529: Marketing on LinkedIn: Break These 5 Rules for Viral Success w/ Michaela Alexis

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we hear from Michaela Alexis, President of Grade A Digital.

Are you struggling to come up with original content weekend and week out? Start a podcast, interview your ideal clients, let them talk about what they care about most, and never run out of content ideas again. Learn more at sweetfish MEDIACOM. You're listening to the BAB growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping betb executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with Mikaela Alexis. She is the president of great a digital and and she is pretty linkedin famous as well. Michaela, how are you doing today? I'm doing fantastic. Thank you for having me on so I have. I've been following you from afar for a while now, Micaela, and and really excited to chat with you today. We're going to be talking about five business rules that you have broken on Linkedin specifically that led to viral marketing success. But before we get into that, I'd love for you to give a little bit of background on yourself and great a digital and what you and your team are up to over there. Yeah, so I run a social media management agency out of to Wad, Canada, and what we do is we work with professionals and businesses and we help get their marketing, their social media marketing, up to speed, for one. But a big portion of what we do is educating people, because I find that a lot of professionals they really need something beyond just a strategy, and a big portion of what we do is helping professionals kind of fix up their personal brand, understand what great social media marketing actually looks like and empower them to also take the reins of their own business. So everything that we do is really more of a partnership. There's no here or x amount of post...

...per month and here's your report. We really want to empower people to understand how fun and exciting social media actually can be. I Love It, and so MCA and I. We were just talking offline about your story and how your personal brand has has really shaped and directed your career. Could you you said that your first viral post was, I think, March of two thousand and sixteen. Could you kind of take us back to that most and tell us how that post is really transformed the way that you think about social yeah, definitely, you know, and what's funny is that it's kind of embarrassing to say it, but when I started building my personal brand I didn't even know what a personal brand was. I just knew that, you know, as a job speaker, there had to be a better way of doing things and being a marketer for such a long time, we kind of get into this mobile we're creating all this great content for the companies that we work for, but when it comes for ourselves we don't have that same mentality. So I thought in my head, you know, I'm creating all of this content for businesses that I'm working for to kind of warm up the audience and draw people, and why am I not doing that as a person, as a professional? And that's where I got the idea to start writing every day on Linkedin, really working on how to communicate effectively as a human not necessarily as a corporate brand. And my first article went viral in March of two thousand and sixteen. It was called how I landed my dream job in two weeks on Linkedin, and that was just incredible. And that was like a lightbulb moment for me because, you know, as a marketer, the first thing that you want to do is figure out exactly how that happened right, because you don't want to just be some sort of accident that you can't replicate. And what I notice is that it was just it was relatable. That was pretty much it. I it was relatable. I had the right intentions, you know, I went into it trying to help other job speakers look for careers as well. So there was no cell as as part of the whole...

...article, and that's when I just started to focus a little bit more about is sharing my experiences growing in my career, what failure looked like, just talking about things that people weren't necessarily talking about in the business world. Yeah, and you said that was was that a like a published post, or was that a status update? What was the format of that post that went viral? So I have a little bit of an interesting formula. I don't have this as part of my notes, but I actually do both, because I think that people learn information in different ways, so I like to give people options. So with that article in particular, the article went viral, but the update also went viral. So normally people will publish an article on Linkedin then leave it at that. Well, I like to take that article and create kind of like a summary of what's included in the article and why people should care about it, and that includes some sort of photo that kind of tells more of a story and gives it more context. So that was the first time that I did that and realize pretty quickly that that was definitely the way to go, because then you're kind of doubling up and you're giving people multiple options to learn your story. I love it. I love it, and so I want to dive into these five business rules that you've broken on Linkedin, Michaela. This first one that we talked about offline is this idea of embracing rejection and failure. Can you talk to us about this one? Sure, yeah, so a really weird thing happened when I started building an audience. So I love getting rejected. Now let me explay. So for some people to thought of criticism is horrendous, like I know there's some people that don't even want to start writing online or cringe or cringing when I just even mentioned personal branding. And Trust me, when I started putting myself out there. It was tough. I took it personally, but over time my perspective is definitely changed dramatically. So when I put out an update or an article, I love getting negative comments. There's a couple reasons why. Number One, I had this amazing opportunity to show off my values. I've...

...gotten so many Kudos just for handling them negativity that it's really a shame that there's no sort of award for fighting internectuals, because I would be top of that list. I already have my winning speech prepared. But no. Seriously, I met so many new people that have connected with me just because of how I've handled a negative situation and wanted to learn how they could also do as well, because that you know, there are internectuals, but there's also real life roles as well, so that's a great skill to just learn. So you actually you you go head on and engage. You love that. Okay, yeah, so is there ever a troll that you won't engage with? Definitely, I always think of my community in mind and you know, if someone saying something that's just incredibly offensive, and not just towards me but towards other people that could be in the thread. I kind of like try to put my followers first, but if I do that see that there's an opportunity to engage in a conversation, then I think that's really important. It's also important to show that negative feedback is not going to kill you. That's okay, but you what will kill you you is regret and not putting anything out there to begin with. Yeah, I've recently started getting trolls, as I've been doing that for the last two or three months now, and and so I've taken a similar approach to you. There some comments that I just don't feel like are worthy of engaging with and I'll either delete the comment or just kind of leave it alone. But for the most part I feel like there's always a way to engage it and start a conversation out of it. So I love that idea of you're almost looking forward to it. It's so weird. We're most but there's some other reasons to why they're really helpful, just from a business perspective. So number two is that I want to reach a help as many people as possible and comments, whether they're positive or negative, help me to do that. So when somebody use a negative comment, my update or my article is going to reach that person's entire network. So...

I'm grateful for the opportunity to reach the entire new audience that I wouldn't have otherwise. I love it. I love okay, so that's kind of the the embracing rejection and fail your section of this. Now I want to talk about this common, I guess, linkedin etiquette to not bring your personal problems to work. You have brought your personal problems to work and it's come out to a lot of success or it's resulted in a lot of success on the platform. Talk to us about that. Yeah, so when I first started writing on Linkedin, I went to say rout, which I thought it was how you're supposed to write. You you write about what you do for a living, and people do that rather than talking about who they actually are. So I had to really shift my perspective from the writer to the reader and think about what I actually want to read about boat. You know, we're so used seeing the highlight reels of other people's lives that we assume that that's what we're supposed to showcase as well, and what happens when we do. We end up in this game of who has the greatest life and it becomes exhaust I think that's for a lot of people become turned off of social media in general, because we get this almost like a comparison fatigue. At least I know I did. So, instead of trying to compete with my audience, I chose to try and relate to them. So I started talking about the real stuff I was going through, the struggles and maintaining confidence through the job search, the stigma of unemployment, the shame of being laid off. And despite the common notion and business that personal roblems have no place in the business world, the response for my articles was saying otherwise. So since then I've continued sharing my experiences and even as a boss now I'm openly sharing my challenges and actively working to do romanticize management. I want people to feel like I'm just like them and you know, if I can do what I'm doing right now, they can as well. Has that come to any has there been any negative or any downside to that approach that you found up to this point? Probably with the people that I don't necessarily want to be connected to...

...and that's what it really comes down to. It. You know, what types of people are you trying to reach and what kind of relationships do you want to have with those people? I'm not looking for, you know, these surface level kind of let me talk about my opinion and you talk about your opinion. I really want to talk about things that I think are important. Got It. And how do you find yourself coming up with what problem do I want to talk about? Is it? Is it just kind of doing a bit of soul searching on a regular basis and saying, Hey, what like? What we're really difficult moments and of along my journey, be at professional or personal, and then and then you just bubble those those up to the surface. I think in the beginning it took a little bit more searching because I was trying to figure out what people were interested in hearing about and what experiences they want to know more about. But as time has gone on, you know, my audiences told me what they want me to talk about. I get messages, hundreds of messages on a daily basis, of people telling me exactly what they want me to write about or what they're dealing with, and so I just take that information and it really allows me to give back value because I'm talking about how I've overcome those same challenges. I love it this. This third business rule that you have broken on Linkedin is alienating people on purpose. What? Talk to me about what this one looks like for you. So what? I started building an audience on Linkedin. A friend, flash mentor of mine, told me he's like, you're trying too hard to be everything to everybody, to tail, and eventually you're going to get to a point where you're gonna have to take a stand, you're gonna have to share your values and you're going to have to zoom in on your niche and you're going to alienate people in the process. And I'm not going to lie, I thought that he was crazy at the time. I would. I really just wanted to be like that. I thought that that was possible, but I was attracting the wrong demographic in the process. I was attracting, you know, older men that had zero interest and what I had to say. They just wanted to get their MAC on. I was attracting the hate followers of the people that were following me just to get upset...

...about anything that I posted, and I was attracting, you know, the open networkers, the people that just cared about increasing their networks and they were really interested in actually building relationships or learning. So slowly had to get to weed them out. So the way that I did that was sharing articles about, you know, things like being a woman in the workplace and being an awkward Biracial Kid, and I remove people that were tagging me just increase her visibility. And then about a week ago, I created this video post where I encourage people to unfollow me and I basically said that if they didn't stand for community and self improvement and kindness, etc. That I think it's time that we start following other people. And I was PAT sureified when I posted it and I watched, you know, like my heart was pounding as, like the I saw the follower number kind of decreased within the hour, but I knew that it was really time to align myself with the people that truly wanted to be there and we're going to support me as I grew this business and I grew my career. And I think yet video actually ended up surpassing a hundred fiftyzero views the last time I checked it, so it's doing okay, it's a good call. Overall. Did you notice a dip in follower numbers or did you end up kind of that the did you gain what you lost? So I dipped about fifty followers and gained about three thousand. So so yeah, and what's a great thing is that, you know, you have people that are reaffirming that they want to be there, that their values are aligned with with yours, and that was really nice to see. And then gaining the new people that wanted to be there as well and we're going to read my things and interact with my content. Yeah, I love it. I love it. So this fourth business rule, Michaela, is ignoring the hierarchy. What does that look like? Yeah, so when I graduated, I was basically told what I needed to do so to succeed was, you know, work hard, keep my head down, pay my dues and...

...respect management. And I did that and it didn't get me very far. And here's one of the reasons why. I did not know how to effectively communicate the value of the skills and knowledge that I had, and that's really key. That is a missing piece for a lot of people out there. So linkedin was an incredible opportunity for me to basically skip the line and show off what I knew. I started sharing articles daily showing my writing skills and basically showed off the fact that I knew how to effectively market myself. So this is a mega opportunity for, you know, evening the playing field for professionals and it's really allowed me to reach people at the top within a click of a button. For it's been really cool for me is watching, you know, from a very beginning when I was looking for work, to me putting out all these articles, establishing a Mug museum where I ask people to send in mugs and I would share their company mugs online. Some of those mugs are the the early followers are now great a digital clients, which is more of a happy accident, but it's just incredible to see that that was what actually ended up happening over time. And so so your advice to someone just starting out their career would be to really hone in on whatever skill set it is that you're bringing in to the market figuring out how to communicate that beyond just hoping that someone sees it. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I'm definitely not the best writer out there. There are lots of things that I'm not great at, but I knew that I had, you know, a bubbly personality and I have a sense of humor and obviously I'm not very shy of being in friend the camera. So I took all those things and I really zoomed in on those skills. And in terms of like businesses, what you can do with this is you can start sharing your message directly with whoever you're trying to reach within an organization, just by tailoring the message for them. There's no gatekeeper and social media it's very different than, you know,...

...the whole cold calling approach where you're calling and hoping to talk to somebody. You have the opportunity to reach the decisionmaker right off the bat just by creating customized content that they really can't ignore because it's so good. I love it. I love it this. This last business rule that we're going to be talking about, Michaela, is that you you chose the purple stationary. We did not talk about this offline, so I have no clue it's about to come here, but I'm really excited for you to explain what what that means. Okay, cool, all right, so when I was in elementary school, I remember that the kids that use the colored paper for book reports were docked points because it wasn't the paper that there were supposed to use and you got to have a boring way paper, right. And I want to be a good student, so I did everything that teachers told me to and I always said away from doing anything that was really outside the box. School, and I know I'm probably not the only one, really shook the creativity out of me, but the reality is in the real world, if you keep doing the things that you're supposed to do, you're not going to get very far, and I definitely probably wouldn't be talking to you today, James. You really have to learn how to sprinkle your personality and whatever you do if you want to stand out. Yeah, so whatever I post on Linkedin, it has my imprint on it. So I started using coffee mugs and photos and instantly became the girl that's obsessive coffee. You know, I started using the signature love and coffee and have followers that actually will use that signature when they send me messages. I never use a normal resume. When I was looking for work, I turned it into a Willie Wonka style chocolate bar. I shared selfies on Linkedin which were considered like a cardinal sin on the platform not long ago and I got a lot of flap for doing it, but I wanted people to see my goofie face and be able to connect with me on a different level and it felt right and I even chose a profile photos that every linkedin expert out there would they're absolutely terrible, like my curt...

...photo, you know, half my face is covered by a coffee mug. But again, it just feels right. And you know, is my profile perfect by linkedin standards? Absolutely not, but it's me and my articles are not the best that you'd find out there, but they feel like me as well. Yeah, I recently saw someone do kind of a linkedin profile critique, I guess, on your profile and and noticed a couple days after they did it that you had implemented some changes and I thought to myself, man, that's for someone like yourself who's clearly killing it on Linkedin. You're doing a lot of things right. For you to have the humility to take other people's feedback and actually implemented into and making changes a kind of just I think, shows a lot of what you value and that you're always trying to learn and get better and taking feedback from people, while also kind of knowing, at being selfaware enough to know you know what you're doing right, that you need to keep doing right, and so I think there's a really cool balance that you're modeling for folks out there that are following you. If there was one piece of advice, Michaela, that you would give to somebody who maybe they're they're hesitant to start sharing more on Linkedin, they haven't kind of taken that step to putting out content on a regular basis. I know you and I are doing it daily. A lot of people, many aren't even doing it weekly. What's that? What would be your encouragement to that person who's listening to this? Yeah, well, I think that there's so many businesses and people that are stuck on the tactics of gaining trash and with their marketing, but the missing pieces are usually not about the how, it's about the WHO and the why. I know for myself I really had to take a lot of time and figure out what are my unique skills? What can I bring to the table that nobody else can bring? What can people not applicate? That's completely, a hundred percent, Mikhaela, and really hone in on that and exploit as much as possible. So once you create that framework,...

...it's shockingly easy how creative you can actually be when you have that solid foundation that. I love it. Michael, this has been fantastic. If somebody it's listening to this once to stay connected with you or they want to learn more about great a digital, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? Well, I'm usually refreshing my Linkedin v every fan and all honesty, so that would probably be the best place to start. I'm also on instagram. I do live instagram videos every week where I talk about the lessons that I'm learning as I'm growing great a digital and I'm also on facebook and all the other places online. I love it. And then is it? Is it great a digitalcom? Great a digitalcom you got it. Wonderful. The KAYLA. Thank you so much for your time. This has been fantastic. I really appreciate it. It's been a pleasure. James, if you're a BB marketer, we want to feature you on sites like the Huffington Post, social media examiner and chief marketer. Every week we send out a question related to be to be marketing. We use the responses to those questions to feel the content we write for really popular websites. So head over to sweet fish Mediacom slash questions and sign up today. Thank you so much for listening. Until next done.

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