#4: Using LinkedIn for personal branding

How I made $1,500 thanks to a LinkedIn post.

Raise your hand if "improving your personal brand" is on your 2021 resolutions list 🙋🏻‍♀️

As social media managers, I know many of us are too exhausted from using social media all day for work to put any effort into our own social media accounts. Yet, it's hard to deny the opportunities that can come from building a personal brand: future jobs, new clients, writing gigs, etc.

So, instead of using a brand for this week's case study, I'm going to analyze and share tips based on a few of my own "personal branding" posts. In this case, I can actually quantify the results: one post led to me making €1,000 (or $1,500 CAD), and the other one generated over 100 form submissions.

The two posts I'll analyze were both published on LinkedIn, and the first one went semi-viral (364k+ views) despite my small audience — so I say forget about TikTok, at least LinkedIn's algorithm doesn't require you to dance to get crazy reach!

Post 1: The "moved abroad" feel-good post

The first post is one I made a few months after moving to Europe. I hadn't been actively posting on LinkedIn before this post and had a moderate number of connections (~800).

Regrettably, LinkedIn doesn't give you great analytics for personal profiles and the few stats they do give aren't viewable after 179 days. So, the 3 stats I have for this post are:

  • 2,700+ likes

  • 98 comments

  • 364,224 post views

Reflecting on it now, I'm a bit surprised that the post resonated with so many as I didn't even tell a very good story - it had a beginning (my fears), end (I got a job at Booking), but absolutely no middle (how did I get the job? how did I overcome finding an apartment and registering in a foreign country??). I'm sure you already know how important storytelling is, so do a better job than me for your own posts 😉

Nevertheless, here's my analysis of why it did so well:

  1. Opening line was an interesting hook - created tension, as the reader wants to click "more" to find out what happened

  2. Shared my fears in short point form - easy to read and relate to

  3. Used a photo of myself (which engaged my connections) and a recognizable company (which engaged strangers who recognize Booking.com)

  4. Tagged a company page - so my post was shown in feeds of people who follow Booking.com

  5. Overall message was feel-good and inspirational - which tends to do well on LinkedIn

  6. Mentioned my partner - though if I had actually tagged him that would have helped drive even more reach

  7. Comments - a lot! And comments are always weighted quite heavily for algorithms. Many were from my connections, but also many from non-connections (which may also be a positive signal for the algorithm). Me responding to each one also helped drive engagement and reach (bumping it up in feeds every time I replied)

  8. "Laura's post is getting noticed!" - when a post from one of your connections gets lots of engagement you may get this notification on LinkedIn, which can help drive even more reach. I'm not sure if that happened for this post, but it has happened for some of my other ones

Although I had no objective with this post other than sharing a positive life update of which I was very, very proud, it turns out that it became a nice way for people to DM me, many of whom were interested in moving to Amsterdam to work. One person who reached out happened to already be in Amsterdam, so we met up for coffee and after hearing about his professional experience, I referred him for an open job posting. He ended up being hired, so I received a referral bonus (€1,000)—all thanks to a 150-word LinkedIn post.

Post 2: The "free mentorship offer" post

The second post was an idea that I had in my head for a long time but delayed posting because I was essentially afraid of failure - that no one would care, which would mean my idea was worthless, and obviously, that’s not a nice feeling 😉 But the results go to show that you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks and put yourself out there, on LinkedIn or elsewhere!

Analysis:

  1. Opening line - "Offering something" is a pretty good hook to read more

  2. Tagged a company page - so my post was shown in feeds of people who follow Booking.com

  3. Tagged multiple people who engaged with my post - so the post was shown to their connections. Note that it's bad if you tag a bunch of people and they DON'T engage with your post (LinkedIn might see this as spam)

  4. Hashtags - I used fairly popular hashtags with enough followers that my post probably showed up in some of their feeds

  5. More tagging - I also tagged more friends/colleagues in the comments hoping they would either comment or share with their networks (and they did)

  6. Video - I used a video as the creative for this post, though I do feel like it got relatively low views (~2k if I remember correctly)

Now, for this post I was very clear about what I was trying to achieve - I wanted the post the reach as many (relevant) people as possible, and for viewers to click on the link within my post and fill out an application form, hence why I did all of the above (tagging, video, hashtags).

Unfortunately, I can't see any stats for this post (at the time I could see total video views, but those have now disappeared) so I can't actually judge the "virality" of the post beyond the # of likes and comments (much fewer than post #1).

However, the post did achieve my main goal of application submissions. Although I also advertised my mentorship in a few other groups/communities, at least 50% of form submissions came after my LinkedIn post and before I shared it anywhere else. I received 101 applications in total, which could be considered as 101 leads generated.

One thing I would've done differently is skipping doing it as a video post - I did this because I thought posting a video would get a boost from the LinkedIn algorithm, but I've since done quite a few photo posts with comparable results. Moreover, I spent too much time re-doing my takes and editing the video (in a TikTok app, ironically). None of the comments on my post referenced the video itself, so that leads me to think that not many people watched it nor did it help the overall success of the post. Next time I would just use a static photo (still with text overlay - to really make the post message obvious!).

Key Takeaways

  • Be a good storyteller - the next time you post a personal accomplishment on LinkedIn, how can you share both the struggles and the positive result?

  • Make your first line a hook - you have about 200 characters (including spaces) before the 'read more' truncation happens, so make your first sentence something others will care about

  • Tag people - but not a bunch of random strangers/influencers who won't engage with your post

  • Tag brands if relevant

  • Respond to all comments - even if just to say thank you

  • Positivity + altruism - if you take a sample of your LinkedIn feed, I bet the posts that have thousands of likes and comments are usually positive or altruistic stories

Further Reading

Here’s a fascinating report that has many detailed recommendations on how to optimize your LinkedIn posts (how many hashtags to use, why to add links into your posts AFTER publishing, why your profile can impact the reach of all your posts, and more).