Wednesday, February 22, 2017

LinkedIn: How to Go Viral 101

Going viral is the ultimate internet-related achievement. On LinkedIn, it can do huge things for your career.

But since LinkedIn is hardly the appropriate venue for cat memes or videos of people slipping on ice, how does one go viral on everyone’s favorite social network for professionals?

Truth is, there’s no single equation that buys your content an admit one to the professional share circuit. But there are things you can do to increase its chances. It all comes down to two main considerations: the quality of content you’re creating and tactics you use to promote it.

Your content has to be good. It has to be readable. It has to be interesting. It has to be sharable. So, how do you make good content for LinkedIn?

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Be an expert in your chosen field

It’s as simple as knowing your stuff. Read industry publications and blogs. Attend industry events. Be part of relevant communities online and off. Be the person that other people go to with questions. While it’s no guarantee of going viral, when you’re a wealth of knowledge, you’ll never be short on interesting things to write about. And interesting things get shared.
Read more, share the best of it

Create a reading list of your favorite professional blogs or industry publications. Take 30 minutes a day to read them. Make it part of your job. The publications don’t have to focus on what you do day-to-day—but keep it relevant.

Find the best of what’s published and share it on LinkedIn. You can even include your own thoughts on the post to make it a more compelling read and position yourself as something of a thought leader within your network. You don’t have to do this every day. In fact, you shouldn’t. Cadence should be dictated by how often you’re coming across killer articles.

Answer questions people are asking

What are the biggest pain points that your profession or industry solves? Write about them. Demystify the topic. Make it interesting. Put your own perspective on it. Pretend you’re a pricey consultant. But give the reader free advice they’d normally have to pay for. This may sound counterintuitive, but being helpful is a great way to get your content shared in a big way.

Go against the grain

The problem with conventional wisdom is that it’s conventional. It changes and improves very little. When you offer an insight or an idea that goes against what people consider to be “the right way,” they notice. Sometimes they agree and sometimes they don’t. But you’ll always turn heads, start conversations, and consequently, provide fantastic fodder for sharing.

To be clear, there’s little value in being contrarian for the sake of it. But there’s a ton of value in being disruptive with an interesting, insightful, and fresh perspective.

While quality is at the core of most of what goes viral on LinkedIn, these tactics will help you optimize your content for a better chance to win a seat on the Viral Express.
Publish during work hours

Since it’s usually considered acceptable to use LinkedIn at work, working hours are the best time to post content to LinkedIn. Posting outside of work hours may result in your content being buried before your network can see it the next morning. Consider scheduling your posts to ensure they go out at the best time.

Make it visual

This is low-hanging fruit, but facts are facts and images get clicked. We’d never recommend using images to generate clicks without stellar content to back it up. However, including one could mean the difference between catching an influential person’s eye or having your content slide into obscurity.
Be an active user

Leave comments, like posts, and share your peers’ (good) content from time to time. Being active makes you more visible, and being visible means people are more likely to share what you’re posting. Using the platform regularly will also expose you to what other professionals are posting, which is a great way to get inspired, learn something, and connect with like-minded professionals.

Approach leaders

Are you connected with any thought leaders or well-regarded industry players? Share your best original content with them directly and ask for their thoughts. This can be a great way to get an insightful perspective and even open dialogue with them.

Need an example? Try this:

Hi Influencer Name,

I really enjoyed your recent article/piece/bit about that thing they wrote about.

I recently published an article/piece/bit about the thing you wrote about. I really appreciate your perspectives and hope that you might be able to provide yours here.

Take care,

Who knows—they may even share it. But be sincere in your request—and avoid sounding like you’re pitching something. The worst thing they can do is not answer. And if you don’t receive a response, move on.

Share with relevant groups

One of the best things about LinkedIn is all of the different industry-relevant groups you can join. These communities are a great place to connect with similar professionals, create discussion, solicit opinions, and even generate a following. Sharing content with your groups will also increase the odds of community members sharing it with their own professional networks.

Creating killer content can be a full-time job. But even the weathered professional with great writing chops, a large professional network, and something to say doesn’t bang out viral posts day after day.

The key is to focus on creating and sharing content that’s valuable, helpful, entertaining, and relevant. Do so and your chance of virality will increase tenfold. And, even if your content never sees the triple digit shares, you’ll have cemented yourself as a great source of content for an ever-growing audience of peers. At the end of the day, that’s worth a lot more than 15 minutes of LinkedIn fame.

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