Note: This case study was written in 2017 when I had cracked LinkedIn's algorithm to produce hyper-viral content as highlighted by BuzzFeed, Reuters, and Forbes. As a result, LinkedIn changed their feed algorithm for over 500 million users as noted in their LinkedIn Engineering Blog. Correspondingly, LinkedIn banned me from their platform when I reached over 70,000 followers and 200 million views.
Four months ago, I had 1,500 LinkedIn followers.
As of writing this, I have 26,000 followers (10K of which are connections).
I used a systematic process for making this happen. This system allows me to create viral LinkedIn statuses every week and engage with thousands of prospects at scale.
In this piece, I'll be covering the entire system for you.
This way you can get these type of stats in a matter of months:
Are you ready?
Optimize Your Profile
When people look at your profile, they decide whether you're worth connecting with in several seconds.
These are the questions that go through their head when making this decision:
Do they look like a domain expert?
Do they look like a leader?
Can they help me?
If you can trigger a "yes" to each one, then you can connect with venture capitalists, Fortune 500 founders, and thought leaders - at scale.
It starts with the headshot because people mentally digest pictures before they read.
You don't need anything over the top. As long as the viewer believes you put in the effort to take a professional headshot, then you've increased your add-back percentage.
What's an add-back percentage?
It's the percentage of the connection requests you send out that get accepted.
To take it up a couple of notches, ideally, you should have a picture of you smiling. The next step is optimizing your cover photo. There are three photos that will increase your add-back rate:
- You with a relevant influencer in your industry
- You speaking in front of prospects
- You at a local landmark (only works if you're connecting with people in your city)
Once your viewers finish judging your headshot and cover photo, they'll read your headline.
The more thought leadership you can portray here, the higher increase you'll see in your add-back rate. This doesn't mean writing "Thought Leader" in your headline. You need to list tangible accomplishments or awards, preferably with numbers; otherwise, people won't believe you.
If you're lucky, they've given a check mark to your headshot, cover photo, and headline.
Now they're reading your bio.
This is your opportunity to get them to click-through to your landing page. The biggest mistake I see from almost everyone on LinkedIn is lack of specificity. I don't know what they do and how they can help me. If you can't state your business proposition in two sentences, then you don't have a business.
For example, take a look at my bio:
“We drive ROI for growing companies using cutting-edge growth marketing and growth hacking tactics. We've worked with companies like TEDx, Mixmax, Voo, LawTrades, Book in a Box, Deputy, and Autopilot.
Services include: B2B growth hacking, PR hacking, chatbots, FB ads, SEM, growth strategy, personal brand management, and marketing automation.
We also manage a community, Badass Marketers & Founders, which has over 15,000 members. You can request access here: http://growth.chat/fbcommunity
Want to work with us? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For all speaking inquiries, please visit: http://growth.chat/speaking
For more information about me, please visit: http://growth.chat/me
On my free time, I pursue my passion for understanding psychology and neuroscience, especially with how they play into creation, innovation, and social media.”
If the copy works, then why change it?
I have the same copy under my first job title.
It doesn't end here. You need to optimize every part of your profile.
Make sure you have a logo for each company you've worked at. If there's no logo, viewers will assume the company didn't exist.
Logos are nice, but the recommendations are more tangible. You should have, at least, five. If you don't, then ask your coworkers and peers for a minute of their time to write something for you.
Don't be shy. It's worth the ask.
If you've done everything listed, then your profile is optimized.
You're now ready to expand your network.
Auto-Connect to Thousands of Prospects at Scale
With several clicks, you can connect to hundreds of targeted prospects at scale.
Founders of 500+ employee companies in the software space?
Directors of Innovation of 250+ employee companies in the marketing and advertising space?
And they'll accept your connection request because your profile is optimized.
To make this magic happen, you need to use the tool, GrowthLead to expand your network. First, write an invitation message. You'll see the option in the middle drop-down. Write an intro message that doesn't focus on any type of ask.
Focus on establishing a common bond. For example, if I'm reaching out to founders in Los Angeles. I ensure to include the words "founders" and "Los Angeles" in my message. This message will go out to everyone you auto-connect with - possibly thousands of individuals.
Next, I plug-in a relevant LinkedIn search query into LinkedIn Sales Navigator and save is as a search. If you don't have Sales Navigator, then don't bother to run automation. You'll get your profile banned.
I import this LinkedIn search into GrowtLead. The tool will automatically start connecting with personalized messages to everyone in the search query. Don't connect with more than 80 people in a 24 hour period; otherwise, you risk the potential of getting banned.
If you send out 80 requests every other day, you can expand your connection base by a thousand targeted prospects every month. Powerful.
Now that you have a strong connection base let's ramp up engagement.
Publish Viral LinkedIn Posts Every Week
You have many prospects in your network.
Do you immediately follow-up with a sales message?
You need to nurture them with value - every day.
Don't bother with LinkedIn's Publishing platform - it's comparable to Facebook Notes. You need to leverage statuses to get seen and heard. An excellent status takes less time to create and will get far more eyeballs than your published post.
Look at this status I created - over 8 million views.
Before you jump in trying to repeat my success, you need to know how to write to drive engagement. It starts with the first two sentences. If those don't pull your reader's attention, then you've lost them.
Every quality piece begins with a problem, significant change, announcement, or credibility:
The last two sentences are almost as important as the first two. If people don't walk away feeling a strong emotion, then don't expect them to like, comment, or share your post.
Provide them an "aha" moment:
Here's another example:
You're almost a pro. However, you're missing everything in the middle.
Here you want to tell a story with tangible examples.
Without a story, no one will care.
To tell a gripping story, you need to pull out every adjective from your dictionary, including amazing, super, nice, great, wonderful, and best. Instead, you need to write with TANGIBLE examples.
Here's the difference:
"Josh is our best salesperson."
"Josh closes every prospect on the phone."
The latter example you can imagine, the first one you can't.
You know you're a pro when you can re-enact conversation. A conversation is more tangible than any description.
Here's an example piece:
If you can writing engaging content like this, then you'll have no problem nurturing your connections.
Use Engagement Posts to Drive Subscribers
To turn your engagement into email subscribers, you can offer a relevant download or ask them for their opinion on a content release. For example, I asked my LinkedIn connections for their opinion on my book cover while providing a link to get notified when the book comes out.
Because LinkedIn decreases engagement for posts with links, I'll put the link in the first comment. When I hit thirty comments on the piece, I'll move it to the text area because garnering the initial engagement is the hardest.
Here's an example piece I used to drive close to two hundred email subscribers:
Here's another post that has a direct download. I asked people to comment "I'm in" if they wanted it. Then I went ahead and added a direct download after one hundred comments.
Engagement pieces are powerful, but you can't overdo them. Release only a couple of every month; otherwise, you'll look hungry for email address rather than someone who wants to build genuine relationships.
Use Appreciation Posts to Develop Key Relationships
LinkedIn loves when you appreciate people in your network.
They go crazy over it.
- Introduce the problem you had before your meeting
- Explain the credibility of the person you're meeting using a tangible example
- Dive into the key learning lessons from the conversation using bullet points
Here's an example post:
Here's another example post:
Publicly acknowledging how people help you is one of the best ways to create valuable relationships. It shows you're willing to vouch for a friend not only to one person but your entire network.
Prep Your Statuses Using Quora
All my best LinkedIn statuses were written months before I began posting them.
They were my answers to questions on Quora. In fact, 8/10 my most viewed statuses were initially written on Quora. I use Quora to validate my content before I post it on LinkedIn. This means that if my content gets high engagement on Quora, then I'll repost it on LinkedIn.
There's a slight mismatch. LinkedIn statuses only allow for 1,300 characters, unlike Quora which has no limit. As a result, when answering questions on Quora, it's best to keep the 1,300 character limit in mind.
This piece was copied almost word for word to LinkedIn:
I knew the piece would perform well on LinkedIn because it had already given me the validation on Quora.
It's a nervous feeling guessing at how well your content will do.
It's a powerful feeling already knowing.
Start writing on Quora.
Retarget LinkedIn Connections on Facebook
You've learned a few masterful tactics, but there are still more.
This one can drive many leads and engagement for you. All you need to do is get your LinkedIn connections' emails to retarget them on Facebook with engaging content. You can do this by exporting your connection data on GrowthLead.
Once you export your connections, you'll have their emails in a CSV. Upload them to Facebook as a custom audience, then start running ads. I run video ads because the cost-per-view is less than several cents while still keeping an option for them to click-through to my website with a "Learn more" button.
Here are a couple of example video ads I've run to my LinkedIn audience resulting in a 10/10 relevance score (highest score for a Facebook ad performance):
In this page post, I used as a Facebook ad, I'm giving value that's directly related to LinkedIn - perfect for my connections who've seen my high engagement.
And again, a 10/10 relevance score.
If you publish engaging statuses, your LinkedIn connections will already know, like, and trust you. In turn, this will often be your best-performing audience.
Interview High-Value Prospects at Scale
If you implemented the content tactics outlined above every day for a month, then people are starting to follow every post you publish. Your network knows of you and people in their network know of you.
It's time to make sales. We sell in a genuine way - by focusing on relationship building using content marketing. This tactic is more useful if you have high-value prospects. This means your average deal size should, at least, be one thousand dollars.
Because almost every conversation leads into "What do you do?," our angle is to get high-value prospects on the phone with you before they even receive a sales pitch.
How does this work?
We offer to include them in blog posts, podcasts, case studies, live stream videos, or even online magazines where you can highlight them. We're playing to their ego - and it works.
Here's an example message:
This message has over a thirty percent reply rate. Here's why:
"I love the work you've done for [X company]"
"Podcast that gets 2,000 listens an episode"
3. Community first
"As an entrepreneur building a vibrant community of founders"
4. More appreciation
"Knowledgeable speakers and people crushing it in tech such as yourself"
5. Example of a previous episode (not in the picture)
"Here's an example of a previous interview with [insert credible name]: [link here]"
6. Straightforward call-to-action (not in the picture)
"Do you have fifteen minutes to talk this Wednesday @ 2 P.M. PST?"
With this template, I've had the founder of Zapier and Zoom respond to me. It's that good.
Turn Your LinkedIn Connections into a Vibrant Tribe
Once you've connected with and nurtured many of your target LinkedIn prospects, you have the leverage to build a tribe. This happens in a Facebook Group, not a Slack community or a LinkedIn Group - those are dead zones.
To get people into your community, there are two ways:
- LinkedIn messaging (more painful, but still works)
Here's the email template I'll send out to all my LinkedIn connections:
“Hey [first name]
As a LinkedIn connection and fellow founder, I wanted to personally invite you to a founder Facebook Group I organize that's very active, Marketers & Founders.
The Marketers & Founders Facebook Group is moderated by a few of the best, so it’s invite-only.
- Aj Cartas; 1.2 million social media fans and is an influencer lead @TopBuzz
- Taylor Pipes; content strategist @Evernote
- Me 🙂 Past head of growth for @22Social, @UpOut, and @GrowthX.
You can join the Marketers and Founders Facebook Group here:https://www.facebook.com/groups/growthmarketers/
If you want to know more info, feel free to reply.
To email them at scale, you need to have a few warmed up email accounts tied to a domain you don't use for your website or primary business but sounds relevant to your brand. For example, I used "marketersfounders.com"
Here are the two tools you need to send emails at scale:
Tool #1: Google Apps
A Google Apps account will enable you to create many email addresses tied to your "temporary" domain. I recommend sticking below 300/day per an email address and starting off at 20/day for the first three weeks.
Tool #2: Mailshake
This tool will enable you to send thousands of emails/day if you have many emails attached. It's the best tool for sending emails at scale with the shortest learning curve. It took me around twenty minutes to understand the entire tool and another twenty to begin sending emails.
2. LinkedIn Messaging
Andrei posted on LinkedIn whether people were interested in joining his B2B SaaS community. As a result, he received almost over 1,000 responses. That's 1,000 new members from one post. He only had 2,000 connections when he posted this.
The next step is paying a VA to use your profile to connect with all these people and send them a message with your community link. After emailing and posting on LinkedIn, you should have a couple of thousand members in your community. Well done.
Encourage them to Subscribe on Messenger
The first step is to pick a messenger tool.
I use ManyChat because of its feature versatility to capture leads with dedicated landing pages or people commenting on a Facebook post. If you've ever used an opt-in tool on a blog, then you'll have a similar experience when setting up ManyChat. The learning curve is only a couple of minutes.
To get the initial subscriber base, I ran a giveaway encouraging people to jump on. This gave me three-hundred-and-fifty Messenger subscribers.
When I had enough traction for the Facebook Group, I required members to opt-in via Messenger to gain access. As of writing, this approach has led to over five hundred more subscribers in the last month.
After a month of using ManyChat, I leveraged my base to bring in another several thousand subscribers by having the most successful book launch on Product Hunt.
Soon after, I ran another giveaway. If people commented on my Facebook Fan Page post, I'd send them my viral LinkedIn templates. I received over one hundred comments.
Per ManyChat, if someone comments on your post, they immediately become a subscriber.
Play ball where they play ball. It's easier to get someone to subscribe via Messenger if they're already on Facebook. The stats prove it: I average a 93% open rate and a 44% click-through rate.
Ready to join me?
Follow-Up with Quality Inbound Opportunities
I have a problem.
Too many messages. I get hundreds every day across LinkedIn, Facebook, and email. To sort them out, I hired an assistant. If you're looking to stay lean, then you can hire a virtual assistant, too.
I'd check out Upwork; it's one of the best resources to hire virtual assistants.
If you're publishing content, building your list, and driving engagement, then you'll get flooded with inbound opportunities. I don't have the time to look through them all, so I hire people to do that for me.
I pay more to hire people who have experience in my industry. They're far better at identifying valuable opportunities. Here's an example of an opportunity I didn't see for a month because I didn't have an assistant.
Only one of these opportunities can make it all worth it.
Create a Powerful Ecosystem
To excel at one social platform, it often requires the help of others because excellent marketing is an ecosystem. You're competing for attention. To drive millions of views on LinkedIn, you need to combine the forces of Facebook and Quora.
Wherever your prospects go, they'll see your engaging content. And by the time they hop on a call with you, they'll already trust you. Say goodbye to your normal sales cycle by mastering LinkedIn.