This Simple LinkedIn Experiment Saved My 2020

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“Think of your business as an experiment.” If I have a business mantra, this is it. Every time I try a new marketing strategy or conceive of a new product or service, I remind myself that my business is an experiment.

For the past eight months, I’ve been experimenting with LinkedIn. I want to share what I’ve done and the results I’ve seen because, well, I’m pretty impressed with myself. But also, this data might be useful for you if you’re trying to wrap your mind around using social media for your business.

Caveat: This strategy works best for solopreneurs like me. The Pocket PhD is a service-based business and I don’t need a huge number of clients (6–10 per year) to meet my revenue goals. While I’m sure the strategy I describe could work for others with some mindful modifications, I’m sharing what has worked for me.

What inspired my focus on LinkedIn this year?

I have built my business through in-person networking and referrals. Live events were going to be the centerpiece of my marketing strategy in 2020. My goal was to do 12 speaking gigs (I did my first live speaking event on March 8th). So once the pandemic put all those plans on hold, I needed a new outlet for this energy.

Since I started my business, I’ve also had in mind shifting a lot of my in-person networking online and I have always believed LinkedIn would be the best social media vehicle for doing so. When the pandemic took away my other networking outlets, the path was clear and I shifted my major marketing focus to LInkedIn.

I signed up for this 5-day LinkedIn challenge. I followed a few LinkedIn gurus. I joined a couple Facebook groups dedicated to landing big clients on LinkedIn. I joined one LinkedIn “pod.”

But mostly, I committed to showing up on LinkedIn 5 days a week.

My Goals

My only goal in the beginning was consistency. Come hell or high water I was going to post every day, Monday-Friday. And I’ve stuck to this schedule every week since May (except for one week in August, when I went to the mountains, oh, and I took Black Friday off).

Other goals included:

  • Commenting on others’ posts for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. Somedays I do more than that, but that’s the minimum I want to hit.
  • Connecting with 5–10 people a day too (I’m not picky about who I connect with right now, if you make an interesting comment or post and we’re not connected, I’ll hit the button)

My Plan

If you’ve been reading my content for a while, you might know that I’m not much of a planner. I always have a tough time coming up with a plan before I execute on an experiment like this one. So, in the beginning, my plan wasn’t much more than I’m going to hang out on LinkedIn every day.

I did want to swap out my Facebook usage for LinkedIn usage during the work week. I’ve achieved this. Now, when my mind wanders and I need a little break from writing, LinkedIn is my go-to procrastination tool (a much more productive means of procrastination if you ask me).

While hanging out on LinkedIn, I discovered the LinkedIn challenge, so my plan became to do the challenge (and it was probably the first free challenge I’ve ever completed).

I added a weekly task to my Leadership Dashboard in Notion as a reminder to create my LinkedIn posts for the following week. I also keep a tab open with the Google doc I use for LinkedIn posts so I can toss ideas in there as they come to me. Ideas often come to me after I comment on someone else’s post.

How has my plan evolved?

My goal is still consistency, but now I’m more focused on consistently upping the views and engagement on my posts. We know post views are a vanity metric, but I see them as a good way to gauge audience growth (I’m aiming for average post views of 500+).

I’m always aiming to post something I’d like others to quote me on, so I try to write short, catchy sentences. I use a lot of alliteration.

I’ve also created a system for the types of posts I share by days of the week:

  • Monday = business strategy
  • Tuesday = mindfulness, food for thought
  • Wednesday = promotional (a blog post, Medium article, or podcast interview)
  • Thursday = Own Your Expertise interview
  • Friday = reflections on the week

This system helps me avoid writer’s block when I go to create my posts each week. Also, I don’t always manage to create my posts in advance for the upcoming week. But when I don’t do this, I curse my past self.

Results:

Now, the part you actually care about the most: my results. So what has all of this focus on consistency and hanging out on LinkedIn gotten me?

First, it’s important to note my starting place. Prior to focusing on LinkedIn, I had only gotten clients through referrals or in-person networking. You can’t beat gaining clients through referrals. Referrals and testimonials are the best free marketing tools a solopreneur could ask for. However, this isn’t a reliable lead generation strategy (arguably, it’s not a strategy at all).

  • Since focusing on LinkedIn, I’ve had 8 prospects contact me about ghostwriting either directly through LinkedIn or through other connections I’ve made through LinkedIn. Of those 8:
  • 2 became ghostwriting clients
  • 5 others are still in my funnel, so these are really good leads
  • I also connected with a couple of hybrid publishing companies to establish referral partnerships through LinkedIn
  • I have 2,585 followers (including 2,400 connections) and that number is steadily increasing by about 100 per week. I started with around 800 connections I think
  • I show up in 100–200 searches on LinkedIn per week
  • The comments I get on my posts are really engaging and we’re having actual conversations around my content, which has led to blog posts and longer articles on some topics (e.g., the Law of Attraction, Messy is the New Black, perfectionism, long-form blog posts on LI are dead, should you be blogging?, When Flailing Becomes a Business Strategy)
  • I’ve had 20 posts with over 1,000 views, the highest one being over 3,000 (in less than a week)

My tips:

So, what can you do to see similar results?

Here’s what I’ve seen really move the needle:

  • Post once per day Monday-Friday (at least). Coming up with some kind of thematic or topical schedule for each day of the week will help you stay consistent.
  • Batch-create posts at least a week in advance.
  • Add 3 hashtags (no more, no less) to every post.
  • Seed the comments on your posts: Be the first to comment on each of your own posts. Add an external link or suggest readers reach out by sending a direct message (DM) if they want more information in the first comment. Why? Posts that get good engagement within the first hour of posting get a boost by LinkedIn’s algorithm. Your comment gets you closer to that goal.
  • Comment and engage with others’ posts after posting yours. The algorithm rewards engagement and punishes “drive-by” posting on LinkedIn.
  • Come back and respond to comments on your post a few times throughout the day. Keep the conversation going!

Am I missing anything?

Prior to 2020, I won’t say I was a LinkedIn skeptic, but I wasn’t treating it as the powerful networking and marketing platform it is. Far from being a boring, breeding ground for corporate-speak, I’ve found a welcoming community of people genuinely interested in engaging in conversation and sharing value content. I’d love to connect with you as well: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilycrookston.

Emily Crookston is the Owner and Decider of All Things at The Pocket PhD. She’s the ghostwriter for rebels, renegades, and mavericks. She loves helping experts who are long on ideas, but short on time write business books. Find out your writer type with her Writer Profile Quiz.

Emily Crookston is the Owner and Decider of All Things at The Pocket PhD. She’s the ghostwriter for rebels, renegades, and mavericks.