Sam Browne - Growing Your Audience on LinkedIn

Jonathan (00:01.786)
Hello and welcome to Ditching Hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark. Today I am joined by special guest Sam Brown. Sam, welcome to the show.

Sam Browne (00:09.83)
Thank you for having me.

Jonathan (00:11.482)
Today we are gonna talk about growing your audience on LinkedIn for fun and profit. But before we get to that, could you first tell folks who maybe haven't come across your name in the past a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Sam Browne (00:24.326)
Yeah, sure. So I guess I would start by saying I'm an entrepreneur. That's what I've done for the last 17 years. Now I started out building a live music agency way back in the internet dark ages of 2008. And that was really just as a means to an end for me to pursue my creative craft as a musician. So I wasn't at the time passionate about entrepreneurship so much as, you know, thinking I could maybe leverage it to build a music career.

creating that music agency taught me kind of everything I know about online business. And it allowed me to record a couple of albums as a singer and guitar player. and then sort of take those skills forward and create additional projects. So I did in total, I did the music agency. I did, a series of, wedding marketplace sites, a venue marketplace, digital agency. And then in 2022,

having had a desire to do it for a long time with no specific goal other than I just really wanted to share what I'd learned over all of these years of, you know, hustling on the internet. I began writing on LinkedIn. and I think the combination of arriving at a good time in terms of LinkedIn's trajectory and having a, you know, having that passion to share, having a natural aptitude towards writing, it's just always been my preferred way of communicating.

and maybe having a bit of a twist, on the way that I was showing up on LinkedIn, I found success relatively quickly with it. And then, so over the subsequent two years, so after the first year I'd grow into 50 ,000 followers on LinkedIn. and then a year and a bit, maybe, maybe 14 months later, I had about a hundred thousand followers and that that's, that wasn't too long ago. That was a month or two ago. and so nowadays I, as part of my kind of.

various entrepreneurial projects. I work with entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, and help them to find success on LinkedIn. So to grow their audiences and to generate leads and ultimately attract and convert clients on LinkedIn.

Jonathan (02:40.666)
killer. That's a great intro. So a little bit of backstory for the listener. So I'm sure most people listening are like me in that sort of have a love hate relationship with the idea of social media. On the one hand, it seems like distracting and addictive and time consuming and all of these things. On the other hand, most folks like us don't get a lot of

of inbound leads or anything remotely like that. We get referrals once in a while and we stay with clients for a long time. But that feels a little scary to not have a kind of predictable stream of new people finding out about what value you bring to the world. So there's kind of this general feeling of like, geez, I guess I need to hold my nose and go on some social media platform and do the dance, whatever, whatever the platform wants me to dance, like whatever, I guess, literally TikTok, they do want you to dance, but.

you know, what are what you know perform for the algorithm and it's So that was where I was maybe Two or three months ago I've been off of LinkedIn and all of the other platforms for years and My only use of them was to kind of broadcast out links to my daily newsletter the daily posts that I put on my website and I

I mean, if I got 40 impressions on a post, it was, it was a good day. It didn't do anything basically. So, you know, maybe I'd get somebody would comment and I'd get 80 impressions or a hundred impressions. And then this year I was like, well, my, my mailing list subscriber count is really strong, but it hasn't been growing. So I tried some different things, YouTube channels and guesting on podcasts and doing webinars and you know, different things and they all have their pros and cons.

And, and there are other things I haven't tried, like paid ads comes to mind or JVs. There's different things that could be done. But I was like, well, LinkedIn was feeling like it was in a pretty good place at the beginning of this year where it wasn't turning into, it wasn't like a cesspool like Twitter turned into. I used to be a big Twitter guy way back in the day, but I can't go there anymore. I haven't been there in a while. So I was like, well, maybe LinkedIn would be.

Jonathan (05:04.058)
a place to go and try and see if a I can figure out how to generate more of the kinds of analytics, you know, improve my LinkedIn analytics and then see if that actually moves the needle by driving traffic to my website and ultimately to sign up for my mailing list. So like I'll do an experiment and see what happens. And that's when I found you, Sam, you were one of the one of the few people that came up on my list as kind of.

teaching people like me or us in the audience how to do LinkedIn in an effective way. And sure enough, I did that for, I think within the first month, I was seeing a huge increase in impressions and engagements on LinkedIn. And then maybe a couple of weeks after that, I started to have like posts were hitting 10 ,000, 20 ,000, 40 ,000 impressions. And it was kind of hilarious because it's just like, geez.

I've the stuff I've been doing on LinkedIn. Like before I would have said, LinkedIn doesn't really work. I post all these links and nobody sees them or clicks on them. They just want me to buy ads. But looking back on it, I think I just wasn't using LinkedIn the way LinkedIn wants me to or wants anyone to. So I started doing what they wanted. And what do you know, you get rewarded with the kinds of numbers that you would hope to see.

Sam Browne (06:21.03)

Jonathan (06:28.218)
Assuming that those numbers lead to something I actually want that is a the jury's still out on that but it does seem to be working so That's a lot of me talking but you posted on one of my recent posts I called you out as sort of giving you credit for helping me at least improve my LinkedIn engagement numbers and Wrote just like a master class in a comment that people were people were coming on quite a bit and so I wanted to get you on to kind of talk about the basics of

Sam Browne (06:35.526)

Jonathan (06:58.554)
using LinkedIn in an effective way for people like freelancers and solo consultants and people running expertise based businesses who don't have a lot of time to spend on social media, but they do really want to create this sort of inbound lead generation funnel kind of thing and maybe help people in the process. So could you kind of outline what you see as the, I mean, I don't want to say top three things you need to do, but the basics of what people would do to start getting some benefit out of LinkedIn.

Sam Browne (07:17.734)

Sam Browne (07:29.382)
Yeah, sure. Okay.

What would I begin with? Okay. So I guess at the foundation. So if we, if we assume you're at day one, you haven't posted, you haven't created a profile and so forth. or, or maybe you have a profile as I did for 10 years, but it's really neglected and it's, you have no idea why you would do X or Y with any aspect of your profile. A really good way to go into the whole LinkedIn thing is knowing.

what you want to be known for on LinkedIn. And, you know, entrepreneurs of all stripes wrestle with this because we're all multifaceted. We don't want to say I'm the SEO guy because we're thinking, well, yeah, but I'm pretty good at copywriting and I really enjoy designing and Figma and I do this and this. And I had this problem for ages and many ways I almost still do where I think I, you know, there's so many things that I want to explore, but.

for LinkedIn specific. And this is the way to kind of have your cake and eat it too. You want to pick the thing that is going to be the most effective for you to monetize on LinkedIn. And you kind of get people in the door, so to speak with that. So although I'm interested in lifestyle entrepreneurship, I'm building my first SaaS. I'm interested in all aspects of marketing within the sort of bootstrap founder realm, but I don't, I don't.

lead with that. I lead with, I help entrepreneurs grow and monetize on LinkedIn. And then once I've got them in the proverbial door, that's when I sort of revealed, by the way, look, I'm not like a social media guru guy. I'm, you know, I'm, I'm well into my career and here are the projects I've done and here's the things I've learned from those. So, you know, for your audience, I'd be thinking about what's the thing that I can attract.

Sam Browne (09:26.374)
whether it's clients who are, who, you know, maybe it's, five figures or, sorry, four figures or five figures, per client, that sort of thing works really well. For example, if you were doing, you know, if you're a software developer, you, you might be doing, sorry, my computer just screen froze. Did I do the recording stop? Okay. Sorry about that. I'll just, pick up where I left off.

Jonathan (09:50.33)
I can still hear you. Nope, I can still hear you. That's all right.

Sam Browne (09:56.774)
Okay, so for example, if you're a software developer, you might be talking about the various projects that you've been doing. You would kind of share portfolio pieces and then be saying, look, I've got room for two more clients next month. That is in a nutshell how it works in terms of letting people know how you can help them and the sort of work that you do.

Jonathan (09:56.826)

Sam Browne (10:22.822)
With regard, I'll try and divide this into two parts. So this profile and content, those are the two big bits. So with your profile, you know, you, you want to have sort of a statement. I think of it like a website homepage. That's it. That's the easy analogy. So at the top of your profile, just as with your website, you'll have your banner, which is going to sum up. This is what's going to be happening on this web page on this profile. So for me, it says something like ready to grow question mark. And that's it. It's just the sort of.

opening statement, if you will, with your profile picture, you want to choose a nice smiling, well lit can be an iPhone photo. It doesn't need to be professional, photo of yourself. And then you want to put a reasonably bright color behind your head. And the reason for that is whenever you're commenting on replying to comments on your content, or probably more importantly, leaving comments on authority figures within your niche, if you've got a good looking bright,

profile picture, it's going to pop off the page in a way that 90 % of profiles won't. So that's going to create curiosity and drive people to go and check out what you're doing. I won't go through every single aspect of the profile, but some of the other things to be thinking about are your featured section, which is where you can basically put links to your website, to your newsletter, to your YouTube. You want to pick two or three things that you would ideally like to drive people to do next.

The ones that work really well are things like a lead magnet. So, you know, if you're a, like a graphic designer, you might have something around, here's how to, you know, here are 20 different type combinations that are trending in 2024 might be something that your audience is going to be genuinely interested in and that is going to solve a problem for them instead of five to 10 minutes or less. And the key with that is to keep it really simple. You.

Jonathan (12:07.546)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (12:17.606)
you want one problem with one outcome as opposed to here is everything I know about graphic design. You can download it for free. That's not going to work for you as well. So, so that's profile in terms of content. The, the, yeah, sure.

Jonathan (12:26.732)
Mm -hmm.

Jonathan (12:31.162)
Before you move, if you could, if you don't mind, before you move on from there, the one thing there that was the least obvious is the featured section. And that I was, that was really, I had, I don't think I had anything there and it's a huge missed opportunity because you, you're, I mean, you're probably going to get to this, but linking out of a post I think is a bad thing to do. So you don't really have a good place to put links.

You can't put them in your, I mean, you can, if you have a pro account, you can put them in your bio. but it's a great place to put links and having like, especially yours are a great example. They're so engaging and colorful and, and just sort of branded. So they kind of, it feels, you know, immediately that it's you that, that, that I, that's, I was certainly completely not using that. It couldn't have been more underutilized.

Sam Browne (13:16.934)
Right, thank you.

Jonathan (13:25.85)
And one of the tips, I don't know if I got it from you or someone else was to not, not feature posts there, but to feature links there. Which yeah. Okay. So, so that would go to probably your website or like you said, it could be a YouTube channel, but it's probably one free thing like a lead magnet and one maybe tripwire purchase, low purchase, something, something or other where people who want to get started climbing up your product ladder can just conveniently jump on there right away. So yeah, I just wanted to call out the featured section because it's.

Sam Browne (13:44.23)

Jonathan (13:55.962)
I think I've hardly heard anybody talk about it and I haven't really noticed it until you're until I saw your profile. I've never really profile. I've never really noticed the featured section, but now I'm like, this is this is an important piece.

Sam Browne (14:10.918)
Yeah. Yeah. And it's, it's, there are many ways to kind of get it wrong. the, the recommendation I make to clients is pick ideally one thing or maybe two things. I have three right now. I'm kind of experimenting with it. but I find that less is more in terms of avoiding, paralysis analysis analysis paralysis. I'm sorry. in that if you give people lots of different,

Jonathan (14:33.818)
Mm -hmm. Right.

Sam Browne (14:39.398)
options to choose from, and it's not entirely clear what will happen when they click. They can just scroll right on by. Whereas, as you say, if you have a low ticket trip wire, I have like a $50 guide to here's everything you need to know about LinkedIn. It's, it's 15 guides covering, you know, here's the featured section. Here's your banner kind of broken up into little pockets and that's cheap. It's, it's, it's not intended as a true moneymaker so much as a introduce that person to relatively close to the bottom of the funnel. And then I have.

alongside that, you know, work with me where they people click and they apply. They let me know, yes, I am an entrepreneur. I have already been posting on LinkedIn. So I don't work with sort of brand new beginners. I work with people that have made a start, but it's not really working for them yet, as you described yourself as being. So yeah, two is good. And a lot of the biggest accounts will often just have a single thing where they just double down on might be their course.

Jonathan (15:26.714)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (15:36.679)
or it might be signed up to the newsletter. So the jury's out on the absolute best practice, but certainly less is more. That would be a fair thing to say.

Jonathan (15:45.018)
Yep. And there's one other thing that, that, cause I just pulled your profile up. There's another thing that I love about your profile is that I don't think any of the links go to, to what I would call your website. So like the visit my website link, I laughed out loud when I first clicked on it because I was expecting to, you know, here's a big picture of Sam and like, here are all the wonderful things I could buy from Sam. And nope, it's, it's.

Sam Browne (15:58.214)

Jonathan (16:11.706)
a link right to a hosted convert kids subscribe page, which is so wonderful for folks who are just getting started and don't maybe don't want to touch their website. They're nervous about doing that, but they do want to start to convert anonymous social traffic or short form traffic from LinkedIn onto their mailing list as subscribers. You can just sign up for convert convert kit, create that form in five minutes and

put it in your bio, if you have a pro account, you can put it right in your bio and immediately in theory, you've got everything set up so that as we move into Sam talking about content, then people can see your content, be exposed to it, like it, be curious, go to your profile and boom, straight to the list. It's the only option. There's no navigation, there's no nothing. It's like you can sign up here.

Sam Browne (17:04.262)
Right. I have to admit that's because I have not had a website ready to go. I probably would put my website there. And what you described is exactly what I'm working on right now. But even then with the website, the first thing I'll be saying to people is sign up to the newsletter. Here's why you should do it. You know, we'll have some kind of really good lead magnet in place.

Jonathan (17:11.45)
Mm -hmm.

Jonathan (17:16.41)

Jonathan (17:28.09)

Sam Browne (17:29.286)
Yeah, it's, it's, I mean, you know, it's not, it's not a new concept, but it feels like everybody all of a sudden is trumpeting the fact that driving people to your newsletter, sign up, however you do it is by far the most important thing. If you've, if you get that right, everything else becomes a lot easier. that was actually a, yeah, that was a lesson that took me a while to learn. I was early on, I was too eager to drive people to buy something. And then it's like binary. They either spend on that day or they're gone for good.

Jonathan (17:44.538)
That's my experience.

Jonathan (17:58.682)

Sam Browne (17:58.982)
So that was a mistake. Probably my biggest regret with building a pretty large audience, but neglecting to capture their emails as well as I could have.

Jonathan (18:10.01)
Yes, totally makes sense. I'm glad to hear you're working on a more full featured website, but for people who are just getting started, it's totally fine. I think this is great. You know, don't get hung up trying to create a whole website and making every decision that you need to make over there. You can get started with this kind of like lead generation funnel, just with a ConvertKit account and...

working on your LinkedIn. Okay, enough about that. I just I love when people do this sort of like pragmatic 80 20. You know, let's just ship this.

Cool, okay, so once people have their profile kind of set up the way it needs to be or in an effective way to capture leads, what about the content? What do you share? How often do you share? What time do you share? And there's a million questions. What do you write? Images, no images, carousels. You're a big carousel fan. So what are your sort of intro level things that people would need to understand to get started?

Sam Browne (19:10.566)
Yeah, okay, so.

I would start with mapping out a series of questions to answer. So, you know, to answer your first question about what do you post? If you're on LinkedIn to build your authority, become known for something, which kind of you should be really, you don't necessarily want to become, you know, social media famous, but you do want to become recognized in your niche as someone with real knowledge.

The way to do that is to identify the questions and problems that your ideal client has and just lay them out one by one. So the way I do this is I have this method, if you like, for creating content. I just call it content for dummies. I'm always wary that I'll probably eventually get told to stop calling it that by the yellow book people, but so far so good. And so the way content for dummies works is you imagine that you've been asked to write.

something something for dummies, whatever your exact area of expertise is. And you map out the chapters of that book. So that's gonna be very broad. That might be eight major buckets of your niche. And then within each of those chapters, there's maybe gonna be five or six sub chapters. So these are gonna be a little bit more granular, but still fairly high level.

And then finally, within those sub chapters are going to be the questions that need answering. So, if we use an example of cooking, so say, say, say you, are writing cooking for dummies, that top level is going to be things like, lunch, breakfast, dinner, desserts. So there's your very top level, chapters. And then if you go into breakfasts, one of them might be, you know, pancakes, eggs, cereal.

Sam Browne (21:05.126)
And then finally, you might go even deeper on eggs. Okay. And each of these is an actual post. So one of them might be how to make the perfect eggs Benedict. how much butter should you add to scrambled eggs? what's the best toast for eggs? And so you just list these out and, and I always use cooking cause it's like, everybody knows cooking. It's a, it's a reality for us all. so each of those questions you answer with your expertise and that's the post.

Jonathan (21:16.538)
Mm -hmm.

Jonathan (21:23.546)


Sam Browne (21:34.438)
And that's how you create educational content, which is really the cornerstone of building authority on LinkedIn. So early on, especially, you want to make by far the majority of your content be answering the questions that your ICP has. And then what I do from there is mix in some personal content. And so that might be, if I continue my, my chef, it might be, five years ago, I was working in this.

terrible restaurant. Today, I find myself working at this three Michelin star restaurant. Here's what changed. So what you're doing with a post like that is saying, this is my lived experience. Here are the challenges that I overcame personally in my life. You might be sharing how well things are going now. So you're kind of doing a lot of things with that. You are sharing nuggets on how to improve your own life. If you are perhaps in that before state.

you are indirectly showcasing how skilled you are and that you have established, you've found yourself successful. and you're also, and this is crucial. You're sharing all of this in the form of a story involving real people and real places and imagery. And so that is the content that really draws people closer to you. maybe they've been following you and enjoying your educational content, but until you start sharing your personal stories, you're really just a name on the.

on the page, you're not a real person in their mind. When you start showing up and saying, here are my experiences, here are my successes, but also my failures, here's what I'm wrestling with right now, or here's this really exciting thing that just happened. That's when people start to think, okay, when Jonathan posts, it's always interesting. I'm gonna see what he's up to now. So in terms of like a ratio with that, it changes over time. And the reason is that people aren't that interested in you personally.

Jonathan (23:21.146)

Sam Browne (23:30.086)
early on, because you kind of haven't earned the right, if you like. So early on, let's say the first sort of 5 ,000 followers. And that might, that might be your first six months of posting, I would really focus a lot on educational content, let's say 80%. And then I would do maybe 10 % personal content. And then the third component, so you know, education, personal, and then the third component is the sales posts. And these are the ones where you get paid. And specifically what you do,

is I like to use case studies, testimonials, and sometimes what I think of as literally sales posts. So I'll walk through the three. So a case study would be you've worked with, as it would be on a website, you've worked with a client who was an ideal fit client. You've got a great relationship and you have created a highly desirable, tangible outcome for that person. You present the before and after of your experience working together in the post.

So, you know, it might be Jane came to me with a business that was failing. She was struggling to make payroll and, you know, she, she was wondering how she was going to pay the rent next month. we did this, this, and this, and we were able to achieve this amazing outcome. And now Jane is, you know, she's just bought her own home and the business is thriving and she, she's, employing seven people. And here's Jane in her own words saying what happened. A post like that is such a great way to.

very clearly show the value of working with you, clearly show the outcome of working with you. So it's not about the methodology or the, you know, we spent three months doing this. It's all that the reader cares about on social media is the outcome. They want a quick win. So they want to think, okay, when I read Jonathan's stuff and he starts talking about a client he's worked with, I know that they eventually, as a result of working with him, they gain their life improves in this particular way. so for,

Jonathan (25:14.842)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (25:27.238)
at any level, including myself, even if you're starting off, whatever the case, I like to do 10 to 15 % of my content is sales posts like that. So, you know, it can be a case study. It could be a small collection of testimonials where it might be four or five single page testimonials of people essentially saying the same thing for myself. My testimonials are like, one guy, got,

a speaking engagement within working with me, 48 hours of working with me. Another lady got her first hundred thousand views having previously not cracked 10 ,000. So, you know, the exact outcomes are different from person to person, but the general message is if you work with this guy, you get these desirable outcomes that you're not getting right now, but you want. So yeah, case studies, testimonials, and then sometimes I'll do what I think of as a sales post, which is...

because I've kind of, you know, in quotation marks earned the right to do it. I might say something like, I have space for three clients next month. If you're a insert ICP details and you want to achieve insert outcome, here's how you can do it. And that obviously is not going to work for you if you don't have some sort of notoriety and authority on the platform already. So,

For earlier on, I would recommend the case studies and the testimonials. And probably if I had to pick the best one, I would pick case studies. You get a story, you get to show a personal experience, you get the social proof of a real person. Often, you know, I would usually let that person know I'm going to be posting a case study and ask if they can drop a comment. They're always happy to. And of course, that's hugely endorsing of what you're saying that they go, yeah, this is true. It was amazing. And often they'll throw something else in like, and this thing just happened. I just got another lead today.

Jonathan (26:52.314)
I agree.

Jonathan (27:14.97)

Sam Browne (27:15.782)
so it's incredibly powerful. It really, even though it's only 10 % of your content, it kind of pays for everything else.

Jonathan (27:22.746)
Right. Cool. That's just like so much information here that's you sort of guessed in advance some of my questions about, you know, like ratios and real specifics about content. This is fantastic. What are some other things that people should be aware of even when they're first getting started? So like I'll throw some things out and you can tell me if you can just pick whichever ones you think are important or not that important.

One is sort of frequency of posting. Another one is engaging in comments on your own posts. And maybe a third one would be engaging in comments on other people's posts and how any of those things kind of, if you had to only pick one, which would you do? Or do you think they're all important or what?

Sam Browne (28:13.509)
Okay. I'll, I'll speak to all three, frequency. So this comes up a lot where there's this pressure from, I don't know, sometimes fairly dubious gurus, who, who perhaps shouldn't be telling people how to do it. They're often early on in their own growth and they've come to certain conclusions. there's this pressure to post all the time. You know, you've got to post, if you're serious about growth, you got to post five days a week or seven days a week and da da da.

I have been very inconsistent with how often I post. There've been periods where I've posted five to seven days a week, especially early on. And then there've been many periods where I'll post once a week, once or twice. I'll miss two weeks because I just need a little breather. So I think if I had to sum it up, I would say whatever is comfortable for you, ideally no less than once a week, just so you kind of...

you know, keep that, keep it alive. but also if you need to take a break, if you have been posting two or three times a week and you've been putting real time into it, if you need to take two weeks off, do it's going to LinkedIn will be there when you come back, just like any social media. that was the first one. Okay. Commenting, replying to comments is really important. in fact, it's a huge opportunity when you start posting in a way where you do get, you know, say 10, 10 plus people commenting.

Jonathan (29:23.482)

Sam Browne (29:38.95)
take the time to, especially if they've left a thoughtful reply, it's one thing if they've sort of said, great post, okay, well you can maybe just hit like and say, you know, thanks, thanks for saying that. but if they've, if they've delved into something, and shared their own experience and shared an insightful comment, they basically made some sort of an effort. I always try and repay that. And part of it is just cause that's the right thing to do. And part of it is this is a person who is resonating with what you're sharing and by,

acknowledging them, giving back to them with a meaningful comment in line with their comment, you're signaling to them, when you come to my stuff and you leave a comment, you're going to get a real response. And in fact, if it was somebody like that, I would probably send them like a private message. I would probably send them a connection request if they are in my ICP or adjacent to my ICP, because these people are gold, you know, they, they,

You don't need that many people who are showing up and enjoying your posts every time you post to create real momentum on LinkedIn. So yeah, very, very important to reply to your comments. It doesn't have to be instantaneous. I will usually post, come back a couple of hours later and kind of, you know, smash through them rather than, you know, the alternatives to be returning to the site over and over again through the day, which you don't want to be doing. And then the third, yeah.

Jonathan (30:58.97)
Yeah, that so I'm sorry, I have found that I've heard advice that it's like, post the thing and like sit there for half an hour and respond as things come in. And it hasn't been my experience that it has been my experience that that is not a way I want to spend my time just sitting there refreshing the page waiting for stuff to pop in. And, and the other thing is, it doesn't seem to like if you look at the if I look at my numbers on a post, it

Sam Browne (31:19.238)

Jonathan (31:27.738)
it doesn't pick up that fast. It doesn't I mean, maybe other people saying this have like, lots and lots more followers than me. But it seems like the post can take on a new life like six hours later, eight, eight, 10 hours later. And I'm like, you know, like winding down after dinner, let me just see how today's post did. And there's like,

all of a sudden it went from, you know, maybe I checked it an hour later and there's nothing, you know, 400 views and like no comments. And then later I banged through, like you said, you'd kind of batch through them all at once. And then overnight, the all of the numbers double, even though it was like it didn't happen. And I think the conventional wisdom that I heard is like, you know,

be active immediately as soon as people start commenting, but I haven't really noticed a big difference there, and it's a lot less fun to do it like that, for me at least.

Sam Browne (32:21.99)
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. That's right. I think there does come a time where, you know, you, you post and the, the, in that first hour you do get a flood of comments. and you know, you, there's no kind of, there's no major reward for replying instantly to comments. you know, I frequently will have people reply to me six hours, 12 hours, 18 hours later.

And it's, it's more the acknowledgement. I can tell you from, you know, I've been on the platform two and a half years and when I was just getting started, I would try and leave, the best comments I could leave on really big creators, content. And there are some creators who, you know, their LinkedIn is kind of outsourced to their VA or whatever. And they basically ignore the comments. And I've learned that, but at the time I actually felt as a, admirer, shall we say of the person I felt really,

disappointed that they would ignore me and everyone else who had commented. And of course you think, well, what's the point? What's the point of supporting this person with comments if they are kind of projecting their stuff into the world, but then never, never interacting with the people who are interested in what they're doing. So I think it's really important on that front. It is a conversation where yes, you're probably leading that conversation, but I, you know, an ideal, if you're doing it right, you're going to get really fascinating people showing up.

Jonathan (33:32.025)
Right. Right.

Sam Browne (33:45.254)
with interesting ideas and experiences. It's not like a fan club of your stuff. It's a discussion.

Jonathan (33:45.754)

Jonathan (33:54.234)
Mm hmm. Yeah, I've been surprised how provocative. that's that's a charged term, but just how thoughtful and thought provoking some of the people who have commented on some of my posts have been like it really makes me think like, I never thought of it like that. I should. And then I'll like give them a big, really, we'll ask a question in a way that has never occurred to me before.

And I just find myself, I can't help it. I just write like a 500 word answer in the comments on my own post. And it's been, and I do, I like that. I don't like refreshing and getting these like great posts types of comments. And then me like thumbs up. That doesn't feel like a good use of time, but when someone has a really thoughtful question or offers a, an angle for the other people in the thread to look at it in a different way, that's really, really fun. I find that to be a growth.

Sam Browne (34:34.502)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jonathan (34:49.594)
That's like educates me. So I really it's it can be much more fun than I certainly than I expected it to be.

Sam Browne (34:57.35)
Yeah, there's, there's a magic with LinkedIn. Well, it's kind of a double -edged sword, but, because everybody is tied to their name and their face and their reputation, everybody's kind of on their best behavior. so, you know, you're not getting trolls in the comments. You're not getting, I don't know, like it's just very, it's a walled garden. And that's what I mean with it being a blessing and a curse. but I think for the most part, it's almost the opposite of Twitter, right? Where it's kind of a free for all.

Jonathan (35:09.338)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (35:26.47)
with some, you know, pretty strong opinions in every direction. LinkedIn is a much friendlier kind of kinder place to be sharing your thoughts and opinions about things. I should say too, there is value in replying early on. If you, if you do have a situation where you've got a reasonable number of comments coming in, because it does indicate to LinkedIn and to human beings who are scrolling by that the post.

is one where there's activity. So, you know, if people see, okay, there's, there's, 40 comments and actually 20 of those comments, are you replying to other comments, which are counted as a comment, the signal, I guess, to the, to the human observer is stuff is happening on that one. I'll go and check it out. So, so there is some value in that regard, but for the most part, I think the main thing is to reward anybody who takes the time to share their thoughts by giving yours back. As you say, I do the same as you. I'll, I'll give them.

Jonathan (36:12.794)

Sam Browne (36:24.23)
a proper response, kind of commensurate with what they've shared with me.

Jonathan (36:28.57)
Cool. So what other than other, well, is there a difference there when you're coming on somebody else's posts, which you did allude to quickly there? Like if you, if you go on some other creators profile and they post something that's probably of interest to the kind of people who might be interested in you, like not a competitor necessarily, but someone who's attracted an audience that is also the kind of audience that you help.

Sam Browne (36:41.638)
Right, right.

Jonathan (36:58.17)
Where does that fit into your strategy? Is that just a nice thing to do and people hear of you for the first time? Or do you think that that does something algorithmically to boost your posts, not your comments, but your posts on your main profile?

Sam Browne (37:10.726)
Okay. This is, this is really important. It doesn't boost your posts, but this is what it does do. when I was starting out in the first, say six months, I would seek out people who were more or less in the same niche as me, but had huge audiences, five, 10, 20 times the size of my audience or more. And especially when they had just posted recently. So ideally within the last hour,

And, you know, I sort of had a list of people and I would look up their names, each day. and what I would do is read what they'd written and then write a response that was almost like a post itself. so I call it a sidecar comment. and I call it that because you're kind of writing with the, you know, they're, they're the engine and you've clipped your sidecar onto them and you're benefiting from their.

engine, if that makes sense. Yeah. So I would write these, these detailed responses where I'd kind of use the entire character count that LinkedIn would allow. I would format the comment. you know, I would only do this on desktop. It would be too annoying on mobile. and, and the reason I would do that is I could really leverage their huge audience, but show that audience that I had interesting ideas and opinions and experience in this, in the same topic.

Jonathan (38:08.986)
Right? Yeah, it totally does.

Sam Browne (38:37.094)
And so what that would do is ideally drive people from their comments section to my profile to see, okay, what's this guy all about? That's the, his comment was pretty interesting. I'm going to go and learn more and hopefully they would then follow from then. and so that is a great way early on to get in front of a lot of people and hopefully pick up some followers. yeah, it's, it's not something I really need or worry about anymore at all, but I think it was very helpful early on.

and I can tell you now as somebody who is a, you know, quote unquote, big creator, when I see people doing it, I don't mind. You might think that the creator would be resentful about it, but it doesn't really take away from them in any way. but it means you're helping somebody who's, who's coming up, you know, and how could I, I don't think, I think I'd be remiss if I was, saying you can't do that. Having, having benefited from it myself.

Jonathan (39:24.73)

Jonathan (39:30.422)
Yeah, and it's creating activity on your, it'd probably create even more activity on the thread for that post. So cool. Okay. So, while we're still on content, I'm looking at the clock. I know we haven't got a lot of time left. You are one of, you use a lot of what I would call carousels. I don't know if that's the right name anymore, but it's like, it's called like uploading a PDF when you do it, but it turns into a carousel.

Sam Browne (39:36.966)
Right. That's right. Yeah.

Sam Browne (39:54.278)
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, that's confusing. Yeah.

Jonathan (39:59.29)
So is that like what is there anything strategically people should be thinking about in terms of the kind of media they share like video carousels or PDFs or slideshows or an image, no image, just text, lots of emojis. You know, is it, is it on the one hand is kind of like do whatever is easy for you and fun and engaging and is, is frictionless for you or is it more like, no carousels are completely different animal than a video, which is a completely different animal than an image. How do you.

What do you think about those different types?

Sam Browne (40:32.422)
Yeah. Okay. So, LinkedIn calls a carousel, a document because the way we create them is, in your design program, you would output it as a PDF and then you upload that PDF. So they don't have a sort of upload carousel button or section. And very confusingly LinkedIn not so long ago had a product called carousels, which they ultimately just can't.

Jonathan (40:41.53)

Sam Browne (40:59.974)
continued, which was a separate thing. So that's really confusing. But anyway, when people talk about carousels, they're talking about uploading a PDF that you can then flick through on LinkedIn. Now the thing about them is it's kind of, it's kind of an advanced way to be sharing content. There's numerous obstacles to creating them, time being the big one. And then to a lesser extent, the expertise. So I've created templates and stuff to make it easy for people.

Jonathan (41:11.162)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (41:29.734)
But even then the kind of science behind a successful carousel is, you know, there is a learning curve to create carousels that are successful. So to answer your question, I would say early on, the best solution is a text post is okay, but I would probably go to the next level, which is a text posts with an image.

I would create an image. I suggest the dimensions 1350 by 1080. And, you know, I have a template set up in Canva, which is just, I can just swap out the, the text, but it has things like my profile picture, my title, you know, my website. And I just duplicate that for each new one page image. So the way people often use this is like a Twitter screenshot.

Jonathan (42:20.506)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (42:22.79)
or it'll be something mocked up to look like a Twitter screenshot. And the way you might use that is you might write your post, your text post, and then there might be a key idea in it that is kind of, the mic drop moment. I forget who calls it that it's not, it's not my term, but it's a good term for it. and that mic drop moment might be something like, one I did recently was, say no to almost everything. you know, so it's like.

Jonathan (42:38.49)

Jonathan (42:42.586)
It is.

Sam Browne (42:51.942)
it might be a provocative statement. It might be picking a side or broadcasting your particular value on something. So they say no to almost everything. Post was saying, you know, it can be tempting for entrepreneurs to keep on taking new opportunities as they come up. And the more successful you become, the more those opportunities show up. But the key to continued success is to turn down 90 % of opportunities and go all in on the other 10%.

And you, if you can find a way to sort of summarize that with a concise, punchy one -liner, that's what you would put on the image. And the reason why that is so much better than just a text post is there's two things. It will take up a much more real estate in the newsfeed. so it's simply getting more potential eyeballs on your, on your post.

and it also gives people an easy way to read something in, you know, five seconds and think, yeah, I agree with that and hit like. And so those people who do that may or may not read your considered opinion on, on the topic, but they've helped you. They've, they've, they've signaled to LinkedIn and to other people. That's an interesting post. This is an interesting idea. you know, there have been people who.

Jonathan (43:58.778)

Sam Browne (44:11.302)
realize the power of this and they basically just do nonstop kind of platitudes that they know will get likes. And that, that achieves incredible growth, but dubious audience building in terms of the people that you're, you're growing. but it is a great way to kind of, yeah, get that quick engagement. And then, you know, then your post is, is unique and interesting and has a, a, a profound insight in it, let's hope. but not everybody's going to read that.

Jonathan (44:17.402)

Jonathan (44:23.61)

Sam Browne (44:39.718)
So that's, that would be for beginners. I would say that is the ideal way to be posting. If you just post a text post and it's really good, somebody like Jason Fried, often just posts text posts and obviously somebody like that, you know, it's going to be good. so, so he's, he has a reputation where it doesn't matter how he shows up. He will have, you know, thousands of people reading and enjoying what he's written and trusting that it's going to be good when you're just starting out. You obviously don't have that. so to give yourself.

Jonathan (44:55.098)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (45:08.582)
some sort of advantage, I would recommend that one pager.

Jonathan (45:12.026)
Hmm. Cool. Yeah, that's, I noticed a big difference there. Well, what about the thing about links? I see some people, even, even gurus of LinkedIn, including links in their main post, which I seems like a real no -no to me, but I could be wrong.

Sam Browne (45:29.19)
Yeah. So this has gone, you know, there's been a lot of, difference of opinion around this, around exactly how the algorithm treats it. This has been my experience and other friends who are creators. you will lose some reach with a link inside the post. I, I don't know what the percentage would be, probably something like 20 to 30%. So a pretty substantial hit. however, if you are selling something like,

Jonathan (45:38.49)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (45:59.43)
a high ticket course or, even something sort of medium ticket, two or $300. it can be worth the trade off that, okay, we get fewer eyes on this, but I've made a bunch of sales today of this thing. but yeah, generally best practices don't put a link within the post. the way you can link out is if you pay for premium, which I think is about a thousand dollars a year.

Jonathan (46:14.202)
Right. Right.

Sam Browne (46:28.934)
LinkedIn allows you to put a link right under your name in every post. And that's been really useful for me. I drive people to my email newsletter. The way I do it is I write my post and then the bottom, it says something like, this is my newsletter. This is what benefit you get from it. And if you want, if that sounds good, scroll up the page and click visit my website. And I sort of put emojis around it to make it very visible on the page.

And that works really well. That'll drive anywhere between 30 and 50 signups a day of people that I now have their contact details forever, assuming I don't annoy them too much.

Jonathan (47:05.722)
I did totally copy that from you. I do the same exact thing copied from you. Yeah. Cool.

Sam Browne (47:08.902)
Yeah, that's okay. I probably copied it from somebody else at some point. So that's fine by me. another thing that I do, that works really well, I should say this to you would think, well, couldn't you just put a comment in the comments with all your links? Like, you know, Hey, if you like this, there's a link in the comments. This used to work really well. And then for whatever reason, LinkedIn decided they don't like that. And if you do, if you do that now, they, they literally hide the link.

Jonathan (47:31.834)
They figured it out.

Sam Browne (47:37.03)
They bury it in such a way that almost nobody sees it. So what I do now is I say things like, you know, let's say I share a guide on how to write really good hooks, which is the first two lines of a post. I'll say, look, I've created a downloadable version of this and it includes some templates and frameworks and stuff that you get for free. It's going to be free for the next 24 hours. I always kind of cap it time wise. If you want to just comment and then I'll put a word that they need to comment in the comments.

Jonathan (47:40.378)

Sam Browne (48:05.158)
And I'll often make it something a little bit fun. Like the last one I said, you know, you need to use hook. You need to do a pun about fishing in the comments. And, you know, so you end up with this kind of hilarious, ridiculous comment section. And it's also highly active where everybody's posting these stupid puns. I'm responding to them and sharing the link. And it actually, it worked better than I thought it would. It worked extremely well where it would probably double the amount of overall engagement that I would have expected for a post like that.

Jonathan (48:12.186)

Jonathan (48:22.17)
That's good.

Sam Browne (48:34.726)
so you can expect to see me doing a lot more of that sort of thing. That works. That works well when you have, you know, when you're giving away some sort of value. the surprising thing to me is you can post, you know, like here are the 12 steps to insert, outcome. And if you want to download a version of this, just let me know in the comments by saying this. So you've literally just given them the thing, but they want a version of it to keep. and it just works. Nobody ever says.

Jonathan (48:38.106)
Yeah, I love that idea.

Jonathan (48:44.282)
Mm -hmm.

Jonathan (49:00.122)
Mm -hmm.

Sam Browne (49:03.59)
didn't you just give it to me like I why do I need to download a different one? So there you go.

Jonathan (49:09.242)
So this, okay, that's a great idea. And I'm gonna test that theory because I've been doing the, you know, first comment with a link to related thing thing. And I'm curious, this is super tactical, but what if you have like 40 people, like where do you give them the link? Do you DM it to them or do you like put it right in the?

Sam Browne (49:26.822)
No, I reply in the comments, you know, I'll have it like a, like a saved response. and just copy and paste it over and over again. I mean, the last one I would have done, it sounds ridiculous, but probably 120 people, ask for it. So it's time consuming, right? but it's the sort of thing where, I mean, you can get it done quickly or you can get a VA to do that stuff, depending on your situation and, you know, bear in mind.

Jonathan (49:33.402)
Mm -hmm.

Got it.

Jonathan (49:51.93)

Sam Browne (49:56.038)
you now have that person's email address. You've now given them something for free of value. So, you know, you're, you're building, you're starting a real relationship with that person.

Jonathan (50:06.137)
That's yeah, that's a good one. I wouldn't have thought of that. There I've seen some, some AI things that if they, if they post the correct word in the comment, it will automatically reply to them. But I like here's better with the, you know, come up with a fishing pond. That's so good. That's great. Man. I know we could keep going for hours. I've still got a list of questions here that would be fun to go into, but I know I think we've, I think we've given the audience like, enough to get started, you know, some basics about.

Sam Browne (50:18.63)

Sam Browne (50:25.702)
Yeah, no problem.

Jonathan (50:33.274)
Frequency, I know that's a huge one. How to come up with content, that's a huge one. What kinds of content, that's a huge one. How to set up your profile in a way that's gonna help drive traffic to a mailing list and in a very straightforward, just ship it kind of way. You don't even need to have your web change your website. Just link right to a ConvertKit page to get started. So this is fantastic. Where can people go to find out more? I'm guessing you're LinkedIn or do you have other places that they should go first?

Sam Browne (51:03.814)
Yeah, so my LinkedIn would be the best place to start. So it's Sam Brown with an E and I put a little dinosaur on the end of my name to make it easy to find me. So if you just start typing that in the search, it should pop my name up. And then if you go to sambrown .co, so it's B -R -O -W -N -E .co, that will take you either to my Gumroad page, which has some sort of LinkedIn tools and downloads. I usually have something free and some paid stuff there or a

Depending on when you're listening to this it might take you to the actual website We're working on now those would be the two best places to find me

Jonathan (51:39.418)
Great, thanks so much, Sam.

Sam Browne (51:41.542)
Cool, thank you, Jonathan.

Jonathan (51:43.898)
Alright folks, definitely check out what Sam's doing because I've been following his advice and it's working. So you know, you know where to go to find out more. Alright folks, that's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark and I hope you join me again next time for Ditching Hourly. Bye.

Creators and Guests

Jonathan Stark
Jonathan Stark
The Ditching Hourly Guy • For freelancers, consultants, and other experts who want to make more and work less w/o hiring
Sam Browne - Growing Your Audience on LinkedIn
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