LinkedIn lifts the hood on its news feed algorithm to show how it ranks posts

The company has made a number of changes to its ranking algorithm over the past 12 to 18 months to surface more niche conversations.

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LinkedIn’s Senior Director of Product Management Pete Davies shared insights this week on the changes LinkedIn has made to its news feed algorithm over the last year and a half. Aiming to create more engagement for users, the company is moving away from ranking trending content and, instead, putting more weight on niche-specific professional conversations.

Giving more weight to niche topics

Whenever a user opens the LinkedIn app, Davies said the platform checks for recent posts from connections and the people, pages and hashtags the user follows. To determine which posts get ranked higher in someone’s feed, LinkedIn’s algorithm uses AI to identify niche, occupation-specific conversations.

“We know from our data that members are more interested in going deep on topics they’re interested in. Consistently, we see better conversation around niche ideas (e.g. #performancemanagement) than broad (#management),” writes Davies.

Leveling the playing field

In October last year, LinkedIn revealed that much of the engagement on posts in its news feed was skewed toward the top 1% of power users on the platform. To create a more evenly distributed network, LinkedIn introduced creator-side optimization — which gives more attention to creators with smaller audiences. Part of this feature means the site may rank a post from a connection higher if the post needs more engagement.

Davies said, while LinkedIn does not give more weight to certain types of post formats (videos, images, long-form articles, etc.), it does consider posts that encourage engagement: “Post things that encourage a response,” writes Davies, “If you’re posting a link, express an opinion with it.”

According to a LinkedIn spokesperson, the platform can now predict not only the likelihood that a user may join a conversation, but also what impact joining a conversation may have on a user’s network, and whether or not others in their network may join the conversation as well.

Hashtags help

When listing tips and best practices to get more engagement for posts, Davies recommends using hashtags, but to keep the number of hashtags included in a post at three or less. He says hashtags can help a post get a higher ranking in someone’s feed depending on the hashtags they follow: “If a connection uses a hashtag you also happen to follow, it gets an extra boost!”

Why we should care

LinkedIn offers B2B marketers opportunities
for engaging with their audiences beyond advertising efforts, helping
create authentic, organic conversations with potential leads. But, to do
so effectively, marketers — and their sales teams — are best served
when they understand how LinkedIn’s news feed algorithm works. By
“lifting the hood” on its algorithm, LinkedIn is giving marketers key
insights on how to take full advantage of the platform.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Amy Gesenhues
Amy Gesenhues was a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy's articles.

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