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 When I wrote this up it came to just under 2000 words so I have split it in two. This week, what Collaborative Articles are and how they work. Next week more commentary, options and three possible ways to make Collaborative Articles work for you. 

Just What Are Collaborative Articles? 

LinkedIn started Collaborative Articles in March of 2023. A Collaborative Article starts by LinkedIn using Artificial Intelligence to come up with a topic. LinkedIn’s algorithms then look for people it considers experts on that topic and then invites them to collaborate on an article. 

In LinkedIn’s words: “Collaborative articles are a new way to tap into the collective knowledge of the LinkedIn community so you can learn from experts across professional topics, ranging from the common “How do I get a promotion?” to the more specific “How do I advertise to Generation Z?” Collaborative articles are knowledge topics published by LinkedIn with insights and perspectives added by the LinkedIn community. These articles begin as AI-powered conversation starters, developed with our editorial team, but they aren’t complete without insights from our members. A select group of experts have been invited to contribute their own ideas, examples and experiences within the articles.” 

So here is the supposed appeal: as a reader, you can review the pooled knowledge of “experts” on a topic. If you are an invited contributor, you both get exposure courtesy of LinkedIn putting the article in people’s home page feeds AND you get the ego sop of being referred to as an “Expert.” 

When you open a collaborative article, the layout is pretty interesting. Here’s an example: 

A couple points here…

An awful lot of the real estate on this page is devoted to showing the top three contributors. This strikes me very much as a promotional aspect.

Notice how prominent the come-on is inviting me to contribute at top right. It is very much a “Bruce, imagine yourself here, listed as the top contributor!” By the way, just to be clear, I am one of the last people you would ever want to ask about Software Project Management. Maybe LinkedIn’s algorithms think my cluelessness will bring a refreshing honesty to the discourse.

Top contributors appear to be judged based on the number of Likes and Comments they receive and LinkedIn has dangled the carrot that you can be designated as “top voice” in a skill area as a result of your contributions. This includes a little badge that is featured prominently at the top of your LinkedIn Profile (more on this later).

This is one aspect I don’t think LinkedIn thought all the way through. To me, this makes Collaborative Articles susceptible to Pods, where groups of people all agree to like each other’s contributions, artificially boosting their standing and earning badges. Even worse, I can see  someone figuring out how to offer “Likes” to people from their stable of fake LinkedIn users and automating the process of being elevated to guru status.

And people appear to be jumping on the bandwagon, which is resulting in LinkedIn featuring these even more prominently (remember when Polls were everywhere on LinkedIn a couple years ago?). LinkedIn started this feature in March last year and six months later LinkedIn was already saying this is the “biggest traffic driver” on the platform. 

How LinkedIn Selects It’s Collaborators

So how are collaborators selected anyhow? LinkedIn says the prime criteria are the skills you list on your profile, how much those skills have been endorsed by others and your recent job titles. They also consider the likelihood that you will contribute based on your posting and commenting activity. I also found this reference: “and implicit skills, which are inferred based on recent hires for job postings or a member’s self-evaluation during job applications.” That one was interesting as LinkedIn was in effect offloading the selection to whoever hired you recently. If you just got hired as a Brand Manager by Ernst and Young, the algorithms may be more disposed to considering you an expert on Brand Management. This sounds pretty good until you ask whether Ernst and Young has ever made a hiring mistake. What if that mistake is one of the “experts” contributing to the article you are reading? 

So, in theory, I could add “Cryptocurrency Investing” as a skill to my profile, get a bunch of my friends to endorse me, add “Cryptocurrency Investment Advisor” as a new job to my LinkedIn profile, and wait for LinkedIn to invite me to add my thoughts to a Collaborative Article on this topic. 

The likely result? Mayhem.  I know absolutely nothing about Cryptocurrency Investing. 

Thus, I am still skeptical of Collaborative Articles as the selection process for contributing “experts” seems thin to me, and basing who gets the top voice badges on the quantity of likes and comments would appear to open up the whole thing to automation or “collaborative article pods.” 

The Collaborative Article Carrot: Profile Badges 

Should LinkedIn deem you a top contributor, you can get a badge for your profile, for example “Top Brand Strategy Voice”,  which appears prominently under your profile headline. Badges appear to be rewarded based on how readers respond to your contribution to Collaborative Articles. My guess is that the LinkedIn algorithms use some kind of vote tracking, where it adds the likes and comments your contribution generates in a Reddit-like “upvote” system. The top vote getters are awarded badges. So that kind makes badges a “Viewer’s Choice” award. 

LinkedIn also says Badges are reviewed every sixty days. That sounds to me like a veiled threat, “keep it up or lose the badge.” And it turns out the threat is not so veiled: I have talked to several ex-badge holders who told me about the huge amount of time they had invested in Collaborative Articles in order to be deemed an expert and get the badge, only to have that badge yanked when they got off the hamster wheel that was constant contributions. 

I will have more on this next week.


At Practical SMM, we pride ourselves on delivering highly effective LinkedIn strategies.