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How I got 25k LinkedIn followers in 10 months


In this article I'll explain the 4 steps I took to acquire 25,000 LinkedIn followers in 10 months:

STEP 1: Choose your target audience

STEP 2: Determine what content your target audience wants to consume

STEP 3: Analyze your results and tailor your future content accordingly

STEP 4: Understand the algorithm, but don't try to game the system

HERE WE GO...

10 months ago I was challenged by a friend to start posting content on LinkedIn. I thought it was stupid, narcissistic, and a waste of time. I couldn't have been more wrong. 10 months later I have over 25,000 followers and the benefits are insurmountable. I've recruited top talent, been featured on world-famous sales blogs and podcasts, been offered incredible job opportunities, and acquired a massive amount of new customers as a result.

The benefits don't stop there. Having a powerful voice with a massive audience allows me to test ideas, get feedback, and push thoughts into the sales world within minutes, and the best part... it's all free.

There are no guarantees when attempting to build a social following, it's not for everyone and it's certainly not easy. But if you're willing to put in the effort, willing to learn what works and what doesn't, and willing to look past the haters, you may be able to do it. In this article I'll break down the approach I took, what I learned, and outline how you can try to do it too.

STEP 1:


Before you start producing content you need to figure out who your target audience is. For me, I knew my core audience is Salespeople. More specifically, SDR's, AE's, and Sales Leaders. My secondary targets are Founders and VC's. Why the secondary audience? Because Founders and VC's are laser focused on building successful sales organizations, which means they're hungry for content, and also on the lookout to recruit folks like myself.

Deciding on your target audience requires understanding why you're targeting them. What are you hoping to gain? I broke this down into 3 objectives. First, I love helping salespeople, so I knew the overarching objective was to help salespeople learn and improve. Next, I'm always looking to grow my career and open doors to new opportunities, so I knew my content needs to help me accomplish that. Lastly, I want to drive awareness to my company's brand in effort to fuel our revenue growth AND recruit top talent.

Once I finalized this plan, I realized I have an enormous advantage since salespeople are not only part of our target customer base, but also my target recruits. Which means targeting salespeople with my content can have a double impact; drive awareness to the Aircall brand and how our product helps salespeople, but also drive awareness to why Aircall is an incredible place for salespeople to come work. In doing this, I'm indirectly targeting Founders who can see i'm a thought leader and a proven sales leader they should try to hire, and VC's who can realize that Aircall is a leader in the market and is a company they should be incredibly interested in.

STEP 2:

Now that I've established my target audience, I had to figure out what content this audience wants to consume. I started by identifying people who were already successful in targeting this audience, analyzing what type of content they're posting, and looking for trends in what was most successful. This helped me form a starting point for my initial content. I also started engaging with their content, liking it and commenting on it. There's a give/take here, if you engage in their content, they're more likely to engage in yours, and if an influencer engages in your content, you're off to the races.

It was clear to me that salespeople are looking for actionable tips. They want to consume content that immediately helps them become better at their job. So my initial objective was to make sure that every piece of content I produced provided an actionable that my audience could implement immediately. I thought about this when proofreading every piece of content. I'd ask myself, if I'm a salesperson and I read this, is there something I can do differently to improve today? If I didn't answer yes, I edited the post or threw it out.

STEP 3:

Now it's time to analyze the performance of each post and use my findings to constantly improve my content. I was advised to post twice a day, every day. I decided to post only once a day because I wanted to focus on quality and didn't feel confident in being able to do that twice a day. 10 months later I still generally post once a day, sometimes twice if I have enough content. I mostly post on weekdays but sometimes on Sundays as well. Saturdays have the least engagement so I almost never post then.

LinkedIn will show you how many likes, comments, views, and reshares each post gets. For me, all of these metrics matter, but the most important metric is comments. Comments are the ultimate form of engagement, and a large volume of comments is what it takes for a post to go viral. So I started to understand what types of posts will generate comments. It usually starts with posting a strong opinion. This leads people to either strongly agree, or strongly disagree, both of which prompts them to comment rather than just clicking the like button and moving on.

To post strong opinions, you need to be confident in what you're posting. You need to eliminate any sense of caring what other people think, eliminate any fear of failure, and go all in. I quickly realized that I actually enjoy when people disagree with me. Mostly because it helps me to think outside the box and see other perspectives. There have been multiple instances when I'd post a strong opinion and the responses would be overwhelmingly in disagreement. The LinkedIn audience on a few occasions has completely changed my mind on certain topics. This to me is an enormous benefit of posting content because I can post an idea and within 24 hours have hundreds of opinions and thoughts agreeing or disagreeing. As a sales leader, this type of feedback is invaluable.

While measuring the success of posts is directive in what to post next, I try to make sure I'm taking risks at least 20% of the time. This allows me to provide a variety of content and test new topics that may or may not be successful. In fact, my most successful post with 11k+ likes, 650+ comments, and 1M+ views was not related to sales at all. It was investment advice, a topic I know very little about, but I took a risk and posted what little I do know, and still to this day it has 10x the engagement of any other post after going viral.

STEP 4:

I hate that this is even a reality, but it is. To become successful at this you need to have an understanding of how the LinkedIn algorithm works. In other words, you need to understand what LinkedIn wants and what they don't want. You need to understand what will make your posts more likely to be pushed to the top of the feed and how to avoid things that will push it to the bottom. Fortunately, LinkedIn has made this information public and a simple Google search will give you everything you need.

The big takeaways here are as follows. First, you want to understand what the best times to post are. Depending on your target audience and their given time zone, this may vary. I choose to target the East Coast since it's the earlier part of the day and if I go viral on the East it's likely to still be at the top of the feed 3 hours later when the West Coast is becoming active. Simply put, posting weekdays during commuting hours is the best. I post between 7:30 - 8:00 AM on weekdays EST. You can also find success posting between 5-6 PM during the end of day commute.

Getting quick engagement is critical. If you have likes and comments within the first 30 minutes of posting, your post is more likely to push to the top. Additionally, if you have engagement from co-workers at your company, the post is viewed by the algorithm as even more authentic since it shows the algorithm that you're a legitimate employee of that company and are less likely to be spam.

Next tip is to avoid posting links to external sites. This is highly controversial and many of us think LinkedIn is making a mistake by pushing down content containing external links, but as it stands today your post will have very little visibility if you include a link to an external site. The workaround that you see often is "link in first comment". I'm personally not a huge fan of trying to game the system but in this case you have no choice. I try to avoid posting links entirely, but sometimes it's necessary.

LinkedIn's view is they don't want people leaving LinkedIn. What they seem to not realize is that if people find great content on LinkedIn, even if that content takes them to another site, they're likely to keep coming back to LinkedIn for more great content. Hopefully the algorithm is modified someday but for now, it is what it is. So if you're wondering why posting links to your company's blog gets less than 2 likes only from your co-workers, that's why.

Original content ranks the highest, and text content trumps all. Videos are great, but they still don't rank as high as text content. If you have a great post and decide to repost it someday, it won't rank as high as it did the first time. I have never re-posted a piece of content. Although I'm curious to see how my best post would perform if I did, I haven't tried yet, mostly because I assume my followers have no desire to see duplicate content. So if I have nothing to post, I'll take a day off instead of posting a duplicate.

TIPS:

Write content when you feel most creative. I want my posts going out in the morning but I don't want to write it then. So I use an app to schedule my posts in advance. I typically write them at night before bedtime. When I think of a topic idea, I add it to a list and come back to it when I'm ready to write. I proofread, edit, and fix the formatting before scheduling it to post. The details matter.

Engage with your audience. If people are commenting, reply to those comments. It's most critical to do this within the first 30 minutes of posting as well as later at the end of the day. By drumming up more engagement towards the end of day for a morning post you make the post more likely to get pushed to the top of the feed again the next morning.

Avoid editing posts. This is just my opinion but I find that when a post says "edited" at the top it takes away from the authenticity of it. It shows that you made a mistake or had second thoughts about what you posted or maybe that you took negative comments into account and changed the original post. It's a small detail but I try to avoid it, although there are sometimes exceptions.

Use tagging and hashtagging sparingly. Tagging a bunch of influencers is a hack to get attention, no one appreciates it and you're better off focusing on putting out great content that will rank high organically. There are no shortcuts to building a following.

Don't engage in drama. It's tempting when a hater starts talking smack and you want to shut them down. But this doesn't create positive engagement and it makes you look like a fool. Ignore the haters, but if you absolutely have to respond then limit your response to a few words and don't respond again when they reply. Focus on the positive engagement, that's where you'll find success. Usually your loyal followers will shut down the haters anyway, which makes for entertaining engagement.

SUMMARY:

STEP 1: Choose your target audience

STEP 2: Determine what your target audience wants to consume

STEP 3: Analyze your results and tailor your future content accordingly

STEP 4: Understand the algorithm, but don't try to game the system

In closing, the most important thing to remember when writing content is that you are here to provide value to your audience without asking for anything in return. Keep 80-90% of your content as free value and 10-20% promoting your cause (your product, service, company, etc.)

This isn't for everyone and not everyone is going to be good or great at it. But if you want to try, commit to posting every day for 30 days. Don't second guess yourself, don't let haters crush your confidence, and focus on the people who like your content. If it's meant to be, you'll know after 30 days of daily posting.

If you enjoyed this article (or hated it) share your thoughts in the comments.

Follow my content on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram @collincadmus

Happy Selling and Happy Posting đź’¸

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