How To Go Viral on LinkedIn (The Answer Will Surprise You)

It’s not what you think.

In fact, it’s likely the last thing you’d think of when it comes to seeing one of your status updates “go viral” on LinkedIn.

Perhaps that’s why this approach works so well.

But, before I get to what type of content and posts I’ve seen go viral in my own personal experience on LinkedIn, I need to explain how the world’s largest platform for professionals decides on which of your posts to promote – or put aside.

How LinkedIn’s Newsfeed Works

If you’re an engineering or analytics nerd, feel free to take a deep dive into LinkedIn’s own explanation of how the platform chooses to display (or remove) the millions of posts made on its members’ newsfeeds each day.

Here’s how it works, according to LinkedIn: Once you post a status update, article, video or other piece of content on LinkedIn, the system instantly analyzes it and decides if it’s obvious spam, a violation of its terms of service or other red flag type content.

Next, assuming you pass LinkedIn’s internal “smell test,” your content will next be shown to a segment (but not all!) of your connections and followers on the platform.

Velocity + Engagement Are Key

At this point, the rubber truly meets the road with your status update or post. It all has to do with how fast and how much the people who do see your post engage with it via likes, comments, shares, etc.

LinkedIn calls this “velocity,” and it’s critical to getting your post from a few dozen views to a few thousand.

So What Type of Content Goes “Viral” on LinkedIn?

In my experience, sharing Jesus and stories of people telling me to (expletive) off seems to work best.

Allow me to explain.

Having spent the past 60 months studying LinkedIn lead generation and selling strategies, I’ve discovered that people are often too professional on the platform.

What I mean is this: In real life, when you meet a prospective customer for coffee or lunch, you act like a human being – you crack jokes, you share your story (both professional and personal) and you build a personal, 1-on-1 relationship.

How many people do you encounter on LinkedIn who send you invites or messages that have something personal in them, something that helps you get to know, like and trust the other person?

Getting Personal = Going Viral

My entire strategy for selling on LinkedIn is simple – you find, connect and engage with your ideal prospects on the platform. And you do it in a way that is authentic, relational and as close to “real life” selling as possible.

Once you’ve built enough value, trust and familiarity into a 1-on-1 relationship with a prospect you meet via LinkedIn, selling your products and services becomes a natural extension of that exchange.

And, as far as going viral, it is not my LinkedIn lead generation tips, webinar invites or “how to” articles that skyrocket engagement and interaction on the site.

Rather, it’s me being human.

One example was sharing about why, as someone who endured a lot of abuse and dysfunction as a child, I need to keep working on my battles with depression and self-hatred if I want to be more successful in business.

This post where I shared a photo of myself as a young boy and my thoughts on how income improvement follows self-improvement went viral on LinkedIn, generating 3,000+ views, nearly 50 likes and almost 30 comments:

(As a comparison, most of my “non personal” posts on LinkedIn might generate a few hundred views and a handful of likes or comments.)

Talking Religion and Politics on LinkedIn

I also sometimes share about a personal passion of mine – being a huge fan of Jesus Christ.

However, I am careful to never share my thoughts on Jesus in a religious, pious or self-righteous fashion.

Rather, I always try to lead with my own real-life struggles, brokenness and shortcomings as context for that type of content. As a result, I’ve noticed people don’t really get angry with me for admitting how broken I am, how in need of grace and forgiveness I find myself most days, how I find motivation and inspiration in Jesus, etc.

As an example, this post about how Christians need to love more and judge less generated nearly 4,500 views, 60+ likes and more than a dozen comments:

Now, this is a personal passion of mine, and for you it might be stories about sailing, or playing a sport, or taking your kids on a vacation, or something else that helps people get to know, like and trust you.

It certainly doesn’t have to be as potentially divisive as talking religion or politics at the LinkedIn dinner table.

But the content you create and share does need to be authentic and personal.

What People Want Online

More than ever, and especially in the digital space, your potential clients and customers are craving authenticity and transparency.

They are craving someone they can get to know, like and trust.

Remember, anyone can communicate using a platform like LinkedIn.

But how many people actually connect at a deeper level with prospective clients and customers on the platform?

The (Infamous) Angry Email

One of the best examples of this was sharing a screen shot of an angry reply I received after inviting someone on my email list to a free webinar.

This post of the angry “[EXPLETIVE] OFF!” email reply (he even wrote back in 72 point font!) plus the business lessons learned has been one of my most viral LinkedIn posts ever. To date, it has more than 16,500 views, 100+ likes and more than 30 comments:

Want To Go Viral on LinkedIn? Be Real.

The lesson is simple – LinkedIn is looking for content that gets its members engaged, and that does so fast.

People on the world’s largest platform for professionals are not expecting (and often are pleasantly surprised by!) personal content.

I’m not saying you start sharing vacation photos and dog pictures 10 times a day on LinkedIn, however.

Instead, you need to find the sweet spot of mixing in real, authentic and personal story or experience with a business or life lesson.

Letting your guard down and being human once in a while on LinkedIn lets others know you’re approachable, trustworthy and just like them.

At the end of the day we’re all still human, right?

Want More LinkedIn Lead Generation Tips?

I’ve put together a free webinar training covering some of my best tips, strategies and scripts to use when it comes to generating leads, adding clients and increasing revenue on LinkedIn.

Click the image below or click this link to learn more and register for a session!

About The Author

John Nemo is an Online Course Creator and Bestselling Author who helps Business Coaches, Consultants, Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners generate quality leads, build their client base and increase revenue using digital marketing platforms and tools like LinkedIn and Webinars.

The author of 7 books, John is a former Associated Press Reporter, Talk Radio Producer, Award-Winning PR Director and Social Media Consultant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

John has personally rewritten LinkedIn profiles for A-List Entrepreneurs, NYT Bestselling Authors and Speakers including Chris Brogan, Mari Smith, Tom Ziglar, John Lee Dumas, Bob Burg, Jairek Robbins, Dan Miller, Ray Edwards and many others.

(Read what others say about John here.)

In addition, John regularly guest blogs for Inc. Magazine and American City Business Journals, and his work has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Business Insider and many other publications online.

Since 2012, John has helped more than 500 Business Coaches, Consultants, Trainers and others across more than 50 different industries leverage LinkedIn to generate nonstop sales leads, clients and revenue.

12 Comments

  • Andrea Torti

    Reply Reply November 29, 2017

    This resonates a lot with my personal experience, as well – genuine, natural updates get far better results than links or other “promotional” content 🙂

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply November 29, 2017

      thanks for sharing Andrea!

  • Jane Bromley

    Reply Reply December 6, 2017

    Hi John. Thanks so much for sharing this with me. Writing in a way that my human side comes across loud and clear makes such good sense. In fact, for years I thought I just had to do the right things but I’m increasingly learning that the connection with people is far more important. Funny that we’re nervous to show our under belly.

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply December 6, 2017

      Thanks Jane! It’s so true — connection is key! Even deeper than the content I believe is feeling a real connection to the other person. Nicely said!

  • Dean Renfro

    Reply Reply December 6, 2017

    HAAAA – who would have ever thought those kind of post would have any merit or traffic on LinkedIn! I guess the image of LI being a stuffy business only Social Media outlet is just a little jaded.

    So, that concept breathes some fresh air into the concept of posting content on LI. I’m sure like anything else, moderation is key. So as in almost all thinks, being real and telling your story is still what captures people and their engagement.

    Great share John!

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply December 7, 2017

      Thanks so much Dean! And yes, moderation is key along with knowing your audience and how to connect!

  • Shel Horowitz

    Reply Reply December 9, 2017

    Not only does this make a lot of sense, John, I’ve been using similar approaches for years—not only on LI but on other online professional forums. Within LI, I focus on a few discussion groups where I can get known over time. share often, and I value authenticity enormously. So I don’t only give or request advice; I also share relevant stories form my life or occasionally the lives and businesses of my clients.

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply December 9, 2017

      Love it, thanks so much Shel for sharing that!

  • Vincent

    Reply Reply December 11, 2017

    Awesome tidbits. Thanka a bunch John

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply December 11, 2017

      You are so welcome Vincent!

  • Ava Boudi

    Reply Reply December 12, 2017

    I totally agree with you and can relate!
    I love to get to know the real person, not just the business. I only do business with people I know, like, and trust!
    I don’t know you very well yet John, but I like you 😉

    • John Nemo

      Reply Reply December 12, 2017

      Haha, thanks so much Ava and glad you enjoyed the post!

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