The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: How the LinkedIn Newsfeed is Fixed.

How the LinkedIn Newsfeed is Fixed.

At the start of 2015 I probably had half the number of followers on LinkedIn I do now.

Yet I have seen no change in the readership levels of my LinkedIn Publications.

I can look at other peoples LinkedIn posts too and see they are not progressing either, although they have massively increased their followers.

In August I did this exercise. For all my posts, I used the analytics that LinkedIn provide authors and I calculated  this number:


It was always more or less the same number, between about 5 and 11.

I asked another person to do it for posts. The same outcome. I looked at a lot more posts. Always the same.

Clearly recorded views are fixed.  The algorithm for the newsfeed is such that the update is only seen in connections newsfeeds, until there has been a fixed number of clicks on it, then it disappears from sight. To test this we shared 14 posts from an external blog which at the time was receiving little traffic, so we could observe how many views these shares generated using independent analytics. The number of views these shares generated were all remarkably consistent, between 10 and 20 and the sudden drop of views was starkly apparent. There was no lingering tail of views. This evidences strongly that the newsfeed updates are only visible until a quota of clicks on the links have been received and subsequently they are de-prioritized.

The person posting these shares to their LinkedIn newsfeed which received just 10-20 views had some 15,000 followers, by the way.

I then set about keeping meticulous records of activity and view numbers on my Publications. What I found was very clear indeed. After each engagement (like, comment or share) on a LinkedIn Publication, the view count jumps up after a delay period, but only by a handful (usually less than 10) regardless of how many connections or followers the engaging person has. To confirm this, I asked a connection with 25,000 followers to comment on a colleagues' publications which were struggling - this intervention still only increased view numbers by a small amount and then the views stopped.

So for an update to continue accruing views on LinkedIn, a chain of engagements are required to keep it visible, but the number of views generated is not influenced by number of connections or followers the person engaging with the post has.

In October 2015 LinkedIn changed the algorithm so that the quota on a newsfeed update was halved. This means for the average user, views/(likes+shares+comments) is between 2.5 and 5.
I then explored when a link click from an external source counts or not. I tested this on other people's LinkedIn publications. I clicked thru from links in tweets and from google+ shares. These clicks thrus were recorded on the Publications and appeared after a short delay, provided I was logged in to LinkedIn at the time. However, click thrus to Publications when logged out from LinkedIn or from private browser windows did not create a view increment at all.

Social sharing can generate views, but only from LinkedIn Users and only from those who are logged in at the time. Therefore LinkedIn's view counts are not accurate representations of actual views. Moreover, since engagements are required to generate visibility of a Publication to other Users on LinkedIn but at the same time private (logged out, non-Users) cannot engage on the Publication, the effect of social sharing on LinkedIn is significantly and artificially damped.

I then observed carefully how Publications appeared in the Newsfeed as engagements happened live, for both my own and other peoples' posts. This included observing the Newsfeed in both the Top Updates and Recent Updates modes.

The Recent Updates list shows clearly that whenever someone visits it anew, they will find only one single update corresponding to any specific link exists at any one time. That is: if one of your connections generates a Newsfeed Update by engaging on a publication, but then later another connection engages on the same Publication, only the Update created by the most recent engagement appears when next you visit your Newsfeed, while the previous person's Update is wiped off the record.
It means if ten of your connection's all comment on your publication, this does not create ten updates when you visit your newsfeed, it creates just one. The most recent one.

Likewise, ten engagements on your publications do not create ten more chances for other users to see your Publication in the newsfeed, they create just one per user. Each user only ever has a chance to see the most recent Update generated from any of ten people with whom they are connected.

Rapid and numerous engagements on publications do not create self-accelerating organic growth on LinkedIn. For each user, only the latest engagement from across their connections on a given publication will be available in their feed next time they look. There is only ever a single chance at a time to see a given Publication listed in the newsfeed. The prioritization of this engagement in the Top Updates version of the newsfeed is however,  strongly affected by who engaged on it last.

So there you have it. This is how the newsfeed algorithm works: each update is farmed out or prioritized until it has been clicked on by a limited numbers of people and then it is gone.
The only way it can get more airtime is if another newsfeed update is generated. This can occur by one of three ways.

A comment.

A like.

A share.

That's it. So "engagement" = "views" is true, but it is totally manufactured to be that way on LinkedIn.

Note that liking, sharing and  commenting on a post at the same time also does not create three updates, only the last action can be found in the newsfeed.

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