How I Went Viral by Ignoring One of the “Rules” of LinkedIn

How I Got 1.6 Million Views by Following My Instincts 📈

Resharing my post after Mubs and I updated our Zoom-branding tool, Branded Background!

Accidental Virality & a Little Experiment

In spring of this year, I was scrolling back through some of my LinkedIn posts and was floored to see that one of my posts had gone viral. Without me even realizing!

It was something I’d put up about a month prior just to get my daily quota filled (I try to post every day for consistency) and I hadn’t thought much about it afterwards.

It ended up doing more than 50K views. 😱⚡

I read and reread that post over the course of the week, trying to figure out what in the hell it was that had caused it to go so crazy. Was it the content? The formatting? The emojis (don’t laugh, those things matter!) or the hashtags?

🤔 Working over the next week, I tried a variety of things to understand what had keyed into the LinkedIn algorithm so acutely. After a few days, I began to wonder if it was something else—something which LinkedIn power-users cautioned against. So I figured why not try that and see.

I went viral again. 📈

And again. 📈📈

And again. 📈📈📈

20K, 40K, 80K, 190K views started popping up in my feed. At one point, I even did half a million views on one post!

This actually wasn’t my first time going viral on LinkedIn. But it was the first time I was doing so consistently. This time it was serious.

My first time going very viral happened just before I started running my experiment.

I racked up well over a million views over a spread of just 10-15 posts. 😯

I started to track my thesis in a spreadsheet.

Over the few months that I consistently ran the experiment, I went viral about a third of the time—I was going viral at least 2-3 times a week over a ten-week span.

It got to the point where if I didn’t  go viral, it was a little uncommon and I felt that tomorrow I’d just make it up by going viral then. 

So what was the secret to all this insane virality?

Hold your breath, because LinkedIn power-users are about to lose their shit here…

☝️ Sharing.


The LinkedIn “Rule” I Ignored to Go Viral (Again and Again)

I ignored one of the “rules” of the LinkedIn algorithm and just went with my natural instincts.

During the time I ran my little experiment, I started sharing…a lot.

A lot more than I already had been.

The spreadsheet I kept for my experiment.

Here’s why this is such a drastic statement:

Because lots of LinkedIn power-users often share tips for how to do better on LinkedIn; a lot of which have become gospel because of how the algorithm reacts—how it changes, and how it doesn’t change…

Core tactics like:

  • Text content is king.
  • Write up to the content limit.
  • Canoe-tagging is okay, even encouraged.
  • Answer every damn comment.

And towards the bottom of the pecking-order?

Share. 📈📉

Or rather, don’t share, because the algorithm (supposedly) dings you for it. 

A tip from a LinkedIn power-user I follow.

I always saw sharing listed at the very bottom, the thinking being that the algorithm smacks you for not creating your own content and suppresses your reach. (Probably a reasonable theory, but as I said, algorithms get tweaked sometimes).

And yet, that post that racked up 50K views? The one I’d just pushed out without thinking about it?

It was a share.

I just went through it, found a few points I connected with, tried to articulate how I thought about them, and shared her post into my network.

Then it spread like wildfire. 🔥

The post that racked up 55K views without me even realizing it!

Why Sharing Works So Well

🙌 Sharing is one of my favorite strategies because it’s a great way to simultaneously learn and build great relationships with the people who are creating the material you connect with.

Here’s why sharing doesn’t work for a lot of people: they’re not patient and they don’t give credit!

It’s not just sharing though; it’s sharing the right way, a key factor which I see trip people up all the time.

This is such an avoidable pitfall that it just baffles me why I continue to see this. I always give credit at the top of the post. This is key; never take credit for what isn’t yours. That kills a reputation and potential relationship before they even start.

But there is a way to successfully “piggyback” on someone else’s content without looking like a tool. In fact, I wrote all about it here. The key is, as always, humility, authenticity, & due credit.

This is precisely what I teach people how to do as the #ZeroToOneNetworker. 😉🚀

Resharing a post and trying to add some value to the original message while giving due credit.

So when it took off, it made me wonder why anyone would ever recommend against sharing on LinkedIn. Perhaps the algorithm did penalize you a little bit, but here’s my thinking:

1) We never know for sure

2) Sharing is a great way of pushing out new, high-quality content, &

3) It’s probably the best way I’ve found to build an amazing network.

Breaking 1.6 Million Views (Fairly Effortlessly)

In fact, it’s pretty much precisely how I built my tech network on Twitter, and how I built my network in the music business before that. People who follow me know that 75-80% of everything I tweet or put out is in support of someone else. Either a company I dig, a mission I believe in, or someone who I absolutely wanna see grow and succeed.

So I just started to adapt my Twitter strategy to LinkedIn and see if emulating it yielded any different results.

Now I’ll stop here and say that I don’t know if this is a “surefire” way to still go viral on LinkedIn.

In fact, I don’t think there is a “surefire” way. 

Some of my posts did 100K views. Others didn’t even break 100. There was never a guarantee. 

But it did make me reexamine the question that so many people ask (and now, amazingly, ask me) of: How do I go viral?

That’s not the right question.

The right question is: How do I build a magnetic reputation and a deep bench of allies in a concrete network?

Answer: You do it through sharing and supporting others in the right way. 👏💫 This is what I love teaching other people how to do because once you start doing it, your network takes off like a rocket. 🚀

Resharing a post and explaining how I find inspiration and value in someone else’s content.

That’s why the share tactic worked for me. Because it was something I could easily emulate from my Twitter strategy (which had also worked for me), something which people associated with my brand, and something that I could easily tweak if need be. 

Perhaps, though, the most important part of the strategy (for me, anyway) is that it allowed me to sidle close to the people whom I want(ed) to learn from in a way that was neither fanboy-ish nor self-centered. It was a way to indicate that I appreciated someone else’s mission, accomplishments, company, or character without actually having to say so. Sometimes the subtle signals are the most effective. 

In the end, my “share” posts went viral about one third of the time. Not bad at all. 

But the really amazing thing is that I ended up doing well over 1.6 MILLION post views from when I started the experiment. 

Even more intriguing to me, though, is that I still continue to see many of my LinkedIn friends continue to suggest not sharing because the algorithm dings you on it. And I absolutely understand this; their suggestions come from a place of not wanting their followers’ content to be stifled by the algorithm. So the advice does come from a good place.

But for me, that’s the exact opposite of what I found that really started to work for me. And perhaps most importantly, it’s antithetical to what worked for me elsewhere and what ultimately defines my brand as the 🚀 #ZeroToOneNetworker. Because when people 😎#LookForTheOrangeSunglasses, they know that the content won’t only be my own thoughts, but tips, experiences, & stories from other people in my network whom I also learn from.

Maybe that’s the reason that my sharing worked in the first place; because so many people are not doing it consistently. Daring to do something different—even by accident—is a great way to set yourself apart and make your content more unique.

Maybe it makes me a little different than the other LinkedIn power-users out there, but I’ll double-down and say it:

If you wanna grow your network and content, then share.

And if you really wanna grow your network, then message me and book some time with me so we can figure out how to supercharge your networking chops! ⚡💸

Share positively and consistently; always try to add something valuable and always, always give credit.

After all, I didn’t have anything to lose—do you? 😉

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn at @adammarx13 and @Zero2OneNetwork.

And continue to 😎 #LookForTheorangeSunglasses!

My Friday Post Went Viral. Here’s Why.

Last Friday, I wrote a post that felt more like a personal update than anything else.

It went viral anyway, and I know why. 👇

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Quick Message — I’m Here to Help

☝️ First, let me say: I know the crunch that’s happening all over the country (and the world), which is why I’m cutting my rates and making them as flexible as possible. I do personal branding, relationship-building, content editing, and networking consulting.

I teach people how to get in front of anyone; tech investors, company CEOs, journalists or media, etc., and I do it by teaching basic tactics that anyone could use (patience, value creation, consistency, etc.). If you need help—growing your network, developing your brand & reputation, building relationships for a new job—then reach out to me. I will work with your budget —just send me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn.

What We Expect of Our Companies

When we apply for jobs at companies, we expect that the contracts they give us are mutually beneficial at their core. For our part, these contracts require us to show up on time, excel in our skills & dedication, produce results, etc. And for that we get paid. It often boils down to a base concept:

“You give me time and skills, and I’ll give you money and benefits.” 💰

But sometimes in our readiness to accept these terms and get paid, we can overlook the things which we should be expecting & requiring from the companies hiring us.

And one of the core things that every employee should expect of their employer is a safe workplace. This isn’t innovative thinking; it’s a necessary cost which every employer should figure into their overhead.

Here’s the problem with that:

Safety isn’t sexy and profit rules the day.

Many people like to think that their company has their back; that the organization will catch them when they fall. And indeed this is true of many companies, but unfortunately not all.

And I think this is exactly why my post went viral. 🤔

Companies in Two Camps

With all the coronavirus stuff happening globally, there’s a lot of fear about how to weather the storm. Many companies have taken it upon themselves to step out on the limb with their employees and help as best as they can. Some of my favorites like SlackAirbnbZoomPagerDuty, and Box are cutting costs to their premium products so that the sudden influx of people now forced to work from home can continue to be as productive as possible. Many companies recognize that they may see a financial loss in the coming weeks, but they accept that this is bigger than that.

They’re placing their employees’ safety above their fiscal bottom lines. 🙌

And then there are companies which are not.

Even with social distancing requirements going into effect all over the world, there are companies that don’t seem to be taking the situation seriously. Hobby Lobby has adamantly refused to close locations and GameStop declared the same.

These are the poster children for companies which are sticking to the gray areas of what is defined as an “essential business” apparently so that they don’t have to close up shop or move online. And this is going to jeopardize the health of their workers. 😷

When this is all over and the dust settles, there will only be two camps of companies:

  1. 📈 Those who placed the health of their employees over the fiscal bottom line, and
  2. 📉 Those who placed the fiscal bottom line over health and everything else

(For the record, the companies I’m referring to en masse are not the typical essential businesses; i.e. police, medical personnel, grocers, firefighters, etc.)

Why My Post Went Viral (I Believe)

My post went viral (perhaps a poor adjective given our current situation…) because I have been documenting the struggle that one of my close friends is having with some such company. My friend works for a company that is doing its damn best to stay in one of these gray areas; they are not “essential” on the same level as a homeless shelter or police department, nor are they 100% remote as software engineering might be.

Screenshot (22)

My original post from Tuesday, 3/24/20.

What I do know, though, is that the work my friend does—operations, bookkeeping, customer support—could all be done remotely. Certainly in an extenuating circumstance like the one in which we now find ourselves, 98% (if not more) of my friend’s work could be done from their laptop at home.

Yet the company refuses to allow them to do so.

The optics are even worse: the partners and employees who work in corporate are already working from home and have been for a week. 😡

My post went viral—I believe—because this kind of management of employees is not only reckless and irresponsible, it’s dismaying and unconscionable. People have a right to work in safe conditions, and a right to request leniency in extenuating circumstances like this. They have a right not to fear retaliation for desiring to work from home in the middle of a pandemic.

Screenshot (23)

My viral follow-up post from Friday, 3/27/20.

This Isn’t Leadership — It’s Extortion

I’ve run startup companies before and I’ve worked for bigger organizations, and here’s a rule I never break: I would never ask my employee or team member to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself.

Like, say, risk my life for a good quarterly profit.

The irony is that these companies who are putting profit before safety will see cataclysmic retribution when this is all over. Not from me or even from governments most likely, but from their employees, customers, investors, and advertisers. Nobody wants to work for, buy from, or promote a company which places profits over employee health and safety. Investor Mark Cuban mentioned as much just last week.

My post went viral because people are angry at my friend’s circumstance (and probably those of their close ones as well) and know that this is not right. This is not what my friend signed up for, and certainly not what the company should be expecting of them.

Leaders lead from the front, and what this company is doing now isn’t leadership—it’s extortion. 🚨

The Upshot When This Is Over

For those of you out there running companies the right way and doing your very best to hear your employees and put their health first, thank you. I applaud you. I will patronize your businesses and continue to lead with you in the right direction.

But for those who are not following suit—who view any desire for leniency & safety as insubordination and are living in the gray areas intentionally for profit—, you do so at your own risk. The optics are not on your side, and any profit you manage to make during this tough time will undoubtedly be used on public relations damage control.

And for the hardworking employees out there: you deserve to work in a safe environment. If you know that your company truly doesn’t fall under “essential business,” also know that your health and safety are paramount. This isn’t a normal corporate situation; this is an extreme that we’re living in right now and people need to adapt to that.

I’m truly grateful for all of your support. Keep moving forward. 🚀

***

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn @adammarx13 and continue to 😎 #LookForTheOrangeSunglasses.

P.S. — Leads on new jobs for my friend still greatly appreciated. To my knowledge, skills include: asset management, operations, bookkeeping, customer service, company relations, & extensive real estate experience.

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