Social Media

LinkedIn’s post update has divided users: are you in favour?

- June 1, 2021 4 MIN READ

Content that inspires, educates, informs and entertains is the lifeblood of LinkedIn.  Every member has the opportunity to contribute organic content and share their expertise and value.  But with the diversity of members,  preferences, algorithm changes and formats it’s not a simple task to gain visibility and traction.

LinkedIn regularly updates the platform structure removing and adding features and adjusting algorithm machinations.   With representation from every sector, profession and demographic it’s a vibrant platform. . And with such richness comes a variety of content style preferences.   The big differentiation of the platform is the brand promise of professional content and conversations which drive meaningful engagement.

It’s reported only one to two per cent of members contribute content and only a small portion of members engage and comment publicly.  Most lurk as they consume content and hence it can be a challenge for businesses to navigate content strategy and formats that inspire and influence.

Debate erupts over latest LinkedIn update

From the latest 2021 round of new features and updates, LinkedIn increased the character limit on Posts from 1300 to 3000.  This was sudden and surprising news.

Since the notification (last week of May), I counted over 70 global Polls asking for opinions of this upgrade. Was it a Yes, No, or Depends re the value as a consumer and curator/ content/person. A huge volume of comments and feedback flowed.

Polls individual vote counts ranged from 50 up to 2000 members.  The aggregate of statistics came in at circa 40 per cent YES, 30 per cent NO and 30 per cent Depends.

Some feedback was combative and quite derogatory to members with fears that the upgrade will see an explosion of poor quality posts.   Some arguments were quite surprising as individual perspectives and judgements spilled to time-poor generalisations and derision of writers who couldn’t get a message into 1300 characters. .

Other feedback was of great relief that limits would not hamstring content. Greater flexibility was welcome to communicate information and to flesh out great stories.  And engaging storytelling was a key desire for many in a longer format that would receive algorithm push.

The 30 per cent who voted for Depends were open to the value based on how interesting the topic and person was.   Some content curators felt already stretched and pressured and had no desire to use more. Many shared concerns re time constraints and low attention spans.

 A bit of background and context on the LinkedIn post debate

Before I share my own thoughts on this update, it’s valuable to share some background of content and the article length positioning.

Back in 2014 LinkedIn gave all (then) 300 million members access to their ‘influencer only ’publishing tool.  This was an exciting time giving everyone a voice to share content.  And share they did with great success, engagement and notifications. Over the next few years the newsfeed was diverse with a wide variety of content and posts with equal algorithm weightage (so it seemed).

Then as memberships grew exponentially (in 2021 now at 756 million) and the race and scramble for visibility and influence took hold Posts were given algorithm favour and Articles were relegated way back.

In the quest to grab a slice of the LinkedIn pie of opportunity Posts exploded of all types and quality.  From vacuous car video fluff to serious industry updates the range of content in the newsfeed was as diverse as it was relentless.

LinkedIn is a profit-making machine and eyeballs remaining on the platform to view advertising is key along with membership and recruiter revenue.  Many changes to the algorithm occurred along with an explosion of automated gaming activity and engagement pods that impacted the reach of organic contact.  To address this LinkedIn introduced dwell time to identify and push the content that was actually consumed.

Of note, Newsletters were introduced in 2020. Only available to a select few they are housed in the Article section.  Newsletters are subscriber based and every subscriber receives notifications on publishing.  The metrics, success and engagement of them is tremendous. This indicates very clearly that members want to follow certain content and not miss out, and that long-form content is valued.

The question is still unanswered if all members will be given access to Newsletters.  If so and how, what is the implication of Posts longer form future?

My views

I am an advocate of equal content options to meet diverse abilities and needs. There is no one size fits all here and water will find its own level. I believe this is a great content opportunity when used wisely.

Every piece of content has unique objectives and subject needs.   Sometimes ‘less is more’ and at other times ‘more is best’.

Brevity is great when it can be executed with gravitas.  Many topics though require deeper and longer content to do the subject matter justice.   Style, tone and structure and flow are critical for very piece of content and message.

The 3000 limit is an option not a mandate. No one is forcing it and just because 3000 characters (circa 500 words) are available does not mean you should or must use them. It’s ok grasshopper so relax!

As to the concern that newsfeeds will be further deluged with poor quality, self-aggrandising ‘wannabe influencer’ content and l waffle, I don’t envisage an increase.  Currently, there is a plethora of this anyhow.

The Mute and Unfollow buttons on the top of every Post are brilliant tools to control and tailor your own newsfeed. You can drive a better feed experience, so use them.

Final thoughts on the LinkedIn update

I have been surprised at how this update has divided and driven judgement narratives.  Everyone is different and respect and cognition of sectors and topics needs is important.  What is consistent though is the quest for content and engagement that is meaningful and resonates.

Let’s see how this plays out as I think this update has more to it.  And yes I will at times avail of more characters.

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