Viral loops can be difficult to pull off, but this one is so simple it hurts.
The strategy comes from Anna Vital’s post on the Ahrefs blog, “How a Viral Loop on LinkedIn Got Me 76k Email Subscribers in 1 Month.”
Anna writes: “One day, as I was checking my LinkedIn feed, I saw that one of my connections had commented ‘Yes’ on some post with free presentation slides. I opened the post and saw thousands of other people writing the same comment: ‘Yes’.”
This tactic is called engagement baiting—and social networks hate it. You tell people to Like, comment, or share something in exchange for a download, and your post gets enough juice to jump to the top of the algorithm.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a tactic like this if you’re offering legitimate value and not spamming newsfeeds with crap, so here’s how to create one.
Step 1: Create a valuable download
This should go without saying: get a great piece of content together. If your content doesn’t suck, your results will be infinitely better.
Keep in mind that this tactic can generate a lot of bad leads if you’re not careful with the type of content. Free PowerPoint templates might be popular, but everyone and their dog will download them, and that’ll create tons of cruft.
Use a good middle-funnel piece that your target audience will drool over but won’t attract unwanted downloads. Think research or white papers or tools specific to your niche.
Step 2: Craft a LinkedIn article
Rather than writing a plain-old post, you’re going to craft a LinkedIn article.
The headline should mention the freebie, and the header image should convey at a quick glance what people will be getting. Both elements are important because they’ll appear in the news feeds of people commenting on the post.
Here’s what engagement with your article will look like:
In the article, make sure you spell out the rules that people have to follow to get their freebie. Anna puts it at the top of the article:
Using your preferred landing page provider, set up the landing page and form.
Less is more when it comes to form fields. Start asking for email only and adding other fields in future tests to see how it impacts conversion.
Compress the files you’re sending as much as possible. If your post does well, it could take a toll on your site’s storage limits.
Make sure you have an appropriate subscription level set up with your email provider. I’ve seen people get burned by an influx of addresses that surpasses their limit. A lot of providers are pretty forgiving, but some aren’t.
Step 4: Hit launch
Post your LinkedIn article and start promoting it immediately.
Anna says to go viral, you need 1,000 comments.
Chances are, sharing the article via your own channels won’t get you to 1,000, so you’re going to have to seed it with cash.
I suggest promoting the article with social ads until you get to the 1,000 comment mark and then determine if it’s working or not. Alternatively, if you have a sizeable mailing list, you could leverage it by sending people to the article for the content, too.
I don’t care how you do—just get to 1,000 comments as quickly as possible.
If it doesn’t work or lead quality is terrible, revisit the creative. Remember: the more direct the connection between what you’re giving away and what you’re selling, the better.