Post Author: Mic Johnson, talking about whether LinkedIn filters what people see if they don’t have paid LinkedIn accounts.
I post status updates to LinkedIn a few times a week and have for years. Sometimes it’s a blog post from Blue Gurus or MJMeetings. Sometimes it’s a #micnugget. Sometimes it’s a question. Sometimes I’m sharing content from my connections or other people/companies I follow.
The other day I got to thinking how it seemed like the level of engagement I’d been getting (LIKEs, comments, views, etc.) seemed to be less and less over time, regardless of what I posted.
Now I’m not saying every one of my status updates is life-changing content, but I’ve become accustomed to a certain amount of engagement/interest in things I choose to share.
I recently downgraded from a paid LinkedIn account (I just wasn’t using the features enough to justify the monthly expense) to the free LinkedIn account, and I wondered to myself…”Is LinkedIn filtering what people see from me because I don’t have a paid account anymore?”
So I decided to run a little experiment.
I posted the following status update (click the link or the image if you want to see the actual post on LinkedIn):
I also emailed LinkedIn Customer Service and asked them if they filtered things based on whether a person had a paid account or not. To their credit, they got back to me quickly, even it was with a response that didn’t really answer my question…a non-answer answer, if you will:
“Hi Mic, Thank you for reaching out about your post. The feeds of your connections are personalized for them based on people they follow, their connections, and their engagement on LinkedIn. The more engaging and relevant your post is, the more likely it is to appear in their feeds. We work to keep the platform focused on discussions relating to professional interests and activities. Content that doesn’t appear to relate to these topics may not reach a wide audience. Lastly, any content that doesn’t comply with LinkedIn’s User Agreement
(https://www.linkedin.com/legal/user-agreement ) and Professional Community Guidelines (https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/34593 ) may be subject to removal. However, if this is not the case, please provide the URL of the post you are referring to so we can check further. I would look forward to hearing from you Regards, Pooja LinkedIn Consumer Specialist”
Finally, I tagged LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner on the post hoping that he might chime in and provide a little rationale. I’m still waiting on that.
So what did I learn from my LinkedIn experiment?
- While LinkedIn didn’t specifically say they increase/decrease the visibility of status updates, etc. based on whether a person has a paid account or not…well, let’s just say I have a healthy dose of skepticism and intuition that those who pay, likely get a little more play.
- LinkedIn DOES control what you do or don’t see in your feed from your connections. They say “The feeds of your connections are personalized for them based on the people they follow, their connections, and their engagement on LinkedIn.” So, and I understand this to a certain extent, LinkedIn is determining what THEY think is relevant content that your connections will see. Of course it makes sense if a person is spamming, trolling, etc. but outside of that…I DON’T LIKE IT. I’ve chosen to connect with the people I’m connected to. I don’t like that LinkedIn is deciding what THEY think I will be interested in…nor do I like them deciding if my content is relevant enough to my connections. That should be left up to the USERS…not LinkedIn. (Facebook does the same thing and I hate it there too.)
- I really had no idea what the outcome would be of this experiment. My initial expectation was that I would get quite a few “LIKEs” because all I asked was for people to simply hit the LIKE button. I have over 1200 LinkedIn connections, so I was expecting at least a few hundred to take a second and LIKE the post. As of this writing, it’s been about four days and the post only has 149 LIKEs.
- Many of the LIKEs I got were from people OUTSIDE of my connections. So when some of my connections LIKE’d the post, people in their network saw it and joined in on the fun. That’s how social works. That’s how things go “viral”. But that means that even more people saw my post than just my connections, so I still would have expected to see more than 149 LIKEs.
- As of this writing, according to LinkedIn, there were 6,534 views of my status update, which makes it that much more unbelievable that only 149 people took a second to LIKE the update. Did that many people really see it? Are people really that lazy? Was it just not that interesting?
- Ironically, the 149 LIKEs and the 6,534 views of my update are BY FAR the most engagement I’ve ever received on any status update or post/article I’ve ever shared in all of the years I’ve been on LinkedIn. Did LinkedIn boost this post? Did the 149 LIKEs set off some behind the scenes mojo at LinkedIn that kept increasing the visibility of my status update? Was this really the most relevant and engaging thing I’ve ever posted (at least in the eyes of LinkedIn)? Was it because I asked people to do something so simple and easy? Do I need to ask more questions like this to see increased engagement? The answers to those questions are YES (I think?).
- A lot of people were at least interested in the same question I had based on the responses and engagement the status update received.
Unfortunately, while this experiment was fun and will probably keep going as the status update continues to get LIKEs and views, I find myself feeling almost as confused as I was when I first wondered about whether LinkedIn was “pay to play”.
LinkedIn Customer Service really didn’t answer the question.
Jeff Weiner didn’t answer the question.
And so I guess we may never know.
LinkedIn (and Facebook and other social platforms) always change things and are always fine tuning things…and most of the time they’re not good (intentionally or not) about letting the users know what changed or why. It’s one of the most frustrating things for me about how these companies run their platforms.
In the end, my instincts tell me if you’re giving money to LinkedIn via a paid account, then your status updates and other content you post on their site will probably get more love than those of us who have a free account.
I just wish LinkedIn would have answered the question.
Maybe if I get a paid account again, they will.