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Going viral on LinkedIn, it’s easier than you think. We’re talking about viral content on LinkedIn on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
AJ Wilcox 0:19
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics. I’ve said for years that LinkedIn is the easiest network to go viral. And this is because so few people post compared to how many people there are there. The last stat I heard, this is back from 2019. But there were only 4% of members who post, but 100% of us need content full in our feeds when we log in. So it’s definitely in LinkedIn best interest to share our content with those who aren’t even in our network, I get asked all the time about virality, even though I’m the LinkedIn Ads guy, and I want to share my top information source on this so that you’re hearing it right from the source. Mark Williams is the host of the LinkedInformed podcast. And it’s my main source of information about the organic side of LinkedIn. He’s known as Mr. LinkedIn for good reason. He’s widely regarded as one of the world’s top LinkedIn experts. He lives in the UK so I know you’re going to enjoy his buttery smooth accent. I love his fresh and unbiased attitude about LinkedIn. And I know you’ll appreciate it, too. Let’s hit it.
AJ Wilcox 1:25
Mark, I’m so excited to have you here. Just so everyone knows Mark Williams is a close friend of mine, we actually got to hang out in the UK last time I was there. We’re both into cars. So we’ve got to go a tour of the Aston Martin factory because I’m a big Aston Martin fan, big exotic car guy. And it was great to get to hang out in person quite a bit. Mark, I would call you one of the top LinkedIn experts, especially on the organic side. I’m a huge fan of your podcast. So thank you so much for coming on the show.
Mark Williams 1:53
It’s a pleasure. And I’m delighted to be here can’t wait. You reminded me of a time when we met at the Aston Martin. And I do like cars, but not quite to the degree that you do. In fact, one of the things that we all love about you, AJ is your natural enthusiasm for most things, really. But when it comes to cost, particularly Aston Martin’s, yours goes through the roof. I distinctly remember a conversation when this guy who clearly was enthusiastic about cars, as you was talking about a camshaft I think it was. And I remember thinking, yeah, I like cars, but this is perhaps pushing the limit for me. But you were truly enthusiastic.
AJ Wilcox 2:38
I’ll tell you, I do not own an Aston Martin. And I certainly hope by the end of my life. Problems is I have young kids. And if any of them ever scratched that car that is pure art. I don’t think I could contain myself. But I will memorize the names and the zero to 60 times and top speeds and stuff at the best of them.
Mark Williams 2:55
It’s time to get an Aston Martin is when your kids are teenagers, because then you can take them to school. And you know, there’s lots of benefits for them in that.
AJ Wilcox 3:02
Oh, totally. Yeah. Cool. Well, I’d love for you just to tell us a little bit about yourself. All obviously in the intro, I’ve given you a full read of your bio. But tell us about yourself anything cool that we should know,
Mark Williams 3:16
My background prior to LinkedIn training, I started doing some training in 2008. So quite a long time really. Coming up to 14 years that I’ve been doing this, which is actually the longest job I’ve ever had. Having said that I was in my career before that was all in recruitment and recruiting. And so I was 19 years in that industry. But the longest time with any one company was 12 years. So 14 years working for myself now beats that. And I guess an interesting story about me that perhaps tells more about me than perhaps going through the factual bio stuff is that I was not particularly well educated started in recruitment, which was a very sales orientated environment, a very high pressure, sales orientated environment when I first joined it, and it was survival of the fittest, and it suited me well, because I was a bit of a fighter really, you know, in that I could get out there and make things happen and work harder than anybody else. And all of the things that that were strengths of mine very much appealed or played into that kind of role. And I was hugely ambitious, worked and worked and worked and worked my way up through that industry to end up running a business. And it was a thoroughly enjoyable and highly rewarding stage of my career. But by the time I left it in 2008 I had completely lost myself and I have many faults, but one of my biggest faults but also my biggest strength is I’m not a quitter, right. You would typically think that’s a good thing, but it’s not a good thing when you end up doing a job that you really hate. Because you don’t want to give in and that’s what happened to me. And probably the last four or five years of my time in recruitment, I was a different person, deeply unhappy, went through a divorce at that stage as well. Not many people talked about mental health in those days. But if they had to do another been a candidate for being in a pretty bad state, and leaving that, and long story, which I won’t go into, but the company was taken over, the new people didn’t want me involve a business that I kind of saw as being mine, but wasn’t actually mine, was taken away from me. And like, my baby was ripped from my arms if you like. And that together with the kind of self esteem issues that happen when something like that happens to hit me really hard. But it was also the best thing that ever happened to me, because I had to dig deep find myself, again, build a business from nothing. And I’m really proud of the fact that I did that. But more proud of the fact that I came back to being the Mark Williams that I was many years before that. And the reason I’m telling you this is that I just think it’s just an interesting perspective on how careers and you know, everybody’s in a career listening to this can sometimes take over your personality. And you can just get carried away on a certain route and end up deeply unhappy. And if I had someone telling me a story like that before, it happened to me, I might have seen it happening. But when you’re involved in it day to day, you don’t you know, but I’ve thoroughly enjoy what I do. Now. I love working for myself, and I love working with LinkedIn. So that rather difficult time my life turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
AJ Wilcox 6:30
Well, I definitely feel you there. I’ve been through a divorce. I’ve, I’ve been fired. I’ve started a company, all of those things I definitely feel for you. And I look back definitely with the same respect and understanding. Of course, going through hard things is not easy for us. But I wouldn’t trade any of it. It made me who I am. And I’m really grateful for it.
Mark Williams 6:50
Yeah, so I was listening to podcast recently with Bear Grylls. And he said that in life, we don’t always do the things that are tough to do, because we want to protect ourselves from those tough things, difficult things, awkward things. And also, sometimes things happen to us that are unpleasant. But almost always, they turn out to be highly rewarding when we look back at them. So don’t always take the easy route is kind of what he was saying. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that as well.
AJ Wilcox 7:19
Yeah, Bear is wise. You may drink his own urine, but he’s wise.
Mark Williams 7:26
Yeah. Apart from in that sense.
AJ Wilcox 7:29
I mean, first of all, tell us because I personally probably know 50 Organic LinkedIn experts. It’s kind of a cottage industry of trainers, how would you say your specialty is differentiated? How does it differ from others in the industry?
Mark Williams 7:42
My expertise has changed over the time that I’ve been doing this, because you can imagine I mean, when I first started LinkedIn training, content wasn’t really a thing to me. I mean, there was content on LinkedIn. But it was so bad. Nobody was ever thinking about it. It was really just a load of job ads basically filled everybody’s feeds, you know. And so in those days, I was training completely different stuff and talking to people about completed and stuff about LinkedIn. And then of course, the platform really changed, I’d like to say it was about five years ago, was probably nearer to 10 days ago. Now think about it. Time flies, but it did start to really change. And so you adapt with that. And I think actually the stage that we’re at now, I enjoy this, more than I’ve ever done with any part of LinkedIn. And sometimes clients contact me and say, Can you do a workshop on searching or, you know, they always want to cover profiles, which I’m always happy to cover, but a bit boring, frankly. That’s kind of old school stuff. The really interesting stuff is all around content. I guess I’m I wouldn’t say I’m the only person that does this by any sense of the imagination. But what I like to talk about and work with people on is about getting out there on LinkedIn, and becoming more influential, more visible and more influential. Visibility comes first, but it has to be allied to credibility. Visibility and Credibility when added together gives you influence and its influence that allows you the opportunity to leverage that influence for your own success and your business’s success. No matter whether you work for someone else, or you work for yourself, that ability to have influence and leverage it. That’s what I specialize in. That’s where I’ve worked with people who are good at what they do. And well known in small circles, traditional offline circles, and communities, and unsure about LinkedIn for a whole host of reasons, sometimes silly reasons, sometimes very profound reasons. And work with those people to help them utilize this tool to allow them to show the world actually how good they really are, what they do. And of course, and we’ll get into the some shows we talk more. But of course the way to do that is not to tell the world how good you are at what you do. It’s to show the world, how good you are at what you do, and that you’re someone that you want to do business with. And so that aspect that I specialize in that kind of visibility. See how we use this platform to become a personality, a character that people want to do business with respect, but also like and want to do business with?
AJ Wilcox 10:11
Very well said. So I guess my biggest question then because you specialize in this, why be a creator on LinkedIn? Why create content? WhyPost?
Mark Williams 10:20
What is the best way? Nothing beats it yet who knows in the future, but nothing beats it. Yeah, of developing your brand’s now, whether that be your personal brand, or your company brand or probably both. And making that more visible to a wider audience. Obviously, everything that you do on LinkedIn has the opportunity of doing it at scale, as opposed to other methods that are on LinkedIn or online. And so it’s the best way, if you can post successfully, if you can consistently show up in people’s feeds, then they are going to learn more about you. I mean that in the broadest possible sense. So learn more as in who you are, right? So first of all, who is this guy? All right, okay, understand who he is, or who she is. And then educate those people in what you do, how you do it, why you do it, and who you are as a person. And all those elements are what makes someone want to do business with you, you know, it’s not an overnight thing. But if you can post successfully, or produce content for LinkedIn, that is seen by a wide range of people, then you have an opportunity to generate business from LinkedIn, without having to push hard doesn’t mean you work hard, you do have to work hard. But there’s a big difference between pushing hard and working hard. And you know, I’m always away from and against the kind of philosophy of knocking on doors, and pushing hard to win people’s business, it makes you feel good. Because you feel like you’re doing something. You feel like you’re acting something positive in order to grow your business. But everybody else is kind of pushing away from you, because people don’t want to be sold to in that way. And so what you’re trying to do, through being highly visible through a successful content has become magnetic so that people want to come to you. And you know, the analogy is that you are standing still, and people are queuing up at your shop, as opposed to you having to get out there with a trolley and walk around people’s houses, knock on their doors and say, hey, you know, I’ve got something to offer you. successfully getting a line of people outside your virtual store, irrespective of what you sell physical products or otherwise, is the name of the game. And the way to achieve that is through successful content.
AJ Wilcox 12:42
I totally agree with that. In one of your most recent podcast episodes, you talked about kind of a case study where someone posted the same thing, the same video on LinkedIn, as well as on Tik Tok, they were talking about how much more viral how much more attention they got on Tik Tok. And as I was listening to that, I was like, well, that’s, that’s great. virality is very, very interesting for a lot of reasons. But I look at LinkedIn as a network and go, where would I rather be viral? Where would I rather be seen? Is it the network where people are paying attention to who I am professionally? Or is it a network that’s really hard to build a brand? And you’re just you’re being seen by people who don’t already know who you are? And a lot of them might be kids?
Mark Williams 13:25
Yeah, TikTok is an interesting platform. I think what the point that guy was making is how the algorithm on TikTok is managing to distribute his content has so many more people, and that LinkedIn was much more restrictive, in whose content was getting in front of who’s still getting decent numbers from LinkedIn to be fair, but not on the scale that he was achieving with tick tock, and it’s not the size of the audience, per se. It’s more the effectiveness of the algorithm to push something out. And I don’t know what the answer to that is exactly. But I do think he was making a valid point about the fact that we could achieve more, should the LinkedIn algorithm work in a more effective way. Now, I’m not saying that TikTok has got all the answers here at all. But I do think that LinkedIn could and, by the way, are learning from TikTok. I think, the very early days of LinkedIn, they looked to Facebook a lot. You know, they copied a lot of things from Facebook, and they were clearly Facebook admirers, and that died off many years ago. For most of us, but definitely LinkedIn. And since then, they haven’t really shown any evidence of sort of copying or following anyone else. Until TikTok, actually, and they do seem quite influenced by TikTok. So you may have a point about the algorithm. It may be that the algorithm with LinkedIn will improve to give us better reach but without a doubt, you know, the audience is the right place on LinkedIn. And there are frustrations with lots of things to do with LinkedIn and you know, anybody listening to my podcast will know that I can be very critical of LinkedIn at times because always coming from a place of love, you know, I love the platform, I love the community. I like the company, you know. And so it’s a disappointment thing rather than that I’m angry with them as I want it to be better. And I want them to get better and all coming from a good place. And so you know, I can be critical of LinkedIn, for sure. But at the end of the day, we have a hugely valuable platform. And it’s important that there are things in place to protect members of this platform that are using it for the reasons in which its purposes, right, which is business networking. Now, I’m not old school at all, despite the fact that we’re doing this long time. I’m really not old school with regards to LinkedIn. I love all kinds of content. And I think LinkedIn is a place for all kinds of content. But I do also understand that essentially, what sets LinkedIn aside from other social networks is it is a business network. And if it became TikTok, then it would lose its value, right? It would just be called other TikTok. TikTok don’t want to be LinkedIn, so why should LinkedIn want to be TikTok, right? So it has to keep its identity, but at the same time, learn things from other platforms that, you know, have tracked certain things and done things better. And, you know, a frustration of mine is I just wish LinkedIn could be more innovative along those lines. They seem to follow other people more than they do innovate and come up with ideas themselves. I think they are getting a bit better at that. But that’s certainly been a long standing frustration for me with LinkedIn.
AJ Wilcox 16:29
Oh, same here. All right, so we’ve talked about virality, about viral reach, I’ll take a little bit of a step back here and say, Why is LinkedIn a platform where you can get that viral reach? What is making your content able to be seen by people who are not your direct followers and first level connections?
Mark Williams 16:47
So this cuts to good content should be all about the mechanism of distribution on LinkedIn. And there’s different types of distribution. But if we talk about post distribution, the mechanism of post distribution is through engagement primarily actually comments, but reactions, and repost are also effective in terms of not reshares. But reposts, which is a slightly new thing. There are also effective means of distribution. Of course, on LinkedIn, we have these two sides, we have company pages and personal profiles. Company pages is where all the your stuff happens, all the advertising stuff happens. And so there’s not so much a conflict in the sense that LinkedIn will not restrict personal content or don’t restrict personal content, organic reach in the same way that they would do with company posts, organic reach. Company posts, organic reach, if they allow that the same level of reach and distribution as personal posts, then nobody buy ads right? Why would you? But with personal posts, they still allow great organic reach. And also, you know, another factor that plays into all of this is that LinkedIn, have traditionally in their DNA, is there a subscription based monetization model. Now, advertising has become significantly more important to them, and continues to be and will continue to become bigger and bigger. But all those people that predicted many years ago, the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, who said, you know, get on LinkedIn now, because organic reach will disappear like it has done with everyone else. Well, that was at least five years ago. I don’t get it, it’s actually better now than it was then. So clearly, there’s something different. And I think one of the things that’s different is that LinkedIn still make the majority of their revenue from subscriptions. And there is no other social network that does that. So they are distinctly separate in that regard, and can afford to play this game of allowing people great organic reach. The mechanism of distribution for organic reach is putting out content that people are going to want to engage with, that then brings it to their followers, or their network, their connections. And that is the key elements to understanding what good content is really, is that if you can put out content that essentially starts a conversation, then you’re definitely in a position where you have the opportunity of not necessarily virality. Virality is an unrealistic objective. That’s like saying, you know, I want to be a footballer who plays in the Champions League final every year, you know, it’s not realistic for most people, but trying to get greater and greater reach is important. You can’t get away from that. I mean, there’s always this debate about No, I don’t care if it’s only seen by 10 people so long as they’re the right 10 people. But the problem with that is tha the whole point of this is that we’re trying to reach an audience that don’t know us. But we are trying to reach an audience that knows this as well. And that’s a different thing. You want to be a reminder to those people and keep in touch with those people and through content as well as direct message in another mean but we also want the opportunity to reach people that haven’t heard about us. And to do that you do need reach. You do need to get beyond those people that are already connected with you. And the way to do that is to get people to comment, ideally, engage with your posts.
AJ Wilcox 20:18
So what kinds of posts and content do well, on LinkedIn?
Mark Williams 20:22
Well, I have five types that I usually talk about in my sessions with people. And this information is based on observing this for years and years, on my podcast, I have a feature called post of the week, which is really popularized, it’s become a problem, I actually have to admit, because I find it really stressful. Each week, choosing posts of the week now. It used to be back in the day, that half of them would come from me, right, because nobody was nominated. And he posts and so I’d go looking for a good post, and then just, you know, put it in as opposed to the week. Now I get so many nominations, and also so many good nominations, it’s really hard to pick the winner. The beauty about that feature for me is you really keep an eye on the stuff that does really well, right. And that has been seen by a wide audience, and then you can start to analyze, the reason proposed to the week isn’t just to, you know, give praise to people have done a good job, it’s actually for us all to look at it and go, What can we learn from this, you know, and that’s what I do with that feature every week. And that’s allowed me to get a feel. So I have these five things that are broadly categories of posts that tend to do well. So the first one is, I call it challenging and debatable. So putting out something that kind of polarized his opinion in some ways. So it doesn’t have to be, you have to be careful with this one, obviously. But you could put something out, there’s going to upset a lot of people, and you perhaps don’t want to do that. But at the same time, it allows you to demonstrate elements of your character and personality that people will really buy into or not. And I always think that’s quite a good thing. I mean, you don’t want to go around, you know, obsessing people for the sake of it and just being controversial for the sake of it, that doesn’t reflect well on you. But being authentic, and actually putting something out, that kind of, you know, put your flag in the ground on on a point is a good thing. Because those people that agree with it are the people that are more likely to do business with you. So it’s no bad thing that your crowd your audience, your people that like you are gonna respond well to that. But it’s also a good thing in a post if people disagree with it, right. So quite often post that do the best you see the common thread as it created a lot of debate and opinions on either side. It’s what we call something that’s not vanilla. That’s very much what we call a marmite post. I know you don’t have marmite in the States. But it’s a spread that you either love or you hate, right? I’m a fan, right? So I’m very much on the side of loving marmite, but a lot of people absolutely detest it. There’s nothing in the middle. You can’t have a vanilla opinion on marmite. So something like that. That’s that’s the first type challenging, debatable gets people talking. A second type, these aren’t in any particular order, by the way, equally as powerful is helpful. So you’re putting out content that is really helpful to the majority of your target audience. What I mean by that is that the kind of people that you want to reach are going to receive something in their feeds, that actually, when they consume it, they actually feel that it’s helped them in some way. Now, you have to be careful with this one because if they believe that even though it may have been helpful to them, that you are using it as a way of persuading them to do business with you, then that might destroy its effectiveness. If it could be perceived before being properly consumed as being promotional. That’s a problem. So I always say to people, the best way to do this actually, is to really know your audience, like really know these people well. You can’t know them all I know, but get an intimate understanding of the things that they find challenging and difficult. And when you understand that, then try and find solutions to those problems, and then post about those solutions, which are helpful to them. Now, you may have found those solutions on LinkedIn or anywhere you want doesn’t really matter. Always obviously, quote where you found that solution from and make sure everyone’s tagged that should be tagged, so they get full credit for it. But your job is to make people’s working environment easier and easier. And if you’re putting out content that they find helpful to them, then those type of posts typically do very well. Third type is sort of a type and sort of not because this kind of permeates all of the types really. But the third one I would stay is personal posts. Now. I don’t mean necessarily, intimately personal. excuse the pun, that’s a personal decision. But so that’s up to you. Yeah, how personal you want to get with it is entirely up to you. I’m not not that. I’m not talking about the fact that you talk about your divorce on a, on a post, or I talk about my dad having dementia on a post, I’m not necessarily talking about that. I’m talking about whatever subject you are approaching, you take a personal perspective to it, you bring your personality to it, your opinions to it, your sense of what’s right and wrong about it, or your confusion with it, or something that allows people to feel that you’re not A. preaching at them, and B. that you’re just sharing something in a very real human way. And when people see content like that, they relate to it, and they respond well to it. And, you know, look, this is not something that I would have said, six, seven years ago, but you can’t deny it. I mean, just you look at LinkedIn every day. And the posts that do well, are those posts that are in some way personal. And they always say, it’s difficult to show this as a visual thing. But imagine two circles that overlap. It’s a classic kind of diagram of two circles that overlap. And the circle on the right is business content. And the circle on the left is personal content. And when I say to people is not so we have business content on LinkedIn, we have personal content on LinkedIn, let me tell you now, the vast majority of content on LinkedIn is the business circle, right? The vast majority of people that post on LinkedIn are posting business content. Now you find that hard to believe, because you think it’s personal. But here’s the deal. That’s the content you seeing. There’s a difference between the two. But the vast majority is business, the vast majority that you see is personal. What is that telling you?
AJ Wilcox 26:44
Mark Williams 26:44
Yeah, that’s the reality of what we’re dealing with here. Now, the reason why those circles crossover is that’s the sweet spot, right? So if you’re approaching a business subject in a personal way, then you’re hitting the sweet spot. So that’s good advice, I think over finding how to be personal in your content on LinkedIn. So that’s the third time personal. Fourth is, I call this something cool. And what I mean by that is something innovative, new, different, exciting, don’t care, what it is really doesn’t matter, right? Doesn’t have to be related to what you do probably better is not related to what you do. But something that you found or something shown to you something that’s excited you and you’ve gone Wow. Right? You know, someone shows you a feature on the iPhone, and you didn’t know about it, and you go, Oh, right, I didn’t know about that is amazing, I could do that. I think if you’ve seen that thing, TikTok is great for this actually TikTok, we can learn a lot from TikTok. People post off and you go out now you could do that, right. And there’s a thing that I’ve seen during the rounds, where when someone plugs in a charge as their phone, it speaks to them, and they can say what they wanted to say. So they get it saying all kinds of rude things, right? So they unplug their phone thinking it’s someone else’s phone. Anyway, what I’m saying is that when something like that happens, if the effect to you was excited you and you thought wow, that was amazing, then share it and talk about it, because other people will as well. People will love something innovative Do you different.
Mark Williams 28:09
And then the final type is, which is a really obvious one, but highly topical. And sometimes you can use highly topical content or subject matter to express something or talk about something that you want to talk about. And the example I always give for this is years ago, there was a band that I’m sure you know, AJ, because you’re younger than me, called One Direction, right? Hugely successful, won The X Factor, etc, One Direction were going an absolute storm and taking over the world. And then one of the members left, Zane left. And it was big, big news, like all over the papers and everything big news. And this guy who was a coach and HR consultant, and he did a post with a picture of Zane, just a picture of Zane on LinkedIn. Anything can work. And then what he talked about was how do you manage a situation when a key member of your team leaves unexpectedly? Brilliant, right? Just because he got people’s attention with a topical subject. But related, it’s something that he knew what matters to them, because he’s audience of people that manage people, right. So that was a great post. And I think that’s the kind of stuff that I’m talking about when I talk about highly topical, not just for the sake of it, but because you can relate it to something and it’s interesting. So they’re the sort of five types that typically do well.
AJ Wilcox 29:32
Well, what about formats then for posts? If you have those five kinds of posts, the topics, the aim of them? Are you going to try to shoehorn those into a specific post, for instance, if you’ve heard that text only does really, really well. Do you go all in on that, like how do you think about the format?
Mark Williams 29:48
Yeah, I mean, people overestimate the power of formats, nothing like as important as the content itself. So getting the subject right is far far more important. And I find people get really obsessed with you know, I’m into video or I’m into text posts. Just like honestly, don’t worry about that. Worry about getting your content, right. But that said, when you’ve decided what it is you want to talk about some things will suit one format better than another. So for instance, let’s take that example I just gave you, that probably was more suitable for an image post, right? Because the picture of Zane would stand out, people would notice it and go, what’s this about? Right? So that kind of makes sense. But honestly, if I looked at the numbers and said, Well, what you know, which posts typically when posted the week or post of the year, which is the most successful one of the year, out of all the posts of the week, it’s normally an image posts, but they don’t consistently do well image posts, because a lot of people post image posts that are just awful and don’t do very well at all. But if you get it right, with an image post, they are phenomenally good. They stop the scroll, people notice them, the next bit has to work, though, you still got to be a good hook, you’ve got to get people to read it, click on the See More, and then action it so they can work. But they can suffer from poor dwell time. So meaning someone sees it quickly goes, Oh, that’s nice move on, or quick like and move on. And therefore they don’t do as well. So on average, they don’t do great, but they tend to be the most successful of all. Text only a fantastic for comments. Because you’re not distracted, you know, you’ve just got the text. And so you read it, you take it on board, you understand it. And if it’s sufficiently well written and formatted, then you’re more likely to comment. Whereas all other types of content, video document posts and image posts, you can be distracted by the content, so much so that you don’t comment, you see you like it, you move on type of thing doesn’t engross you as much as the text only posts, they’ve all got their advantages. Video is best for personal branding, because you’re talking to your audience, you’re within the scene, the whites of your eyes, all the things that you know are important for personal branding, work really well with video. And document posts are great for views because people have to click on them to move to the next page. And every click is telling the algorithm Hey, I’m actually looking at this post, you know, is appear on my feed, I’m actually actually paying attention to it. So they’re all good in different ways. I’m never a fan of getting obsessed with one type of format, you know, all posts work, provided the contents good and suitable for that type of format.
AJ Wilcox 32:12
Ah, beautiful. So what pitfalls have you seen? Obviously, we’ve talked a little bit about if you’re too business, it’s not going to be seen. What are some of the pitfalls as people are coming to you saying I want to start creating content on LinkedIn, and they go and do it. And then they come back and say, it didn’t work? What are they doing?
Mark Williams 32:29
Yes, well, don’t say too much business. Also too much promotional or too much self serving. Self serving, promotional is perfectly fine. I wouldn’t avoid it totally. But he context needs to be that you’ve built an audience, and that they’re invested in you. I’ve seen people post about winning an award and got fantastic amount of comments, because their audience genuinely pleased for them. But they’re genuinely pleased because they got to that position by working really hard at building a relationship with that audience. So it’s not a no, no, you just need to make sure you concentrate on content that is, you know, focused on your audience rather than you. So that’s an interesting one to discuss with you. I always think a marketing mindset is not helpful. Until the mindset here. When you producing content, if you’re thinking about kind of marketing sense, it’s not helpful. But if you think about content in an engaging and networking sense, then you tend to do better. So sort of mindset needs to be I’m looking to talk to people here, start a conversation, not marketing, I think people tend to post content that they would want to see, or that they want people to see, as opposed to what people want to see. And that seems like such an obvious thing to say. But quite often, particularly when I’m working with clients, one on one, and we talk about what kind of things they want to post. Typically, they come out with something and I go, so what’s interesting about that, and they tell me lots of things, and they go back to me not to I was asking you what’s interesting to you. What is interesting to me? What touch points does that have that’s going to generate some interest in me? So I think people will naturally tend to gravitate to things that they are interested in themselves, or they want to say. This is a point I want to mak. Well, that might work but you need to think about your audience. And then the final one thing that I do come across a lot is people especially when they first start out, they just start posting by all right, I’m just going to post. That’s it, I’m posting. But actually, that’s like going to a networking event in person, you know, and there’s all these people talk in this room and you walking in and going, can I just stop everyone? I’ve got something to say. Right? And this is what I’m gonna say and then walking out again. And it’s people are looking at you and go, What happened? Who is that? I don’t even want to know who that was, frankly, because that’s not human interaction. So you’ve got to get out there and start commenting on other people’s content before you can even think about posting yourself. And the ratio of comments to posts should be at least five times the amount of comments than posts, at least I mean, some people saying it’s 10 times these days, but it’s at least five times in my view. So they’re the typical kind, there’s lots of things people get wrong, and you can pick out things and change things specifically. But broadly, the kind of common things are those I would say.
AJ Wilcox 35:31
Beautiful. What tipsand tricks can you share, as we’re thinking about creating posts to go viral? To get better reach? What are some of those things we should be trying to do?
Mark Williams 35:42
Yeah, some practical things, things that we haven’t mentioned already will be things like when you post, it’s not as critical as it used to be. But it’s still important to think about when you’re posting. I always think you want to give a post a bit of airtime. So better to post in the morning. Again, it depends where your audience is in the third same time zone or not. But bearing in mind where your audience is you want it to land in their feed in the morning, ideally, and give it time so that people have a chance to comment on it, and then it distributes from there. I tend to avoid Fridays and Saturdays as a result of that. I personally don’t post on a Sunday, but I know people that do and particular Sunday afternoon stroke evening actually can be more successful than you think, believe it or not. But just think about the timing and, you know, learn from what happens to you. Because, you know, no one solution is right for everyone. But broadly speaking, I think Monday to Thursday in the morning is a good time to post when you’re writing particularly a text only posts but other posts as well really concentrate on your hook. Right? The first part is critical. They got to see it, it’s got to grab them, they’ve got to want to click on See more, they got to want to read the rest. So if you get nothing else, right, get those first few lines absolutely spot on. That’s really important. A little bit of what I said before, but image posts and document posts, you need clicks on them, it’s quite important that someone interacts with your post physically. So don’t just read it, they do something with it. Now that could happen with video, but it’s less likely to with a video and it’s harder to achieve. That video has strengths in other areas, as I said before, but if you want more views, and more interaction on an image or a document posts, there needs to be a reason to click so bear that in mind, you’ll have to interact with your posts and actually click on it. Videos, keep it short mistake people make videos is that they let them go on too long. But if you keep the videos nice and short and snappy, I used to say maximum three minutes, it seems ridiculous to say that now that’s like, that’s an age three minutes. So I would say less than a minute now possibly even less, definitely the whole world is getting shorter and shorter. In terms of attention span. So bear that in mind. I said before relatable content, you know, can people relate to it, that’s critical. And also something I’ve already mentioned. But just to reiterate, really is personality and personal posts reveal more about you. Don’t be anonymous, don’t be a brand, be a personal brand, be a real person that people can understand and learn to like, and trust. And, you know, that means you have to give a bit of yourself. But that’s normal human interaction. If you want to develop a relationship with someone in person or online, you can’t leave the conversation at a very basic level, you have to at some point start opening up. And when you open up, then they open up. And then that’s how you develop warmth. And it’s exactly the same content on LinkedIn. So don’t necessarily do that to start with. But be prepared to open up and show a bit of who you are. And your character that’s important I think for content.
AJ Wilcox 38:47
Well, that’s sure a lot easier to do personally. What about sharing from company pages, you can tell us about my experience is company page content doesn’t engage the same way, it doesn’t get the same reach and virality as personal posts. But we also know that while we’re advertising, the company page is the whole base of all of our advertising. And so a lot of our clients, a lot of our listeners are going to be thinking about okay, what can we post from the company? And you know, what fits in well, so that we get some additional reach from the company?
Mark Williams 39:20
Yeah, I mean, the bottom line is that if you have an expectation of getting great reach from a company page post that isn’t sponsored, you’re not going to get there, right? So it’s an unrealistic objective. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen posts that do well, but they are so rare, and it’s just doesn’t happen. So it’s the wrong objective to have. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make your company page content better. It’s just that you won’t necessarily see a huge dramatic difference, right? Because they’re never going to give you fantastic reach. Without a doubt. It’s the same kind of stuff really. But what you do is use the personality of your employees. So you maybe feature people, talk about people, what are their backgrounds? But I had a client once who actually did this for a short while and it worked quite well for them. And you know We’re Humans of New York. Yes, yeah. If you think about what they do, and how they describe people, they show people and tell their stories. Every company has external employees, and each of them have got a story. Now, if you wanted to put out great company based content, why not tell the stories of the people that work for your business? I think that’d be such a powerful technique to use very few people, either brave enough as employees or as a company to want to do that. But that’s the kind of content that would do well on LinkedIn, because people love that. As I said before, people are interesting in people. It’s a people to people network. That’s the kind of content that could do well, if people are brave enough to do it.
AJ Wilcox 40:40
Great idea that makes me want to start doing that for ourselves. I’m gonna definitely let my content guy know. Do you know if any companies out there who are doing particularly well on their posts? Which company pages do you look to and say, Oh, they’re actually doing pretty
Mark Williams 40:52
Well, not that many. I’m trying to think now. A bit of a false answer in a way, there’s an ads one. You probably know this. They post ads, they’ve seen that done really well. It’s like a, you know, this is great advertising. And that does well. Very visual posts, followed by obviously lots of marketing people that are interested in ads that do well. I don’t know if it’s a true example really, because it’s a relatively unique situation, I think. I always remember, they were a quite good one. And LinkedIn brings out a list every year of company pages that they think are particularly good. And I look at the numbers, you just think, well, they’re not doing that well, really. So I’m not quite sure why you think they’re so good. It’s quite hard finding good company pages, but you do come across them occasionally. Honestly, right, the moments on my head, I can’t think of one that I could give you, that would be a great answer to that.
AJ Wilcox 41:45
One that really caught my attention several years back is a company called Cheddar, they might be called Cheddar News, I’m looking at their company page, right? A lot of what they do on all their channels, this isn’t just a LinkedIn specific thing. But a lot of their videos show some new innovative product at some invention. It’s something cool, that’s going to change the world.
Mark Williams 42:06
Now remember them now you’ve said it, I remember them. Yeah. Which is that something cool posts. No, absolutely right.
AJ Wilcox 42:11
And they’ve done a very good job of that. Because they’re a news network and that’s what they concentrate on. I think that’s really repeatable for them. For me to go out and find something innovative and changing the world in the ads world, not quite so easy, but it’s a good example.
AJ Wilcox 42:27
What are some of the keys to having a great presence on LinkedIn, if someone is just getting started, and they say, I want to knock this out of the park, what’s the advice you’re giving them?
Mark Williams 42:38
Well, you’re not going to knock it out of the park to start with, that would be my first set realistic expectations, it’s unlikely to happen. You’ve got to slowly build your presence. But you’ll get there a lot quicker, if you’re open and authentic about what you do. So don’t play to the audience in the sense of this is what they want me to be like, be yourself, but talk about things that they would find interesting. Don’t mistake those two things, right. There’s content that they would find interesting that is for them, but delivered by you as who you are, right. And when you combine those two things, that’s a very powerful thing that gets you to where you want to be quicker. You wouldn’t expect that to happen overnight, it takes time. So we’ve talked before about commenting, genuinely, you must comment far more than you post and spend time thinking about your comments. And look for opportunities, don’t just go, the classic thing people do on LinkedIn is they open up their homepage feed, there’s nothing there. What am I supposed to do? It’s like, well, there is a lot there, actually. But it’s not on your page. Okay? Now you can improve your page in two ways. One, you can start unfollowing people that put rubbish on your page. But more powerful than that is you can start finding good content, commenting on it, following those people, and then you will find that your feed will start to improve because the messages that you’re getting is what I want to see, right. But more than that, what you’re doing by doing that is you’re starting to build your visibility through your commenting, right. Everyone else that comments on that post will notice your comments. And if you spend time thinking about what you can say not things like congrats or great post or rubbish, like they’re just kind of written likes, really they have little value, but something that adds value in some way. And also maybe shows a bit about you does two things. One, it raises your profile amongst the audience of people that are already engaging with that post and obviously the person that posted it, but also those people that are connected to you that will see that post in their feed and your comment that’s all they see. You know, if you think about your homepage feed, a post appears there from a second or a third tier connection. You think how did that appear? And then it says well because AJ commented on it and then all you see underneath it is AJ is comment. It is 200 comments, but I only see yours. But because I’m following you, not following you connected to you and because of that, I see your comments, then I’m starting to learn more about you. And again, when we talk about building a relationship, there’s visibility is one thing and reaching a new audience. But there’s also building a relationship with your existing audience. And commenting achieves that. And that’s why that is so important for you to do that. So authenticity of said, adding value, think about adding value to your audience every day, you know, my job is to add value to my audience, my job on LinkedIn is not to get them to buy something from me, it’s the me to add value to them, them to see me as a valuable connection as a valuable person on LinkedIn that they want to see that they want to interact with. They want to develop a relationship, as a result, they’ll be queuing up to want to do business with you. But if you’re too brutal about it, and you only think in terms of I want to win customers, I want to win business, then it’s really pushing water uphill, and so you won’t succeed, but that you will eventually get somewhere. But it’s slow and hard and difficult, much better to spend your time building. I was talking to someone about this the other day when we’ve been very specific about their content. And I said, the problem with your comments is that and your posts as well, actually, is that you’re just not showing empathy. You’ve got to be helpful and empathetic, you know, always looking to add value, we need to do something that helps people along the way, as a good networker. And you know, if we go from these days, back in the day, when people were offline networking, there were people that were absolutely phenomenal at it, and they were always more interested in you. They’re always trying to help you, you know, that’s very obvious face to face, and very obvious to do face to face, I think not always easy to do, but something that you can do. Online, people hesitate from doing that. And I think if you can do it, it makes a big difference. So there are things, you have to say the comment thing, but commenting with purpose. All of that really, really helps.
AJ Wilcox 46:57
Perfect. Well, thanks so much for sharing. I feel like there’s been a ton of value here. I hope we have you back at some point as well. Obviously, this is a very ads focused podcast. But I get asked about the organic side all the time, I thought I would bring in my top information source. Who and what are your top information sources? Obviously they’re all going to come and follow you? Who do you pay attention to to learn more about extended reach and content on LinkedIn?
Mark Williams 47:23
Oh, wow. I mean, less so much subject matter experts. Quite like the word that Richard Vanderblonde is doing with his research. It’s funny research, because I toyed with doing it myself in the past. It’s a lot of work, a lot of work. And I really admire the fact that he goes to the effort to do it. But the reality of it is, and this is no knock on Richard at all, because it’s really valuable that someone’s doing that. But the truth is that if you know this platform, well, there’s no surprises. I could have written that research just by making it up. To me, it’s just so it’s one of those things, I think he adds massive value into my feed because he’s pulling it from that kind of smart, slightly more scientific perspective, which I think is really good. I love Andy Forte, because I find him entertaining and challenging as well. He has a natural, kind of Scottish, challenging aspect to him, you know, intelligently challenges you on things. I like that aspect. I mean, he’s a lovely guy that makes it sound a bit like he’s not he’s a lovely guy. But he also has that slightly quirky kind of challenging way about him. And I really admire that. But outside of kind of LinkedIn people are Bryn Tillman is another one. I would always say on the sales side, I just love her. Like the things that I go, Oh, you could never do that. And then she puts it in a way that makes you think, oh, yeah, could Yeah, you just incredibly infectious. And I love her energy and just such a positive person. But outside of those sort of people do I learn the most from just ordinary people on LinkedIn, who are just doing great content. And I wouldn’t know where to start with that. There’s so many people that I follow on LinkedIn. And sometimes it’s not always that they’re doing great content. Sometimes they’re doing stuff, they do some good content, and they do something that really fails and I go all right, what can we learn from that? You know, that just absolutely bombed and I don’t have the emotional attachment to like they do. But and I can look at it objectively and go right? Well, probably this and probably so, you know, studying and observing what happens in my feed and searching for content that’s doing well and posts of the week and all that kind of stuff is the greatest teacher to me. You know, that’s the greatest way of learning I find. Nobody has all the answers right? Of course they don’t. That’s obvious, but I think we’re in a world where people like to attach themselves to gurus you know, I follow this person because… You know why it’s not as simple as that, you know, everyone’s got value to add, lots of people do things in different ways and try things in different ways. And, and so I learned for a wide variety of people on LinkedIn, and I’m a keen observer of what’s going on.
AJ Wilcox 50:05
I absolutely love that. Thanks so much for sharing. All right, so jumping into a different topic here, right before we close, what are you most excited about right now, either personally or professionally? Just what your mind is playing with what you’re chasing what you’re excited about.
Mark Williams 50:17
I’m most excited about Liverpool in the Premier League next year. That’s probably the number one. Number two is I’m very excited to see how well Darwin Nunez does. Who’s our new striker that we’ve signed. You weren’t expecting this for your age, but you probably were actually. I’m starting with a personal stuff. I’m very excited to be seeing Coldplay at Wembley this year. I’ve seen them three times in the past, and they said they would never tour again. And I was absolutely gutted. I mean, some people just don’t like him. But honestly, anybody that has any slight kind of Oh, yeah, they’re okay. Go to a concert. They’re just amazing experience. And so yeah, we’re going on the my fiance’s birthday in August, believe it or not. We both loved Coldplay, but we met after they stopped touring. And I thought we’d never get the chance to do it togethet. It’s one of those things that just be such a wonderful shared experience. Anyway, so I’m very excited for that. And the final personal one is we are planning a trip to Vietnam next year. And I’m very excited about that as well. It’s out of our comfort zone for us, we tend to do slightly more comfortable things in that normally. But we kind of take the view that we’re not getting any younger, and it’s the right time to do it now. So yeah, we’re quite excited about that, we’re at the planning stage of that. Yeah. But moving on to more business related stuff. You know, from our LinkedIn point of view, it’s always an exciting platform, you know, the thing I’ve learned over the years is you never know what’s around the corner, there’s always something exciting happening on LinkedIn, very rare, you get into those stagnant periods where very little happens, it does sometimes happen, but very rare. But the bigger picture with what’s going on with LinkedIn is creator mode and what they’re doing with creator mode, and, you know, they come across this idea, they are going to be more successful if they encourage people to create better content and smart move. And what they’re doing with it is interesting, but I don’t think we have seen anything of it yet. I think it’s so much in its infancy. And it’s going to develop and develop and develop. And I think it’s hugely exciting for people what they’re going to be doing there. And they won’t get everything right. And there’ll be lots of hiccups along the way. But just the fact itself that they now see. And it’s taken a long time to open their eyes to this, but they now see that the platform will succeed because of what we do not what they do that they should support us. For years and years, they always wanted to dictate our behavior. And they still do a bit but I’m now seeing a change in mindset. That is more about how can we encourage them to get better at what they want to do. And I think that’s a very positive move. And I’m very excited to see how that develops in the future.
AJ Wilcox 53:04
Oh, so cool. I’m not big on soccer for us, football for you. But I am curious to hear your reaction on the show. Ted Lasso. Have you watched Ted Lasso at all? Yeah.
Mark Williams 53:14
Oh, yes. I’ve seen Ted Lasso. Oh, yeah. Not the recent series. But the first two things series. Yeah, I’ve seen.
AJ Wilcox 53:19
What is that, like, from your perspective of someone who lives in the UK? Have they nailed it? Is it still funny? Or is it too close to home?
Mark Williams 53:27
Oh, it’s funny, very much. So now, it’s very amusing. And what I like about it is that it takes this kind of aspect of which I think is an important lesson for us all to learn is that we can all get very carried away with our if you know, you’ve got to know this. You got to know what you’re doing. You got to be born and you got to done this for years. You know, I could easily turn around to a lot of people in LinkedIn and go yeah, I’ve been doing this for 14 years, don’t tell me I can I learn anything from you. But I don’t think that way. And that’s the Ted Lasso kind of lesson in that Ted Lasso knew nothing about football, but understood people, right. And I think, you know, people were very skeptical. He was obviously taken on as a joke. Anyway, people were very skeptical about whether he could be successful, but he was because he understood people. And funnily enough, there is a real Ted Lasso, so you know. The manager of Leeds United is a guy from the US now he obviously does know football, he’s managed lots of clubs before. He’s character is that he’s quite a big sort of character and quite enthusiastic and gets really into it. And I was looking at him and think I just can’t get away from these just like Ted Lassos. But I think that’s the appearance I mean, as a character, and again, with any program, it’s all about the characters. The character is a really good character, isn’t it? So when you can really buy into as a character, I just love that aspect of going. Yes, this is a very traditional sport. It’s, you know, the biggest sport in the world. It’s like, and these people that play it think that nobody could teach them anything. And that’s fine. But I’ll just be Ted Lasso and I’ll just do my thing and we’ll see. And it works good. Oh, and I love that.
AJ Wilcox 55:07
Same here. It’s a touching show. I know this isn’t a media podcast, but pretty awesome. Alright, so for those of us who want to follow you want to hear more from you? How would you tell us to do that? How do we follow you? Tell us about your podcast, all that? Yeah, sure.
Mark Williams 55:21
I mean, the two main places that LinkedIn and my podcast really, I don’t read much social media outside of that, really. So on LinkedIn, easy to find, should be surprised there’s plenty of Mark Williams is on there. But if you search for Mark Williams or Mr. LinkedIn, you should find me fairly easily. My URL is linkedin.com//Mr. LinkedIn, but the podcasts which were now in the 364th episode. The next one will be, which is this week is the main way that people follow me and is my biggest audience. But it’s my most engaged audience have a say. And that’s called LinkedInformed, which you can find everywhere. That is the most enjoyable thing I do every week. I absolutely love my podcast and do it because I feel it’s important to do. It feels important to do is probably the best way to put it. And I do it because I enjoy it. And I feel like, like I’m chatting with friends every week. It’s not like other podcasts. It’s not an interview show, do occasionally interview people, you’ve been kind enough to come on, but not often. And only when I think it’s someone that can really add something extra and add value to the audience. But mostly, it’s just me chatting about LinkedIn each week with friends. And that’s the way I would always want it to be.
AJ Wilcox 55:42
Well, I have not missed an episode of all of them. All the 360.
Mark Williams 56:44
AJ Wilcox 56:45
Yeah, absolutely. When we met, I think you were 100 and something in I went back and binge every one that I could get really some of the early ones like I couldn’t get to for whatever reason, but I’m a huge fan. I would encourage everyone here listening, make sure you go and listen to the LinkedInformed Podcast. It is sincere like one of the best podcasts. I’m subscribed to probably 25 different shows. And this is one of the three that I get really excited about every time I see it. There’s a new episode.
Mark Williams 57:11
Well, fantastic. Thank you for that. That’s lovely of you to say that.
AJ Wilcox 57:15
Absolutely. All right, everyone, go follow Mark. Mark, thanks so much for coming on. I’m so thrilled to call you a friend and an expert in LinkedIn. We’d love to have you back at some point, but wanted to give everyone a little taste of virality on LinkedIn organically. So thanks so much for joining us.
Mark Williams 57:30
Thanks, buddy. It’s been great fun.
AJ Wilcox 57:32
All right, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.
AJ Wilcox 57:53
All right. So like Mark mentioned, his LinkedIn profile is linked right in the show notes. So go check that out, go connect with him, go follow him, whatever. Also go right into your podcast player right now. Or maybe pull over if you’re driving, but go look up the LinkedInformed Podcast. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do. You can also check out his website LinkedInformed.com. If you or anyone else you’re training or you know is looking for a course on LinkedIn Ads, I point them towards the link in the show notes below. For the course that I did on LinkedIn Learning about LinkedIn Ads. It’s by far the highest quality and the lowest cost training out there, last I checked. Please remember to subscribe if this is your first time with us. And if this is your second or greater time listening to the show, please do rate and review us. I would love to shout you out live on the show with questions, suggestions, anything about the podcast, email us here at Podcast@B2Linked.com. And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.