We’ve all heard the story. Somebody publishes a post on LinkedIn, and nearly overnight it goes viral, soliciting massive amounts of traffic, shares, and comments — and, consequently, a sharp spike in both leads and sales. Was it due to skill, luck … or maybe a little of both?
LinkedIn Pulse is proving to be a valuable place to publish content, especially for B2B marketers. In fact, 93 percent of B2B marketers report social media as their No. 1 tactic for content creation and distribution. Plus 79 percent of B2B marketers report that LinkedIn is an effective source for generating B2B leads.
More than 106 million users log on to LinkedIn monthly and actively engage with content. There is a huge opportunity to capitalize on the fact that all these professionals are actively seeking, reading, and sharing content through the platform. But what should you do if you’ve never published a viral post, yet want to boost your odds of capturing attention on a viral scale? Here are a few tips for getting started.
1. Select a winning topic
Not sure how to select a winning topic? If so, don’t worry — research will point you in the right direction. Use specific keywords to explore different themes. For example, let’s say you want to publish an article about content marketing. You can use tools such as BuzzSumo to analyze the most popular posts on LinkedIn, ranked by social shares.
In addition, you can identify influencers in your industry, which helps with promoting your content and increasing your company’s exposure. The results of the research will unveil trends about your target market and what they read and share. For example, perhaps right now people are gravitating toward content about video marketing. If so, you can craft content with a new angle using that proven topic.
Key takeaway: Selecting the right topic is the cornerstone of LinkedIn content success. Don’t trust your gut; instead, rely on research to pick a topic with the greatest chances of going viral.
2. Make more comments
Do you want to boost the odds of your post going viral? If so, after publishing an article, carve out time to reply to comments. LinkedIn’s “top voices” made 10 times more replies and comments to their articles when compared to the average LinkedIn publisher.
For example, check out the article “11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader” that went viral on LinkedIn.
To date, the article has harnessed almost 28,000 likes and well over 300 shares; however, it also has more than 7,500 comments. Replying to every single comment on a popular post may not be possible, but in the beginning you can reply to most comments to give your article the push it needs to harness attention. As time moves on, replies may be less frequent and more difficult to keep up with.
Key takeaway: Reply to comments after publishing a post to boost engagement and increase the odds of additional exposure.
3. Use posts with proven success
There is some confusion about posting previously published content to LinkedIn Pulse. Will it hurt your SEO rankings? Is it bad for your LinkedIn reputation? And equally important, will it hurt your chances of producing viral content? The answers may surprise you.
Duplicate content essentially takes content that you posted elsewhere, such as your corporate blog, and reposts that content on LinkedIn. This is a good strategy when the content has a proven performance record. For example, consider something that you posted to your blog that has received the highest engagement of all your posts. What should you do next to get that content in front of a larger audience? Here are a few tips for using this strategy successfully:
- Wait a week after the original content is published to your site before publishing it on LinkedIn. This length of time should provide Google with an opportunity to index the original piece of content first.
- Use the original article as an outline, and then expand that popular content into a more detailed post. Or take a slightly different angle. For example, if you wrote “The 5 Best Ways to Promote Your Website,” next write “The 5 Worst Ways to Promote Your Website.”
- Consider including a reference to the original by saying something like “A version of this post originally appeared on XYZ” and then link to the older piece.
Key takeaway: There is not a big penalty for repurposing your content on LinkedIn. As a result, this is a good strategy for leveraging proven content on the LinkedIn platform for greater performance.
4. Engage editors of key sites
Do you want to boost your odds of going viral? If so, you must get the attention of editors of LinkedIn or another relevant site. But how? It’s simple: You must tell them about your amazing content. Here are a few tips:
- Publish a great post.
- Tweet the link to your post with “@LinkedInEditors” and include a quick summary of what your article includes.
- Start engaging with the editors on Twitter, so they get to know your name. Leave comments on posts; share work that they publish to the social media platform.
Key takeaway: Editors may read your content, think that it’s great, and share it with their audiences, boosting the odds of your getting featured on one of their high-visibility channels. But you must first get in front of those editors.
5. Understand LinkedIn channels
LinkedIn channels are essentially categories that LinkedIn members can follow to learn more about topics that interest them. Some of these channels have massive audiences. For example, Leadership and Management has 24.4 million followers, Entrepreneurship has 16.3 million, and Marketing and Advertising has 14.4 million.
Being featured on one of these channels harnesses massive amounts of attention and the momentum that you need to go viral. But how do you get featured?
First, identify the channel on which you would most like to appear. For example, if you’re targeting marketing managers, you’ll probably want to be seen on the Marketing and Advertising channel. Then select your topic with this specific audience in mind. Articles that fit the audience and the channel are more likely to get picked. You can also check out LinkedIn’s editorial calendar, which provides insights into preferred themes for each month.
Key takeaway: Boost the odds of capturing editors’ attention by creating content with a specific LinkedIn channel in mind. Articles featured by the channel can elevate performance levels, moving your results from average to viral.
6. Optimize your headlines and graphics
Headlines and graphics are key to the success of your LinkedIn article. After selecting the right topic, you can draw readers into the content more effectively through a carefully crafted headline. For example, check out this headline titled “Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Listen to His Customers.”
The headline captures attention because it makes an unexpected statement.
Visuals are also proven to capture results. For example, tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than those without them. In addition, BuzzSumo analyzed over 1 million articles and found that those with images placed once every 75 to 100 words received double the social media shares than those with fewer visuals.
Key takeaway: Check out featured LinkedIn articles. Can you find commonalities in the headlines? View high-performing articles as a template, using them to inspire your efforts as you create headlines and select visuals.
7. Publish with purpose
You’ve identified the best target audience, a high-performing topic, and a sound strategy for increasing the odds of producing viral content. But an important part of the overall equation is timing. You must get in front of viewers at the precise time of maximum impact. Each social platform is different, of course, so you’ll need to determine the optimal time to publish content on LinkedIn.
According to LinkedIn, the best times to post are between Tuesday and Thursday, in the early morning, at lunchtime, and in the early evening. In addition, there is a sweet spot between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Tuesdays.
Key takeaway: Publish during the times of highest impact, but continue to monitor the results. For example, while most posts may get the best results on Tuesdays between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., you may have better results on Wednesday evenings. Test to find your particular audience’s sweet spot.
8. Give readers something to do
Publishing a viral post is a great accomplishment, but it’s a lost opportunity if it doesn’t include an action step for the reader. For example, after reading the content, what should the audience do next? Maybe it’s downloading an eBook with powerful marketing insights, which gives you a chance to collect their email addresses and start moving them through the sales funnel. Or it could be something small, such as driving them to your blog to read more. Select an action that fits into your strategic goals for the content.
Key takeaway: Without a call to action, you haven’t truly seized the full opportunity of publishing content to LinkedIn — especially if that content goes viral. Define a call to action for each piece of content that you create for LinkedIn.
Stacking the deck
LinkedIn provides an increasingly large and influential platform for marketers to get their content seen. There is no guarantee that your LinkedIn post will go viral, but you can stack the deck in your favor when you use these tips.
Do you publish content on LinkedIn Pulse? If so, please share your favorite tips and suggestions.