Tired of consistently low-status update views across LinkedIn, I devised a plan of attack and ran a li’l experiment last week. As a social marketer, it’s my job to look for new and better ways to growth hack online – maximising UNPAID visibility and engagement for me and my clients.If you’re not familiar with the term “growth hack,” where the f*ck have you been? (Just kidding. I don’t know need to know). I like to define “growth hacking” as achieving the maximum result with the minimum resources.

If you’re not familiar with the term “growth hack,” where the f*ck have you been? (Just kidding. I don’t know need to know). I like to define “growth hacking” as achieving the maximum result with the minimum resources.

I like to define “growth hacking” as achieving the maximum result with the minimum resources.

If any of you have watched Season 1 of Better Call Saul, you’ll remember a stunt Jimmy pulls in Episode Four, which is really just an elaborate growth hack.

But let’s get back to LinkedIn.

Up until last week, my status updates had barely been topping one-hundred views. I’m now regularly getting several thousand – WITHOUT adding many new “followers” to my network.

HOW? Well, let’s start by looking at where I was going wrong:

#1. My Old Posts Were Too BORING

While I thought this was an interesting factoid and even a “useful tip” at the time, there was no EMOTION in this update at all.

It could be read and dismissed in seconds, not causing any thought or emotion on the part of the reader. And unlikely to entertain or attention-grab, as there was no strong opinion or language contained.

LinkedIn’s algorithm took a shot on it and decided to put in The Feed 155 times. But no Likes, Comments, or Shares indicate this was a failure to launch.

Let’s be honest: all I’ve done here is clog up LinkedIn with low-level content.

#2. My posts were too SHORT

While I thought this was an interesting observation – it was too short to be of any value. The reader would either A) already know this given the number of marketers in my network or B) think “So what… tell us more…” for it to be useful. Indeed, that’s exactly what the comment I DID receive implies:

Great, Confused Face X3. I actually confused someone in my network with my update! Kind of the OPPOSITE of what I’m trying to do – provide useful and relevant insights, or tap into universal “truths.”

I didn’t take the time to say WHY I thought neuroscience-based marketing was the next big trend, or HOW it was important.

Simply observing that a new trend is coming isn’t enough in today’s world.

If anything, the update would have been a good title for a blog which could have started a REAL discussion.

Maybe I’ll write it one day, it can’t perform worse than this update did.

The lack of views, even with a Like and Comment reflect this blunder.

#3. My Posts were too VAGUE

To reach a wide audience on LinkedIn, your posts need to be and stay on point.

In this example, I missed the mark by, again, breaking the “Too Short” rule. But also by making a statement that made sense, technically, but which would only RESONATE unless I explained it.

Giving an example is one way to help explain things, as is telling a story. Because it puts the point of your post into context.

If there is no point to your post, why are you posting it?

Not surprising, it didn’t score highly with LinkedIn’s algorithm or my network. Although it did get one Like. How many more I could have gotten by expanding on this post, I can’t know for sure, but I bet it would have done better using my new approach, detailed below.

Take a look at my posts from my experiment last week and what changed…

#1: My Posts Got LONGER

I increased my views over 500X compared to my last post by, A) telling a short story (“I’ve been hearing…”) and B) being emotive.

Not everyone who read the post will have agreed with it. BUT, it resonated with enough people – and therefore LI’s algorithm – to send it on its way out into my second-degree network. Far out.

You’ll notice I also started using the same hashtags at the end of my posts. I did this for a few reasons.

i) The hashtags are not linked to any conversation topics on LI. But, I wanted to add a signature to my posts to prevent them being copied. And so anyone who read them would know that they originated from me.

There are far too many examples of copy and pasted viral posts on LI nowadays. Something the LI team need to clamp down on to continue providing a good user experience.

While someone could have copy-and-pasted my post without the hashtags, and passed it off as their own, enough people should have seen the original to know it was a rip-off.

ii) The hashtags give a nice “punctuation” to the story. They explain that I’m interested in shining-a-light-topics, speaking truthfully and openly, and the fact I’ve designated a couple of hashtags indicates that I plan to continue to do so – so that may be a reason to follow me.

They explain that I’m interested in shining-a-light-topics, speaking truthfully and openly, and the fact I’ve designated a couple of hashtags indicates that I plan to continue to do so – so that may be a reason to follow me.

Ultimately, the point of doing well with status posts is to improve your visibility and increase your following. And having a “Branded” hashtag – not your company name! – helps to do that without coming across as salesy.

#2. My Posts Got BOLDER

This post isn’t long at all, it’s only a few sentences in fact. However, the use of strong language (albeit sanitized for LinkedIn), sometimes capitalised, indicates that this is a topic I’m extra passionate about. As we know, people are far likelier to respond to a PASSIONATE, EMOTIVE statement than a blah one.

Think about it – what ads on TV are the most effective? Not the dry – “Our washing powder is scientifically proven to make your clothes cleaner,” types.

It’s the tug-on-your-heartstrings or play-on-our-emotions ones that get inside our heads.

The same principles apply to social media marketing because we’re still in the business of reaching and connecting with people – except online.

As a result, this example has been my most viewed post on LinkedIn ever.

A note on tagging influencers: While a couple of the ones I mentioned did give me a Like and one or two commented on the post, which certainly didn’t hurt, this wasn’t a cynical ploy to get into THEIR feeds

I virtually NEVER tag people in my status posts as it can be annoying and perceived cynically. However, for a one off, I took the chance and as I’ve interacted with all of them before, they know “who I am” and that I am a genuine supporter of theirs.

Second, what the tagging of influencers achieved in this particular post was is that it reinforced the point I was trying to make.

People are interested in PEOPLE way more than in STATISTICS.

So if I’d said “95% of people who don’t give a f*ck about their personal brand have a more successful personal brand,” I doubt this post would have done as well.

#3. My posts got more RELEVANT

LinkedIn has become more like Facebook in recent years in that anything now seems to go – at least in some feeds. But the majority of people on LinkedIn are still working in or connected to the corporate world.

At some point, we’ve all had to look for a job or hire employees. So this post tackled the issue of recruitment head on – something I have recent experience with, and one which I wanted to share but in a more general way than writing a Publisher blog, which no one seems to read now anyway.

I addressed the post directly to “Candidates:” something which can help to catch people’s attention as their scrolling down their feed, especially if they are in the process of finding a new job.

But if you keep reading, this post is ALSO aimed at employers. Really, I’m asking people to be more considerate on both sides of the hiring process – and treat each other a bit more “humanely.”

This speaks to a universal “truth” that everyone reading can relate to.

Yes, there are people who argue that the recruitment process is flawed because it’s TOO HUMAN and we should rely on algorithms and machines to find the most qualified staff.

But that’s NOT the point I’m making. I’m talking about the bit where an offer has been made or rescinded at the last hurdle – as it tends to be the one which causes the most friction and disruption.

Again, something nearly everyone can relate to.

While this didn’t get as many views as its predecessor, it did get a high View to Like and Comment (engagement) ratio.

And the comments, in particular, were very interesting with influencers like Matt Ballantine jumping in and sharing a blog he’d just wrote on this very topic.

So the takeaways from my little experiment are…

 

#1: Use Power Words– emotive words and language, or as sites like Coschedule call them, “Power” words make a huge difference. And yes, that includes swear words – in fact, they are especially powerful. They may ruffle some feathers, but those are not the people I’m trying to reach anyway.

They may ruffle some feathers, but those are not the people I’m trying to reach anyway.

If you’re offended by a swear word, I probably don’t need you in my network, thanks.

 

#2. Be Bold– you’ve got an opinion, don’t you? No? Okay, well you need to start formulating a couple to be noticed on LinkedIn – and in the corporate world in general.

Do you think top speakers get paid to stand up and spew a load of stats? No.

People want opinions, perspective, and a unique point of view on a topic.

While my posts aren’t groundbreaking by any means, they express MY opinion on a topic in a strong way.

No surprise then that the strongest example of this, Post #2), was the one that added the most new followers to my network.

 

#3. Be Relevant– As we’re all humans, arguably any post relating to the human experience is relevant fodder for LinkedIn.

We’ve all seen the heart-string-tugging posts where a kind-hearted stranger does something compassionate for another human and garners the posters of these stories thousands of views and likes.

If you want to go for something like that, great. But also remember your mission to be valuable, and provide insights.

That’s why I went for something specific to LinkedIn and job hunting in post #3 – as a lot of people can relate. I hope in some small way I can begin to shift attitudes on a process that seems on many levels to be broken. Well, it can’t hurt to try.

So, you’re wondering, what was the overall result of my massively increased LinkedIn exposure?

Well, to be perfectly honest, I only gained around ten new followers. Yes, ten. And net seven as three people un-followed. Not surprising given my new approach isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But seven is still way more followers than I’d gained in one week since writing a trending topic post on LinkedIn over two years ago.

As you can see, my profile views went way up, and I reached out to some of those people to connect, maybe three or four.

So the benefit of this exercise was not only proving to myself it can be done, but also adding more relevant people to my network. Hopefully, this means opening up myself to more relevant OPPORTUNITIES in the future. And that’s really the end goal.

Well, that’s all from me for today, folks. Sunday is fast disappearing and I really need a break from the computer.

I’d love to read your comments and observations when I get back from my walk. So don’t be shy, leave them below, and I promise to read and respond to every one.

Have fun experimenting; I’d also love to hear about your results.

 

I am the founder of Huddles, an expert-led, interactive marketing seminar series, designed for business owners and marketing executives to help them achieve their growth goals.

I’m also acting editor of Social Marketing Solutions’s blog

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