Back in 2014 I decided to get serious about social to build my global brand by publishing unique quality content on a daily basis on LinkedIn but I did something no-one else has dared to do and stopped blogging on my website and went 100% all-in on LinkedIn. It was risky and LinkedIn has indeed changed the way the Publisher platform works and it's more difficult to build following there today.
Please note that all of these screenshots (above and below) with my stats were before the 90 day mark. Actual numbers are within text of this article.
No click bait to take people away, just a pay it forward content strategy to launch myself on the global stage. Every day I posted at least one article and then amplified using Twitter. It’s been a simple strategy and rather than seek to drag prospective clients to my website, I decided to be where they are – inside LinkedIn. Why did I go against the advice of David Meerman Scott when LinkedIn is a semi-closed platform? Let me answer that by sharing some breathtaking facts about LinkedIn:
- There are 540,000,000 members and 40% use it daily. 2 people join LinkedIn per second.
- There are more than 400 million unique page views of content every day and more than 35 billion page views in an average quarter.
- Every person I want to reach on the face of the planet is in LinkedIn. 90% of business decision-makers in Australia are members which is the 2nd highest penetration for LinkedIn worldwide behind Netherlands.
In just 90 days back in 2014 I blasted past almost all of my peers who had been building their follower-base over many years. Here are some of my numbers from just 90 days of social media commitment:
- Increased LinkedIn followers from 1,600 to almost 6,600
- 4,500 views of my LinkedIn profile in 90 days
- 346,000 unique page views of my virgin LinkedIn blog in 90 days
- Twitter followers up by 80% and I improved the quality of the base
- Ranked in Top 100 Globally in Social Selling (Onalytica research)
- Secured 5 paid speaking engagements with tier-one multinationals, and exceeded my 2014 speaking revenue in just the first 6 weeks of 2015
- Invited by LinkedIn to author for them (see badge below and here is the post the comment relates to. Note that I always add positive spice wherever possible.. controversy is your publishing friend)
- Invited by 3 companies to guest blog for them
- Invited by Kelly Riggs for interview on The Business LockerRoom radio show (scheduled for Monday March 30th)
- Initiated discussion with major publisher for USA book deal
- Reached #1 in my peer LinkedIn network and #5 in my total LinkedIn network (currently #7) among my 3,000 connections.
- The quality of my network went through the roof.
- I launched a brand new hashtag called #strategicsocialselling to fuse the old school and new school and launched an official 100+ unicorn list of my own purely based on empirical sentiment analysis.
- Executives from LinkedIn wrote in to encourage me to shorten the posts whilst I paradoxically began to get higher traffic in relation to best practices. I pulled my research from and analysis of Dave Kerpen's corpus, OKDork 3,000 and Buffer Blog - Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post. (Hence the 1,700 to 1,900 word sweet spot of steak to the typical short form sizzle / flash in the pan. I A/B tested like crazy!)
- My friends and close family thought I was nuts and yelled at me to get off LinkedIn at dinner parties.
- But...I received the following humbling comment dozens of times or some version of it, 'This is the best post I've ever read on LinkedIn.' 'I'm printing this out and sharing it with my sales team.'
- Multiple adherents to my unorthodox methods cropped up and they started to publish on LinkedIn sending me their own success stories of lead generation.
My LinkedIn Social Selling Index score went through the roof and according toMatt Loop at LinkedIn Australia, I am one of the highest ranking members in the country – maybe the highest who is not on a Sales Navigator subscription. In case you ever get access to your Social Selling Index (SSI) score from LinkedIn, here are the current benchmarks from LinkedIn:
- Average: 49
- Leader: 61
- Best in class: 65
Australia has the highest penetration for LinkedIn globally and the average score in November, 2014 was just under 24 across all industries. My current SSI score is 87. If you're not a Sales Navigator subscriber and have a better score than 87, let me know out I'll hat-tip you to the world ;-)
Many of my posts achieved well over 1,000 reads and many were also featured in LinkedIn Pulse feeds. Here are two examples.
Imagine the cost for all these results if you went to a traditional PR firm 10 years ago! Their advice would be to work with a journalist to have a thought leadership piece published in a magazine. They would have charged at least $5k per month for a 6 months retainer contract and delivered a nice folder with clippings of the press mentions achieved. Now I'm embarking on YouTube videos. $2k for the equipment and I'm all set-up with my own studio in my office so I can now upload for free on my global channel... it's staggering. There are 1 billion views of YouTube videos every month in the world.
But how does all this monetize you ask? Being in the top 1% in LinkedIn has yielded incredible results. I'm #1 in my peer connections (professionals like me) and currently # 7 among my more than 3,000 overall connections.
Business is coming to me and the conversations revolve around my availability and what I charge, rather than why I should be considered… Like CEB says, 'they are on average 57% through the buying process but with my rich sticky, open source content where I share every secret to closing million dollar deals from 30 years in the field and a 90 day deep dive in social – prospects are 90 to 100% through the buying process. They literally hire me on the spot. It's magical! It’s almost as if I don't have to sell myself when I’m having a conversation. People read my content, review my credentials, decide they want me to help them with their team, and then they contact me. I’m engaged in conversations for keynote speaking engagements in Europe, America and Asia-Pacific. Tier-one vendors are paying me to attract audiences at their events.
I'm a grey haired dude from the old guard. If there's one lesson you can learn, if you excel at sales, marketing or writing you can do this too. You can most likely have even more success than me! Find a Millennial and beg her to train you.
Leads come to me, self-qualified and well advanced through my sales funnel… it’s unbelievable. In a recent post about CRM a person said he needed to buy a CRM for his company and put his phone number in the comments thread. I called him and then passed the lead on to someone I trust to look after him. No referral fee; just 'pay it forward'. Click the link and see for yourself.
I prioritized ideation over creation and creation over curation. I newsjacked, I mashed-up and I went big in long form. I gained hundreds of supporters for every detractor and had many a detractor write me back declaring me an 'innovator' in this medium. It has been exhausting, humbling and rewarding. Parkinson's Law was my guiding light, 'work expands to fill the time allotted' and I was able to write a 4 hour long post in under 2 hours and then a first draft down to under 1. I shut-off the TV, cracked open my reference library and built a YouTube channel. Here is a screenshot of a LinkedIn report showing my network characteristics.
My ultimate goal in building a publishing platform within LinkedIn is to create a following for my new book. My strategy has been largely based on the excellent writings of David Meerman Scott (The New Rules of Marketing and PR) and Michael Hyatt's book, Platform.
While you’re wondering about social selling, your competitors are attracting and engaging your customers and prospects.
Do what I did 90 days ago; take massive 10X action and embrace LinkedIn Publisher for content marketing. You will educate yourself, attract a quality network, build your personal brand, and reap commercial rewards.
I double dare you to take the 90-day LinkedIn Publisher Challenge?
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: B Rosen