Writing for marketing

The rules of engagement on LinkedIn

11 minute read

If you’re posting on LinkedIn, you probably have goals related to doing so. Most of us aren’t there just to shout into a void.

But making your LinkedIn a place where you can both feel engaged and create engagement involves a bit of work. Here’s how to make sure you’re set up for success.


Follow official advice

My number one rule when it comes to trying different content strategies on LinkedIn is to first find out what the official advice is.

If you ever venture into the LinkedIn Engineering blog, you’ll find many of the articles are highly technical in nature and apparently written for data scientists. But occasionally there are insightful articles written by LinkedIn staffers in charge of the feed and other product areas, which provide actionable guidance about publishing on their platform.

I should also mention that paying close attention to the official LinkedIn blog is generally a good idea. LinkedIn constantly tweaks their algorithms on the basis of the data they receive – and their users are constantly generating heaps of data. They won’t tell you exactly what they’re up to, but they do sometimes drop major hints.

I’m highlighting (and unpicking) snippets from two official LinkedIn articles that shed light on the current rules of engagement on LinkedIn.


‘New controls to surface the conversations that matter to you’
Liz Li, LinkedIn’s People and Product Leader

We know that starting a conversation on Linkedin, by crafting a post with just the right words, takes time (and in some cases, courage!), and you want your voice to reach the right audience so it can spark conversations that help you be productive and successful.

That’s why we want to clarify how the posts you publish on LinkedIn are distributed, and share a few changes we’ve made to make sure your feed and your posting experience are as helpful to your career journey as possible.

How Your Content Gets Shared
Let’s start with what happens once you hit ‘Post.’

  • Your post can be seen by your connections and followers in their feed (unless you’ve limited your visibility settings).
  • If your content (whether a new post or a comment on a post/article in your feed) is relevant and sparking productive conversations, it may be visible to others in the community beyond your connections and followers. Relevance includes conversations that are timely, authentic, and reflect real-life conversations in the workplace or that deeply affect our workplace experiences. Some of the most widely read and distributed content is on working from home, advice on solving unemployment, the discussion around racial equity in the workplace, and tips on building diverse teams.

So, get the topic, angle and/or timing right, and the reach of your content could go beyond just your immediate connections. But what does getting it right look like?

Keep it real

First, note that Li says ‘relevance includes‘ – so it’s not an exhaustive list. And as for ‘conversations that are timely, authentic and reflect real-life conversations in the workplace or that deeply affect our workplace experiences’: this casts a very wide net. Basically, anything and everything that impacts you as a professional is appropriate according to the LinkedIn Gods.

Ideally it’s a hot topic (timely) and you’re not faking it (authentic). But how would we know? I’m not sure that LinkedIn is ‘reflecting real-life’ since there’s a lot of posturing, and it can be impossible to determine what’s real and fake. Many users are motivated to get reach no matter what, right?

You may recall the widely criticised ‘Crying CEO’ post, where the author posted a picture of himself in tears after laying off some of his staff. Thousands of commenters on his post expressed their disapproval of what they considered to be a perverse and self-serving attention grab. Real people lost their livelihoods and the CEO wrote about how it affected him. Many saw this post as highly manipulative.

Back to Li:

Surface the Conversations That Matter to You
Your feed should be conversations and news relevant to you based on the people you are connected with, the people and organisations you follow, and the topics you’ve shown interest in. But sometimes, you might see something that isn’t relevant or that you don’t want in your feed.

To curate your feed beyond engaging with content, you can also signal to us what you want to see more and less of by clicking the three dots (…) on a post. This will open a toolbox of options available, including saving the post to review later, hiding the specific post from your feed by clicking ‘I don’t want to see this,’ and reporting the post. A new option we just rolled out in this section lets you mute an individual or Page who might show up on your feed because a connection of yours commented, reacted, or reshared that individual’s content.


Train your feed

To make sure your feed is a place where you’re well set up to engage in conversations that matter to you, you may have to actively manage it.

You can look at the ‘recommended for you’ sections under ‘My Network’ (at the top) to see how your feed is currently being curated based on your interests and activity. If it’s a random mix of topics, you have work to do.

I think it’s clear that LinkedIn expects us to regularly signal what kind of content we are interested in. One of the ways LinkedIn wants us to do this is by responding to pop-up menus in the feed itself, like this one:

LinkedIn's 'Don't want to see this' pop-up. Full description below under summary field 'Open description of image'
Open description of image

Pop-up box with radio button options. The main heading is ‘Don’t want to see this’. Below that, it reads:

Tell us why you don’t want to see this
Your feedback will help us improve your experience

  • I’m not interested in the author
  • I’m not interested in this topic
  • I don’t want to see political content
  • It’s something else


You can mute someone you don’t follow or unfollow someone you do directly in the feed, by clicking on the three dots at the top right of their post.

And you can use these functions as a temporary way to remove the person from your feed. It’s temporary because it is easily reversed by re-following them (by going to their profile page and clicking on ‘Follow’).

Want to see more posts? Make sure you follow people you want to hear from and engage with their content when you see it. You can also subscribe to Newsletters and follow hashtags and influencers to ensure you’re seeing content relevant to your career and industry.

Engaging with people will provide a strong signal to the LinkedIn algorithm and should bring more of their content (and the topics they talk about) into your feed. Potentially, it will also bring your content to their feed, if they reciprocate by following you and engaging.


Visit the pages of your favourite authors

So ‘engage with their content when you see it’ – but what if you don’t see it? The message here is that if we want to see more content from people we like, we can’t only rely on the feed. We need to take matters into our own hands.

This means if you want to improve your chances of seeing someone’s content, you need to visit their ‘Activity’ section regularly – that’s in addition to following them and clicking on their bell. (Note you won’t see their bell if you’re not following them.)

And engage. It’s actually not enough to view the author’s profile, follow them and click their bell. LinkedIn requires more relationship proof. The strongest signal you can send to LinkedIn that you want to see more of someone’s content? Comment on, react to and share that person’s content.

The word on the street is that reposting someone’s post and saving it (to read later) are the latest form of strong signals you can send that you want to see more from this author. In effect, they indicate support publicly and interest privately.

LinkedIn's save option. Full description below under summary field 'Open description of image'

Save a post for later by clicking the three dots at the top of the post, then ‘Save’.

Open description of image

Close-up view of the top of a LinkedIn post with a dropdown menu below the three dots in the top right corner. The menu options on display are ‘Save’, ‘Copy link to post’ and ‘Embed this post’. A large arrow points to ‘Save’.


LinkedIn's repost button. Full description below under summary field 'Open description of image'

Repost using the button at the bottom of the post.

Open description of image

Close-up view of the buttons at the bottom of a LinkedIn post: Like, Comment, Repost and Send. A large arrow points to ‘Repost’.


Now on to the other article.

‘Keeping your feed relevant and productive’
Linda Leung, LinkedIn’s Director of Product

Over the last two years, we’ve heard from so many of our members that conversations on LinkedIn have changed and are more vibrant with many of you sharing insights on breaking news, ideas for solving difficult professional challenges, inspirational stories or helping others in the community connect to incredible job opportunities.


The Covid effect

I think this is an acknowledgment of the effect that the pandemic has had on the nature of LinkedIn content, especially from 2019 to 2022. LinkedIn became another version of Facebook when personal sharing and treating the reader more as a friend than a colleague spilled over into all social media sites, including LinkedIn.

Some said personal content became the dominant type of post on the platform. The editor-in-chief of LinkedIn, Dan Roth, recently referred to personal content on LinkedIn as a ‘flood’. What hasn’t changed on LinkedIn is that people tend to appreciate and respond to writers who are able to transmit their ideas authentically. Don’t feel that you have to overshare, just keep it real and, ideally, relevant to your target audience.

What you’ll see more of in your feed
Posts that spark conversations and engaging discussions are the posts that we heard you find especially helpful to your career growth and development. Here’s what we’re doing to make sure you see more of these types of conversations:

  • Updates that matter from your network: staying up to date on your network is a key part of the feed, but that doesn’t mean you need (or want!) to see all the activity from every single one of your connections. For example, you may not get a lot of value from seeing a connection’s comment on someone else’s post about a job change if you don’t know that other person. That’s why we’ll be showing you more targeted activity from your network, and where you’ll be more likely to join the conversation, too.


Big picture

LinkedIn seems to be saying not just ‘Let’s get back to work,’ but also ‘Let’s focus on hearing from people that are important to you.’ I think Leung is telegraphing that Covid-era conversations are not the same as work discussions and professional networking is what the platform wants to be known for. From a recruiter’s perspective, it’s much harder to determine fit from personal posts than it is from a candidate who regularly shares their professional views and experience-based content.

  • News and insights from people you want to learn from: We’re hearing more and more that people who you care about or want to hear from are actually people outside your network who you don’t know personally. These are thought leaders, industry experts, and creators who are talking about things relevant to your career or everyday work. That’s why we’re creating more ways to follow people throughout the feed experience, and making sure you see conversations from those people who you have told us matter to you.



They’re also telling us how important discovery is and that they will be using the feed to introduce us to new authors who write relevant content. It’s a different message than the previous one: sure, love the authors you know – but here are other authors you may grow to love, too.


Keeping the feed authentic and useful
We’re also addressing feedback about what you want to see less of in your feed. Here are some of the updates:

  • Reducing low-quality content: We’ve seen a number of posts that expressly ask or encourage the community to engage with content via likes or reactions — posted with the exclusive intent of boosting reach on the platform. We’ve heard this type of content can be misleading and frustrating for some of you. We won’t be promoting this type of content and we encourage everyone in the community to focus on delivering reliable, credible and authentic content.


Don't manipulate

Content that tries to strong-arm engagement by promising to boost things like profile visits and connections in return for comments and reposts will actually suffer in terms of reach. Don’t write posts which only (or overtly) seek to boost distribution. Find ways to elicit engagement organically, as a natural by-product of a well-written and well-targeted post.


Getting engagement (and experimenting)

Be a student. Why are you following the people you are on LinkedIn? Probably because their content is consistently good (and relevant), right?

Be clinical and assess why their content pulls you in and keeps your attention. Is it because they waste no time getting to the point? Is it because they are great at storytelling? Is it because they’re so unique and talented that you can’t get their content elsewhere? Maybe it’s simply because you like their personality and the way they express themselves.

What lessons can you learn from watching other creators do their thing on LinkedIn? Treat the platform as a giant laboratory. You can see what success looks like – so work backwards to figure out why and how creators are consistently sparking engagement. Then apply that knowledge to your content strategy.


Find your voice

The best advice I can give my clients is to write how they speak when they post on LinkedIn. This does two things: it puts you in conversation mode and it removes any pressure you may feel to be something you are not.

My take is that you’ve found your voice if what you write feels authentic and you’re very comfortable – perhaps even excited – after clicking ‘Publish’.

I write as if I’m having an imaginary conversation with my readers. I pretend or assume that they already know my opinions – and if they’ve read some of my content for a while, that will be true. I also tend to be direct and no-nonsense in the way that I communicate. I’ve found my audience responds well to this approach. I also love snark and humour (and 80s references).

The point is, I’ve found what works for me – and an audience to go with it. And you can do the same.


Image credit: Abel Justin / Shutterstock


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Andy Foote

LinkedIn coach

Andy is a LinkedIn coach specialising in content strategy. He has developed and tested multiple LinkedIn techniques which maximise results for busy professionals looking to get the best results from the LinkedIn ecosystem.

Andy created his 'Optima Blue' community in January 2023 to share best practices and provide solopreneurs and business owners with LinkedIn visibility, support and insights.

A lawyer by training, his professional experience includes recruitment, HR consulting, career transition coaching and teaching. He has worked with a wide variety of clients in many different industries, globally, over the past two decades.

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