How I Cracked the Code Behind LinkedIn's Algorithms

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This January, after over a decade of being on LinkedIn, I got my very best results. As my Antonio would say, it was, “muy fabuloso.”

Let me teach you how to join the fiesta and do the LinkedIn Macarena!


Let’s vamonos!

First let’s have a chit chat about how this LinkedIn fiesta works

The fundamental concept that you must understand about LinkedIn is this:

It is not a meritocracy, it’s an attention-getting contest.

LinkedIn wants you to focus your follower’s attention on its website. It wants your followers to view more content on LinkedIn.

  • And if you do that, LinkedIn will reward you by pushing up your content to more people in the newsfeed within and outside of your native following.
  • If you don’t do that, LinkedIn will bury it to oblivion.

That’s it.

See how simple that was?

I didn’t program the algorithm and I don’t work there, but this is what I have determined is reality. Initially when you post, your content doesn’t get broadcast to your following. Experts say it only goes to about 7% of your followers.

The LinkedIn algorithms review your posting after the initial engagement period has passed, and then decides if your posting is good enough to show to more people within your network beyond the initial 7% (or whatever percentage it uses).

So how do advisors get leads from LinkedIn?

Do what it takes to be the life of the LinkedIn party.

Whenever you post something, ask yourself this question:

What can I do to get as many people in my following as possible to like, share, and comment on this posting?

Be at the center of conversations on the platform. The more activity you start, the more you are doing what LinkedIn wants: getting people’s attention focused on its platform.

Don’t try to be the smartest person on LinkedIn – be the most engaging, credible, and exciting person, so that everyone wants to see what you’ll do next.

Here are three things advisors are doing that is preventing them from getting leads from LinkedIn.

1. Using third-party content directly in a posting

Some advisors are getting taken for your money using services that push out generic, third-party articles from Kiplinger, Barron’s, or the likes.

Stop it right now. LinkedIn is going to punish you by burying your content.

  1. It’s boring, which means fewer people will engage.
  2. Other people are posting it, which means there is a lower likelihood that people will get excited about it and engage.
  3. It contains links directly in the body of the article

When you use a third-party link that points away to another website, it’s as if you showed up to LinkedIn’s Mardi Gras party and said, “Hey everyone! I’m having a rockin’ barbecue three blocks down – hop on my scooter. You’re gonna love the babyback ribs!”

Now, would you expect the Mardis Gras party host to like you very much?

No. You ruined their party.

And that is exactly why LinkedIn is not going to serve up your content to one more person than it has to. Respect the rules of the fiesta and don’t be the one trying to hog the sangria!

Get on the dance floor and shake it up. I’d rather see a TikTok of you with a suit on dancing to the first lines of the song.

“When I dance, they call me Macarena.”

LinkedIn will push up your video to the skies!

Or you may be more an “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys-type of lip syncer. Ah, the nineties!

2. Using the wrong words in the first two lines

I just browsed my newsfeed and here are some examples of horrendous first and second lines from LinkedIn postings:

CEO Ms. X discusses what makes a great REIT.

You know, when I got up this morning, I thought I was the smartest person in the world. But after seeing this posting, I realize I was wrong. You are the smartest person in the world, in fact. I just realized it when I saw this stunning piece of information.

I’m so humbled to announce that I recently was named to the (won’t say the name of the publication) top advisor list for 2020! Such a great way to start the new year.

You’re humble? Is that why you feel the need to broadcast your virtues to the world?

Are you curious about how 2021 capital gains rules could radically improve your taxes? Download your free guide here.

Sorry, I’d rather go balance my checkbook (an equivalently unappealing task).

The first two lines are the posting’s headline. They should be:

  • Conversational
  • Humorous
  • Using the word “you” instead of “I” or “we”
  • Ironic
  • Puzzling
  • Fun
  • Atypical
  • Inspiring
  • Reflective

Include an exclamation point, emoji, hashtag, and/or symbol (breaks up boring text) in the first line. Include a question mark in the second sentence

Here are some examples of first lines that worked for me.

Here are some other great LinkedIn first lines:

  • Can I ask you a weird question?
  • Let's play a game of "truth or dare”
  • I need to make a confession…

To engage people, you have to write the entire post correctly. There are four major parts to a proper LinkedIn script.

3. Using LinkedIn messenger like a cold call

I’m amazed at advisors who whine and complain about wholesalers pitching them the latest hot fund. And then they turn around and behave just as badly, sending out 150 thoughtless messages a day trying to get business owners on LinkedIn to open a SEP IRA.

Are you using one of the automated message services? High volume, low personalization? Stop sending those messages right now.

The objective of sending a LinkedIn messages isn’t to get the meeting, get the sale, or impress the prospect with your knowledge. The point is to get the person to respond meaningfully.

The low volume, high personalization approach works best. I’ll quote directly from my book, 47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages.

A good LinkedIn message is:

  • Thoughtful
  • Curious
  • Non assuming
  • Sincere
  • Reflective of your intrigue towards them
  • Intelligent
  • Surprising
  • Brief
  • Giving
  • Reflective of information they already told you or that you read in their profile or elsewhere online
  • Indicating a sincere intention to make their lives better without attachment to any self-serving particular outcome
  • Making the prospect feel that you are different from the other washing machine salespeople posing as financial advisors, and that they have nothing to be afraid of

Use two sentences; anything more and they have to scroll and they will ignore you.

I did an experiment last week in which I started conversations on LinkedIn messenger and just sheerly focused on the other person. I didn’t pitch, didn’t talk about myself, didn’t even mention what I do for a living. I went to extremes. In some cases, I went to their websites, read their bios, and found out what sports teams they liked and started talking about that. The point is, I made the effort to have the convo be about them not me.

The results?

  • Higher responses rate
  • Less ghosting
  • Many of them liked or commented on my subsequent posts in the newsfeed
  • More relaxed and authentic conversations

It may take you longer to get them to come around, but you can not sound like a washing machine salesperson on LinkedIn messenger. You have to move them to take action. But they’re not getting up off that couch until you get down and do the Macarena!

Sara’s upshot

There’s a delicate art to succeeding on LinkedIn and there is a plethora of technical factors that advisors should be too busy to spend time figuring out.

If you need LinkedIn coaching, join my membership.

For two-sentence LinkedIn scripts, check out my 47 Financial Advisor LinkedIn Messages e-book.

Sara Grillo, CFA, is a marketing consultant who helps investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms fight the tendency to scatter meaningless clichés on their prospects and bore them as a result. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor.

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