it is worth bearing in mind that it is looking for relevant and engaging content – and image posts get twice as many comments as text only, and video (like on other networks) is the best performing getting you three times the engagement of text only posts.

While over on Facebook adding links doesn’t do you any favours on LinkedIn it isn’t penalised – if your link if going to something which is relevant and useful to others then it is deemed a good thing. If you can get discussion going under the post that will be even better with this update in mind.

Don’t miss out on opportunities around longer content too – not only do you have the option of publishing longer posts directly to the platform via LinkedIn Pulse (great for employees who don’t have or don’t want a distinct blog of their own) a study of more than 3000 posts showed that with five headings, or which was 1000-2000 words in length, or which had eight images performed best. That gives you plenty of scope to share ideas.

Join and nurture discussion

As well as getting discussion started on your own posts – and making sure you reply and encourage back-and-forth in the comments – there’s lots of opportunities to join other discussions. Make sure you’re including relevant hashtags in your posts (although keep it to a maximum of three and make sure you have researched the best ones) and you’re posting and engaging in discussion in Groups.

You don’t have to Connect with everyone you find on LinkedIn – maybe keep your network to those you have directly worked with – but can use the Follow option to see posts from those you find interesting but are professionally a little more removed from. This means more discussions to join as well as more knowledge and interesting stuff in your feed.

For Company Pages, the same rules apply. Make sure you’re including hashtags, you’re active in relevant Groups (and don’t start your own if a good one is already established) and get relevant employees to engage with your posts through comments and shares. As everyone is using this in a professional capacity there’s a lower risk of negative responses here than on other networks and good communication could lead to a stronger workforce today and in the future.

You can find more details of the LinkedIn algorithm update here and on the LinkedIn Engineering Blog.

Need a hand?

If you want to know more about LinkedIn or how to get the most from other social networks for your organisation drop me a line and see how I can help. I offer in-house and bespoke training across digital communications and customer experience from strategy and planning, through day-to-day use and content creation, to measuring your success. Find out more and get in touch here.

If you’re looking to refresh your skills on Facebook then do check out the workshop I’m currently running with Dan Slee. Covering Pages and Posts in a time of declining organic reach, engaging in and with Groups, and how to get the most for a small budget with Ads 100% of those who have attended say they would recommend it to others. Next date is filling up fast so book on or join the waiting list as new dates will be announced soon.