The 2023 LinkedIn Growth Playbook
By Tommy Clark
Social Files Declassified; Volume 3
Lara Acosta has grown from 0 → 57K+ followers on LinkedIn in just under 1 year.
And even more impressive — she’s built a business that has replaced her previous full-time income off the back of that follower growth.
She knows her shit when it comes to growing on LinkedIn. And I sat down with her to see if she would reveal her playbook to me for you to steal.
You’re in luck.
It’s all right here.
Let’s open the file 🗃
If you’re in a rush, or just too lazy to read (it’s fine I won’t judge), here is the TLDR
Note 1: LinkedIn is a must for B2B companies in 2023. Key decision makers are on the platform. The algorithm is favorable (Lara says it gives her IG 2012 vibes). For a lot of companies, the best approach early-on is to build up the founder (or a team member’s) personal brand on LinkedIn.
Note 2: Personal branding on LinkedIn is not oversharing. Be intentional about what you are sharing, and how it translates to the business outcome you want. Treat your content strategy like a system — not a diary.
Note 3: Optimize for readability on LinkedIn. Large blocks of text scare readers. This is why you see so many LinkedIn creators use line breaks. Don’t go overboard here, but be mindful of avoiding large, intimidating blocks of text.
Note 4: Carousels are driving a shit ton of growth on LinkedIn right now. You should consider leaning into the format heavily. Prioritize the cover of the carousel (the 1st slide), but don’t go overboard on design. Keep it simple. Make the text the focus**.**
Ok. Here’s the full thing 👇
Tommy: Thanks for taking the time to chat today! First question I’ve got is: why LinkedIn? If you’re talking to CEO or CMO that wants to grow their presence on organic social, why does someone in their company need to be active on LinkedIn?
Lara: I describe LinkedIn as giving ‘Instagram 2012’ vibes.
And what I mean by that is the algorithm is insane for organic growth. There is no ads, there are no shadow banning issues.
The algorithm is so pure, it’s so good, and it’s incredibly effective. You still see people that you follow. It shows you new people that you might want to follow. It tailors your experience to who you follow as well. Sort of like instagram.
LinkedIn is great for businesses in particular because it’s highly educational, highly valuable, highly entertaining in a way that you actually learn something. Buyers are also in the right state of mind to learn about your product or service while scrolling the platform (compare that to TikTok where everyone is just scrolling for mindless entertainment)
Lastly, you also have instant access to the best minds in your industry. Those are the main reasons for me.
Tommy: Makes sense. Now, in terms of your own journey on LinkedIn, when did you start, how did it go? What was it like in the beginning?
Lara: I’m about to come into my first year on LinkedIn in May.
Funny enough, my first post on the platform actually went viral.
So seeing that kind of engagement right off the bat just gave me that push to stay on the platform consistently, because I was like, “wow, I’ve never had this on Instagram, I’ve never had this on Twitter, I’ve never had this on TikTok, I’ve never had this on YouTube.”
So I saw the insane opportunity, and was going to take it. I feel like it would have been really stupid for me not to.
When I started, I didn’t even know what I was going to talk about. I knew I was going to talk about the marketing industry, but I didn’t know how.
LinkedIn is also quite different from Twitter, Facebook, even Instagram when it comes to copywriting.
There’s very small nuances when it comes to how people like reading their stuff and how you communicate that. So I’m still learning all that.
But I think the journey throughout has just been show up, learn, show up, learn, apply, shop, learn, apply, test, analyze, show up, learn, apply again, every day, every single day, the same routine, every single day for the last year.
And you constantly improve yourself meeting people. They tell you their experience. You take that put into your content, test it, analyze it, etc.
Showing up daily and continuing to test is how I’ve grown my audience. That’s how I’ve literally built an entire business on LinkedIn from that.
Tommy: Love it. You spoke a little bit about differences between LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. What are some LinkedIn specific nuances that someone just starting posting on a platform might not realize that they should know about?
Lara: Yeah, so the main one that I would always point to is people on LinkedIn like to read on single lines.
So usually I don’t recommend writing in big paragraphs (which is completely the opposite to what we’re taught during education, if anyone went to college).
LinkedIn content is best when sounds more like a conversation.
And it’s a lot easier to skim when you’re writing in single lines. So instead of like having if you have a chunk like a paragraph, you break it down into sentences and make bullet points.
It’s just easier to read, so you’ll get more engagement.
Tommy: Now, most people building on LinkedIn have the goal of turning their following into paying customers. Are there any tips that you have or strategies that have worked well for converting that following that you’ve built into customers for your business?
Lara: Yeah, for me, I take the very strictly ‘soft selling’ style for now.
My main goal wasn’t ‘getting leads,’ it was just growing my audience. Early on, this is what I’d recommend to most creators and businesses. Add value for months and months, before you start aggressively selling. You need to build trust first.
The great part about soft selling is that leads still converted. When you add enough value without expecting anything in return, your community will learn to trust you and want more from you. You’ll get inbound leads without having to be super pushy.
So I just soft sold a lot of things. So I just have my office available on my profile. So if people like my content, they’ll go onto my profile, they’ll see my offers, they’ll see my products, my services, or where to contact me for more inquiries. And that’s that.
That’s how I managed to get leads and make a full-time income from LinkedIn just based on soft selling. I’ve never done any outbound on LinkedIn, none of that.
Just post high quality content that people enjoy reading and value. It takes time, but it works.
Tommy: Love it. I’m very much the same way. I don’t think I’ve sent Cold DM pitching my services. It’s worked up pretty well so far, and it’s so much less stressful because you’re attracting clients that want to work with you.
Now, let’s talk mistakes. What are the top three mistakes you see people make on LinkedIn?
Lara: The first one is over sharing on LinkedIn.
Personal branding is not oversharing. You build your personal brand from your experience, but you don’t have to overshare. It’s not a diary.
People can get that mixed up. Even I did. One day I posted a whole piece of my mental illness and I thought it was the best thing ever and I was very emotionally connected to it and I even cried when I’m writing it and I posted it.
Stuff like this tends to get a lot of engagement — but doesn’t usually lead to the business outcomes you’re on social media for. I guess it just depends on why you’re on social.
Second mistake I would say, is people chasing viral trends to try and hack quick growth.
They’ll see something that’s working for someone, so they’ll try it. But you have to analyze. Does this even suit you? Like, as a person? Maybe not.
A lot of people try to post selfies with a piece of LinkedIn content, for example, because they see someone else posting a selfie with a post and it works for them.
But sometimes it’s unnecessary. It’s not giving you anything. It will increase the reach, for sure, because it’s an image, but it’s not going to do anything because it’s irrelevant to the context of the text.
And the third mistake is thinking that you need to be boring or super professional on LinkedIn.
Absolutely not. If you’re giving value, you give it your own way, in your own unique voice.
The reason why people go to creators on LinkedIn rather than just simply Googling something, is because they like the specific way they explain something — not because of the knowledge.
Everybody can acquire knowledge in whatever way they want. They choose you because they appreciate your unique takes and way of delivering that knowledge. Lean into that.
Tommy: Yeah, love that. And then last question to wrap it up, what do you see working well right now on LinkedIn? Any particular formats that are crushing?
Lara: I think carousels are the best way to grow on LinkedIn right now.
Obviously, the carousel has to be high quality. You can’t just post a silly carousel and et cetera. It’s got to be high quality.
You’d be surprised how many people are visual learners. So definitely carousels.
Another thing I’ve seen is audio events from myself. I’ve been able to grow my audience not by followers, but just simply by connecting with them.
So they feel a lot closer to me now and my engagement is up because they’ve seen me speak, so they really like that. So that as well. So, carousels audio events, that’s basically it.
With carousels, there are some details you want to keep in mind.
Obviously, the main pillar of performance here is the high value content.
Of the more nuanced ones, I would say first one the cover. The cover should function like a hook.
So make the cover simple, easy to digest, have a good hook, use very little graphic design.
Sometimes people go all in, hire graphic designers, and it’s incredibly overwhelming. People want simple, quick things, so keep it simple.
Half solid color, maybe two different colors, but that’s about it.
Just make sure that the text is the first thing your eyes gravitate towards when you’re creating carousel. Otherwise you’ve lost the point of that.
Secondly, try and keep carousels between ~8-15 slides long. Otherwise it’s just too long and gets overwhelming for the reader.
And lastly, something that really works for me is adding images within the carousel.
So if you’re breaking something down, make sure you’re breaking it down with them.
So almost like a YouTube tutorial where someone takes you through their journey, how they’re doing. It is the same with a carousel. Just like picture by picture.
So if you’re breaking down how to build a content pillar strategy, how you’re doing exactly? Step by step screenshot every step. Put it in there. It just makes it a lot more comprehensive.
Tommy: Dope. This was a banger. Thanks again for your time!
If you found this interview helpful, you’ll Lara’s LinkedIn content. Follow her for more LinkedIn growth advice right here.