How I Improved my LinkedIn SSI Score by 61% in 30 days.

Each social media platform has its own algorithm that determines how content is shared to its users.  Understanding how the algorithm works is a key part of getting your content in front of more eyes.  Let’s take a look at how LinkedIn determines whether it should push your content out to more people or not, and what you can do about their algorithm so that you have a better presence on LinkedIn.

Let’s face it: LinkedIn isn’t one of the cool kids.  It’s focused on business, and while business can be cool, LinkedIn isn’t the first place we think of hanging out on the internet to have fun conversations and spend time with our best friends and family members.  That’s okay.  We have spaces for that already.  What LinkedIn does do is give us a space to connect with other people who are serious about business and entrepreneurship.  It gives us a way to make connections with people who have tremendous experience and knowledge.  Unfortunately, not many of LinkedIn’s users are taking advantage of the opportunity.

The majority of users on LinkedIn set up a profile and then leave it to collect digital dust.  Many are looking for a job (6 people are hired through LinkedIn every minute) and once they have completed their search they let their profile languish. Some create a profile as part of an effort to have a broad social media presence, but they don’t really get how LinkedIn works, and so they give up on it pretty quickly.

Then there’s a segment of users who are really only on LinkedIn for marketing purposes.  They’re constantly trying to generate leads and pitch their product or service.  You may have encountered these folks before.  They send you a connect request, and within minutes of you accepting, they reach out to you through the chat feature and start trying to get you to buy what they’re selling.  No relationship building, just sell, sell, sell.

Remember, LinkedIn has been around for two decades, now. The folks at LinkedIn have watched these usage trends develop, and they’ve kept working on how to create a better user experience for as many people as possible.  Every platform that’s out there wants you to spend as much time as possible on the platform, and LinkedIn is no exception.  The more time you spend on the platform, the more chance of you consuming promoted content (ads) and the more money the platform makes.  Build a better user experience, and keep users around longer.

They’ve been adjusting and evolving the algorithm all these years.  The goal is to make sure the best content is what’s being shared most often, so that the people consuming that content are happy and feeling like they’re getting value from their time spent on the platform.  With this in mind, LinkedIn created “the Social Selling Index” as a way to measure your presence and contribution to the online community.

The SSI measures four aspects of your LinkedIn experience:

  1. Establishing a Personal Brand
  2. Finding the Right People
  3. Engaging with Insights
  4. Building Relationships

You can earn up to 25 points for each one of the four elements of the SSI, giving you a possible total score of 100.  Now, the score itself doesn’t do anything for you.  It’s not like it’s connected to the algorithm.  But in order to earn a higher score, you have to do the things that would make you more successful with the algorithm, so keeping track of your score is a useful way to improve your presence on LinkedIn.

I’ve had a profile on LinkedIn for at least a decade.  It has been neglected for 99% of that past decade.  So when I first learned about the SSI and decided to check mine, I discovered that I had a 30.  The average LinkedIn user has a 32.  I decided that it was time to take LinkedIn more seriously, and I wanted to rehabilitate my account, so I started using the four elements of the SSI to guide me.

Establishing a Personal Brand

I overhauled my profile, which had been set up in conjunction with my previous career as a hypnotist. (No, I’m not kidding.  That’s a story for another time.) I re-wrote my bio, changed out my website links, and chose new hashtags (you can choose up to five to associate with your account).  The process took me about twenty minutes.  No big deal.

Three times a week, I post content that I created myself and re-share a little bit of content that others have created.  My content so far has been like micro-blogging.  I tend to share other people’s videos.  That will probably evolve over time, but right now I’m just trying to be sure to put out content three times a week as a starting point.

Finding the Right People

My existing network connections were made up primarily of two groups: people from the hypnotism and personal development professions, and people who went to my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire.  I needed to overhaul my network, just like I did with my profile.  A few times each week I’d go into the list of connections I had made and disconnected from hypnotists and any old university contacts that I hadn’t stayed in touch with.  I replaced them with new connections that were people from the world of marketing, content creation, and entrepreneurship.  This took about 20 minutes per week, spread over Monday through Friday.

Engaging With Insights

I truly believe that if you’re going to get any value from spending time on social media, you can’t just be a consumer; you have to spend some time and energy engaging with other people and the content they’re sharing. So Monday through Friday, I make sure to spend 5-10 minutes per day looking through the content that’s coming up in my feed.  When I find something that brings a new concept to me, or shares some useful data, or sometimes just tells an interesting story, I hit the “Like” button and leave a comment that either thanks the person for their content or adds to the conversation that is happening.

Building Relationships

I’d like to think that I’m doing this by leaving thoughtful comments on people’s content, and I also occasionally reach out to people through the chat tool, but I rarely do that because I think so many people are used to that being abused as a sales technique.  Mostly I want to be a consistent presence with a smaller circle of people, have meaningful conversations with them around the content we’re all sharing, and let relationships grow over time.

The first week I made a dedicated effort on LinkedIn, my SSI went up seven points.  The second week, it went up eight points.  The third week, two points.  The fourth week, two points.  So in 30 days it increased 61%, and it was a reasonable time commitment on my part.  My goal is to get my SSI up to 70.  At that level, you’re in the top 5% of LinkedIn users, typically.

My profile is already getting looked at more often, I’m getting followed by other users, and I’m getting exposed to content that I’m not seeing on other platforms, content that’s really focused on how to produce better content, grow your business, and provided better service for clients. It feels good to get access to that content.  I also like the idea of standing out on a platform that is underutilized by a lot of business people.  If doing what it takes to raise my SSI means I’m making better connections and getting more of my content seen on LinkedIn, then something good will come from that eventually.

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