What I Learned About “Going Viral” on LinkedIn Last Week

Last week I had my first experience with a post of mine “going viral” on LinkedIn.

The funny thing is it was a complete throwaway post. Something I wrote “hot” and just reacted to as I saw the news in my feed that Sara Blakely had just given ALL her employees two first-class tickets to anywhere in the world and $ 10,000. Here’s the full post.

What I Learned About “Going Viral” on LinkedIn Last Week | DeviceDaily.com

I posted it and didn’t think much of it. I check LinkedIn many times throughout the day for clients, and myself. It didn’t have more than 20 likes and a few comments by end of day. Like I said, it was a throwaway post.

However, when I woke up the next day, it had more than 1,500 likes and 80 comments! It had completely blown up. And over the next several days, because the long tail of LinkedIn content is often very long, it would grow to almost 4,000 likes and more than 100 comments. Wow!

I never saw it, but I have to imagine it was included in the LinkedIn News item on the Blakely news. That’s really the only way a post of someone like me would garner that kind of attention.

And, as I’ve watched this post blow up over the last week, I’ve been thinking about the implications–how could I take advantage of this? what should I be doing? And, how could this further my business (or career, if you’re someone who works for an agency/company)?

Here’s what I learned and observed:

I’m not sure there’s a lot to gain. Sure, the post got crazy “engagement.” But, toward what end? Numbers are just numbers if they’re not working toward a goal. And, usually, the goal for me is to get on the radar of people who have responsibility over social and digital marketing at midsized and large companies in the US. As I pored over all the people who commented, liked and shared my post, I saw a very wide range of people from across the U.S. And, I’d say 99% of them had nothing to do with digital or social media marketing. In fact, 99% of them had nothing to do with marketing or comms at all. Translation: Not the kind of eyeballs I would ideally want on a post. HOWEVER, as I looked at names, I realized: Just because there aren’t a lot of people in here that work in marketing/comms, doesn’t mean they can’t become great connections. After all, these people could refer me business. These people could connect me to other who DO work in marketing and communications. Bottom line: I don’t think there was a ton to be gained, but I also looked for opportunities to connect with interesting people, too.

Hard to keep up with engagement. As the post blew up, I found it tough to keep up with responding to folks. In fact, at some point, I flat-out gave up. I mean, I’m all about engagement, but I have a full-time job! In fact, at the moment, I have a full-time job as a social media consultant AND a part-time job as an adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota! So yeah, hard time keeping up with that engagement. And it moves so fast. I just couldn’t keep up.

The power of timely–and newsworthy–topics. This post “going viral” was all about the topic. My post was nothing that insightful. It didn’t warrant this level of engagement. But, since I provided somewhat thoughtful commentary on a topic that was timely, newsworthy and all over people’s radar’s last week, it got picked up by the LinkedIn machine. That’s actually a good lesson for brands. Of course, the concept isn’t new. But commenting on the issues and topics of the day can have tremendous value for brands when it comes to awareness building.

The importance of the headline. When people probably saw this post in their feeds (or through LinkedIn News), one of the two things they may have noticed about me was: my profile pic and my headline. When I work with execs and leaders we put a lot of time and thinking into what their headline might be. Sometimes it’s simply their title, if they’re a C-level exec. Other times it’s a bit more creative. Whatever the case, people should see that headline and immediately understand what you’re about, in simple terms at least. From that perspective mine works pretty well: “Social media consultant for large and midsized companies.” Pretty clear, right?

Potential networking leads. Like I said above, not a ton of marketing/communications folks commented on the post. But, I’m finding time to identify the ones who did and I will be reaching out to them. You never know where a 15-minute Zoom call can take you!

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