Abbreviations including “LOL” and “ILY” are popular expressions used across the web, and these days chances are you have probably seen “CFBR,” which stands for “commenting for better reach” and appears regularly under posts on LinkedIn.
People comment “CFBR” on others’ posts to signal solidarity, and sometimes people ask commenters to write “CFBR” on their own posts to give them traction.
The expression is becoming ubiquitous on LinkedIn as tech workers who have lost their jobs in recent months are turning to the platform to look for new opportunities.
A short comment from a stranger could mean hundreds more people see a post about layoffs and come across a jobseeker’s profile.
Last year, more than 161,000 people were laid off from technology companies and startups, according to Layoffs.fyi, a site that tracks job cuts. So far this year, more than 148,000 people have been laid off.
Over the past six months, as the tech sector has had its worst contraction since the dot-com bust in the early 2000s, the number of people who have turned on the “open to work” feature on LinkedIn has increased 20 per cent, to 18 million, a spokesperson for the company said.
Stephan Meier, a professor at Columbia Business School, called commenting on a layoff post “a completely altruistic act,” especially if the commenter doesn’t know the poster. The activity around layoffs shows how much people rely on LinkedIn — and its algorithm — to network, he said.
Late last year, when Amazon began to lay off what would become 18,000 employees, Heather Harris, 34, posted on LinkedIn about the cuts, asking people to “like, share, comment for better reach” on her posts.
Since then, strangers have tagged Harris, who works in human resources, in posts about job openings and sent her encouraging messages.
“I don’t know if the ‘CFBR’ did it, but I kind of feel like it did,” she said. “The more that people comment on your posts, the more it pops up on other people’s feeds.”
But Harris doesn’t comment “CFBR” on other people’s posts. She prefers the solidarity underpinning “CFBR” over the term itself. It can seem “spammy,” she said, akin to “like for like” comments on Instagram.
“My personal preference is to comment something that is sincere and genuine and encouraging, rather than just ‘CFBR,’” she said.
Ankit Singh, 30, writes “CFBR” only on posts about layoffs because he believes those posts need to be more visible on LinkedIn than other posts.
He has noticed people commenting “reach+” — with varying amounts of pluses — on layoff posts, and said those comments also represented professionals looking out for one another.
“As a job seeker, I know how people feel,” said Singh, who studies electrical engineering at New York University. “Even if I just click like or comment ‘CFBR,’ it’s something to help them. If someone comments on my post, and a recruiter sees it, it could help me.”