You don’t care about my humble LinkedIn brag.
And I get it. You shouldn’t care. I’m not telling you this to get your respect or make you feel terrible. I’m telling you because I must know something about LinkedIn. (This isn’t the first year this has happened either.)
Unlike other platforms LinkedIn actually tells users what the most-read articles are on their site based on data, not their internal employee views or special handshake deals with celebrities.
My article got 811,011 shares. It beat Richard Branson’s most viral article.
If you remove the news sites and celebrities from the list, then my article was the most-read article written by a regular user.
None of this is because of my skill or big Prince Charles ears. It’s because of these factors you can copy and use in your own LinkedIn posts.
Do less writing and more of this
The typical advice for LinkedIn is to write more. Or write better.
I did none of that because I suck and still don’t know how to use commas. What I did that I never see gurus talk about is I read a lot of LinkedIn content. I learned the psychology of the platform.
- How do LinkedIn users think?
- How do they feel about work?
- Who do they like to follow and why?
- What sort of formatting works on the platform?
I did this without realizing it. It hit me today when a reader emailed me and said “Yeah, Timbo, I’m gonna dump all the articles off my website onto LinkedIn. Good idea?”
My face went red. These lazy copy-paste, repurpose strategies taught by wannabe internet gurus don’t work.
You only get out what you put in.
What works for me, as stupid as it sounds, is to write an article on the platform I’m going to publish it on. The change in user interface from platform to platform rewires my brain. I start writing for that platform.
For example, when I sit down to write a newsletter where I have full control and can’t be censored, I become a naughty little Mark Manson without even trying to.
I feel as free as a prisoner who’s just been released from jail after 25 years for being wrongfully accused of murder.
I can say or do whatever I want. I can share the naughty stories that have keywords that’ll typically trigger tightarse moderation.
So if you want to smash it on LinkedIn 1) Read more on LinkedIn 2) Write for LinkedIn.
Have more than a piss-weak opinion
My Quiet People in Meetings article went viral because it had a strong opinion. I didn’t lap dance around the idea.
I didn’t muffle my voice or worry about offending business people. I didn’t give a damn if my former boss might have seen it. I just wrote what I felt.
Surprise, surprise the article was a story. We all know stories get the most shares on any platform, yet somehow, we conveniently forget every week when we sit down to write.
And the story got to the point, too. It was only a 4-minute read because LinkedIn users are busy and have jobs to get to. The story accidentally did something else…
It spoke for an underrepresented class of employees: quiet people.
People like me have been ignored for years in the business world because we don’t always talk a lot in meetings. Sometimes we just like to listen.
A strong opinion that speaks for a defined category of people does well.
Use LinkedIn language
The copy-paste clan has slowly migrated from Elon’s little birdy app over to LinkedIn. They said LinkedIn was cringe but now they’ve realized how much money they can make so they silently back-flipped.
They just take their content and slap it up on LinkedIn without a care in the world. What they miss is LinkedIn language.
My article became popular because it had LinkedIn language: bosses, meetings, careers, business.
Many self-improvement writers make this mistake. The self-help topic is highly popular on LinkedIn too … but only if you swap out a few phrases to make it native to the platform.
- Productivity becomes manage your work calendar better
- Habits becomes workplace rituals
- Inner circle becomes business network
It’s all the same content when you boil it down, but it contains nuance. Speak the language of LinkedIn. Why?
Because when your boss at work can see everything you post and engage with on LinkedIn, you don’t want them to think you’re slacking off and engaging with content that has nothing to do with your job.
*Likes a holiday selfie*
Boss thinks: “Lazy slacker not working again.”
*Likes an emotional intelligence leadership article*
Boss thinks: “Bloody legend. Learns without being asked.”
Once you understand how LinkedIn users think (out of survival), you can help them become smarter and improve their careers. Then they’ll share the heck out of your content because it helps them.
Makes sense when you think about it.
Take the best quote and use it in the post preview
When you write a LinkedIn article, LinkedIn newsletter, or link to an article elsewhere — there’s an option to add a little text.
This text acts as a preview. It’s a way to entice the reader to give up their precious time to read your work.
With my viral article, I took the most popular quote and copied it into the text preview field. Here’s a screenshot of what I mean:
Tell readers why your article is worth reading before they click it.
Use this type of unsexy headline
Let’s finish on this note.
Headlines are a controversial subject. On LinkedIn, the truth is, if your headline is boring your article is already dead.
The unsexy thing to do, that’ll get the clickbait police to direct message you hate, is to add a little curiosity. Don’t give away the whole story. Hint to the action that’s about to happen.
Take some time to wordsmith a few persuasive words.
Harsh truth: 80% of a LinkedIn article’s success is in the headline.
If you insist on using “On Business” type headlines on LinkedIn, you’ll never attract a notable number of readers to have a writing career or earn a living from it. If this is a mental block, writing on LinkedIn isn’t for you.