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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.