RACISM | BLACK LIVES MATTER | TECHNOLOGY
What Works For This Black Creator on LinkedIn
An unscientific guide for those involved in anti-racism and equity work
I’ve been writing about digital marketing for more than ten years, and I have a reasonable idea of what’s supposed to get visibility on social media. But in the five months that I’ve been writing regularly about racism and anti-racism, I’ve found that a lot of what’s supposed to work doesn’t for those writing about diversity, anti-racism and related issues. So, here’s an unscientific guide (based on my own profile stats) to what’s working right now.
The Type of Content Matters
I’m not yet using live video, but it looks to me like if you do, people see it. That’s perhaps because it’s one of LinkedIn’s shiny new things (the other being Stories, which I haven’t used yet). Unlike other content that seems to mysteriously disappear from my feed, a lot of video shows up. And sharing video can also result in views.
Images can often work, too. What works best for me is to make the image the post and add text rather than the other way round. That can make your content more visible, though again, this doesn’t work with every image.
Reshared images get less visibility for me than original images, and sometimes the text you include can make a huge difference, too. I’ll talk more about text a bit later.
Blogging on LinkedIn isn’t a bad way to attract attention, but it is also hit or miss.
For me, hands down the best way to get eyes on my content is to write a plain text post, which can get thousands of views.
How to Tank Your Text Post
Even with text only posts, visibility can change depending on the actual content of the post. Items that have reduced visibility for my own posts include:
- External links — you’d think sharing valuable content would be a good thing, but a lot of posts with external links might as well be invisible
- Tagging people the algorithm has already flagged (LinkedIn, don’t think we didn’t notice that some Black creators are persona non grata, algorithmically speaking)
- Using hashtags related to diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism and the like (ironically, hashtags are supposed to make it easier to find your content, but it seems they also make it easier for algorithms to suppress it)
- Language around blackness, whiteness, ethnicity — some people get around this with creative but still readable misspellings but put the correct spellings in your post and suppression is almost bound to happen.
I also have a theory that using a combination of trigger words makes it harder to get visibility. Use variations on just one, as I did in a recent post, and your content just might slip past the algorithmic police.
Sharing Isn’t Caring
Resharing content is also hit or miss — mostly miss. I’ve got a decent audience on LinkedIn, heading towards 3,000 now, but if I reshare an article from someone who’s previously had content suppressed (and there are plenty of us), the views can be in single digits.
Let that sink in for a minute. This is supposed to be a platform where we can share insights related to business — and what’s better for business than diversity, I ask you — but some shared content hardly gets seen at all. And if you share a post from someone who is also sharing something — forget it. There’s hardly any point.
One post that I shared about Theresa M Robinson’s new book, Blaxhaustion, got 54 views as a link but 1,675 as an image. And it would probably have got even more views if I’d posted the text first and added the image later.
One thing I can’t tell for sure, but do suspect, is that it matters who’s doing the sharing and tagging. It appears — and I speak subject to correction here — that some white anti-racists are more visible than their Black counterparts. As I said, it’s hard to tell for sure, but the trend is worth watching. Luckily, many of those white anti-racists are using their platforms to amplify Black voices, which is one way to fight the algorithm.
My LinkedIn Algorithm Busters
Though I’m not sure you can ever beat the algorithms altogether, some of the strategies I use are:
- Writing about the topic without using too many trigger words — this can be tricky, though probably easier for me than most as I’m a professional writer
- Posting more text only posts than any other type
- Posting first, then going back and adding a link later- not always effective, but it sometimes works
- Sharing external links in the comment thread
- Tagging people in the comment thread
Another seeming algorithm-buster is the news. Sadly, when there’s another incident of anti-Black racism, Black anti-racists see a temporary surge in content visibility.
How to Fight LinkedIn Content Suppression
I really want to help boost visibility for good anti-racism content on LinkedIn. One thing that works is to react and comment soon after posting, so I do that where I can.
But given that algorithmic bias is strong, my main solution has been to write more content in my anti-racism newsletter, and then share selected text snippets on LinkedIn.
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For now, this seems to be working, so I’ll keep doing this till the algorithms catch on again. If you’ve noticed the suppression trend, what strategies have you used?
Read more about social media issues in the articles below:
Tired of the Hashtags of Death
When will white racism stop killing Black people?
Sometimes It’s Hard to be a Woman (on Social Media)
What’s the answer to the constant tone policing and gaslighting?
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2020. All Rights Reserved.