Jun 25, 2019

Exclusive: LinkedIn goes niche

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Linkedin will today announce algorithm changes made over the past 12-18 months to favor conversations in its Feed that cater to niche professional interests, as opposed to elevating viral content, its executives tell Axios.

The big picture: News feeds that were fundamentally built to connect one voice to many are struggling to deliver on value as communication trends move to more personal and ephemeral conversations.

Driving the news: Users may have noticed that their notifications or engagements on LinkedIn have increased lately.

  • LinkedIn has done this in part, because internal research found that participation wasn't even across the platform, and that much of the attention in on LinkedIn was skewed towards the top 1% of power users, according to Tim Jurka, Director of Artificial Intelligence at LinkedIn.

Changes include:

  • Elevating content that users are most likely to join in conversation, which typically means people that users interact with directly in the feed through comments and reactions, or people who have shared interests with you based on your profile.
  • Elevating a post from someone closer to a users' interests or network if it needs more engagement, not if it's already going viral.
  • Elevating conversations with things that encourage a response (like opinions commentary alongside content), as well as posts that use mentions and hashtags to bring other people and interests into the conversation and elevating posts from users that respond to commenters.
  • Elevating niche topics of conversation will perform better than broad ones. (When it comes to length, LinkedIn says its algorithm doesn’t favor any particular format, despite rumors that it does.)

Be smart: If this sounds familiar, it's because LinkedIn is the latest social network to change its feed algorithm to get people to engage more, instead of just passively scroll through the app and website.

  • Facebook began talking about changes it was making to its News Feed to favor posts from close friends over brands and publishers in 2018.
  • Snapchat separated social from media on its app in 2017 to keep conversations intimate among friends.

Why it matters: Higher-quality engagement matters because its often more attractive to advertisers, according to Pete Davies, Head of LinkedIn Feed Product.

  • "Member engagement is at an all-time high, driven by record levels of engagement in the feed and content being shared," says Davies. "LinkedIn Marketing Solutions revenue is up 46% year-over-year.”
  • Last year, Axios reported that LinkedIn planned to bring in $2 billion from its marketing solutions business.

Between the lines: LinkedIn has been hinting at this for a while.

  • Audience development managers tells Axios that LinkedIn editors have been asking publishers to have their reporters share content to boost posts from authoritative individuals, as opposed to having content come from brands directly.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 721,584 — Total deaths: 33,958 — Total recoveries: 149,122.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 142,106 — Total deaths: 2,479 — Total recoveries: 2,686.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump says his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

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The big picture: Governments around the world have stepped up public health and economic measures to stop the spread of the virus and soften the financial impact. In the U.S., now the site of the largest outbreak in the world, President Trump said Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30.

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Driving the news: With the original 15-day period that was announced March 16 about to end, officials around the country had been bracing for a premature call to return to normalcy from a president who's been venting lately that the prescription for containing the virus could be worse than the impacts of the virus itself.

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