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The Viral Formula: Secrets of LinkedIn Publisher

Posted by Dave Howe on Oct 3, 2016 10:33:40 AM

secrets-linkedin-publisher.jpgGetting your LinkedIn Publisher posts to go viral is no easy feat. In my humble experience, it requires a careful combination of knowing your audience, proper distribution and timing.

One of my posts recently went viral and received significantly more engagement than ever before! Before this one, my best posts had been sitting in the mid to high hundreds in terms of views. Compare that to my most recent one, which is currently sitting at around two-and-a-half thousand views, with hundreds of likes and tons of comments and shares.

This kind of engagement got me thinking — a lot of people out there use LinkedIn Publisher, and there are probably many best practices they might not know about that they could be using to get more visibility and engagement on their posts.

After all, the last thing anybody wants is to spend time and energy on a LinkedIn Publisher post that's awesome and doesn't get read by anyone!! That just sucks.

In this modern day of sales, we need to be a valuable resource to our buyers. And part of a being a good resource to your buyers is creating original thought leadership. Sharing content with the marketplace will get you so far in the minds of your buyers in terms of being an expert, but to really take it to the next level like the Tony Robbins, Bill Gates and Richard Bransons of the world, you need to be putting your own thought leadership into the marketplace.

That’s where LinkedIn Publisher comes in. It's a very easy-to-use blogging platform, so the average individual can quickly go from a rather small network following to viral visibility. Those are the kind of modern day advantages our hyper-connected world offers.

What follows is a combination of the success factors of my recent post along with research on LinkedIn publisher best practises, tied up into what I like to call the secrets of LinkedIn Publisher.

Of course I’d love to say that there is one secret to make a post go viral. Wouldn't that be lovely? But the reality is that’s simply not the case. It’s a combination of a lot of different factors that together will contribute to a winning formula.

Know Your Audience

First off, make sure your post is relevant to your audience: your network, your followers and your target market. That doesn’t just mean people you’re already connected to. Keep your ideal audience and key decision makers in your target accounts in mind as well.

Also consider that certain topics will be more engaging than others. Being able to write a viral post comes from knowing your marketplace and understanding what they deem as valuable.

Ask (or educate) yourself about:

  • What are their pain points?

  • What are their challenges?

  • What are the hot trends and topics going on in the marketplace right now?

If you can touch on these with your topic focus then you have a much better chance of getting good engagement from your target audience.

This brings us to the title of the post. When writing a LinkedIn Publisher post we want to make sure to follow general blogging best practices. The key here is to think up a catchy title. Something that's going to grab attention, provoke curiosity and maybe even create a little bit of controversy at times. Utilize questions and include keywords in both your title and sub headlines.

In line with blogging best practises, use small blocks of text, which are less daunting to the human eye than long paragraphs. It’s also a good idea to break your post up using subheads.

LinkedIn Publisher allows you to post a title image. Include a nice punchy image. Again, something with a little bit of shock factor can really help.

For instance, in my recent post that went viral, “Why Prospects Will NEVER Call You Back…”  I included a photo of this old shattered telephone to further illustrate the title and how dates traditional sales techniques are. I went for that visual shock factor to grab people’s attention, and it worked!

Secrets-LinkedIn-Publisher2.pngBefore you post your image, make sure you have permission to do so. I’ve noticed many people who use Publisher rarely have permission to post their images, but that shouldn’t influence how you use intellectual property. Shutterstock or iStock both host tens of thousands of images at an affordable rate.

All these normal blogging best practices apply to LinkedIn Publisher and are going to help your post get better engagement and visibility.

Distribution and Tagging

Once you’ve finished optimizing your post for your target audience, you want to maximize distribution to ensure it reaches as many eyeballs as possible. You want to make sure you also post to additional social channels.

You can either share your post manually like I did on channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, or schedule them using Hootlet, Buffer or another kind of social media management software. I would suggest sharing your post several times over the next couple weeks, as the lifespan of a post on each platform varies. Twitter for example is notoriously short, at 18 minutes.

This kind of distribution strategy keeps your visibility up for a longer period of time.

Another point about distribution to keep in mind is the difference between LinkedIn Publisher and LinkedIn Pulse. LinkedIn Pulse is a specific content community curated by LinkedIn. Popular LinkedIn Publisher posts get picked up here and shared with the community under a certain category. It’s unlikely we’ll ever know what’s exactly behind LinkedIn’s algorithm in determining a high-value post. That’s why it’s important to select appropriate tags for your post (you can choose up to three) — to get picked up by Pulse and significantly increase your visibility.

For instance, if your post is about sales, you may want to pick a tag like “Sales Effectiveness,” or “Sales Training.” The tags that I used on my most recent successful post were “Social Selling,” “Sales” and “Prospecting Skills.”

There’s not much visibility into which tags are most popular, so I’d recommend a bit of a trial-and-error approach. Try out two or three tags, see if you get some good engagement and if you don’t maybe mix it up on your next post. If you don't switch them up and try different tags it will be difficult to know which ones are really going to get you the best engagement.

If your post gets picked up by Pulse, it gets pushed to significantly more LinkedIn users through the categories on Pulse. It can also be added to the LinkedIn homepage and be distributed through LinkedIn Pulse emails. So there’s a huge amount of potential for additional distribution. You’ll typically know this when your views jump into the thousands or tens of thousands instead of hundreds.

Make sure to avoid being seen as spam. Be cognitive of not posting your LinkedIn Publisher Post on too many LinkedIn groups, for instance. If you send your LinkedIn Publisher post to more than two groups, the LinkedIn algorithm may actually deem your post as spam! So while you’re in the process of getting additional visibility, you’re actually hurting your distribution visibility because LinkedIn is not viewing it as organic anymore, they’re viewing it as invasive. You’ve gone over-the-top.

Settings

Your public profile settings are very important for visibility. You want to make sure that the backend settings of your account has your public profile as well as LinkedIn Publisher posts enabled. That way you’re maximizing your audience. Buyers who are not LinkedIn members but are searching Google can still discover your profile and LinkedIn Publisher posts.

Timing

The timing of your posts is incredibly important. You want to publish your post at a time when your audience is most likely to engage with it.

There’s no point in publishing your LinkedIn Publisher post at 12:30am or 1 am because not many people are going to be on LinkedIn at that time (unless you market is in Asia). If, however, you publish your post first thing in the morning, say 8am or 8:30am, then it's got time to resonate with your audience.

Your post will get a nice longevity of engagement through the day, increasing the likelihood of it going viral. That would be my recommendation — either publishing your post early in the day or around lunchtime, when people are taking a bit of a break.

We run on Eastern Standard Time (EST), so if I publish a post just before lunch time, I'm actually maximizing my visibility with two markets. This time is ideal for both the East and West Coast, where we have a huge audience, because it’s lunch time in one market and first thing in the morning for other.

That’s coincidentally the time I published my most recent post — just prior to lunchtime EST to capture the attention of both market places at once. So timing is very important, especially when the location of your audience varies.

Engagement

It’s very important that as people start to engage with your post you engage back. This may sound obvious yet many individuals neglect this key factor. If people are liking, or even more importantly, commenting or sharing on your post, you must engage back with them. It’s a great opportunity to spark up conversation and expand your network on the premise that you can stay in touch on future pieces of similar awesome content!

One amazing part about LinkedIn Publishers’ analytics is that it is quite detailed. Not only does it show you the amount of view you’re getting on a daily basis, it breaks down your traffic by:

  • Source (LinkedIn, Google, Facebook)

  • Industry

  • Geographic region

Secrets-LinkedIn-Publisher.png

As you can see, I’m at a total of 2235 views. Ninety percent of it came from LinkedIn, 6% became Facebook, and 3% of it came from home page and one percent of Google search.

It’s helpful to have insight into these kind of metrics and be able to iterate your distribution strategy. For a long time I wasn't sharing my posts to Facebook. One time, I tried it and saw that between five to ten percent of my overall traffic was actually coming from my Facebook network. That’s quite a significant chunk of traffic so I made sure that I shared all future posts to Facebook.

Even if my post hasn’t had engagement for 6 hours, as soon as someone in my network comments or shares the post it can revive its visibility. And if I’m continually replying to comments, that post has much more potential to stay relevant longer, therefore increasing my visibility.

In short, engaging creates more backlinks in the marketplace.

Call to actions

Having a call to action (CTA) in your posts is critical. But there's a fine line here. It’s important that you’re not too overly self-promotional and just pushing whatever latest ebook or webinar your company has. Your posts need to be value-driven. But you also want to generate leads!

The idea is to provide value over and over again until your buyer will recognize your expertise as valuable and gravitate towards doing business with you.

So instead of a “me, me, me” post you can include a nice visual call to action to drive people to the next step without making your content overly self-serving.

Dave-LinkedIn-Publisher.png

In this case, if people were enjoying my post, they would be driven towards the pre-ordering of our new Social Selling book. This CTA could be anything that promotes similar content on our site, sending people back to our website and/or landing page where they can start interacting with more of our content while learning more about what we offer.

You can input CTAs by uploading an image directly into the post.

The CTA is especially important because otherwise you're likely just educating your marketplace for free. And while educating your marketplace is very good idea, you want to provide a very logical next step in the buying journey so they can continue engaging with your company. That’s the idea here — that monetarily the post is free, but you’re leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to the next stage of their buying journey.

In summary, providing value to you market place will always be a game of trial and error. But if you have the best of intentions and a humbleness that allows you to always seek a better way of meeting your buyers’ needs, you will succeed! Best of luck my friends :)

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Dave Howe

About the Author

Dave is a gifted salesman with a passion for training. Having started from humble roots as a doorknocker in Australia, Dave quickly excelled over his decade long sales and marketing career to hold several VP and Director level positions. Prior to joining the Sales for Life team, Dave was involved with start-ups; building and training their sales teams from the ground up.