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The Anatomy of a Viral LinkedIn Post

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Written by Houston Golden
Founder & CEO, BAMF Media
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LinkedIn viral posts.

That’s the goal.

Every time a post goes viral on the platform, it has the potential to increase your reach, nurture interested prospects, and get people to convert.

Going viral gives your growth efforts a boost.

But, here’s the thing.

What makes a LinkedIn post go viral?

We’re letting you in on our secrets in this guide.

Today, let’s take a look at the anatomy of a viral LinkedIn post, by dissecting a viral post that we did in the past.

This is advanced LinkedIn marketing that you need to check out.

Before We Get Started

Let me clarify a couple of things.

If you want to roll with a template, we’ve got that, too.

LinkedIn Viral Post Templates you've got to check out.

However, this study is different because it allows you to create your own viral posts.

So for all intents and purposes, we’re limiting our study to a plain text post.

They’re less engaging than video, less interactive than a poll, and longer than most slides.

If you think about it, they’re more difficult to deploy than a plain old repurposed video.

Check out our guide on how to repurpose content.

That’s why they make for such a good study.

They rely on very specific strategies to help propel the author’s thought leader.

With every word that you use, your line lengths, rhythm, emotions, facts, storytelling technique, and even hashtags, you can create virality.

What Did The Initial Post Look Like?

First, we need to take a look at the post without the commentary.

Let's just read it without overanalyzing it.

We hired an 18 year old as an intern. And he’s killing it.

Christian Jackson joined to get hands-on experience for what he’s studying in college.

From day one, I saw 3 traits I knew would make him successful. He’s smart—
He’s humble—
And he’s hungry.

I couldn’t ask for more.
At eighteen, that’s unbelievable. So I brought him on the team. While it’s easy to talk the talk —

He really walks the walk.

Already he’s documented and improved the onboarding process—

Learned our growth hacking processes to help with clients—

And booked me as a guest speaker at his business school to help recruit new interns for him to manage—

So he can grow from teaching others.

He does it all with a positive attitude and professional manner that plenty of older folks could learn from.

At the end of his first month, I promoted him from intern to full- fledged Growth Hacking Manager.

If he keeps pushing and continuing to grow, who knows what he can do by the time he’s 30?

Your age does not determine your success.

It’s your drive—

Your attitude—

And your devotion to growth that’ll make or break you.

What Were Its Stats?

This particular post to data has had 1,222 likes and 84 comments.

That also translates to 128,677 views.

Now that's a lot of views, especially for a plain text founder story.

It's safe to say that to a degree it went viral.

The Anatomy of a Viral LinkedIn Post

Now, let's get to the good stuff.

Let’s break the entire post down.

First of all, we started with a hook, something out of the blue. In this case, we started with something that seemed normal enough such as hiring an intern. However, since we ended the sentence abruptly, the reader subconsciously knows that there is more to come.

We hired an 18 year old as an intern.

Then, we hit them again with another one-liner, but this one explains the seemingly mundane subject matter of the first line. Now, you want to know why this 18-year-old is killing it.

We made sure that the next line was shorter to create a pattern in the text.

Since the reader sees an even shorter line after the first line, they naturally assume that this is going to be an easy read making the post less intimidating to spend time on. People don't like making time investments, so you have to anticipate this with easy-to-read lines.

And he’s killing it

Now that e have the reader's attention, it's time to tell them about who this person is and why he was "chosen" for the story.

Giving the character's background at the beginning helps build everything up for storytelling.

We also made sure to tag our former intern, to make it an appreciation post.

Christian Jackson joined to get hands-on experience for what he’s studying in college.

Now is the time to get into the story, you want to tell your audience about the "why". Why was this such a big deal for your company, organization, life, relationships, etc? We opted to use the list form to make it easier for people to digest the information.

From day one, I saw 3 traits I knew would make him successful.

Always use a list of three items.

It's concise, it's catchy, and it converts.

Use singular adjectives whenever you can.

Also, instead of dashes, use em dashes, they look more stylish when it comes to formatting. - vs –

He’s smart— He’s humble— And he’s hungry.

Now you have to relate that to why it resonates with your organization.

I couldn’t ask for more.

Now, we got back to the meat of the story and drilled down into the significance of these traits.

At eighteen, that’s unbelievable.

Now we get into the meat of the story.

What did we do next?

So I brought him on the team.

We then mentioned what he did in general.

While it’s easy to talk the talk — He really walks the walk.

It was then time to bring in the specific.

This is "proof of the pudding".

All founder stories need to have some form of proof.

Don't be scared to talk about the smaller details, at this point in the post people are already hooked on what you have to say.

You can use longer sentences here as well.

(Again, we used a list of three points.)

Already he’s documented and improved the onboarding process— Learned our growth hacking processes to help with clients—

And given our company a new audience to share our core values and grow

And booked me as a guest speaker at his business school to help recruit new interns for him to manage—

Now it's time to slow it down and bring this back to the people.

So he can grow from teaching others.

Again, you want to talk about what makes this story different.

Here it's the juxtaposition of his age and manner.

He does it all with a positive attitude and professional manner that plenty of older folks could learn from.

Now comes the good news, people want stories to end on a lighter note.

It's the standard success story – if you do well and try your hardest, you will definitely get rewarded.

People love stories like this because it gives them hope.

At the end of his first month, I promoted him from intern to full- fledged Growth Hacking Manager.

Now it was time to reflect on what happened and ask the readers to look into the future with the main character.

If he keeps pushing and continuing to grow, who knows what he can do by the time he’s 30?

Hammer home the meaning of your story for everyone to remember

Your age does not determine your success.

List bomb your actionable advice to inspire others to succeed in the same way

It’s your drive—

Your attitude—

The last line is the most critical.

You need to leave the reader with something that they can think about even after they've scrolled past.

It has to have emotion, this lets the lesson stick.

You can:

  • ask a question
  • use a one-liner
  • or talk to them directly

And your devotion to growth that’ll make or break you.

The post was alright from this point on, but we've also found that adding a CTA after the last line also helps drive engagements to the post.

Here's the Viral LinkedIn Post Format in a Nutshell...

viral linkedin post, The Anatomy of a Viral LinkedIn Post

Text Patterns

You should always use text patterns since people are naturally drawn to patterns.

You can do this either with the length of the lines or in the way you structure the entire text posts.

The best thing you can do at the beginning – as you can see from our dissection – is to start short and follow up with an even shorter line.

As you move towards the piece you're writing create groups of words or phrases.

Don't just write singular lines that fill the width of the screen.

Make three lines in the middle the same height.

Or add an inverse pyramid like what –

I'm doing now.

By writing these patterns into your text, you can make your post look more appealing and pleasing to a reader.

Remember patterns will make or break you.

Rule of Three

While we’re on the subject patterns, you’ll find that we always use a list of three.

Why?

Because it’s a pattern.

Humans are constantly looking for patterns.

Three is the smallest number that can form a pattern.

With two, it’s just repetition.

If you want punchier lists, use a list of three.

You want memorable examples, use three.

If you want a meaningful phrase, use three words.

We also use a literary device called a tricolon, which is a list of three words/phrases on the sentence level that sound the same have the same length.

Even famous speeches like this one from Lincoln:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,…

Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln (1865)

uses tricolons.

Use Single Lines

Single lines work and here’s why.

They look easier to read compared to paragraphs.

In fact, every time you post something online, most marketers will advise that if you do choose to write in paragraphs to keep it to only 3-4 lines max per paragraph.

Heavy text looks intimidating.

That’s the reason why textbooks can be unappealing to read due to their text-heavy layout.

You want your posts to look inviting the moment your readers set eyes on them.

And, it’s easier to do that with singular lines.

The other reason that they work is that they look good on mobile.

You want to be able to satisfy your mobile audience because a lot of the people that you’ll be reaching will be on mobile.

Also, paragraphs don’t look good on mobile given the smaller screens.

Engagement

LinkedIn’s algorithm works like this.

The more engagement you can get at the beginning of a post, the more likely it is that it will go viral.

This is why we always A/B test critical posts.

As soon as the first test doesn’t get enough traction, we’re ready to pull up the next one.

So, how do you get more engagement on a LinkedIn post?

  • Use LinkedIn Pods
  • Add a CTA at the end of the post
  • Make sure you engage with the people who engage with your post
  • Get people that you know to add comments to the post
  • Make it worthwhile for people who read your post to engage with it

Don’t slack on those engagements, they can move your content forward.

Hashtags

Don’t forget the hashtags.

Hashtags help the LinkedIn algorithm categorize where your content falls into.

This helps with building engagement.

A lot of people follow certain hashtags, whether it be #hr, #marketing, etc., by using hashtags you can make sure that it gets on some people’s feeds.

Make sure you do a little hashtag research as well, use a combination of high volume and low volume hashtags.

Also, don’t use more than three.

This isn’t Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok, and you don’t want to look desperate.

Here’s our guide to using LinkedIn hashtags like a pro!

Tag Them

Tagging people will do two things for a viral post.

The first and most obvious is that it shows appreciation for the person you’re tagging. They get to interact with the post and this helps with your networking.

Next, it subconsciously tells your readers that you are a person that likes engaging with people and that your culture is based on gratitude.

Now, this second point is important, and here’s why.

People are always subtly looking for trust signals and gratitude is one of them.

It shows that you’re a person that’s thankful for the contribution of your team.

Prospects like working with people like that.

Takeaways

The first step in going viral is understanding how viral LinkedIn posts work.

If you look at our dissection, you’ll find that it’s based on emotions.

How do you form a connection with your reader?

How do you maintain that connection?

And, what do you do with that connection?

People often think that viral LinkedIn posts work by getting people to eat up a specific formula.

But, it doesn’t always work that way.

You need to communicate that raw emotion to your prospects.

Do you need help with your LinkedIn marketing? We’re here to help you go viral.

Buy the LinkedIn Bible Collection - Starting at $27

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About the Author

The name’s Houston Golden. I’m the Founder & CEO of BAMF ― a company I’ve grown from $0 (yes, really) to well over $4M in revenue over a span of 3 years.
How did I do it? Well, it’s quite simple, really. I’ve helped hundreds of business owners and executives get major traction (because when they win, we win). I tell you how on this blog.
Growth hacking is a state of mind. Follow along as I explore and expose the unknown growth strategies and tactics that will change the way you think about marketing.

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