Great social B2B tactics, thanks to one Native American, two shoes

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Friday, October 21, 2016

My personal activity on LinkedIn is increasing, like many of my peers, because the HME space is narrowing. A quick newsfeed glance on the site regularly shows my HME connections serving up posts to position themselves in other healthcare markets. Even more interestingly, some peers are using LinkedIn to recreate themselves as subject matter experts in entirely new fields of work! The ongoing flow of sales pitches on LinkedIn is entertaining, to say the least.

With that in mind, I decided to test the constructs of LinkedIn to see how long it would take to: go viral, gain 1,000-plus followers, get a legitimate job offer without applying, and find the formula that works on LinkedIn.

I’m a consistent LinkedIn contributor, posting weekly with more than 150 blog posts shared via the social channel in the last two years. The sheer amount of content I’ve shared, tagged with specific keywords by story, has gained enough digital attention to connect me with more than 1,000 LinkedIn connections, primarily in the HME space. It took less than 90 days of posting targeted content to break the 1,000-mark.

Going viral took a lot more work—mainly because the feed stream on LinkedIn operates very differently than those of Twitter or Facebook. Content on Twitter or Facebook will make the rounds in 24 hours or less, and rarely lasts more than a week. The exception is when you post a video that generates ongoing shares; that engine may keep running indefinitely through “TweetMyFace.”

Conversely, a post will circulate on LinkedIn’s feed stream for weeks before falling off the radar of your connections. That requires a different content approach than what you would use on shorter newsfeed cycles.

Intentionally Viral: A Historic Race Takes Off Online

I’m a big believer in “viral = visual.” Nine times out of 10, video is where it’s at today. Every social channel is gaming their algorithms to give priority to visual content, not because they prefer it but because their members do. That’s because human behavior is always geared toward the easiest path possible. As business owners, you know this to be true from the simple fact that no one takes the time to actually read what you send them. Am I right?

So imagine my surprise when a grainy, black-and-white picture more than 100 years old, with a lengthy quote, took off like wildfire when I posted it on LinkedIn. The key wasn’t the format—it was the message! Both the wisdom and the person who originally shared it are timeless. Here’s the post:

“People will play dirty. You decide if they win. This is Jim Thorpe. If you look closely at the photo you can see that he’s wearing different socks and shoes. This was not a fashion statement. It was the 1912 Olympics, and Jim, a Native American from Oklahoma, was representing the U.S. in track and field. On the morning of his competitions, his shoes were stolen. Luckily, Jim ended up finding two shoes in a garbage bin. That’s the pair that he’s wearing in the photo. But one of the shoes was too big, so he had to wear an extra sock. Wearing these shoes, Jim won two gold medals.” 

Flash forward 30 days from that post, and the results are amazing:

426,000+ likes, 2,000+ shares and it’s still going strong.

4My LinkedIn profile became the No. 1 viewed profile in 1,000-plus connections for 30 days straight, with more than 3,000 views by LinkedIn users.

4I received not one but three legitimate job offers from those profile views, without applying for anything.
(I should note that I also had two semi-legitimate marriage proposals, one not-legitimate international banking offer, and a not-so-kind foreign gentleman who wrote to say he doesn’t think women should be allowed to participate on LinkedIn. Hooray!)

Was it worth two years of posting weekly on LinkedIn to reach this level of visibility? I’ll let you decide, but we’re all in the business of selling ourselves as professionals. With that in mind, I vote yes.  

Here are a few takeaways below, though, so you don’t have to put in as much legwork to get a similar result.

4Aim for timeless stories rather than today’s news if you are trying to go viral. The lifespan of a LinkedIn post is so long that current events will seem outdated before your share has run its’ course. I found the Jim Thorpe post on Facebook, and knew it would burn out quickly there. I felt the message had a stronger impact in a professional setting, so I shared it cross-platform to keep it going. It worked! Please note, I included the source link so it didn’t appear that I was taking credit for first posting.

4Find a common link in your content that everyone can relate to, and can use to encourage another friend.  The underdog, the champion, the inventor, etc.—all have words of wisdom that can inspire another person to move forward professionally. Make sure, too, that whatever you share always includes a link back to you or your business.

4Stand out from the crowd. What image is connected to your post? Does it stand out from the feed stream like Jim Thorpe did in black and white? Standing out is how you capture views as busy professionals rapidly scroll through their updates.

Given how easy it is to connect with potential referral sources, employers or industry allies via LinkedIn, you’d be foolish not to use the network to your professional advantage. Plus, it’s free. You have nothing to lose unless you’re missing from the action, so what are you waiting for? Get social on LinkedIn. hme

Lisa Wells is the president of Get Social Consulting and the director of Wheel:Life, a Comfort Medical subsidiary.