A deep dive into LinkedIn's algorithm changes

Jan 25, 2024
A deep dive into LinkedIn's algorithm changes

Find Your Superpower newsletter 043

Read time: 5 minutes

Topics covered: LinkedIn algorithm, personal branding, storytelling for business


I’ve been having a lot of fun preparing for my public LinkedIn Branding Basics workshop taking place tomorrow (Friday).

You are still welcome to join us if you like and take advantage of my Year of the Dragon sale at the same time!

As I’ve alluded to in my recent newsletters, I’ve been rather busy for the past few weeks, right down to the hour and the minute on some days.

I’m delighted that there is interest in my work and that my team is engaged and busy, but I also constantly remind them (and myself) to take a hard stop with work every evening. 

After an exciting corporate training session yesterday at the Economic Development Board of Singapore on using LinkedIn for business endpoints, I felt inspired to write about something that truly affects the success of our posts on LinkedIn… their big black box of an algorithm.

Now, just to be clear, none of us have access to the proprietary code that underpins the algorithm, for sure. But growth hackers on LinkedIn have A/B tested and reverse engineered some of the knowledge, which I enjoy reading about.

And of course, we have access to the folks at the top of the food chain, via interviews such as this one in Entrepreneur magazine, where its editor-in-chief Jason Feifer interviewed Daniel Roth, Editor-in-Chief of LinkedIn, and Alice Xiong, Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, about the LinkedIn algorithm (circa June 2023).


Here’s what we can learn about LinkedIn’s algorithm from the June 2023 interview:

1/ "When things go viral on LinkedIn, usually that's a sign to us that we need to look into this, because that's not celebrated internally," says Dan Roth, LinkedIn's editor in chief.

Many people (incorrectly) assume that the outcome of a good post on LinkedIn is it going viral on the platform. I am so glad that someone with authority is debunking the notion that this is the goal of a good LinkedIn post.

As I’ve reminded my clients repeatedly, the goal of our efforts on LinkedIn is to find our tribe, our community, our people... people who want to work for us and work with us. Clients who want to engage us for our services and products.

Not any random person with a LinkedIn account.

I’ve had posts with few likes that have led to new clients and industry mates.

When people understand this concept, LinkedIn loses its scary, uncertain "oh no, this feels like high school all over again" vibes where we don’t know if we will be liked or not. Instead, it turns into an intimate networking event where our stories are breadcrumbs for our tribe to find us and connect deeply with us.


2/ "People tell us that they find it most valuable when content is grounded in knowledge and advice," says Alice Xiong, a director of product management who leads LinkedIn's search and discovery products, "and they find it most valuable when the content is from people they know and care about." So far, LinkedIn has seen a 10% increase in people viewing posts from people they follow.

Because LinkedIn’s algorithm evaluates whether a post contains knowledge and advice, and shows it to a relevant audience for it, it is best to write for your target audience, or what some marketing experts describe as your audience avatar.

Its also why we have to be thoughtful about who we connect with, preferably with industry peers or those with at least some overlap of professional interests, societies and skills.

So let’s say you are an AI expert, you should logically write about AI industry news and insider updates for an AI-loving audience.

This is the combination LinkedIn is looking for.

If you are an AI expert and you suddenly give marriage advice to everyone, the deck of cards collapses.

For those of you who subscribe to the philosophy of “you are your own niche” and “you are your own brand”, where you write about anything that you’re interested in ranging from rock-climbing to crocheting, you may want to reconsider this approach. From an algorithm point of view, it can get very confusing when the AI expert is giving marriage advice (there are marriage experts for that).

That’s why I say the 80:20 rule of niche vs others (read my previous newsletter here) is always preferable.

Everything in moderation, y’all.


3/ When you post something on LinkedIn, the platform isn’t just evaluating the value of your post. It is now also evaluating you — and whether you're an authority in the thing you've posted about. "Because we have the professional profile of record," Roth says, "it helps us be able to make sure that we are getting the right content to the right people."

Here’s the facts: LinkedIn knows whether you are an AI expert or a marketing expert.

So if you, like me, are making a career transition from academia to entrepreneurship, this is what I recommend you do to nudge the algorithm along:

  • Update your LinkedIn profile in the relevant sections, such as About, Headline, Hashtags, Top Skills and Providing Services.

  • Start following entrepreneurs and not only academics

  • Comment on entrepreneurs’ and entrepreneurship-related posts

  • Write posts that discuss entrepreneurship

Look, the algorithm cannot possibly know about your career transition and new industry if you don’t tell it what it needs to know, OK?


4/ In the past, LinkedIn would amplify posts that got a lot of comments. As a result, some users banded together into "engagement groups" — essentially agreeing to quickly like and comment on each other's posts, as a way of boosting them. LinkedIn wanted to stop that. Now it rewards posts that get what Roth calls "meaningful comments." This means that people aren't just dashing off empty comments — stuff like "great!" or "so true!" — but are instead actually responding to the content of the post. LinkedIn is also considering who these commenters are — are they random people, or are they from a particular group? For example, imagine that you post something about marketing. If a lot of marketing professionals comment on your post, LinkedIn sees that as a positive sign.

Regardless of whether your engagement pod is free or paid, please LEAVE THE POD now.

When you artificially prop up your likes for poorly written posts, you obfuscate the real data on your posts. You never get the opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t work. You drown out the real data with confounding variables and noise from random people’s (obligatory) likes.

Your engagement pod buddies only like your posts because they are obliged to, and so that you will like their post back. There is no love here. It is all business. They arent your tribe. They arent your people.

Also, because an engagement pod is typically a hodgepodge of people, LinkedIn can tell that they are not from the same/similar industry. Which means your post is now penalized.


5/ If you respond to the comments on your post, that's also a positive sign and could get the post more attention, Roth says. "Our system is like, 'This is a conversation, and people want to be part of this conversation. Show this to more people.'"

To those of you who post and run, let it be known on record that Dan Roth doesn’t recommend you do so. If you engage with your posts in the first 60 minutes, it will do much better than if you publish a post and enter a Zoom call and ignore the comments on it.


6/ LinkedIn uses artificial intelligence to classify posts into different categories — including, for example, whether a post contains opinions and/or advice. In part, it's looking to see whether a post is offering generic information (which is less rewarded) or is drawn from the writer's perspective and insights (which is more rewarded).

If this isnt a massive red flag for those using the same ghostwriter as 180 million other people (hint: it starts with the letter C, and ends with the letter T), then I don’t know what else will convince you to have more confidence in yourself as a writer.

I would rather read an authentic post from you filled with typos and grammatical errors, than to grimace through a perfectly written, vanilla post by generative AI filled with aphorisms and generic advice.


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(This offer ends on Sunday, 11 February, 12 midnight GMT +8:00)

See you at my branding workshop on Friday! 



Thanks for reading issue 043 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.

For those of you who are new to my newsletter, Find Your Superpower is subscribed to by 32,000 people on LinkedIn and email, and discusses the following three goals: (1) Making a career transition, (2) Professional branding on LinkedIn, and (3) Reinventing ourselves for the future of work.


Here’s how we can stay in touch:

1. I would recommend you purchase my course, The LinkedIn Success Mindset. In this all-in-one guide to LinkedIn, we will learn how to manage our mindset, take action and avoid making cardinal sins on the platform.

2. If you are very new to LinkedIn, consider my masterclass on LinkedIn professional branding, Find Your Superpower: How to Rebrand Yourself on LinkedIn. This 1h on-demand video course that will help you identify your professional brand, write a brand statement from scratch, and launch your brand on LinkedIn. Don’t muck around for years on LinkedIn, sort your profile out quickly!

3. Buy both courses at 38% off in my Year of the Dragon 2024 sale!

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