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Tuesday 21st May 2024

Does Being Personal on LinkedIn Reach More People and Grow Your Connections?

#ToddsTips, LinkedIn, Storytelling, Viral, Viral post

I’ve been an active user of social media for some time now and one of the most common questions I’ve always had with friends, clients, and other networkers is, “How do you reach more people on LinkedIn?”. 

Now, of course, reaching more people isn’t the only thing you need to do – you also need engagement, and of course the all-important lead generation of the end – but reaching more people is certainly the first part of that journey.  

So, how do you reach more people on social media sites like LinkedIn? 

Recently I went a bit viral on LinkedIn 

I say a bit viral, but obviously, that’s within the context of a small business owner in Warwick. I just reached more people (over 110k at the time of writing this) than most of my posts.  

Viral seems to be a term used quite a lot but hundreds of thousands of people seeing a post is quite significant. I thought I’d break down the creation of the post to see if we can understand why some posts do better than others.  

So, let’s take a look at my ‘a bit viral’ post and find out what we can learn from it. 

 

Does Being Personal on LinkedIn Reach More People and Grow Your Connections?  

Storytelling drives engagement on LinkedIn 

The first thing this post has in ample amounts is a story. Telling a story on social media is important, and I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Starting and ending with the story, and making your post part of a longer story, is a great strategy for your social media.  

If you’re sharing stories on social media by your brand, they can be very powerful. If your business has a story you should tell them, and if the business owners have a story then you should include that too! But this isn’t just the one story about how you started. These are the hundreds of little micro-stories that make you who you are today.  

Telling your story on social media should be a big part of your strategy if it’s not already. 

  

 

The journey 

The journey has always been important. Human beings are interested in journeys, in how far you’ve come, it’s important to you how far you’ve come, and – like any good movie script – you need a journey to follow to keep you hooked. 

It’s important to share the journey. If you’re building a product or service, if you’re building a team, or even if you’re just moving office or have an exciting day ahead, you should share the journey on social media! And if you’re not comfortable sharing your own face, use your surroundings or other people’s faces. People love to find out about each others’ lives – that’s why soap operas are so popular.  

LinkedIn certainly seems to favour more real-life content over posts with graphs and pie charts.  

 

Pictures improve LinkedIn post reach  

Yes, this post has a pretty great picture (lol): Although I’ve shared some pretty in-depth ideas above (and I will do below), there’s no doubt in my mind that the picture drew a lot of people’s attention. 

If you look at things like eye-tracking software and insights from more in-depth content about social media and marketing than I’m creating here, then you’ll soon find out that the eye is drawn to certain parts of a social media post.  

In short, the eyes are drawn to the profile picture to see if they recognise the person, the first sentence because we’re lazy and use shortcuts to decide whether something’s worth our attention, and then, of course, the image or creative that you’ve put with the post. 

The image I’ve shared is quite a stark contrast and of course, it’s something many people can relate to, as well. 

There’s also a little bit more going on…  

In the second side of the photo, I’m looking towards the camera. This makes a big difference.  

The transition and change is important too. The fact that you can actually see the journey in the picture drives interest and saves time in people’s minds. You already know what it’s about before reading it. You almost don’t need to read the post to know what the post is about. That’s another shortcut which humans take all the time.  

The photo also has a human. People are drawn to other people. Sharing a selfie beats a pie chart any day of the week!   

So, think about the creativity of your post, and how can you tell the story of the entire post in one picture. Not easy, I know, but it’s sometimes possible. 

  

 

Relatable topics drive comments on LinkedIn 

The topic in this post relates to a lot of people. I suspect in all of our lifetimes, at some point, we will reconsider our diet and exercise. We will also want to lose a few pounds. Weight loss is a huge topic and a very competitive and cutthroat industry because of this. 

Because of this, I believe that this post has done well because it is very topical. It’s always topical. You don’t have to show this in January to be relevant. 

Thinking about your business or your brand, what are the topics people talking about right now? You should really talk about those. 

 

Add a pattern interrupt or catchy first line to your LinkedIn posts 

Pattern interrupt is when you interrupt someone scrolling on social media. Well, actually it’s not just that, but it’s what I’m talking about here. 

On social media, you need to grab their attention – and yes – an image or video or GIF can do that, but you also need the first sentence to help. 

 

via GIPHY

I always pay more attention to the first sentence I put on a post. I know that most people will only read this part. I know I’ve got just one chance to get their attention. 

In the post I deliberately started almost in the middle of a story: 

When I quit drinking I never said it would be forever. I thought I’d massively cut back. I thought I’d just drink on special occasions.” 

I didn’t start it by talking about how I got started or even that I’ve lost a fair bit of weight. No, I started this post much like many of the greatest TEDTalks do – right in the middle of the story. 

Think about your first sentence. You don’t have to be personal, and many people don’t want to show any vulnerability, but it helps. Most of the popular posts have a short, sharp, to-the-point first sentence.  

Oh… and don’t worry, you don’t have to be shocking (but it helps!). 

 

Create topical content on LinkedIn for more engagement  

I mentioned earlier that it pays to talk about something that resonates with people. The true topical part of his post is the sober curious part.  

Since the aftermath of the pandemic, there’s been a shift in people’s minds around alcohol. Lots of people found themselves sitting at home doing nothing much and drinking became a distraction. I was one of them.  

Then many people realised that drinking so much and not moving might not have been such a great plan. So, there’s quite a bit of content in your timeline around alcohol, and the reduction of alcohol in people’s diets.  

This isn’t just my Reticular Activating System (known as RAS) kicking in because I’ve spoken to people in the industry and there is a thirst (pun intended) for a bigger variety of non-alcoholic drinks.  

Across the country, brewers are creating more and more low-alcohol beer or zero-alcohol drinks. So, I created a post that is very on-trend and topical, and it got attention because their attention has already been captured by other posts in the timeline. 

 

What about LinkedIn Hashtags? 

Yes, use them. Ideally use 3-4 per post but don’t expect those alone to drive your post to viral status. It needs a few different components to really make it work.   

But, yes, in part the hashtags I used will have helped a little.  

 

Want to drive engagement on your LinkedIn posts?  

Reply to all comments and shares on your LinkedIn posts.  

I’ve always been a fan of replying to all the comments on my posts. I’ve also always been a fan of replying to comments with questions and trying to drive more engagement. Not just because this drives my engagement, but because I’m a curious person and I do like to hear other people’s opinions. 

You’ll see on the post that I replied to nearly all of the comments and also reacted to all of the replies too.  

I felt that I needed to on this particular post things because of the wonderful comments from people on what has been a very personal journey. 

But had this been a business-related post, I still would’ve done exactly the same thing.  

Replying to comments in your post drives engagement because it notifies the person that replied to your post that you have replied to their comment. It’s not rocket science, is it? 

 

Long comments with equally long replies drive LinkedIn reach  

And moving on from the point above, having good replies and interesting comments on your post’s thread is also good. 

 There are a few reasons why this is good for your post.   

The first reason is it creates a deeper conversation in the comments; something for the people who read all the comments to have a look at!  

(We all know there are people out there that simply go to post to read the comments!) 

Secondly, it creates a much more in-depth piece of content for LinkedIn as a whole. If you look at the post and all the comments and replies as one piece, then my post really is a large chunk of content! 

LinkedIn wants people to stay on LinkedIn. So, a post with this much engagement and interaction and deep and meaningful conversation is exactly what it wants; because it keeps people engaged and on the platform, which ultimately helps it sell more advertising space.   

So in short, the algorithm will help your post get seen by more people. 

  

To get more from LinkedIn you have to give more… 

When I’m delivering training workshops I often ask people in workshops what they think LinkedIn really wants. 

I ask them to think about LinkedIn as a business. Much like prompt for ChatGPT, I ask them to consider themselves as something else – I ask people to pretend they are LinkedIn. 

  • What does LinkedIn want? 
  • How does LinkedIn make money?  
  • And more importantly, how does it ensure it keeps making money? 

My answer would be this: 

LinkedIn wants to sell advertising space. The way it does this is to make sure that its platform is vibrant and engaging and has a high retention of members who visit the platform more often than other platforms. 

To do this LinkedIn needs its platform to be an exciting and interesting place that you simply can’t put down. 

To do this it needs great content. It needs engaging content. It needs viral posts. It needs great video great pictures, great stories, and it needs all the elements of what I’ve shared above (and more) to keep peoples’ attention.  

It needs to attract human beings to its platform, and compel them to stay. 

Then it can show off its data to advertisers and say, “Look at all these people who have viewed our platform this month!”. 

That’s what LinkedIn wants. So, to get more from LinkedIn, you have to give LinkedIn more. 

  • Give it more content. 
  • Give it more engaging content. 
  • Give it more content more of the time. 
  • Give more, get more. 

So, does being personal on LinkedIn reach more people and grow your connections?  

The short answer is yes. If you scroll through your LinkedIn timeline, most of the content with high engagement tends to lean towards the more personal stuff.  

I’m not suggesting for one minute you share something a personal as I have have or sell your soul to get better reach on LinkedIn. 

But you do need to get more of you into your post.  

If you’re hiding behind pie charts and award ceremonies and only taking your picture because you had a cake sale and it’s a good reason to post, then LinkedIn really isn’t gonna work for you.  

The best way you can use LinkedIn is to share your people, your journey, and your story 

If you happen to have a life-changing your story like me and you feel comfortable sharing then sure – go and share it. But you don’t need to be as ‘out there’ as I am. And you don’t need to lose so much weight.  

But you do need to attract human beings. What do human beings want? They need all of the above and more.  

They need human connection. 

  

 

LinkedIn is not Facebook! I get that 

I know that some of my post will trigger the more traditional LinkedIn users. But human beings like a story. Human beings need to hear about the journey. Most of the most successful movies in the world use a journey in their story because it’s what human beings want to see. 

LinkedIn is no different. 

So I’m sorry this isn’t Facebook, I’m sorry it is in fact LinkedIn and I’m posting pictures and selfies and before and after photos, but actually I’m not sorry at all. 

I’m just giving people on LinkedIn what they want. 

So, the next time you’re wondering what to post on LinkedIn think about the elements above, and also think, “How can I get myself, my team, and the people I work with into a story?” It’s not as difficult as you think it might be. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or a special occasion.  

Of course, if you need any more help than I do know an amazing digital marketing agency in Warwickshire that can help you with that. 


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