Reverse Engineer LinkedIn for Predictable Virality

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Written by Houston
October 2, 2017
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Over the last several months, we've seen the rise of viral LinkedIn posts. Millions of views, comments, and website visitors. Are you getting your slice? To get ours, we took a scientific approach. We immersed ourselves in the data. Rather than relying on hunches, we wanted to know at what point you can consider a post viral. How many Likes or Comments does it take? And in what period? With enough data, we discovered the magic number - here's how:

Step 1: Discover a Correlation

We tested whether comments correlate to views. We missed the mark. Then we tested whether Likes correlate to views. We hit the bullseye. At BAMF Media, we already A/B test our own LinkedIn posts. We know when we've hit virality to the point where if posts are not getting strong enough engagement, then we take them down. If it's within the first hour, we still have time to adjust. Rewrite the first line. Draw in the emotion sooner. Emphasize the pain harder. This process is raw. It’s intuition combined with our best practices and relentless obsession for excellent copy. It’s not a science, but it works. Here are our results so far. The number 142. That’s how many views a post will get for every Like - on average - with a 90.04% confidence. You can see how strong the correlation is in the line graph below: LinkedIn-virality-bamf-media

LinkedIn posts have a limited window. Most only go viral for three days. 72 hours in three days. 704 likes / 72 hours = 9.78 Likes/Hour. Let’s assume that people are asleep 8 hours a day. That leaves us with 16 hours. 16 x 3 days = 48 hours. 704 likes / 48 hours = 14.678 If you are aiming to get 100,000 post views, make sure that you get 15 Likes in the first hour -minimum. Without taking any other velocity engagement metrics into account (which we don’t have the data for yet), you need, at least, 15 likes in the first hour of a post if you want to get 100,000 views.

How about 1 million views On A LinkedIn Post?

Assuming people don’t sleep (LinkedIn is a global network): 1,000,000 / 142 = 7,042 Likes / 72 Hours = 97.80 Likes within First Hour. Taking into account the views per like rate increase as posts gain velocity and LinkedIn’s algorithm picks it up, then this number is around 50 - 60 Likes. If you want to get 1 million views, keep A/B testing your post until you get ~ 50 - 60 likes within the first hour. Our views per like ratio are 90% accurate when analyzing posts after they’re live for three days. Finding how to weigh likes and engagement more accurately in the early hours is our goal moving forward. 

2. Create a Predictable Model For LinkedIn

If you're interested in running a linear regression model to find slope and correlation between engagements and post views, then there are many tutorials readily available via Google. Here's an inside look at our spreadsheet where the magic happened. (Note: The data set has been reduced for simplicity.) INITIAL GOAL: Create an accurate estimate of “Post Views” even though it’s not public. NEXT GOAL: Developing a chrome extension that provides accurate predictions of whether a post will go viral within the first hour based on past engagement stats. To do this, we need to account for velocity - the rate at which LinkedIn increases your reach when your content is "fire."

Profile NameDateCommentsLikesViewsEstimated ViewsViews/LikesViews/CmtsEst. Views Cmts.
Josh3w1,07332,3425,286,1704,592,5641634,9273,156,766
Josh1w3275,3391,110,415758,1382083,396962,034
Houston2w1113,903361,784554,226933,259326,562
Houston1w711,622230,715230,3241423,250208,882
Josh22h9393895,476133,1961021,027273,606
Houston2w1629855,49642,3161863,46947,072
Houston2w810410,13114,768971,26623,536

Key Stats:

Avg Views/LikesAvg Views/CmtsConfidence (Likes)Confidence (Cmts)
1422,94290.04%67.02%

How to BAMF Your Posts

Even if the magic number of Likes in the first hour is between 50 - 60, it doesn't mean your post will go viral. You need an excellent copy to attract engagement. Ask yourself: What's your hook? What's the learning lesson? If you can transfer enough emotion to the reader, then you'll get engagement. If all you have is a magic number - that won't move the needle. So before you think you have it all figured out, buckle down, and write excellent copy with an aim to hit the viral benchmark. If you're looking for more LinkedIn growth hacks, stay tuned and get notified of our Product Hunt launch by subscribing to our weekly updates here.]]>

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Houston Golden

Growth Marketer |
Forbes Top 12 Innovative Founders |
CEO at BAMF

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