I staged a LinkedIn intervention

Aug 31, 2023
I staged a LinkedIn intervention

Find Your Superpower newsletter 025

Read time: 7 minutes

Topics covered: content creation, storytelling, LinkedIn coaching


A couple of weeks ago, I staged a LinkedIn intervention.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an intervention is:

The act of interfering with the outcome or course especially of a condition or process (as to prevent harm or improve functioning)

This is the story of my friend Morgan* (not their real name), who is also a founder like myself and has agreed for me to share their story with you.

Like me, Morgan uses LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, such as:

βœ… Professional brand building

βœ… HR and talent recruitment

βœ… Business development

βœ… Personal growth and learning

But unlike >95% of LinkedIn users who are lurkers (this is a well-established term not created by me, to describe LinkedIn users who nearly never post on the platform, and who mostly only consume content or leave comments sporadically), Morgan creates a variety of content that range from carousels to video clips.

Morgan is one of the 1-3% of LinkedIn users who are content creators, and a hardworking one at that, pushing content out at least 3-5 times a week.

But Morgans content was not poppin like popcorn. Instead, it was flatlining and receiving 3-5 likes per post. The better ones? 10-20 likes.

(*This story is told with Morgan’s permission.)


The background to the intervention

Over a period of months (and I suspect even years), I observed that Morgan’s content had been receiving very low engagement. We are talking about <10 likes per post, and mostly <5 likes.

From a former scientist and power user’s perspective, if you regularly get less than 10 likes per post, it is pretty much negligible and statistical noise, especially if one of the likes came from yourself. It is a serious problem because it suggests that your posts arent resonating with your 1st degree connections (your real-life friends, family and colleagues), as they are the folks who get shown your post initially before LinkedIn decides whether to show it to your 2nd degree connections.

If even your real-life associates dont want to engage with your post, then the post is pretty much dead.

On a few occasions, I remember DMing and even WhatsApping Morgan, saying, “Hey, your posts are not landing. The more you post, the more the algorithm will think you’re a low-value poster. You gotta stop doing whatever you are doing.”

But the content stream continued.

Occasionally, some posts would land well, correlating to major life events and highlights (like getting interviewed by the media or winning an award). But let me explain why this is bad–if we can only “pop” on LinkedIn when we resign/get married/find a new job/get promoted, then it would be very hard to create content daily or weekly as we can’t resign, get promoted or get married once a week, can we!

There has to be a more sustainable plan of creating a pipeline of high-quality, valuable content for readers on a daily or weekly basis. This is precisely what my coaching and training is all about.


Morgan: But I was thrown in “LinkedIn jail”

After months of watching on the sidelines, I decided to stage a true Juliana-style LinkedIn intervention.

I wrote to Morgan via LinkedIn DM, offering them a pro-bono consultation with me for 1h. For the record, I don't do this very often as I have a business to run (and keep alive), as well as a busy speaking and volunteering schedule, plus two young kids at home.

But Morgan is a wonderful person, and one Sunday morning I called Morgan to talk about LinkedIn.

During the call, I learnt from Morgan that due to them connecting with too many people, LinkedIn had thrown them in “LinkedIn jail”, meaning that the visibility of their posts had been throttled. This was the cause of their low (<10 likes) likes per post, they said.

I was skeptical, because I have been using LinkedIn for years and this was the first time I was hearing about such a concept. That said, I did not have first-hand knowledge on the matter, plus the algorithm is a “black box” that I don't have visibility on anyway.

I decided to accept the (slightly improbable) premise, and work with Morgan on the basis of rehabilitating their account over a period of months.


The consultation call

Given that nobody wants to work on a Sunday, I invoked my mom-lecturer style of “let’s get down to business”.

In my corporate coaching classes, I have hours and hours to explain fundamental LinkedIn principles, right down to the existential purpose of the platform, why you and I should post on LinkedIn, why do people consume content on LinkedIn, and what motivates our audiences to read and engage with our content. I did not have the benefit of doing so here.

Instead, I jumped right into discussing the non-negotiables: Everything Morgan had scheduled for posting for the next few weeks? Delete.

I created a list of “don’ts”, of all of the mistakes Morgan that had been making on LinkedIn, from the serious ones (the lack of context in many of their posts, low-quality “sell” content etc.) to the minor ones (posting at irregular hours, posting content types that are not favored by LinkedIn etc.).

This was the key: I also worked with Morgan on crafting a post as a template for what is a “do”: a compelling narrative arc, a contextually relevant image, a call-to-action and other key features. We also discussed more technical topics like when to post and how to engage with commenters.


Unbelievable results: 150x improvement

As an entrepreneur, you learn fast or the market sweeps you away. Morgan was a great student and learnt very quickly.

From 3 likes per post, Morgan received close to 300 likes within 24 hours of posting the post. More recently, that number is creeping up to 600 likes.

600 likes. After a post with 3 likes.

That’s not even 5x or 10x. That is a whopping 150-200x improvement of engagement and impressions which translates to likes and comments.

I pointed out to Morgan that the LinkedIn jail concept was an excuse they had created. Instead of trying harder to communicate more authentically, we give our power away. We cede our control to forces beyond us.

Is Morgan happy about the results? Absolutely. And with that slam dunk of a post, the algorithm is trained to see Morgan as a high-value, high-quality LinkedIn content creator. Subsequent posts will also receive a boost and be lifted by the success of the previous one, in a virtuous cycle.

If Morgan continues the trajectory that I have set them on, they should see no less than 100 likes (a short-hand measure for engagement and impressions) per post.

Obviously, we aim to post relevant, business-focused content, not irrelevant memes or famous quotes that have no context to our professional career. The goal here is to only post valuable content that helps us achieve our business and professional endpoints.


Is it time to up your LinkedIn game? πŸ€”

Earlier this year, I decided to try something new, which is to film and launch a 1h on-demand video course on my favorite topic... LinkedIn, of course.

Titled "FIND YOUR SUPERPOWER: HOW TO REBRAND YOURSELF ON LINKEDIN", my masterclass aims to help you achieve the following three outcomes:

πŸ”΄  Goal #1 - Identify your professional brand

πŸ”΄  Goal #2 - Write a brand statement from scratch

πŸ”΄  Goal #3 - Create original content and network on LinkedIn

I charge in the thousands when I train corporate teams. I made this on-demand masterclass as a low-cost, basic 101 course that everyone may derive value from. This budget course is sufficient for PMETs undergoing a career transition or planning to revamp their LinkedIn profile.

In light of the recent widespread layoffs and recession-linked volatility which has spread beyond big tech, I think that having a straightforward plan for professional rebranding and changing careers would be useful.

To those of you who have been DMing me in my inbox about your low engagement on LinkedIn, do consider my budget option. I have a bespoke 1:1 consultancy option, but my time is a limiting factor and I can only take 1-2 coachees a month.

And for those of you who sign up for my email newsletter, you will receive a 10% discount code for the course. I look forward to joining you on your journey of reinvention and growth! πŸ™


Thanks for reading issue 025 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.

See you next week. 

For those of you who are new to my newsletter, this newsletter, Find Your Superpower, is subscribed to by 24,000+ people, and discusses the following three goals: (1) Making a career transition, (2) Professional branding on LinkedIn, and (3) Reinventing ourselves for the future of work.


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