Growth Hack: Exploiting LinkedIn's Network Effect for Maximum Reach

in business •  8 months ago

Following Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn, the company did a surprisingly good job of turning the platform around in 2017, with many professionals returning to the platform to share ideas, and to make connections.

Much of this renewed interest can be attributed to an adjustment to LinkedIn's UI and activity feed algorithms, which amplify the platform's network effect, giving your posted content a much wider reach.

What do we mean by network effect?

If you take a look at your default Steemit news feed, you'll see posts either made, or re-steemed, by the people that you're following. Can you imagine what it would look like if you also saw the posts that the people you're following commented on, upvoted, or were tagged in? You'd see a lot more posts, right?

And if you posted, your post would probably reach a lot more people, particularly the connections of the people you're connected to.

That's what LinkedIn did.

Realising that not a lot of people were posting content to the site, when they made their major UI change in early 2017 to bring the activity feed front and center, they changed the discovery algorithms on the platform to ensure that your activity feed had more posts in it. As a result, any time you post to LinkedIn, it's going to be seen by a lot more people... this means that without even paying for advertising, your posts could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people.

But doesn't Facebook do this too?

Sort of. Facebook actually had a little window at the top-right of their website that showed you content your friends were engaging wtih... but nobody really used it, and at the end of 2017 they removed it, making the messenger contacts list go full screen.

These days, on Facebook you typically only see your friends engagement on other accounts when you are also friends with that other account, or if it's a public page, but neither of these are really emphasised as much as they are on LinkedIn, where all posts are usually considered 'public'.

"if I comment on your post, my friends see your post"

Why this matters

Well, let's say you want to reach people in a particular industry, and you only have a few people from that industry as connections on LinkedIn. First up, write an article about that industry. Then write a comment tagging the people you know from that industry, and ask what their thoughts are.

Almost right away, their connections are going to start to start seeing your post, and given their connections are probably in the industry you're trying to target, in the geographic area you operate in, you're instantly reaching the exact people you want to market to.

At this level, you get the social proof of being connected to someone that they already know, but what's better yet is that once your connections' connections engage with the post, it's going to reach all of their connections too, and so on, which makes it very easy for your post to go viral.

And the best part? This isn't even the growth hack!

This is just how LinkedIn works in January, 2018

The Growth Hack: Supercharging Your Reach

So, as if that wasn't good enough, you can leverage this effect of LinkedIn's discovery algorithm to drive even more engagement with a really simple strategy: Give people a reason to comment on your post.

Now I'm not talking about those horrible "People with these names are going to quit their job this year, tag a friend" posts that we're seeing all over Facebook at the moment (and which everyone is sick of), but rather about creating a compelling reason for someone to drop a comment on post.

This could be as simple as making an outrageous statement ("Why we think consultants in our industry are overcharging for their work"), or asking a question ("Has anyone got some stories they can share about cost savings by implementing the software we deal with?"), but it will work a lot better if you incentivise people in a meaningful way.

For example, for my side-project BrutalTeardowns.com, which offers brutally honest website and social media strategic feedback, I might say "Post your URL below if you want to receive some free feedback on your website"... anyone who wants free feedback will have to comment on the post, and this will end up showing the post to all of their contacts, which will then give them the option to post on it too.

Upgrading Your Growth Hack To Generate Leads

In addition to having your post read by thousands of people, you may want to actually capture those people as leads for your business. As well as making connections with anyone who engages with your post (after which you can message or e-mail them), you can also use a simple technique that was used by a colleague of mine in the local startup scene to both capture the reader's e-mail address, and compell them to comment on your post.


(Source)

That is, offer something of value (in this case a list of the most shared articles on LinkedIn), but then require users to both take an action (sign up for his mailing list) and comment on the post, before they receive the reward.

Obviously, you just need to take care to ensure that the particular thing you're offering is of relevant value to the people in the industry you want to target.

Final Thoughts

LinkedIn is quickly shedding its reputation of being rife with recruitment spammers, and is finally starting to become recognised as a proper professional network again, where people are engaging in meaningful discussion and making actual business connections.

Whether you choose to use the strategies described in this post, it's clear that you need to be there, and that you need to be posting real content that's relevant and helpful to people in your industry, because the opportunity right now is huge, and all it costs you is your time.

We all know that LinkedIn are using this as a strategy to get people using their platform more, and that a day will come when they tighten their algorithm down to push people into paying for distribution.

This is an original content piece written for Steemit, as part of my mission to bring more business, marketing and entrepreneurship content to Steemit. If you enjoyed, please upvote this post, leave a comment, and follow @RossDCurrie, as there is much more to come!

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Solid article and information. I have heard about Linkedin being a really easy and cheap (time wise) way to get in front of a big audience, but I guess you only get a certain crowd there. Hopefully they don't change the algorithm on this little hack, like google always seems to do!

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I think they definitely will... it's the Facebook thing. You get the audience there with the amazing free traffic, then once they've ingrained their business in the platform you turn the monetisation key.

I feel like "now" is the time to act on this... you'll see people bitching and moaning in a year or two that LinkedIn has become "pay to play" :D

Very good you said...... about LinkedIn & Facebook

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Yes, those are definitely two social networks :)

LinkedIn is becoming an interesting place to get attention!

Super interesting side project as well!!

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Yeah, they're about to re-launch groups and give Facebook groups a run for their money, too. Starting yesterday, group notifications are apparently showing up more prominently in your feeds, and there are a few more changes on the way.

Given that FB Groups have become popular with businesses because they force notifications to members (whereas business pages continue to become more pay to play), this could be a really interesting development.

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Would be interesting to see what the actual changes to Facebook will be, given the recent announcement.

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I don't think there'll be too many changes to groups. People still have to willingly join a group, and it already bases group notifications on how much you engage in the group (if you comment/reply a lot, you'll see more notifications in your feed for that group)

I actually think the recent announcement of changes to Facebook was a huge non-announcement. They basically just said they'll be doing what they announced back in 2012, or whenever it was that they did the last major algorithm change.

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Fair point. It might really end up as, more of the same :)

Awesome post @rossdcurrie! This is the content I’m looking for on steemit and I’m glad your page has given me such a great start.

I’m from the same city and have a lot of mutual friends with Swish Goswami, a strong advocate for the use of LinkedIn as a content driven social network, rather than simply the "recruitment spammer" hub that it used to be.

Although I definitely see it as a powerful tool and have for a long time considered putting up content, due to the basis of the site being resumes, I can’t help but to feel as though many of the posts put up there are exclusively out their to "boost their resume". In a way, LinkedIn content in my mind has given a new definition to be words "boost your resume".

I enjoy steemit because of the system of incentives and the transperecncy that ultimately create many genuine, rations occur on the site. I’m not sure I’m convinced LinkedIn has the same atmosphere.

What are your thoughts?

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Depends what you're hoping to get out of the platform, I suppose.

My primary business is IT Security consulting, so my customers are IT professionals in mining and resource companies, private education (K-12 & university), state/local govt, and other enterprise/corporate organisations... so the market is right for me to create content that captures their attention.

I think anything B2B can easily flourish there, by writing about things that are relevant to your target market (which is usually going to be your connections + their connections).

I think b2c can also do well, but by focusing on the business aspects of your company. Eg, if you're selling a lunchbox that promotes healthy eating in kids, write a LinkedIn article about how you capitalised on a trend amongst parents, or the challenges of manufacturing. You'll still sell lunchboxes.

If you don't run a business, I'd use it to establish yourself as an expert in your field. It will help the company you work for, but also, as you say, be an enormous resume booster.

But yeah, start by creating content that's right for the platform.