How the New LinkedIn Algorithm Determines What Content Goes Viral

[Average read time: 3 minutes]

Want your LinkedIn content to go viral? Knowing how the new LinkedIn algorithm works is the first step.

After reading the post from the LinkedIn Engineer team, “Strategies for Keeping the LinkedIn Feed Relevant,” I felt this information is valuable to anyone that creates or shares content on LI.

Since I have the attention span of a 4 year-old in a toy store, I decided to summarize the highly-technical post to better understand it and not lose sight of the important takeaways.

When you post content on LinkedIn, here’s what happens behind the scenes:

1) Categorize

LinkedIn’s automation system categorizes every image, text, long form post, and video into the following groups:

a) Clear

b) Low-quality

c) Spam

I didn’t find any information on what factors determine the category. Thinking somewhat logically (which I don’t do often), I assume there’s a list of keywords, for example “promo,” “email list,” and “discount” that could send your content down the black hole known as spam.

2) Test

Once your post has been categorized by the super smart bots, it is then shown to a small number of your connections to see how popular it is.

3) Score

After the few connections lucky enough to see your content begin engaging or not, the real magic happens. In my brain, I would imagine the scoring goes something like this: A like may receive one point since it takes little effort. A comment earns two points due to the additional effort. A share demonstrates the content is very popular and receives 3 points.

The score will determine your content’s fate as follows:

a) Be demoted to low-quality and eventually exiled into the great unknown.

b) Be shown to more people because it’s high-quality.

4) Gatekeepers

If engagement on your content increases, it is then passed along to real people at LinkedIn who then read every post. They make the decision whether it should be shown to more people or if the party ends here.

If the content is highly engaging, LinkedIn editors will show your content outside your network and it will become trending content on the site and mobile which creates the coveted opportunity for it to go viral.

Summary

If you are a recruiter and all you do on LinkedIn is post your open jobs, you will most likely fall into the spam or low-quality category and your content will not appear on people’s news feed which might explain why a post has only 2 likes even though you have 1,000 connections.

I have nothing against recruiters. I love you gals and guys, but I needed an example.

The goal of social networks is to engage users and increase the time they spend on the site. If I was creating this algorithm, any post that contained a link to any other site would be categorized as low-quality or spam unless the engagement was so high that it made sense to show it to other users.

This change to the LinkedIn feed can be good or bad. That’s for you to decide.

I just hope this post doesn’t get categorized as low-quality or spam.

Fingers crossed!

Here’s a fancy flowchart provided by the LinkedIn Engineering Team: