linkedin viral case study

Views Don’t Pay the Bills: What Happened After I Hit 85,000 Views and Went Viral on LinkedIn

Saturday, January 26.

I was browsing LinkedIn while wrapping up some work.

Now, I try not to open my laptop much on weekends, but I’m an entrepreneur. You know what that means — sometimes, we work on weekends.

That particular week had been quite the doozy. Our team director had resigned the weekend before, suddenly and without warning. So, I had no choice but to pull an 80-hour work week re-assembling everything, jumping in and doing extra tasks to get my business back up and strong. I helped our clients get their content on time, wrote and edited, alongside training my new team managers and still staying on top of all my marketing campaigns and day-to-day tasks. Plus, I had just been invited for no less than four speaking engagements in the next two months. To say I was busy would be an understatement!

So there I was on a Saturday, browsing LinkedIn and using the Recruiter platform to talk to candidates I was interviewing, with my four-year-old cuddled beside me on the couch watching Netflix.

I decided to hop on over and check out my inbox for messages. I scrolled down and started to read the dozens of messages I’d been sent the week prior from all kinds of people.

Guess what was in my inbox?

Pitches.

Ugly, cold, sales pitches. Dozens by the handful, coming from new connections I’d recently accepted.

One was from a guy with an agency of offshore writers pitching me on using his team. (I thought to myself: “Did you not look for two seconds at the company I lead?”) Another was from a lady, following up the fourth time in three days to see “where I was at” on booking a call with her about PR services. I scrolled, deleted, and blocked as I went.

All these pitches had one thing in common.

The people sending them were seeking my wallet, and not a relationship first.

So, I decided then and there to create some “content on the fly.” (I’ve been doing that quite a lot. For example, I’ve completely stopped scheduling anything to my Twitter feed except some basic promos — I go in and tweet whatever I want to, whenever. And it’s worked surprisingly well. It helps that I enjoy Twitter.)

I wrote a short “rant” about the problem that all those cold pitches had in common. My brow furrowed as I thought and thought of what kind of media I could attach.

A meme was not sufficient. A GIF wouldn’t work. An image wouldn’t cut it.

And then it hit me — why not make a fun Boomerang video from Instagram of me “facepalming”, and make that the media?

It was PERFECT! It was 100% relatable, fun, and exactly described how I felt at that moment, reading those sales pitches.

(I have to give some credit here to my friend Jessica Campos. She had a course student enroll from an Instagram Story clip of her shaking her head and being silly!)

So, I wrote a short message and posted it. It was 100% authentic to how I felt in that moment.

It looked like this, and if you pressed play, it was a 4-second Boomerang-produced video of me facepalming myself:

See the status I posted here (you have to be logged into LinkedIn).

I was not prepared for what happened next. Here is the story. Learn what happened, what came from it, and the four lessons from my “viral stint” on LinkedIn.

The problem that all cold pitches have in common: Seeking my wallet, and not a relationship with me as a person first. Read @JuliaEMcCoy's story & lessons from a #LinkedIn post gone viral Click To Tweet

linkedin viral case study

The LinkedIn Viral Story: The First 24 Hours

Because “24 Hours” and Jack Bauer go together, always.

After I posted the LinkedIn status on Saturday, I logged out and pretty much focused on resting, relaxing, and having an enjoyable family day. We had a friend’s birthday party to attend, so my husband, little one and I went out for lunch at Panera, headed to our friend’s birthday, and didn’t come back till late in the evening.

That Saturday evening I logged in to work on some Write Blog tasks, and LinkedIn was up in my browser. I went over to it, briefly, saw a lot of red in the notification area, and flipped back to my tasks. I typically do a million tasks at once, just because I can be in the middle of hiring, training, communications, marketing tasks, scheduling, and more, all at once. So, LinkedIn wasn’t high up in my priority list. I had a lot to do.

But after working on my tasks for a while, I subconsciously recalled how “red” the LinkedIn notifications were. It was around midnight when I finally went back and checked on the LinkedIn post.

I had 99+ on the “Notifications” tab, which was strange. I knew something was up. I clicked on the post that had all the notifications, and that’s when I saw the status on the video I’d posted that morning.

398 likes, over 100 comments, and 22,000 views!

I’d never had that kind of results with any LinkedIn post, so my jaw dropped a bit.

But, it was late on a Saturday night, nearing midnight: so, after scrolling through it and experiencing a small “YAY!” moment, I closed the computer and fell asleep not too long after.

I woke up Sunday, went to church, and pretty much forgot entirely about the post.

I Slept, I Woke Up, Had a Relaxing Sunday Morning, and Then Logged Into Crazy Town

After church, I had a couple hours before heading to a friend’s house. I opened my computer (again, something I try not to do on the weekend, but unavoidable given the business issues at hand to fix). I worked on recruiting tasks for a while. Then, I saw the LinkedIn tab still open, and I leisurely clicked over to check on it.

425 likes, 133 comments, 24,000+ views! Whoa!

I scrolled through the comments, and was shocked to see that while 75% of the comments were a very strong affirmative, i.e. “PREACH IT, SISTER!”, 25% of the comments were pure hate.

Like this guy, Alex. (Who by the way had most of his face wrapped in a bandana, if you click on his profile and see his headshot.)

And then, of course, there were guys like Epuri who thought it was okay to call me “sexy.” Amy put it so well — “the underbelly of being a woman on this networking site.”

I couldn’t believe it.

I mean, I had dozens and dozens of positive comments, but those few haters — well, they chose to be pretty shockingly hateful.

Then, I noticed something. When I dug into the comments from the haters, there was a pattern.

Lesson: Haters Gon’ Hate, You Better Hug Them

Jay Baer’s “Hug the haters” is my new motto.

I’ll tell you why. I noticed something when digging around the comments.

The haters posting the hateful comments were then going and questioning a bunch of non-hating people on their thinking.

They were keeping the thread going.

The (few) haters that sided with them kept following up with a “YES! THIS!” to their frequently posted comments.

I am not kidding you. These haters were replying to the people in favor of me, questioning their judgment, and then haters would align below them.

The little tribe of haters that assembled basically put the wood in the fire. They fueled the traction of my post.

And that’s when I realized it.

I need to hug my haters. I am thankful for them! I’ve always noticed when I get one or two negative views on something I’ve posted, that’s when the amplification seems fairly high.

The End of the Story: 200 Views Per Minute (The Sunday Madness) 

Okay, back to the story. So it’s Sunday afternoon. I’m at 24,000+ views, 400+ likes.

After watching the post balloon for a bit (it went from 24,000+ views to another 2,000 in an hour), I logged out of LinkedIn and forgot about it again. Instead, I spent the afternoon hanging with a friend that had just moved to a new house. I don’t have LinkedIn on my phone, because I’ve limited myself to no more than three social media mobile apps, so I had no way to check on it via mobile.

That evening, my husband, Josh, opened LinkedIn up on his iPhone. My post was at the top of his feed. He told me, “You have 900 likes!” I said, “What?!” That was another 480+ odd likes since I’d last checked just a few hours ago! He started refreshing LinkedIn, and it stayed at the top of his feed. Something crazy began to happen. Every second he refreshed it, the post would get a bunch of new likes and sometimes up to 50 new video views! It was crazy. At one point that evening, we counted 200 views per minute.

By Monday morning (the next day), the LinkedIn post was at 1,000+ likes, and over 77,000 views.

The Connections Were Gold: But the Sales, Zero

Best of all?

The connections! OMG, it was LinkedIn connection gold. As in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, gold. I accepted over 150 new connections on Sunday evening, and hundreds more on Monday morning, from all kinds of people from finance executives to professors, freelance writers, and in between. It was amazing. I also read message after message thanking me for the anti-slimy-sales post. Lots of people told me how much it resonated with them.

Now here’s where my “views don’t pay the bills” lesson comes in.

With 77,000+ views, I thought I’d see at least one direct sale come in for my content agency, but surprisingly, there was nada. Zilch. Zero.

So views don’t pay the bills. They really don’t. You can’t expect immediate sales from a “viral” post. (Did you have results where you made sales from something like this? I’d love to hear in the comments!)

Opportunities? Long-term potential benefits? Yes, for sure. I did get several people interested in my book (have yet to hear if they’ll buy it), and a ton of new followers who told me they look forward to my future updates (a few of them have impressive marketing or engineering backgrounds), and one guy is messaging me about getting me to mentor him. Someone else wants a call about financial content, but we have yet to set that up. We’ll see what happens. So, good potential long-term things.

4 Lessons From My “Viral Stint” on LinkedIn

Now that you know the story, let’s talk about my four biggest lessons from my viral LinkedIn experience.

1. Produce Platform-Specific Content

Be platform-specific with the social media content you create.

The more you hit on a core “reason” for people to use that platform in a message with your opinion or message, the more of a nerve you’ll strike and the more people on that platform will rally around it.

So if you’re writing on LinkedIn, think about the business-oriented audience you’re reaching. Interestingly, I seemed to hit on a nerve or pain point that everyone on that platform experienced. Would this have gone as far and wide on Instagram, for example? Facebook? I doubt it. Everyone and their brother and their mother use LinkedIn to network. And the core of my “viral” message was first and foremost about networking and sales.

Be platform-specific with the social media content you create. The more you hit on a core 'reason' for people to use that platform with your opinion, the more of a nerve you'll strike. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

2. Create Content That People Rally Around (Tip: You Can Rally Haters, Too)

This ties back to a big point Mark Schaefer made in his new, hot book Marketing Rebellion. Today, business growth must be built on “human impressions instead of advertising impressions.” Human-centric marketing will win. Well, this is a case study of that. I created a message that people rallied around, a very human message with a very human video (can’t get more ‘real’ than me quickly filming a facepalm video on a Saturday afternoon). And guess what? People rallied around it! I’d never had that kind of following on any kind of content I’ve created, numbers-wise. Oh, and you can rally the haters, too! If you see haters on content you’ve created, it means your amplification is a success and the message was powerful enough to hit the right spot and really get out there.

Getting haters on your content? It means your amplification is a success and the message was powerful enough to hit the right spot. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

3. Create More Social Media Content on the Fly

I cannot recommend this enough. It’s time to quit scheduling everything you create on a social media calendar, especially if it’s for a personal brand.

I get it. We’ve got to get content out to make sure our feeds are updated, and that’s especially important for our brand marketing. But if it’s you sharing a message, you need to give your brain the time and creative room to come up with cool stuff. Don’t schedule this in!

That means watching TV with your kid on a Saturday, working, and letting inspiration strike. Taking a walk, letting it strike. Letting your brain relax in the shower and come up with cool stuff. Then, acting on it when it does strike.

When you have a great idea, don’t second-guess it. Get your message out! Just try it. What could happen? A viral LinkedIn video could happen, and then you get lucky!

4. Follow Up on Viral Peaks

Even though I had a crazy Monday morning ahead of me, training a new manager and getting back in the groove, I knew I needed to take a moment to post an organic link-free status and follow up with all my new connections.

I posted this three-minute video explaining who I was, letting my new connections see my face, hear my voice, and connect in a human way. I also explained what I love doing (content hacking!), and who I am as the CEO of Express Writers, author, etc., and invited people to tell me who they were and tag their business in the comments.

Well, it was a great idea. The followup video ballooned up to 4,000 views, 40+ comments, and 100+ likes in the next few days. Typically, my organic videos get 40-60 likes, so this was a good 50-60% increase from my typical reach.

It is a great idea to take a few minutes and follow up on any kind of virality you’re seeing. After you accept your new connections or see a dramatic increase on any social media platform from an organic post you created, go and create another organic post reconnecting with your audience. Time is everything here. Don’t wait too long.

Ending at 85,000 Views: They Don’t Pay the Bills, But They’re Great!

Yes, views don’t pay the bills, but it was pretty cool to hit over 85,000 views on the video. (Current stats on the post as of Friday, February 1, 2019: 85,000 views. I just got another new comment on it moments ago!)

Have thoughts or comments? Let me know below. I’d love to hear from you!

– Julia

11 replies
  1. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    Wow. Just wow! I totally resonated with that post initially but to hear how so many other people have responded to it is astounding to say the least. I can’t believe how people can be so hateful when they’re confronted with the truth. I guess the truth does hurt. Great post Julia!

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Hi Nicole, I know – it was so crazy how much the haters kept the post alive! But, in the end, they absolutely contributed to the velocity, so I’m grateful for them 😁 Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed this!

      Reply
  2. Cher
    Cher says:

    Lol. Thanks for sharing!
    Btw, just wondering, haters do help the threads going but what if they start to target other people who commented on your post? I had that happen to me once and then the original author of that post never came to clarify things or reply. At that time I regret commenting as I felt like I was only helping him boosting more likes and he’s just watching all this in his favor…

    Reply
    • Julia McCoy
      Julia McCoy says:

      Cher, I can’t speak for the person you’re mentioned, but in my scenario, all this happened over a weekend where I was balancing several scheduled visits with friends, time with my little one, and unexpected weekend work… it would have been hard to reply to everyone personally, right when they were commenting. I didn’t sit back and let the haters simply hate, though. I did manage to write and post a comment before Sunday evening calling them out, and it stayed at the top of the comments and had a bunch of likes. I do think it is important to step up and continue to be that voice, once you’ve set something out there that people are disagreeing with or have their own opinion on.

      Reply
  3. Alison
    Alison says:

    Thanks for the great info, as always! I’ve always been wary of the LinkedIn articles because I’m wary putting too much effort into content I don’t own, but these are even more great reasons to be careful.

    Reply
    • Danielle N.
      Danielle N. says:

      Indeed, even LinkedIn, a site for professionals, isn’t free from hate. Oh well. Thanks for reading, Alison! – Danielle, Content Specialist at Express Writers

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *