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Tiny Thumbnail Links on LinkedIn

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Show Transcript

Have you seen the tiny image thumbnails on organic LinkedIn posts that just rolled out? Well, call Nancy Drew and get your magnifying glass. It’s maddening. We talk all about this and how it affects your ads on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. As he said, I’m AJ Wilcox. I’m the host of the weekly podcast, the LinkedIn Ads Show. I’m thrilled to welcome you to the show for advanced B2B marketers who want to evolve and master LinkedIn Ads and achieve true pro status.

You’ve probably noticed or heard about this. We’ve been discussing it at length in the LinkedIn Ads Fanatics private group. Ever since LinkedIn started testing it a few months ago, I’ve been hearing from all of you listeners as well. So, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

LinkedIn recently started rolling out a change where if you have a link post either from a company or an individual, the image that used to show up full size in the newsfeed is now reduced to a 72 or a 128 by 72 pixel thumbnail. It should be fully rolled out by the time you hear this, so you can go scroll through your feed, find examples of it, and see how you feel about it.

Personally, I think it’s awful. Truly. But today, we’re gonna talk about how it works, how to avoid it happening to you, so your posts get seen and interacted with. We’ll also talk about how it affects your ads. Naturally.

The LinkedIn Ads Show is proudly brought to you by, the LinkedIn Ads experts.

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All right, first off in the news, this is a cool little update. So with Thought Leader Ads, if you were sponsoring a video post, it used to require super admin or content admin permissions on the company page with the account. This is no longer a requirement. Now, just having sponsored content poster permissions on the page is enough. I’m really grateful for this actually, because that never made sense. Any sort of ad that you create or boost, I think you should be able to do this through sponsored content poster permissions. We shouldn’t need anything more advanced than that.

I want to give a shout out to TheSMGeek, I’m guessing that stands for social media, on Apple Podcasts. They left a awesome review. They said, "Don’t miss an episode. The beauty, and some might say difficulty, with social media marketing is that it’s such a new field. We’re literally writing the rules as we go along. So this makes topical and relevant information on social marketing even harder to find. This is why I always turn to AJ’s podcast. Armed with his shared LinkedIn knowledge, I can walk into any client meeting, able to fight any shred of imposter syndrome."

Alright, SMGeek, I really appreciate you leaving such an awesome review. I love it. I’m so happy that you can, I’m so happy that you can walk into meetings and not feel imposter syndrome. Trust me, we all feel it. I don’t think anyone’s immune unless you’re a narcissist. But again, thank you for leaving such an awesome review. Everyone else, I would absolutely love to feature you the same way. Even better, if you have a question, a review, or feedback for the show, message me on LinkedIn, or email, and you can actually attach a voice recording, and I can play them right here on the show. I’m happy to keep you anonymous if you request. Or I can share your details and shout you out.

I definitely want to feature you. All right, onto the topic at hand. Let’s hit it.

Here’s the background on these tiny thumbnails in your newsfeed. First, when you open up LinkedIn and say, I want to create a post and you start typing. You don’t know it, but in the background, LinkedIn is trying to understand what kind of post this is going to be so it can put it in one of two camps. And it’s very crucial that LinkedIn does this because these two camps are very different. They’re completely different post types that LinkedIn treats very differently as well. So if you start typing and you happen to type a web address first, LinkedIn automatically takes that link, it goes into the post and grabs the first image it finds on the page. It grabs the SEO title tag to turn into the headline. And that all of a sudden becomes a link post.

On the other hand, if you start typing and you happen to attach an image first before you type a URL, it attaches the image to the post and it becomes, as you’d imagine, an image post. They look nearly identical to users but they act quite differently on the backend. Because when you click on the image or the headline of a LinkedIn post, you’re taken to the destination of the link. But with an image post, if you click on the image, first of all, the headline isn’t even clickable. But if you click the image, which is clickable, it blows up the image on your screen in like a JavaScript lightbox next, the post content.

Now, as an aside, I’ve always thought that this was really odd behavior. That’s surely not the experience that the user asked for. To see the image a bit bigger after they click, but I digress.

So, there was this recent change that just rolled out. LinkedIn took any post, either from an individual or from a company, that was a link post, and all of a sudden now is shrinking the image down to a tiny thumbnail. Now, we’re actually used to seeing this happen. It used to be that if you uploaded a single image ad, where the image was less than, I think it was something like 600 pixels wide, LinkedIn would shrink it down to a thumbnail version rather than show the whole thing. Just because if they blew it up on some devices, it would look blurry and would be a bad experience. And so, to avoid all of that, they just shrunk it down into a thumbnail. But now, this is the standard behavior on all of these link posts that are organic.

The first question is, why? Why did LinkedIn think that this was a good idea? They explained it by saying, This is to encourage members to better engage with unique commentary, rather than an off site article. Which I think is kind of a cop out answer, because even if there was a link, you could still engage in commentary around it, but people just probably aren’t engaging in commentary.

Now, I do think that this is a bit of a cop out answer, because even if you were sending traffic elsewhere, the commentary was still on LinkedIn. It didn’t stop anyone from having a conversation there, but this is what LinkedIn said.

If you want my hypothesis, it’s that LinkedIn wanted less competition in the newsfeed for things that weren’t ads, so that your ads stand out more. I didn’t think I would ever say this about LinkedIn, but this feels to me like this is the start of LinkedIn becoming a true pay to play platform.

So how is this going to affect your ads? One of our LinkedIn reps shared, with this update, customers are expected to see two deviations for existing ad experiences. The first is, when an organic post becomes a sponsored post because you’re boosting it, the original small preview image will become full size. So basically, organically in the news feed, it looked teeny, you had to get your magnifying glass out to see it. Now, as soon as you put dollars behind it, it blows up big on people’s screens as they’re being served the ad. Okay, makes sense.

Now the second deviation is, when you create an ad, of course it’s going to serve to people full size, but when somebody engages with that ad, and it causes it to go viral, to be seen organically by people who are connected to that individual, then that all of a sudden gets shrunken back down to the small thumbnail preview. So, basically, it’s only going to be big when you put dollars behind it. If it’s not dollars behind it, it’s small. Now there is actually a little bit of a silver lining here that since the ads themselves aren’t affected by this shrinking thumbnail, it technically removes some of the visual competition in the newsfeed with our ads. So it might actually provide a bit of a benefit to us advertisers. I had to think really hard to come up with a positive about it.

All right. So you’re naturally thinking, okay, these look terrible. I don’t want this happening to any of my posts. How do I avoid this? First thing is, don’t include links in your posts if you can help it. Attach your image first before you put a link in the copy, so it becomes an image post, and then it will still show up full size.

Alternatively, you could also put the link in the comments and publish the the post saying check the comments below for the link. You could also publish it as an image post without a link in it, and then immediately after publishing, edit the post and go add the link in. But a word of advice here. If you’re ever planning on boosting that post, just try to make sure that there’s only one link in the copy.

A lot of people like to tag companies or add hashtags, you only want one link, and that’s because when this becomes an ad, when someone clicks on the image, it’ll actually send them right to the link. And I think that’s the best user experience.

Back in 2013, when sponsored content ads had just come out, I begged LinkedIn for this. Like, please, please, please. What would happen is, there was no way to create a link post. Everything was an image post. And so, when someone clicked on the image, because they thought that’s what the call to action was going to be, it just blew up the lightbox of hey, look at this image a little bit bigger. That was not what we wanted to do. So I begged the engineers, and I’m sure others did too, please, please, please put a workaround in place so that when someone clicks on the image, it goes to the landing page. You couldn’t believe how infuriating it was to get charged for a click when it was just users zooming into the image that you have in your ad. I’m so grateful the engineers did put this workaround in it, and so now we can take advantage of that.

Other alternatives here, the only type of post that was affected were link posts. That means we can still use document posts, document ads. We can still use video posts, video ads. They’re still huge. They still perform great. Literally any ad format aside from an image will show up normally. I was actually on a client call today when we looked at an organic post that we wanted to boost as a Thought Leader Ad. But it had crazy low engagement. I looked over the post. It was so good. It was meaty. I could not figure out why it had such low engagement. And then I scrolled down. Lo and behold, ah, the image, the link below was tiny. And it was actually just a link that we used as an example. It wasn’t even a place that we really wanted customers to go.

So we’re going to repost this as an image post and see if it performs any better. I fully expect it to. We’ll turn that into a thought leader ad and hopefully I remember to share the results of that with you.

If I could rant for a minute, the thumbnail links in the feed are ugly. They hurt organic engagement for users on the platform. They hurt companies and individuals who are trying to get their content seen. I don’t approve of this at all. Obviously, I wasn’t consulted.

First earlier on in the year, they rolled out where ad slots were one out of every four posts, instead of one out of every five, which, personally, I think is what ruined Facebook ads for a lot of people. And now this, these changes are really bad for the user experience. LinkedIn, please put more thought and effort into this.

Okay, if you haven’t already joined the LinkedIn Ads fanatics community, what are you waiting for? Go to You’ll get access to all four of our courses, taking you from beginner to expert. It’s a super low cost to get in. You’ll get to interact with all of the top minds in LinkedIn Ads, who are all sharing things and helping each other out. It’s an incredible place to be. Plus, there’s even an upgrade to jump on a weekly group call with me. If this is the first time you’re listening to the show, welcome. We’re excited to have you here. Make sure to hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss next week’s episode. If you’re a loyal listener, the biggest favor that you could do me is to go and leave a review on Apple podcasts. I’d love to shout you out there as well. Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s annoying to have to go to Apple Podcasts, search for the podcast, log in because Apple’s login process is awful. Sorry, it’s a ranty day today. And then you go and think up something to leave a review for. But I will tell you, nothing warms my heart more than seeing these reviews.

And I would love to shout you out. Please actually think about going to do it. All right. With any questions, suggestions, or I might need corrections, reach out to us at With that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. I’m cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.