We’ve all seen the disaster brought on by letting Facebook, Google (particularly YouTube), and Amazon create a click-bait culture – where businesses are rewarded more for how their headlines perform rather than how valuable their content is.
- These tech giants are too large and too powerful.
- They harvest and leverage too much personal information with no effective oversight.
- They operate with legal immunity thanks to Section 230, which sped the creation of Internet business models and now has put them in overdrive.
I work with small businesses and startups, who are at the mercy of these gigantic corporations, which are really just optimization algorithms. They optimize one thing – cash flow – and they optimize it only in one direction, to themselves. Which all makes it an amazing challenge to create long-term value in your own small business.
Given how difficult it is to create value in your own company in this environment, what do you do?
It’s one of the reasons we like LinkedIn so much. Not only is it the right venue for B2B, but so far at least, it’s not running an over-optimized algorithm. Let’s look at how some of the recent updates to LinkedIn’s algorithm is setting it up to further promote engagement and valuable content rather than just likes.
“People you know, talking about the things you care about.”
~ LinkedIn Feed Mantra
LinkedIn is not like other social media platforms. It was created to be a platform for business professionals to meet, network, share information, and build brands. To that end, the LinkedIn algorithm is different. It is designed to prioritize personal connections based around interests. It does this with 2 goals in mind:
- To prioritize relevant content
- To promote engagement
That means that content posted by people you are connected to is prioritized in your feed. So are topics that you’re interested in. This is true regardless of whether or not those posts have gone viral. It’s specifically designed to drive further engagement within your network and increase the likelihood of more and better content being created and shared.
How the LinkedIn algorithm works
Originally, the LinkedIn algorithm was designed to look at three types of engagement, called viral actions.
Viral actions have upstream or downstream effects in your network. But they’re not a good measure of true engagement or valuable content.
Re-sharing a post creates a downstream effect – connections of the user who re-shared it will see it. Commenting creates an upstream effect – it will be boosted in the feeds of users in the network of the original author of the post.
Viral actions create the classic echo chamber that you see in other social networks, where how popular you are (your number of followers or connections) can much more easily translate into going viral, regardless of whether or not what you’re sharing or posting has real value.
Enter Dwell Time into the LinkedIn Algorithm
LinkedIn introduced Dwell Time into their algorithm as a way of counterbalancing viral actions and promoting better content and deeper engagement. They wanted to better understand how their members spent time on their feeds.
Dwell Time is the amount of time that a user spends looking at a post or on a webpage once they’ve clicked on a post before they come back to the post on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is measuring Dwell Time in 2 ways:
- Dwell Time on the feed starts measuring time when at least half the post/feed update is visible as a member scrolls through their feed.
- Dwell Time after the click measures the time spent on content after clicking on an update/post in the feed before returning back to the feed.
Dwell Time is a good indicator of whether a user is likely to engage with a post because it is always measurable. Because it is a real-valued measurement of engagement, it is also a more reliable indicator of engagement.
The LinkedIn Algorithm Values Relevancy & Engagement
That means that on LinkedIn, the posts that are most successful won’t be the ones with the most likes, comments, and shares. People also need to spend time interacting with and consuming content that provides real value. Relevancy is valued over recency.
The bottom line is that to grow your company you need to own your audience and not be dependent on third party media companies. You need to have a business model that can’t be changed overnight by a policy change at one of these gigantic corporations.
To learn more about Dwell time on LinkedIn, visit their blog https://engineering.linkedin.com/blog/2020/understanding-feed-dwell-time
All the best,