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What Works For This Black Creator on LinkedIn in 2022
Tactics for beating the LinkedIn algorithm - sometimes
Just over a year ago I wrote What Works For This Black Creator on LinkedIn. It was my exploration of how things are supposed to work on the platform, and how they ACTUALLY work if you’re a Black creator (or an activist talking about racism). Since LinkedIn has been up to their usual algorithmic bias tricks, I thought it was time for an update as we had towards 2022.
Just to put things into context, I have almost 3,000 connections and around 5,000 followers. So my audience is neither the smallest, nor the biggest: I’m right in the middle. I say this because a bigger audience naturally increases the number of people who can see and share your content, so my gut feeling is that once your LinkedIn followers exceed 10,000, you’ll have fewer of the issues I experience. I’ll revisit this and let you know when I get there.
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What Still Doesn’t Work - and Some Workarounds
Here are some of things that don’t work well for me on the platform.
Resharing other people’s LinkedIn posts. There are a lot of people I try to support by resharing their excellent posts, but it doesn’t do much good. The best reshared posts might get 300 views, but most get under 200, and some are in the low double digits. That’s pretty pitiful given the supposed size of my network. The workaround: write an introductory blurb, tag the person, and share the link to their original post in the comments.
Sharing external articles in the body of the post. Again, doing this really tanks visibility. I once accidentally posted similar posts twice, once with the link in the body of the post, once without. More people saw the one without the link. Again, the workaround is to write the post, then share the link in the comments.
Sharing videos in the body of the post. By now, you get where I’m going with this. I don’t know if it’s different when you share videos of events that took place on LinkedIn, or recordings of LinkedIn lives (I’ve only just got access to this function, so I’ll have to report on that another time). But plain old YouTube and Vimeo links get the same treatment as resharing posts - double digit views. The last YouTube video I shared only had 17 views 90 minutes after I posted it. It’s why I don’t share videos that often. From a user experience viewpoint, it’s better to have the video preview come up in the post, but that means less visibility.
Resharing content from my LinkedIn page. I set up a LinkedIn page for my newsletter a couple of months ago. I’ve been posting articles, quotes, and useful stuff I’ve found related to anti-racism. But when I reshare the page posts on my own profile, they get the same treatment as other reshares - low visibility.
Using hashtags related to anti-racism. Despite its claims to the contrary, as I mentioned in LinkedIn, We Need to Talk (Again), the evidence suggests that LinkedIn discriminates against this content. Sometimes I use them anyway, but mostly I leave the hashtags out or pick other hashtags relevant to other parts of my post (such as #business #education #writing). Sometimes I get away with using #inclusion, but I can never tell for sure if I will.
Tagging a gazillion people in the post. I got this tip from John Espirian. The way the algorithm works is if you tag people and they respond, your post gets a boost. If they don’t respond, then it sinks further into obscurity. So if you ARE going to tag people in the post, make sure they are people you can rely on to engage. Better to tag a few who you KNOW will comment than every single person who might possibly be interested. And you can also tag more people later, in the comments.
What Works - and How it Works
There are two types of posts that consistently get visibility on LinkedIn for me: image posts and text posts.
Image posts (like this thank-you post) get decent visibility when they are true image posts (where you post the image first and add the text after). Writing the text and adding an image doesn’t usually have the same reach for me.
Text-only posts remain the most successful content for me. I’ve had text-only posts get tens of thousands of views, especially if I:
avoid any trigger words
don’t tag anyone LinkedIn is already suppressing
don’t use hashtags unless they are really general
don’t include external links
Anyone who’s been following me for a while, knows to look for all that stuff in the comments.
Now, what I sometimes do is go back after a post gains momentum and add the links back in. It’s best to wait a day or two to do that, The reason I do that is because when people reshare my post, their network won’t have immediate access to the links unless I do that. I’ll confess that I don’t remember to do it every time, but it really is a good idea.
Here’s another thing I’ve noticed. If I write a text-only post about suppression and tag LinkedIn and LinkedIn Help, a LOT more people see it. My last post of that type is at 19,000 views and counting.
But suppression remains a BIG problem. For example, on the day of the Rittenhouse verdict, I wrote a brief post, but had to go to the post to see comments - no notifications came up. It’s as if it didn’t exist.
For now, I’m tracking incidents in The Ongoing Evidence That LinkedIn is Censoring Black Creators. (I’m working on a better solution with some interested people.) If you’re being censored, feel free to drop by and share your screenshots of the suppressed content. And in case LinkedIn shuts me down, I’m also maintaining a copy on Linked Inclusion.
Finally, a to-do for would-be allies: you can help by liking, commenting, and sharing Black creators’ content and posts from people dedicated to anti-racism. The minute you see their posts, drop by and leave a reaction, and if, you have the time, a comment. That makes it more likely to be seen, and helps Black creators and those writing about anti-racism beat the algorithm.
Will things get better for Black creators on LinkedIn? I’m not holding my breath. I’m just glad we can connect here, beyond the reach of their racist algorithms.
Thanks for reading,
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Cover photo courtesy of Canva.