By Alejandro Rioja
With the power of the internet and social networks, entrepreneurs can take their ideas from zero to hero. However, going viral is not as easy as it sounds. It's essentially the equivalent of winning the internet lottery, and the benefits follow.
Internet-savvy readers will remember a whole slew of people who’ve made it big after going viral. In the entrepreneurial world, one of the most famous viral campaigns was run by a company called Harry’s, which sells men’s shaving products. It managed to go viral and generate over 100,000 customer emails in 10 days from a single referral program.
But the times are changing and entrepreneurs are looking for new ways to take their content to the masses. You can go viral on any large social platform, but lately, many marketers have been turning to LinkedIn to grow their professional networks and win new clients. When my story was featured on the front page of five channels on Linkedin Pulse, it was a game changer for my career and exposure. And it can happen for you.
Over the past two months, an entrepreneur and good friend of mine from UCLA named Steve O’Dell, co-founder and CEO of Tenzo Tea, has taken the idea of going viral and created a recipe. Starting with only a few hundred views per post, in two months he’s gone viral multiple times, generating over 2 million post views cumulatively. His approach was slow and methodical, with slight iterations each day on his posting style and method.
I spoke with him about his LinkedIn strategy and he shared the following three tips to engineer virality on Linkedin.
Post Valuable Content
According to a 2016 study by Statistica, there are over 460 million users on LinkedIn. Steve points out that in order to win in this massive network, you need to tailor your content to a specific audience. “People want to improve their careers -- this comes from new opportunities, information or connection,” he says.
If you want to build an engaged community, you'll need to start posting niche content. For instance, if you’re a growth hacker, you can post about different marketing techniques, resources and content that marketers will appreciate. Moreover, posting about different job opportunities and lessons you’ve learned through your own experience and failures are extremely sought after by the Linkedin community.
Hack the Algorithm
The best way to go viral on LinkedIn is in short form content, which is basically a status update on LinkedIn. Here are three tips to hack your algorithm on each post:
First, use a strong hook in the first two lines of the post. This causes the reader to click the “see more” button to read the whole post. This is extremely important because people are unlikely to comment, like or share if they haven’t engaged with the entire post and these three variables are significant for the algorithm. A few good examples of strong hooks are, “Ignore at your own risk” or “5 secrets I learned from Elon Musk." These are enticing and will push the viewer to keep reading.
Second, write one sentence per line and space all your content out. This causes the reader to spend a longer time reading your content, which may sound cumbersome but actually tricks the “time on screen” variable in the LinkedIn algorithm. This variable is a critical part of engagement for the algorithm.
Third, make your writing flow. BAMF media founder (and a friend I made on Linkedin) Josh Fechter recommends making your post flow in a wave-like motion. This means slowly increasing and decreasing the amount of characters per line which gives your piece a “wave” impression from a bird's eye view.
Last, only use text. Through my own experiments, I have seen that text is favored over images and links. If you need to post a link, do so in the comment section. This forces people to spend more time on the comment section searching for the link, which again helps serve as a signal of longer engagement.
This is the most important piece of the recipe. In order to hit a million views on one post, you need to tell your most honest failures and subsequent overcomings. This is a concept called the “Hero’s Journey” and is extremely powerful on LinkedIn because the community already enjoys that type of content. People like when you show how you overcame a difficult moment and especially what you learned from it. In one of the top posts on my blog, I share what I learned when starting Flux and the obstacles that I faced.
Virality on Linkedin can be engineered. Combine short form and engaging content with an interesting story and you will see your shares and comments rise. If you keep up with a regular posting schedule, you will see the results of posting on Linkedin within a few short weeks. Anyone with consistency, ambition and focus can follow and utilize Linkedin to grow and promote their own stories. Steve’s journey started by writing a short post every day for 30 days. He wrote honestly about his life and the world responded. Stories are meant to be shared. Are you telling yours?
Alejandro Rioja is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Flux Ventures.