Learning From Top LinkedIn Influencers: 10 Tips on How to Write a Mega Hit Article on LinkedIn


Do you ever feel that social media were created just to distract, stress, and overinflate each of us?  Struggling with content overload, and struggling to make your voice heard?  Let’s face it, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Mashable, Huffington Post and now even LinkedIn Pulse are feeding all of us with tons of “good enough” material.

Yet amid this overload, we’re seeing consistently successful articles from a small group of LinkedIn users.  Who are these people? Why are they successful? What makes their content viral or enjoyable? What makes them stand out?

True, LinkedIn Influencers have an advantage – they have a lot of followers.  They earned their trust by producing great products, starting amazing companies and writing bestselling books.

What about the rest of us, though?  Those of you who work for a small non-profit, or own a small business, or even those of you working for a corporate giant with strict policies on what you can publish. Well, I have good news for you.

You, too, can write an amazing viral article that gets you a million hits on LinkedIn Pulse.

Let’s take a good look and analyze the articles from the list of both the top 5 LinkedIn Influencers and top 5 LinkedIn users just like you who hit over 500K to 1 million views on LinkedIn Pulse in the past two years.  We’ll look at the big folks first, and the ordinary (but extraordinary) folks second.

The LinkedIn Influencers’ top 5 posts of all time are:

#1. Dave Kerpen, Founder & CEO, Likeable Local, New York Times best-selling author and speaker, comes first with his 11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader.

Published on January 28, 2013, his article got over 2.6M views and 26K likes on LinkedIn, 7,396 Comments, and over 9K Tweets.  Dave’s article surpassed the posts written by some top LinkedIn Influencers, such as Richard Branson, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, Barak Obama, Tony Robbins and many other megastars!

The article is based on Dave’s interviews with experts (business leaders) and contains a list of 11 most important principles of becoming a better leader. His list starts with an appealing quote, and is short and concise. He uses cross links to his previous article strategically dispersed throughout.  Also, this article falls into the universally applicable theme of leadership.

What makes Dave’s post readable?

In my view, these are easily digestable facts given to a reader in a list format. Is this nuclear science? No. Is this the Great Gatsby? No. Can you create a similar article focusing on your particular expertise or industry profile? Yes!

#2. Greg McKeown, New York Times bestselling author, comes second with his article “The No. 1 Career Mistake Capable People Make.” His article gained almost 2M views and over 12K likes.

Again, Greg is wisely using a list of 4 steps describing typical challenges for people lacking a clear career strategy. He also perfectly uses crosslinks to his blog where he speaks about his newly coined term, “highest point of contribution.”

Aside from this, he also uses a simple graph and refers the readers to his Twitter posts.

Here we have an example of a career-related post driving traffic to his excellent blog article.

Well, guess who comes in at #3?

#3 Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

With his “Three Things I’ve Learned From Warren Buffett” article Gates, garnered over 1.8M views and 11K likes on LinkedIn plus a hefty 6.6K tweets.

And guess what Gates uses as his article framework? Despite the attention people pay to his own words of wisdom, Gates uses two of the best practices I’ve been talking about – citing another expert’s opinion (Warren Buffett in this case) and a list!

Yes, Gates’ article is simple and very thoughtful. In fact, I am going to recap his advice here:

1. It’s not just about investing.

2. Use your platform.

3. Know how valuable your time is.

Very useful advice even in the framework of this article, wouldn’t you agree? I would strongly recommend reading Gates’ article here.

#4 J.T. O’Donnell, CEO, CAREEREALISM Media & CareerHMO, Career & Job Search Coach.

J.T.’s 10 Things to Do Every Work Day brought her over 1.8M views and 9.5K likes on LinkedIn, and over 4.6K tweets. And she comes next after Bill Gates — not a bad neighborhood, right?

Judging from the title of her article, you can see she’s got a list too. It’s a simple and highly focused post, just 10 things that every one of us can use. J.T. uses a nicely added trigger, though, when she adds, “I’ve never shared this list with anyone until now.”  You can experiment with this on your own blog, and if you have a good number of followers, they may be curious to know those pieces of wisdom you’ve never shared with anyone.

Finally, in the end of her article J.T. uses another engagement question via a P.S. that helps her to create an additional point of contact with her audience.  (She simply asks:“What things do you do every day to advance your career or your business?”)  Don’t forget to add this to your post as well, and track the results. The P.S. also includes a link to her blog and coaching program. I highly advise you to add the P.S. anchor to your blog post as well.

#5: Jeff Haden, Ghostwriter, Speaker, Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor, came fifth with his “Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself.”

His article gained 1.7M views and 7.3K likes on LinkedIn, plus 4.3K tweets.

Again the theme of his article is in the highly popular “your career” topic. Yet, Jeff finds an interesting angle on this. He starts his article with a lively dialogue that really helps to attract the reader.  Then, it’s a smooth ride to…yes, another list of 16 points. Check them out, especially if you tend to “use cheesy clichés and overblown superlatives and breathless adjectives” in describing yourself or your business, or even “write things about yourself you would never have the nerve to actually say.

Summarizing the top LinkedIn Influencer posts, here are my top 5 tips to make your article stand out:

1. Use a great headline, which grabs attention.

2. Use a list format. It’s proven to bring results.

3. Cross link to popular posts and your own content.

4. Engage your readers with questions and use P.S. line to add touch points with your readership.

5. Write great content that people can use straight away.

Extraordinary LinkedIn Non-Influencers: What It Takes to Produce Top Content

Now it’s turn to move to non-Influencers, people just like you and me. I personally appreciate witnessing their success even more because they set an example for all of us. They venture into the hyper competitive niche populated by personalities like Bill Gates, famous bloggers, journalists, and industry and thought leaders.  To do so, their content needs to be prime, and needs to be something they care about deeply.

Below is the list of top-5 producing posts on LinkedIn Pulse:

#1 Kathy Caprino, international women’s career success coach, speaker & writer, comes first in this list.

Her article 6 Toxic Behaviors That Push People Away: How To Recognize Them In Yourself and Change Them won her some 2.3M views and 2.3K likes on LinkedIn!
 Her post made it to second place of top all producing posts.

A great post sprinkled with multiple cross links to bestselling books and Cathy’s own blog and business programs, it touches upon a sensitive topic that many people can relate to.  Again, choose a popular topic which evokes an emotional response, and your post will make it to the lead.

#2 Jacky Carter, Community Manager – Professional Women at LinkedIn, penned an article What Not to Say When Negotiating Your Salary.

The result – 890K views and over 2.5K likes on LinkedIn.

This is a perfect example of how you could use expert interviews to create your very own content. In this case, Jacky recorded an interview with Victoria Pynchon, a negotiation expert. Then she added two engagement questions and referred to information products negotiation experts provide.

Simple? Yes. Can you do it? Absolutely.

#3 Theresa Sullivan helps people connect with their true purpose.  Her article Five Lies That Could Be Ruining Your Career (and your Life) harvested 737K and 5K likes on LinkedIn.

Of course, Theresa is using a list format, with an engaging topic. And if you are curious to hear the 5 lies she’s hearing from people she coaches, here you are:

1) I haven’t found my passion / I don’t have a passion.
2) I can’t afford to leave the job I don’t like.
3) It’s too late to change direction now.
4) Pursuing my own happiness is selfish. I have a family to think about.
5) I hate my job now, but I will be happy as soon as I [get the promotion/finish the project/collect my bonus/get my degree].

#4 John White, Dynamic Marketing, Sales, and Management Executive 

John has a straightforward article everyone in the professional world would like to read:  7 Management Traits That Will Make All Your Employees Quit.

Since April 2014, over 539,000 people have viewed this article, and it’s gained 6.3K likes
 on LinkedIn.  Again, the article uses a list format, and a debatable, emotional and personal topic. John also injects some levity with recognizable images from The Office.

Nonetheless, my favorite is our #5 contender. Why? Because I know this guy personally and know his story well.

#5 Dr. Maurice Ewing, a hard working small business owner, successful entrepreneur, incredible speaker and HarvardBiz Blogger.

I first met Maurice and his family when I lived and worked in Hong Kong. Maurice led his risk management consulting business and had a life of constant travel.  Add a family on top of this and a demanding schedule.  It’s tough to be a small business owner.

Yet Maurice managed to produce incredibly popular lectures and presentations for a wide international clientele, and began writing his blog at HBR.

He stepped up to the LinkedIn platform on June 11with a clever read on Why Smart People Don’t Get Hired.  I watched his article take off — over 100K views in just a matter of hours! As of today, his article produced over 500K views and 5K likes on LinkedIn.

Why did the article produce such response?

Maurice shared that his article was addressed to “the highly intelligent, highly educated and highly skilled people that are either underemployed (i.e., working a job that does not require all of their education or skills) or unemployed. My “angle” is that over 40 years of research on IQ in psychology suggests that because smart people perform the best, they should never be unemployed. Of course, we all know many smart people that are unemployed for extended periods or underemployed for even longer.”

His article and (soon to be published book) aims to help these people resolve the dilemma.

What I appreciate about Maurice’s articles is that he always goes deep into researching any topics he writes about and backs up his points with data.  Surprise, surprise, Maurice also uses lists!

I asked Maurice what else may have contributed to the success of his posts, and he mentioned that “timing is more than anything on LinkedIn. I have determined that 4:30p on both Wednesdays and Thursdays is the optimal time to post. This is the time when most readers actually view AND read AND comment.” Weekends were a bust, of course.

So Maurice’s advice to non-Influencers is to be ready to hit your send button on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and “leave the other days for the Richard Bransons.”

While the opinions on what the best day for publishing your LinkedIn content vary widely, Noah Kagan, the founder of a highly successful OkDork blog suggests that the best day overall to publish content for social shares is Tuesday.

One of my best articles, Writing the Blog Article of Your Life: How One Idea Can Get You Hired by a Top Silicon Valley Venture Fund, was published on Tuesday, and produced a tremendous personal record for me. The second article that drove even more traffic was published on Sunday. So, my advice is that you need to experiment which day works best for your audience and your geography.  It matters if you’re hoping to reach out to just your American audience or the whole English-speaking world. 

Finally, I would add one essential tip that will help make your article a success: you need to aggressively promote your content. Without promotion, it’s highly unlikely that you will have 1M hits. Every single author I mentioned today, promoted their content like crazy. Post your article link on every relevant LinkedIn Group you’re subscribed to. Reach out to influential bloggers. Tweet, tweet, tweet. Remember, every new connection and every new like matters.

Summarizing what we learned from non-Influencers just like you and me, here is a list of top 5 strategies that worked for them and surely will work for you:

1. Go deeper into your content. Make it a valuable piece of advice by mining data and using examples of success.

2. Experiment with your publishing days. See what works. Publish. 

3. Evoke people’s emotions – find the theme which matters to your readers.

4. Aggressively promote your article. Post links to your article on relevant LinkedIn Groups, Twitter and Facebook. Share your content with your friends and colleagues. Reach out to top bloggers and LinkedIn Influencers. Every single connection helps you to make a leap to 1M hits.

5. Enjoy the process. 

Do you have your own tips to make it to 100K+ LinkedIn views? Please share your comments.


Andrey Gidaspov
 is a published author, international business expert, and a passionate “dot connector.” He is passionate about connecting people and ideas, creating new social ventures and helping non-profits find new funding streams.

Follow him on Twitter (@AndreyGidaspov) and check out his blog (www.gidaspov.com) for more useful tips on creativity, fundraising and marketing.

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