#HashtagWinning: The Secrets of LinkedIn Content Data

#HashtagWinning: The Secrets of LinkedIn Content Data

Ever feel like you’re shouting and nobody’s listening? We don’t need a mountain of data to understand the ‘corona effect’ on our marketing.

As a self-confessed LinkedIn junkie, I get a kick out of creating content. Sure, I use Twitter, Facebook and the ‘gram, but LinkedIn is the place where I make my most valuable connections. Hence, you can imagine my utter heartbreak when all my engagement fell off a cliff:

LinkedIn views since February 2020

Fig 1. Note the downward trend in views after lockdown was announced.

There are a number of theories for this.

  1. Nobody’s on LinkedIn – they’re looking after their kids, or worrying about bigger things.
  2. Everybody’s on LinkedIn – we’re fighting for space in the feed.
  3. Your content’s sh*te, Katie, and no one cares about your smiley videos during a pandemic.

Please don’t be #3. When I began to notice views, comments and likes taking a downward spiral, I decided it was time to do a little investigating.

Content data analysis: views, likes, comments and more

Of course, said investigation was not carried out by me, but my data extraordinaire fiancé. All I did was give him the metrics. He crunched the numbers and produced some pretty fine-looking charts. We settled on February to present date so we could really focus on the C-word. We analysed the following:

  • Time
  • Use of hashtags
  • Views
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Content topic
  • Other people tagged
  • Media type e.g. text only, video or image
  • Content distribution e.g. sharing someone else’s post, linking to external websites etc.

The results were pretty surprising. They were also pretty scary at times, but they helped me to reach the end goal: to find out what constitutes the ‘perfect post’.

So, what is the best kind of LinkedIn post for engagement?

Let’s start with the obvious. Everybody always says the LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t like content that takes users off the website. As we can see below in Fig. 2, content linking to other websites, including my own, sits firmly in the “below average likes and views” quadrant. Interestingly though, take hashtags away and engagement sits neatly next to average…but we’ll get to that.

Content types

Fig 2. Linking to external websites is a big no-no for engagement.

Visual content works best.

Shooting myself in the foot here as a writer, but there, I said it. Video is king. Or rather, video and image-led pieces topped the charts for likes and views. That’s not to discount text-only posts altogether, you understand – in fact, these fared very well in terms of views, but didn’t rack up the likes. It’s a similar story for comments, only these need to have hashtags to bump up the numbers.

It seems people like an image to draw them in. As a writer, my stance is that it wouldn’t make sense for me to post a picture of a lone boiled egg. It needs to be backed up by substance – i.e. valuable, written content.

Content types

Fig 3. Video and image content is king, but needs substance.

People love to read about events

Another metric I wanted to investigate was the specific content themes that would pique people’s interest. It’s a pretty solid two fingers to corona. As you can see from Fig. 4, people view and like content that involves rubbing shoulders with others – whether that’s the launch party for a new app or BrightonSEO.

What do they not like? Well, it seems, anything that’s too niche and not relevant to them. Case in point – not everybody likes jumping out of a plane. My skydive post quite literally took a nosedive. Likewise, travel content may have been too niche for some.

Content themes

Fig. 4. People love positive content that talks about others.

One thing that did strike me as odd was that tagging other people seemed to have no effect. When I tag others it’s because I want them to engage and be recognised for their hard work, but of course, it’s also to get more exposure. My only conclusion is that tagging others then requires them to engage before other people can see it.

And now for the biggest shock…

Hashtags. On LinkedIn. I hear you recoil in horror. I too was of that mindset. What place do these awkward, faux-engagement hacks have on a professional platform like LinkedIn?

It turns out, quite a lot. They work on exactly the same principle as Twitter and (urgh) Facebook – people follow certain hashtags and they see more content as a result. Just look at the impact hashtags have on engagement (hashtags in green, no hashtags in red). You’ll never question them again.

The benefits of hashtags

Fig. 5. Content with hashtags ranks higher in almost every category.

The perfect LinkedIn post

We may be battling for newsfeed real estate, but it looks like we’ve “hacked the system” with this intriguing, albeit small, data set. If you’re just starting out, try a mixture of the following attributes to maximise your engagement:

  • Native content on LinkedIn (not linking elsewhere)
  • Images or videos (add subtitles to videos – something I’ve just started doing!)
  • Valuable written content to give the visual posts context
  • Hashtags – try LinkedIn’s suggestions for more views and likes
  • Positive content that talks about working with others, but doesn’t have to tag them.

Now that I’ve started this exercise, I’m going to review it every few months. Who knows how the pandemic will shape the way we engage with content? All I know is, I’m getting down with the kids and using dem hashtags.

Until next time.

*Please note this is based on my limited data alone and makes no assumptions about how LinkedIn ranks content. Please also note my data cruncher’s face – it’s lovely.

My data analyst

LinkedIn engagement
Katie Lingo
by Katie Lingo
24th April 2020