LinkedIn Experiment: Link in Post VS Link in Comment

You must have noticed a trend by now on your LinkedIn feed.

It’s when a LinkedIn user instead of copying and pasting the URL they want to share, they paste the link on the first comment below the post.

The reason behind this is this: Higher reach (we’ll see later why). But does a higher reach make up for a harder-to-find link / Call to Action?

Let’s get right into it!

Hypothesis

Pasting a link in comment results in less clicks.

My hypothesis was that posting a link in the comment makes it so difficult for everyone that the potential higher reach would not be enough.

Experiment Setup

To test this theory, we made observations of different variables.

To eliminate the number of connections factor, we used 4 LinkedIn accounts. Two of these accounts, Profiles C&D, had few connections (a bit over 1k), while the other two accounts, Profiles A&B, had more connections – over 20k connections each.

4 profiles used for the experiment

We ran our test for 8 weeks. With one post per week, that meant 8 posts per profile – 32 posts in total.

To eliminate other factors such as time, date and gender, the profiles were male, working for the same growth hacking agency, posting every Friday at noon, with the same body text and image.

In addition, Profiles A&C would post the ‘Link in Post’ format, henceforth LiP, the first time. The second time, they would post the ‘Link in Comment’ format, henceforth LiC.  The third time they would post in LiP format etc.

Likewise, profiles B&D would post LiP and LiC posts alternatively, starting with the LiP format.

So the planning looked like this:

The structure of the experiment

 

For example here are the the posts of week#3. During that week, Profiles A&C (Vasileios & Sotiris) made LiP post, while Profiles B&D (Thanasis & Alexandros) made a LiC post.

 

All profiles posting the same post at the same time

The Experiment

To test our hypothesis, “Pasting a link in comment results in fewer clicks,” we had to measure all these Clicks.

To keep track of the number of clicks, we used some good ol’ UTM’s.

Here’s how the UTM Google Sheet looked like by the end of the experiment.

UTMs in the Google Sheets

To gain some additional knowledge, we also measured Reach.

To track Reach, each profile owner was making a print screen one week after each post. Like we did with clicks when they were also measured after 1 week.

FYI, the Reach number on LinkedIn is erased automatically after 2 months. This data won’t stay forever.

If you are looking to keep track of this particular metric, you need to do so manually and on-time. Notice how I can see the reach for my 1-month old blog post about The Top Digital Marketing Articles for 2018. However, this is not the case for my 2-months post about an Email Outreach Step-by-Step Guide.

Data such as Reach are automatically erased by LinkedIn after some time

So for those of you who had noticed that they couldn’t see the views count on all of their posts: now you know.

The Results

8 weeks passed, and I finally started bringing all those numbers together.

This is what the numbers look like on a single chart, for all weeks, for all profiles.

To draw some conclusions, let’s brake it down a bit.

Reach

Ιt was common knowledge that LiC format has the blessings of the LinkedIn algorithm. It doesn’t include an immediate call-to-action which will bring the user out of the social media platform, thus the algorithm pushes it more. How much more though?

The average reach for all format LiP posts was 3,514.

For LiC, it was 10,095.

LiC equals to 2.9X times more reach!

But what about the clicks, which is what about we are really here for?

Clicks

Now, the real deal.

It turns out that LiP format post would be clicked about 20 times on average, whereas posts with LiC format was clicked 53,5 on average.

Do the math, and you will find out that LiC format was clicked 2.7X times more.

We have a winner: A link in the comment is clicked more.

Click-Through-Rate

CTR is the clicks : reach ratio.

Sure, when we examine reach and clicks as separate numbers, reach A is smaller than reach B and so are the clicks. What is the ratio number, though?

Which format is actually more clickable?

Don’t hold your breath – this was pretty much a tie.

CTR had no significant difference. Here are the Total CTR’s for each profile:

Which made me wonder. How is a direct URL with a large clickable image not more convincing than a sentence that reads  “Link on the first comment,” where you have to scroll a bit more and then click a blue text with the link? The human factor is so unpredictable after all.

For the record, LiP CTR was 0.0588% while LiC CTR was 0.592% on average.

Conclusion

Opinions speak, but data shout.

It is proved that posting any link in the form of a comment below your post results in:

  • Better Reach
  • More Clicks
  • About the same CTR

And so I was wrong.

Mathematically, for maximum reach and clicks, you should post a link in a comment.

So there you have it. You now know the best way to make a LinkedIn post for maximum reach and clicks.

Happy posting (link in the comment)!

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34 Απαντήσεις

  1. there’s another thing, probably: that commenting the article for posting the link will count as an “immediate reaction from audience” and then boost your reach a little. Wonder if this has been taken into account or should be relevant anyway.

  2. Great research, well done.
    The solution to the CTR % is to add the link into the main post as an immediate edit ie post it, then edit and add the url. This bypasses the algorithm and ensures the link is more visible than in comments (where it gets lost).

    All of that said, I believe that CTR’s are decreasing rapidly on LinkedIn anyway.

  3. Was one of the posts uploaded natively? It appears that 3 were linked to another blog on your website but the one on the top right seems different.

    Also, for clarity, you saw increased engagement even though the link to the article was still embedded into the image? Was the link embedded into the images?

    1. Hi Konner!
      Each profile was publishing its own post. And every one of the guys was sending me their screenshots. What possibly makes the top-right profile look different is that it’s a screenshot from a mobile device instead of a standard monitor.
      About the image, it was just an image. Therefore, clicking it would just bring it in the foreground. The link could be found only in the comments.

  4. Excellent research Nicolas.

    I love how data-driven this post was and how well you explained the process behind it with a story.

    Some additional questions I had. What about writing a long post vs a native article on linkedin? Or what about putting a link in the post but it links to a LinkedIn article (linkedin.com/pulse/article-slug).

    Just some things that I was also curious about.

    But overall, a really well written article. I’m actually looking to see if you’ve written any other blog posts because I’m very impressed by your work. Keep it up!

    1. Hi Tomiwa, thank you so much for your kind words!

      About your questions… I have NO IDEA. We haven’t run any such tests and neither anyone else has – not that I know of.

      But if I were looking for answers to these or similar questions, my first stop would be https://www.agorapulse.com/social-media-lab/. In case you don’t know about it, social media lab is the Myth Busters of social media and they do A/B tests pretty much all the time.

  5. Hey Nicolas, this is a great read, but it leads me to another question.

    Any thoughts/observations on effects of internal linking to other LinkedIn URLs?

    – Linking from one Native LI article to another
    – Linking from a post to a Native LI article or video

    Something you’ve tested or even have a hunch about?

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