What in the Actual #%!& is Happening with LinkedIn?

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If you’re a regular user of LinkedIn, you’ve probably noticed that your posts aren’t getting the same level of engagement they were getting six months ago. You’re not alone and it’s not just LinkedIn. 

It seems like I can’t have a conversation about social media marketing without hearing a sad story about how one platform or another suddenly “stopped working.” I hear the same story from business owners over and over:

I was getting all of my leads from LinkedIn, then suddenly, the algorithm changed, my post views dropped off a cliff, and no one was seeing my content any more.

Okay, this is my story (happening in real time). But I’ve heard the same story about every other social media platform at one time or another.

It’s maddening. 

So what can we do other than (swearing) and swearing off social media altogether or becoming so obsessed with kowtowing to the social media gods that we lose sight of why we care about social media anyway? Neither option is that great, right?

I don’t have all the answers (again, this is happening in real time for me), but I’ll share my plan with you.

1. You don’t own me!

First, remind yourself that no social media platform owns you. I know what they say: “if an app is free, then YOU’re the product,” which makes it seem like our social media platforms own us (and that’s what they want us to think). But it’s simply not true.

You can certainly leave social media and find other ways to market your business. I don’t know what that looks like for my business (yet). I’ll let you know if I figure out a better alternative. But you could try:

  • Speaking
  • Podcast guesting
  • Referrals
  • Partnering with other adjacent businesses
  • Buying billboard space
  • Cold calling
  • Good ol’ fashioned networking

And besides, it’s smart to have more than one source for gathering leads. So, if the algorithm changes have you feeling like the magic is gone, it’s time to get unstuck and get creative with your marketing efforts again. Consider what has worked for you besides social media. 

2. Get experimental.

What do you do when life throws you a curveball? You grab a bat and a ball and you figure out how to hit curveballs (I think. I don’t have that much experience playing baseball). And with social media, you fight an experimental algorithm by getting experimental. 

I know how you feel, though. I spent 18 months “figuring out” how to make LinkedIn work for me during a really enjoyable experiment and now it seems like nothing I learned makes any sense any more. I definitely feel a bit entitled to the stats I was seeing two or three months ago. AND the truth is that I’m not entitled to those stats.

No. LinkedIn doesn’t owe me any particular number of profile or post views or search appearances and they are entitled to play around with their algorithm. It’s only fair. We’re free to experiment and so are they. So all we can do is let the LinkedIn wizards do their thing, while we do ours.

I’m hopeful that after LinkedIn finishes “calibrating” their algorithm, the numbers will rebalance again. This has happened in the past with LinkedIn and it seems to happen every so often with every platform. In the meantime, all we can do is keep running experiments until we hit on what works.

Here’s what has worked for me in the past two weeks:

  • Posting early (like before 8:30am — I’m on Eastern time, but you should consider what “early” means to your ideal clients)
  • Posting late (like after 5:00pm)
  • Posting more personal stuff — personal stories like this one continue to gain a lot of traction
  • Posts with significantly more reactions than comments have gotten more views (this is a big change from before, my posts with more comments than reactions used to do better)
  • Continuing to engage with others
  • Ignoring vanity metrics like post views

My general philosophy of social media marketing is that we always want to approach these platforms with an experimental mindset. It’s easy to forget about that, though, when you’re seeing thousands of views on a regular basis, but when the rug gets pulled out, you have no choice, but to go back into the lab.

3. Focus on what’s working independently of the algorithm.

Are you still building relationships? Are you still making new connections? Are people still reaching out to you inquiring about your services? Take stock of what’s still working despite the fact that your stats may be down.

I started using LinkedIn to network with other business owners and I can use the platform for this purpose even if no one reacts to, comments on, or even sees my posts. I comment on others’ posts. I send DM’s to reconnect with connections I haven’t heard from in awhile. Basically, I treat it like a 24/7 networking event.

When I start working with my monthly LinkedIn content strategy clients, I encourage them to focus on engagement first. For the first few weeks, I recommend that they spend 20 minutes per day engaging, liking, and commenting on posts that capture their attention. Not only does this help them get a feel for the platform, but it helps them to see what type of content starts conversations. 

If the algorithm has you down, it’s perfectly okay to hold off on posting and go back to the basics of connecting and engaging with others’ posts.  

4. Embrace the absurdity.

All of this would be really kind of funny, if there weren’t so much at stake — such is the paradox of life and social media is just one part of our lives. Figuring out how LinkedIn works is simultaneously the most important and least important task I have on my plate. Rather than getting down on myself or throwing my hands up in the air, I’ve decided to embrace the absurdity of it all.

All we can do is focus on what we can control. Life’s too short to let an algorithm dictate how we feel about our business. I see plenty of others in my feed continuing to get (relatively) amazing results. Yeah, it makes me envious. But that’s also part of the absurdity. So I’m going to keep watching what they’re doing, keep asking what works for them, and keep everything in perspective.

Are you interested in figuring out how to make LinkedIn work for you? My team and I will keep our fingers on the pulse of the latest changes and develop a custom LinkedIn strategy that meets your goals. Together we can figure out what in the actual #%!& is happening with LinkedIn. 

The first step? Get your LinkedIn Roadmap.

Photo credit: Side view of young woman wearing hat looking at a city map by Jacob Lund Photography from NounProject.com