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Are LinkedIn Updates a waste of time?

Yesterday I noticed a post on LinkedIn from a corporate recruiter that simply said “I’m just putting this out there to see how many of you actually see my posts”. It had 6 likes when I saw it. I found this odd for two reasons; I rarely check my LinkedIn Home stream updates and 6 likes doesn’t sound like a resounding endorsement of this recruiter’s experiment. With so much “noise” being posted on LinkedIn by recruiters either directly or through tools such as BullhornReach, is anyone really listening?

New LinkedIn Home Page 2012I check my Twitter stream pretty regularly and keep the content quality pretty high by making sure I only follow accounts that interest/ humour/ entertain me. Facebook do a pretty good job of enabling me to manage the content of my feed by allowing me to block people who’s posts I find irrelevant (a feature that LinkedIn also offer) therefore the feed is usually pretty good, hence why I engage with it. There is little doubt that LinkedIn is the most important network for my business but why is it that as a user I interact with the Update Feed less than other networks?  I don’t think I’m alone in this assessment which explains why LinkedIn have put so much effort into fixing the problem over the last 12 months. They re-launched LinkedIn Today, adding it as a “widget” on the top of everyone’s Home Page; they launched a new Original Content section with original articles from Opinion Makers like Richard Branson and James Caan (the recruiter dude, not the Consigliere from the Godfather!) and they added a new algorithm to prioritise the content in your stream.

A lot has been written about the first two things but not a lot about the latter, the new algorithm. This is the one that I find the most interesting and the one that offers the most potential to the lay recruiter. For now, few of us are likely to be invited to write content as an Original Content Author and it’s not too easy to ensure that your jobs/ content trend on LinkedIn Today to get them noticed in this widget so the algorithm is all we have.

Trending Content on LinkedInPreviously, LinkedIn users saw all of their contacts’ updates in reverse chronological order on their home page (and you can still see it this way if you like) but most of us will see a blended list of updates when we log on with trending posts highlighted towards the top. I’ve included an example here from my own Update Stream today that shows what my network “is talking about”. This is simply a post that a lot of people that I am connected with have liked, commented upon and/ or shared as their own status update. The beauty is that it’s dependent on the engagement occurring within my own network so it should be really personalised to my interests.

I must confess that although I do not look at my LinkedIn stream as often as my Twitter Feed or Facebook Feed, I am looking at it more often now than I used to (LinkedIn are obviously doing something right here!). However, I rarely get past the first few posts and I expect most other LinkedIn users (think skilled professionals that you want to engage with/ influence) are the same. If your post is not at the top of my feed, it is highly likely that I will never see it. However, if it is, I’m going to notice it!!

So, how do you get more people to share your posts, comment upon them or like them? What I should say is that you need to make the post engaging, have a call to action, ask people to engage, etc etc but it is possible to cheat! Well, let’s not call it cheating, let’s call it leveraging the system! I prefer that.

Trending Jobs Update on LinkedInIf I look at the trending posts in my own feed they are usually jobs or content shared by a recruiter that has been engaged on by their colleagues. Yes, the other recruiters working in the same company as them. It works. But isn’t it ridiculous for a recruiter to like and share another person’s job I hear you ask? Yes, a little, but the end result is that much more people end up seeing it. If the recruiter has built a relevant, targeted network, then more people are going to see this job and hopefully third parties will begin to engage with the post and further drive its virality.

So here’s your checklist for posting jobs or content on LinkedIn:

1. Make sure that the post contains an engaging or attention grabbing image. LinkedIn update’s show one image preview to the left of the post you share. The sharing tool grabs the image from the page you are sharing so make sure this page contains an appropriate image, it’s what people will notice first. (Note: most job specs don’t contain images, this is a big weakness!).

2. Include a short, attention grabbing headline. Think like a headline writer for the Sun Newspaper or National Enquirer. Be tabloid about this, it’s what gets people to click!

3. Ask your colleagues to like and re-share it for you (it may be weird if they comment on it!) and do the same for their posts.

4. Share the post/ link in LinkedIn Groups and to a select number of your contacts, as appropriate, using the LinkedIn share widget (you’ll find this by going to your own Profile > View Profile and then checking out the last post in your Activity (at the top of your profile). Click “Share” and tick Groups and Contacts as appropriate, manually entering the names of Groups and Contacts from here (note: don’t share jobs to Group Discussions as you’ll really tick off the group members and the group moderators!).

If you are using an automated tool like Bullhorn Reach or Buffer, skip straight to points 3 & 4 and proceed in the same way!

Posting content on LinkedIn without giving that content a good chance of trending within the networks of your followers is simply a waste of your time. If you’re going to do it (and you absolutely should), do it right!

Last week we updated our Orange Belt online training to reflect this and other recent changes to LinkedIn. Click on this link to sign up for a free demo of our online recruiter learning platform, MySocialTalent.

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