LinkedIn Analytics (part two)
Welcome to this weeks LinkedInformed which is primarily going to be a continuation of last weeks chat with Andreas. I would recommend consuming that before continuing as it will provide you with more context for what is about to follow.
This week though, I am returning to our more normal format so before we return to my chat with Andreas…
Interesting Stuff I Saw This Week
New Company Page features seem to be rolling out widely now. Most of these changes are just a redesign with nothing new with the tabes across the top rather than in the left panel. It is noticeable from LinkedIn page that there are quite a lot of tabs these days, although very few companies will have all of them, the design is getting rather cluttered!
LinkedIn have also announced that product pages are rolling out to more companies although I don’t have this feature yet and they are also going to be adding free lead generation forms which could be an exciting addition. They have also announced a new ‘My company’ tab will be rolling out soon, this includes many of the features of Elevate and helps companies to communicate more with their employees. You can read more about it here
They are definitely making a real effort with Pages, it’s just a shame that the LinkedIn community continue to ignore them! I still can’t see a compelling reason to spend any significant amount of time on your company page.
New Sales Navigator features have also recently been announced. The main additions to the ‘Professional’ edition include;
- Mapping of key people in Accounts
- Account pages have been redesigned.
- A new alert on the home page for ‘At risk’ Accounts – those companies that have seen a headcount reduction or growth has halted.
- You can now save up to 10k leads
- Full access to LinkedIn Learning (at last!)
You can read the full announcement including pages for the Team and Enterprise editions here
New Marketplace feature coming in September. I always assumed that LinkedIn would develop Pro-Finder in this direction but they have decided to add a completely different product called Marketplace to directly compete with Fiverr and Upwork. This will allow freelance professionals to take bookings directly through LinkedIn via a digital wallet – this also opens the door to selling products through company pages (as I predicted).
This hasn’t been officially announced yet but they seem to have intentionally leaked it to a site called The information which is behind a paywall (This is not the first time they have ‘leaked’ such news to a site you have to pay to read…Hmm I smell a rat!). You can however read more here for free.
Dan Roth, LinkedIn’s Editor in Chief has been talking a lot about supporting content creators recently (Andreas mentioned this in our chat as well) and he has now posted a new job for a ‘Head of Community’ to build a global team that supports creators around the world, enabling them to have an even bigger impact and better experience on the platform. It seems that LinkedIn have finally woken up to the fact that they need us to drive more activity on the platform!
Other News – Apparently LinkedIn are working on introducing the ability to organise virtual meeting via the messages app on mobile, this has been possible on desktop for some time now but for some reason, they have delayed adding it to mobile. I also noticed this week that saved posts have been added to other saved items in a renamed ‘My items’ section which also includes My jobs, posted jobs and your LinkedIn learning courses
This is also available on mobile but it’s much less accessible as you have to go into your profile and then ‘Your dashboard’ to see them.
LinkedIn went down for 2 hours this week, I personally wasn’t impacted but that would drive me crazy if I was in the middle of something. Does this mean they are working on something big or did someone just trip over some wires?!
Part two of my chat with Andreas Jonsson
We left our conversation in the last episode talking about benchmarks for post views and this led me to ask Andreas about how video views potentially impact those benchmarks;
Me; One of the issues with LinkedIn data is the difference between a video view and other views and so that would skew that of course if you’ve got a video creator with 70% of their content being video that’s going to completely mess those benchmarks because obviously, a video post view is considerably less than other posts. Have you got any data on, you know, if you were producing video 100% of the time? And you were trying to benchmark your views against somebody else’s views. Or, on average, what would you do, would you times it by three? Are there any guidelines on that for people if they’re trying to measure a video view in comparison to other types of content views?
Andreas: It’s a good question and I think that, of course, we have to include more metrics, or more weighted scores for something into the comparison because as you as you said, video views are counted when the video has been watched three seconds, it’s not the same as a text post view. So you could say that the view is worth more. Perhaps because people have spent time on the piece of content. So you get fewer views on video than on text but you also get higher engagement, which is worth something, because the views are lower and the engagement, even if that’s the same, then the percentage would be higher. Also video conveys more trust towards the person on video from their audience. So there’s some variables like that that has to be taken into consideration as well. I would say it’s difficult to have some benchmark guideline that you can just use for that. What’s your take on that?
That’s why I focus on comments because I take the view that it’s more equal. At the end of the day, you would expect that if you’re getting more comments then you are getting more views, even though that might not show through in the view numbers on video. People do get very obsessed with views though and I think that’s wrong but at the same time, the people that say views don’t matter are not right either because it does matter, that number is giving you a feel for reach. When we post on LinkedIn, it would be wrong to think that this is all about the people that actually engage with our post, we have no idea beyond that and the impact that we’re having with all those ‘lurkers’ that just look at their feed and that’s the vast majority of people on LinkedIn! They’re never gonna like or share or comment on anything but they do see it, and you know I’ve had many clients come to me and I think ‘I don’t know who this person is’ but they quote content they’ve seen from me. They’ve never ever commented on anything. So that’s why views are interesting because you know there’s an audience out there that you have no idea who they are unless they contact you because there’s no other way of seeing it but at least comments give you some consistent way of measuring one post against another that’s the way I look at it.
Absolutely. And you’re right, I think both matter. Views matter for sure. To me, it’s an important metric not in isolation. It’s not that I just look at that and try to grow that number, but I know that when my average views go up, which they consistently do, then I also find myself being lucky more and more often! So I get more engagement I get more DM’s I get more connection requests and I get more inbound opportunities and without views, I wouldn’t get any of that. So of course, views matter. I can also see that when I have posts, where certain amounts of people engage with reactions and comments. I also sometimes get a DM from a person who just stumbled upon this one post of mine, and they choose to connect and DM and either they want to use Shield for their team or organization or they just want to say how the content resonated with them, and that is that the lurker group you’re talking about right? They choose to step out of the shadows and there are 1000s of those. The vast majority are just lurking and passively consuming and we shouldn’t neglect that group of people.
The other downside to views and it’s a controversial point but the problem I have with LinkedIn as a company, is that they have all kinds of glitches and bugs and problems and things go wrong all the time, more than any platform I’ve ever had any contact with before, and putting it frankly I don’t always trust the view number! Because I have no way of knowing it’s correct. If it’s a reaction or a comment I can see it, that’s a fact, that’s indisputable but then sometimes you’ll see a post and you’ll get lots of comments and hardly any views and that can’t be right, that just doesn’t make any sense and, and it does not happen very much but there have been times in the past, certainly in 2020 when there was a couple of times when views were being reported inaccurately, the number they were reporting clearly was wrong. So that’s the other problem isn’t it?
Yeah, It is, it is and I think that having used Shield myself obviously since the beginning we have, we have seen this actually play out on the graphs, where we look at views and how the post is aggregating views over time. That may be a post has reached, let’s say 20,000 views. And then suddenly it drops to 12,000 or 8000, and we see that on the graph, the new number is reported it’s lower, and then it self corrects itself from there someone’s doing something, and then it either jumps back up to maybe not back to the same number sometimes it did, but sometimes it didn’t and it jumped maybe to a number between the two. And we were just looking at these graphs and like what the hell is going on here yeah what’s happening and and of course we don’t know either, we just see the numbers the data that we’re able to pull.
Also if someone reports some irregularities, then we look into it and see if we can find other people who experienced the same if we don’t experience it, and often we do experience it. Not that we’ve been able to identify patterns. Let’s say region based or something like that, but it does happen and it makes sense that if they are adjusting something in the algorithm the post distribution algorithms or something like that and then, you know, it’s not just one algorithm, it’s not just one server running LinkedIn and all that data, it’s a big beehive of servers and algorithms, working organically, like an organism right so if something’s been changed in one corner, it could impact a group of people and not another group of people.
I also really did want to ask you about was comment replies. Now, just to put some context to this, this is something that I’ve been experimenting with recently. So typically my normal routine would be that I would go to a post, change comments to recent comments, and then scroll through them and reply reply reply reply. Then I thought ‘I wonder if that’s actually effective’ because if you just reply to all comments straight away is the algorithm just going to kind of chuck a lot of that away and say “we can’t put all that through to the feed, or is it better to do it in small batches? And so I’ve started to experiment in the last couple of posts with doing that in small batches. It’s hard to make any conclusions yet but those posts have done well but then that could be for a whole variety of other reasons. Have you got any angle on that?
So, I haven’t done analysis on that recently so I’m speculating here and speaking from my own experience. I think that replying in bulk works for sanity but not for the algorithm. So I’m doing that, I’ve been mixing it up with the last couple of posts, but if I got close to 100 comments on every post, and I try to post every day then that’s a lot of work replying to everyone, especially if you have to babysit the post, I have an audience that is global across time zones, so I have to be on my post replying almost in real-time. I would be doing nothing else! So what I did instead was to set aside maybe one or two hours in the evening and then I just sat down on mobile, sorted comments by ‘recent’ and started from the bottom that first comment on that post and then I just started replying going upwards. So, what I saw in the data while doing that was that if even if I made 50 comments within 60 minutes, it wouldn’t really give my post any further traction. So, the algorithm was clearly not seeing that as something good, more of something neutral. And then now when I’m back to trying to reply throughout the day, I feel like what I’m seeing right now in the data is that my post maintains the momentum. So replying steadily over time is more like this predictable momentum you can expect the post to keep growing if that’s what it’s already doing or keep you from going towards a flatline if that’s what it’s doing, I get it. So those are my findings, for now, what about yourself?
I think there’s something in that. I think the other angle to this is the difference between a like and a reply, and I must admit I keep forgetting to do this because I naturally reply because it just seems like the right thing to do. But I must admit if I look at my feed, it’s very rare that I see a post in my feed, because of a reply. I see posts in my feed because it’s been posted by someone I’m following, I see posts in my feed because someone’s reacted to someone else’s post or often what I call ‘double impact’ which is when I am following the person who did the post, but that’s not why it’s there, it’s there because someone else that I’m following has commented or reacted to it, as well and that kind of because it’s two factors, I think that’s the reason why I’m seeing it, but replies, I don’t think I see them but I have noticed a few times, that a post is in my feed, because someone has liked a comment, as opposed to replying to a comment.
That’s super interesting. I haven’t looked into that at all but but now I will!
Yeah, sure, it’s only based on my feed so I can’t really say that that’s any kind of deep analysis but I’ve always thought that the benefit of replying is less about the algorithm and more about good communication and politeness, but that said this recent experiment of doing them steadily, as opposed to all at once, does seem like it’s working better.
I think sometimes we have to stop thinking about the algorithm and thinking about what makes the most sense from a high level point of view and I think if you post something to LinkedIn, think about what LinkedIn wants and if the product is designed for engagement and community and we know this from LinkedIn, with new initiatives to support creators that this is what they want they want engagement they want people to stay on the platform to interact and share knowledge and so forth. So if that’s what the whole thing is all about. Then posting and sticking to the post and being active on the post replying throughout the day and so forth, would make the most sense. And so it makes sense in terms of the people leaving a comment that they get a reply within a reasonable amount of time to sort of keep the conversation going. If they ask a question they get a question back maybe from you and then they reply to that and if it drags out, then it’s gonna gonna die down to if they want to keep it here and now, back to the real time content creation and consumption. Then of course it has to take place steadily over time. So that makes sense to me. So I would act according to what makes sense logically, and not what I think the algorithm is picking up on.
That’s interesting and I can relate to that. I was on a session last night with a lot of students, and they were asking questions about the algorithm and I said; “Look, the most important thing to understand isn’t so much the algorithm because it changes all the time right and you can’t keep up with it and there isn’t one algorithm anyway there’s lots of algorithms. But, if you can understand where LinkedIn are coming from, if you can understand what matters to them, then that’s your guideline for the algorithm. If you’re acting in a way that supports their objectives, then you’re pretty much going to be in line with the algorithm. If you look at Microsoft and you look at their results reports, they don’t say much about LinkedIn, but the two things they do report about are revenue, obviously, is their quarterly report, and ‘session time’ that they’re the only two things they ever talk about for LinkedIn. That tells me what the powers above LinkedIn are saying to them. “We want you focused on session time that’s an important thing for us”, and that therefore becomes a big driving force for LinkedIn themselves. And so if what you’re doing, extends the session time of your followers, then you are working with the algorithm.
Yes. I think that’s very well said. LinkedIn, as a social marketplace for knowledge and engagement and interaction and community – session time is a key product metric. If you can keep people on LinkedIn, whether that’s in the chat, in the feed, searching, connecting, viewing profiles. Whatever it is, if you can keep people on the platform that’s a good thing, so that if you as a user on LinkedIn contributes to that with your content and that gets people to the keyboard engaging, which later down the road may get them to post content themselves. I mean Surely you’re being favored by any type of algorithm because that’s what the algorithms are supposed to do – keep people there!
Absolutely and understanding what LinkedIn’s goal is, is one thing, but also understanding that it’s a serious challenge to LinkedIn, I mean that’s their biggest weakness. If you were an investor, and you were looking to invest in LinkedIn, which obviously can’t do because they’re part of Microsoft but if you could, you would be measuring one social network against another, and the big struggle with LinkedIn is you would see that session times in comparison to Facebook are terrible! Of course, when people are on Facebook, they are at leisure and they’re just having fun so there’s no time pressure on them. When people are on LinkedIn, and this is the thing I always talk about with people is that you’re dealing with people at work, they have a low attention span they’re actually focused on some other stuff. And you’ve got to try and grab their attention and that is not easy that is actually a really challenging thing to do. If you can do it well then you’re going to be really successful because that is a really tough test. It’s a tough test for LinkedIn and it’s a tough test for us all!
I think it’s actually changing so of course LinkedIn is people at work, but I think that’s going to change and I see this in my feed. With a lot of the people who use Shield we see that they blur the lines between work and play in their content in their comments in the way they use LinkedIn. I think that’s super healthy because that’s going to increase session time if people go to LinkedIn, not only for work, but for leisure, in the sense that they get interesting content in front of them that may or may not help them in their work but something that is interesting and relevant and if we can get more of the ’emojis’ into LinkedIn and have people enjoy their time there because of the tribes they are building around their own content. Yeah, that’s great. I mean everyone wins, if that’s going to happen and I think that LinkedIn wants that to happen.
That’s interesting because they (LinkedIn) publicly don’t encourage that, they mostly encourage more business-related and work related content. But I think deep down, they know content actually needs to move in that direction and they’ve definitely benefited from it moving in that direction. It started when Facebook hit all the Cambridge analytical issues, and around the same time their organic reach dropped massively. There was a population that moved across to LinkedIn or certainly started using LinkedIn more and from that point onwards, they brought with them, a style of communication that was a lot less business oriented a lot less serious. And as a result, the session times have gone up and up.
I think that we’re all human and when we choose an app to open on our phone to consume something or engage. I don’t think we intentionally think that now I’m at work or this is work related, we just try to have time pass I think that people don’t really think in these work mode/play mode ways, it’s just all a matter of what’s in front of them is that relevant or not. And if it’s relevant and engaging, then people are going to engage. I think that’s the truth. I think LinkedIn with this new creators initiative, they specifically and explicitly say that creators are the lifeblood of LinkedIn. So, anyone who supports building up communities. Anyone creating original content in any type of form is what LinkedIn want to support and that makes a whole lot of sense because otherwise they may end up in becoming this advertising platform where it’s pay to play. I think that they have a unique position right now to be the organic platform that we all want and need. They’re already heading there at least from the active part of the LinkedIn community.
Yes, I’ve said a number of times that I just find it so lazy, that a lot of very well respected social media experts put out this thing that organic reach on LinkedIn will go, that it’s going to disappear like it’s done with every other social media platform on the lazy assumption that LinkedIn would just follow the same route as everyone else. I just think that’s not really understanding the picture of what’s going on because they’re not really that focused on LinkedIn.
I think you’re right I mean why would they go down the road of Facebook, I know that it’s a huge company. So from a capitalistic point of view, maybe it would be wise to follow their footsteps but from a brand point of view and from a product usage point of view. No, I would never. If I was LinkedIn I would try to embrace the organic part of it, I would try to always make sure that quality organic content is favored the most on the platform. It is driving session time and it is driving revenue, that’s for
A question I did want to ask you, is about timing and length of posts so not the length of the actual post but I’m interested in how long a post lasts in the feed because when I look at my Shield analytics I’ve just noticed a bit of a difference. So, it used to be that posts would kind of run out of energy after about 48 hours or a couple of days max. More recently, I’ve noticed that has increased. Is that true for others?
Yeah, I think so. From what I see and also when we’ve analyzed the data. So generally speaking posts can last longer and what we also see is that in the first 24 to 48 hours posts may do well, let’s say like that’s relative but it may just perform as you would expect, and then the third day, and maybe up until 10-14 days, it can actually still gain traction and significant traction in comparison to the first 48 hours. This is something that’s changing as well, it’s I think it’s fluid right now there’s no set formula on how this actually works. But what we see in the data is surprising at times where 24 hours after a post has been published it’s done X across the metrics, and then all of a sudden it just picks up traction again, some new people discovered the post and start engaging, it breaks into new networks that it wasn’t in before, new feeds of new people, and if they embrace the post and it’s relevant to them, then the post can have a new second life.
I did some analysis of my own feed to check how old each post was, I spent maybe half an hour scrolling and noting the age of each post. The results showed that over 40% of the posts in my feed had been posted over 24 hours ago! The thing is I’ve noticed that we’re often seeing posts promoting something like a Clubhouse room on Friday at three o’clock for instance, and I’m seeing this the following Tuesday! Well, that’s no use to me!
So it does make you think that time-sensitive posting is something you need to be careful about because the length of these posts is going on longer.
Yes, I think you’re right, and that’s also what I’m seeing, I was just browsing some of my own posts right now just to be able to talk with you about this with some recent data and what I see with my posts in the last four weeks, is that it looks like it usually lasts five to six days before it completely flatlines and loses its momentum and traction. So that’s definitely beyond the 24-48 hours.
I don’t think it’s bad if you post about a clubhouse room that I’m going to do on Monday and I’m probably posting that today or tomorrow. I think if people discovered that post after Monday, they know they’ve missed out, and therefore if they felt that was interesting to them, then they have to follow me because something new will come along the lines of what they just missed.
I don’t even see it as a bad thing that something that has a certain date is shown after that date, it can actually, in my opinion, only add some positive value to that.
A couple of other questions for you… hashtags – we did touch on them earlier and you do use a few but not many. The analysis done by Richard Vander Blom came out that an increased number of hashtags produced some interesting results. s a result, I personally shifted from using three to eight or nine level, but I haven’t particularly seen any difference in views or engagement. What are your thoughts on hashtags?
I’ve been experimenting myself, not a whole lot but more in the zero to three range and and I like how the post looks when I use no more than three hashtags. I don’t think too much of the hashtags, we haven’t done any thorough analysis on it but I think it’s good for distribution especially early on, if you have a legacy network that’s not active on LinkedIn, and you use hashtags, you may be able to get your post in front of people who follow those hashtags or search for them.
I think once you’ve established a tribe that’s continuously engaging with you, then you don’t need hashtags anymore. I’ve been looking at some of the most viral posts on Shield and what I’ve continuously seen over time is that amongst the most popular posts in any given time period you will always have posts without hashtags. I just pulled one up here so this post is from two weeks back and it has 8 million views. 130,000 reactions 20,000 comments and 3000 shares, it’s an image post with text. It uses one emoji zero hashtags and zero links.
Any tagging (@mentions) on it?
Not on this one.
I have just pulled up the top ten posts over the last 2 years on Shield. The view numbers range from 2 – 8 million and only five of them include hashtags! The one that has the most only has five, a couple has four, one has three and the other has just one but the majority have none including the one with the most views!
I think a lot of people overestimate the importance of hashtags, understandably, because with other social media such as Instagram they are much more important, but I think they’re very much on the fringes
I think there are many more important things to worry about and hashtags rarely seem to have a huge impact for me. I guess you could argue they don’t do any harm, there’s no evidence to suggest they negatively impact the success of a post other than what you just said before regarding the feel and look of a post, and sometimes they look a bit messy if you use too many.
I mentioned, @mentions or tagging people in a post and there are some theories out there that it’s better to add mentioned people in the comments or in the main post, etc, etc. A) Is it an effective technique and B) Is it more effective in the comments than in the main post text?
We haven’t done any analysis on that so I don’t know the answer. I tag people if I find it relevant to tag them into posts so again, back to what feels right and I see a lot of people who are successful on LinkedIn do it the same way. So, if they talk about something that a given person inspired them to to to write about then they tag that person in the post saying thanks for the inspiration and that works well. I think the bulk tagging is being somewhat penalized. I’ve noticed that, it’s anecdotal, but that’s what I’ve seen with some that tag 20 plus people or something like that.
Yes, I’m not a fan of tagging unless it’s used sparingly but I do find it, just from a technical point of view, interesting to try and get my head around how you can penalize someone in the way you describe. The concept is that if you tag people and they don’t respond, then your post will be penalized but I’m just trying to work out how that actually could work, so if someone doesn’t respond within 24 hours or 48 hours? By then the post has already received much of its distribution so how much of a penalty can that be?
I don’t know, I’m speculating here as well but it could be that over time a given person is tagging a lot of people but none of these people ever respond or a person is tagging people they’re not connected with that could also be something. So, I don’t know, really, I just think what post would require anyone to tag like 30 people?
I can’t come up with a post of mine that would benefit from tagging 30 people so I think people need to be cautious about doing that, of course if all those 30 people come onto the post and comment, that’s great, but that also means that the post had relevance to them and tagging was therefore on point.
I have to say that my view on tagging is exactly what we’ve just said but that if you really want someone to see that post, by all means, tag them but don’t rely on it because notifications are so inconsistent on LinkedIn there’s no way you can guarantee they’re going to be notified.
If it’s really important I advise sending it to them in a DM as well because that’s the only way you can guarantee they’ll see it, unless they’re not active on LinkedIn, but then why would you tag them anyway if they were not active?
Absolutely and the more active that person is in terms of their own posting, the higher the likelihood of them missing your tag! I’ve tried to catch up with a whole post and comments I’m tagged in but I also know that I miss some of them sometimes, not intentionally but I just know that my notifications get reset because I go into them too soon when I miss-click the interface and then all of a sudden, I can’t see where I left off and then I may miss something and that happens.
Yeah and that’s the other angle to it there’s human error so it gets missed and then there’s a LinkedIn error, it doesn’t actually give us the notification at all. It’s the same with comments in posts, you can’t rely on notifications to tell you that someone’s commented on your post because if you go through as I know you do, you’ll often find comments in there quite far back, and you know you definitely weren’t notified about that!
Absolutely. My practice around getting back to people and replying is that I go into the post every now and then and I ‘sort by recent’ again and then I look has there been any new engagement on it that I need to respond to. I don’t rely on notifications. I mean, I think at all times my notifications are saying like 99+ on my phone. So I’m like, How am I supposed to keep up with that?!
Absolutely. Hey look, given that you’ve got a lot of notifications to get to, I better let you go! You’ve been so generous with your time, I do massively appreciate it and I’m gonna say a big thank you on behalf of the audience because I know that they’ll really enjoy this.
I love Shield, and I don’t just like the product, I like the company, and what you said earlier about ethics, I think it’s very clear in both the way you and other people within the organization come across on LinkedIn and how you put your message across. Talking to you today has reinforced that view, and I would recommend anybody to have a look at Shield, it’s really helpful and you’re also working with a company that has its heart in the right place. So, thank you so much.
Thanks Mark. Thanks for the kind words and for having me on your show it’s been a pleasure.
Post of the Week
I was waiting for someone to nominate this one but nobody did so I’m nominating it myself!
Another example of a short text only post doing well, in fact that’s an understatement – with over 41,000 comments and over 1.3 million reactions, it has to be one of the most viral posts on LinkedIn ever!
Greg does have 7659 followers but I suspect a sizeable chunk of those were obtained after this post! He is not a regular LinkedIn content producer and when he posted previously he received virtually zero traction so why has this one done so well?
There really is only one factor at play here…it’s a good news story and right at the moment, people are desperate to see something positive!
I just wish the mainstream media would understand that and stop filling our heads with negative content all the time!
That’s all for this week, a big thanks again to Andreas for giving up his time to provide us with such interesting and useful content.
If you want me to interview someone who has something insightful to say about LinkedIn please just drop me a DM on LinkedIn, it’s free to do so.