🧪 Unexpected lessons from 500 LinkedIn posts

I'm talking growth metrics, content hacks and even engagement pods 🫛

I’ve been posting on LinkedIn 3 times a week for over 3 years now.
Sometimes it’s a joy. Sometimes I feel like a content slave. But it's always worth it. 

Why? Because…

LinkedIn is my thought leadership laboratory 🧪

Let me explain… 

There’s a huge amount of pressure for leaders to be posting on LinkedIn so that they can ‘increase their influence,’ ‘ become subject matter experts’ and 'grow their businesses faster.’ 

All great by-products of taking up the habit, but they’re not the reason why you should.

In fact, going into it with this mindset sets most up to fail. The motivation for chasing vanity metrics (likes and follows) only gets us so far. It’s the reason so many leaders end up outsourcing their content creation to an agency (or worse still Chat GPT). We can spot it a mile away.

Reflecting back, I think I’ve kept going because it’s not (just) about the business outcomes. It’s about becoming better at what I do.

Everything I’m writing about, I’m learning about.

LinkedIn is my clarity coach and my skillset is years ahead of where it would have been without it. Forcing (I use that word intentionally) myself to put content out into the world each week has helped me to:

  1. Test new ideas and stories 🧪
    And different ways of communicating old ones

  2. Learn from my audience 🧠
    What they care about (and what they don’t!)

  3. Find my voice ⭐️
    Specifically what and who I want to stand for as a leader

The best bit?

Posting on social media doesn’t have to be about you. It just has to be through your lens.

Thought leadership is idea promotion, not self-promotion.

Here are three examples of how I have tried to embody this principle with my content:

❌ Self Promotion: Telling people what we’ve done
‘Hey everyone, I just spoke at this event/appeared on this podcast (look at me!)’
✅ Thought leadership: Telling people what you’ve learned
‘I’d love to be considered a world class podcast guest one day…’


Self promotion: Regurgitating other leader’s content or quotes
‘Let me tell you about SMART goals…(look how clever I am)’
✅ Thought Leadership: Challenging conventional wisdom 📣
‘My whole perspective on public speaking changed when my therapist asked me this question... 👇’

❌ Self promotion: Using celebration to seek validation 🤩
‘Thrilled to announce I am a LinkedIn Top Voice/Forbes 30 Under 30 etc.! (Look how important I am)’
✅ Thought Leadership: Share the ‘untold story’
This picture was taken at my book launch last December. Look how happy I was...🤭! Little did I know that 8 weeks later…’

Room for improvement? Plenty, but it’s a work in progress! Other types of content that I’ve found particularly useful:

Incidentally, this final example, helped me create a resource that went viral.

Before you think it’s all been plain sailing, it’s not.

For the first two years, my public speaking posts were my worst performing content.

300 hours of work.

Paradoxically, the year I started posting, business revenue doubled - the power of being front of mind.

That’s not to say that it wasn’t deeply frustrating.

In fact, it wasn’t until last year that I posted some public speaking related content that actually landed. It was a video of Jamie Foxx pausing midway through a sentence for 6 seconds on The Graham Norton Show.

It taught me a valuable lesson:

My content needs to be as aspirational as it is educational.  

A lesson I’ve taken into my workshops, keynotes and even this newsletter!

It’s not about the vanity metrics… (but here are some of mine!)

Taking this lesson and doubling down on that strategy I’ve started to see far more traction. It is rare a day goes by when someone doesn’t apply to become a MicDrop member these days.

[Sidenote: I should note, I’m not even good at this! The stats below are very humble relative to what many are achieving.]

The last 12 months (vs the year before) via Shield App

In the last 12 months, I’ve started to be followed by the kind of people I used to add in the hope that they’d become clients. I’ve gone from 6900 (mainly random) connections to 10,400.

If I continue on the same trajectory for the next 10 years (because I’m playing the long game here):

End of 2024: 16,143
End of 2025: 25,057
End of 2026: 38,893
End of 2027: 60,370
End of 2028: 93,707

In 10 years time: 844,326 🤯

I’m not after fame, I don’t have any desire to become ‘an influencer’ and I have no idea what I’d do with all those people! But that said, the larger my engaged audience:

  1. The greater my impact ✨

  2. The higher my perceived worth 💰

  3. The more opportunities I’ll attract 🧲

But don’t just take my word for it…

One of MicDrop’s Founding members, Abigail Foster posted an 89 second video on Instagram that took her from from 3k-100k followers in 48 hours.

She now receives more corporate speaking opportunities than she knows what to do with (Goldman Sachs, Google, etc...), has landed a weekly slot on LBC and was even invited to 10 Downing Street to interview the Prime Minister.

This is an extreme (and let’s be honest) unlikely example of what can happen, but just think how easy it would have been not to post an 89 second video on tax codes

Many other clients who’ve been consistently posting their thought leadership, and are further down the line than I am, have noticed that there is a direct correlation not just with the number of speaking enquiries they are receiving, but also fees they are able to command as a result.

A fairly consistent figure seems to be 50k followers equates to £10k-15k speaking fees. Same talk - 3-5x the fee.

Hacking the algorithm…

Simple things you can do that increase the chances of your content getting seen (that are unlikely to change with algorithm tweaks):

  1. Timing of posts
    Most people jump on LinkedIn in the morning. So posts between 7am-10am in your local time zone will move the needle.

  2. Regularity of posting ♻️
    Posting more than once a day will limit the reach of both posts.

  3. External links 🔗
    Big no, no. LinkedIn doesn’t want you to send your audience elsewhere. Post links in the comments instead (ideally after someone else has commented!)

  4. Nail your Hook 🪝
    Your opening hook needs to entice the reader to click ‘See More.’ That button tells the algorithm your content is interesting.

    Formatting is important :
    Option 1: Two lines of text with no space

Option 2: Text, No text, Text

This resource on Hook Tips is excellent (and explains it much better than I do).

  1. LinkedIn rewards consistency ♻️
    Don’t post for a week, expect your reach to drop (the bastards!).

  2. Add a CTA to every post 🎯
    Feels selly at first, but you get used to it quickly. As long as your content adds value and you’re directing them to something useful, you have earned your right to take your connections off the platform (you’ll see why further down).

  1. Posts with media get more reach 🎬

    Whether it’s a photo (unfortunately selfies do really well on here, suck it up, play the game 🤮), screenshots, videos or carousels (upload as a document), make sure you upload them natively rather than posting a link.

  2. Make your content easy to skim
    Oh… and write how you speak.

  1. The hour after posting matters… ⏳
    Your post will get more reach if you:
    1. Like and reply to all comments (with more than ‘thanks’) all good relationships start here.
    2. Engage with other people’s posts

  2. This list given you burnout? 🥵
    Create a Forever 50.

Still with me? Let’s move onto your profile.

Optimising your Profile

  1. Tweak your headline 📣
    The first 47 characters must tell your audience exactly what you do. Forget looking impressive, just get to the point. That way, every time you post or comment on someone else’s post everyone who sees it gets the context they need from you.

    ❌ [Impressive title] at Company no-one’s heard of.

    Instead:
    ✅ ‘Public Speaking Coach | I turn Founders into Thought…

    (ok so mine’s not perfect, but it’s good enough).’

    ✅ ‘Breakthrough strategy for consumer brands
    ✅ ‘Find the childcare your family actually needs’
    ✅ ‘Follow for daily posts on business and personal growth’

  2. Use your banner 🪧
    Tell people what you do in a sentence. Direct people book a call, subscribe to your newsletter or get access to a resource (in exchange for an email). Check out these templates from Canva to get you started.

  1. Create a LinkTree 🌲
    Instead of my website, I have a button called ‘Ready? Start here…’ as my call to action. It goes straight to my LinkTree and directs people to the 5 most important ways to engage with me or my services without any of the noise of a website (Here’s mine).

  2. Add your two most important links to your featured section
    If you’re a speaker, one of those should be Book Me to Speak.

  3. Update your about section
    Sack off the career history, they can scroll down for that. Make it about what you can help your audience with instead. Just like a good speech, it should take your audience from where they are now to where they want to be.

Let’s talk engagements pods… 😬

I’ve been in a couple for 12 months now.

And many who are doing well on LinkedIn are also part of a few too.

The premise is simple: A group of people who like and comment on each other’s posts in an attempt to ‘hack’ the notoriously unpredictable LinkedIn algorithm.

I hate them, but if I'm going to spend hours (and these posts do take me hours) of my week creating content that I'm told adds value, it needs to get seen.

Do they work?

Well, I reckon my LinkedIn has grown 50% quicker than I would have done without them for the first 6 months. Since then, I’ve found the difference to be negligible.

But as taboo as they are, provided you’re in a pod with people who are the kind of people you would like to have following you, I think it’s a great way to kick-start your journey.

But there’s a problem (and it’s a big one)…

We are all just one algorithm change away from becoming obsolete 😱.

What’s more, social media platforms come in and out of fashion. It’s why, more often than not, I direct people towards this newsletter at the end of my LinkedIn posts.

The goal?

To make Founder to Thought Leader more valuable than my LinkedIn profile.

Nearly 50 newsletters in, the reason I’m still here is because it’s an opportunity to share test a public speaking tip with all of you to see how it resonates.

Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

But I’m becoming a better coach for it.

So thank you for all your support (and if you made it this far) for indulging me in a slightly different style of newsletter this week. I hope you found it helpful (no doubt you’ll tell me if you didn’t 😉).

Alex

MicDrop, my public speaking community for tomorrow’s thought leaders will be opening its doors to new members in October.

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