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February 13, 2023
Most of us are sleeping on LinkedIn.
It seems ironic, knowing that the platform has over 875 million users, including employees and employers, and the stats all shout that it’s one of the best platforms out there for B2B marketing and outreach.
But unfortunately, most businesses don’t have enough followers to create significant changes. You’re probably not the only one missing out on LinkedIn’s potential for business, but you are one of many small waves in an ocean of treacherous waters.
In this article, we interview someone who figured out how to hack LinkedIn growth and the lessons you can learn to reach millions of LinkedIn followers and make the marketing impact your company desires.
Austin Belcak is the founder of Cultivated Culture, where he coaches people to land jobs without applying online or having “traditional” working experience. He has 1.3 million followers on LinkedIn to date, and his posts have been viewed millions of times by his target audience.
Thankfully, his success is well-documented and freely shared for us to analyze—including an interview with Creative Elements diving deep into Belcak’s impressive LinkedIn growth.
Below, we unpack Belcak’s content creation strategy, thoughts on working on LinkedIn, and how being data-driven allowed him to become one of the biggest LinkedIn accounts today.
Austin Belcak is so successful because his content perfectly fits LinkedIn. And surprisingly, he didn’t start as an expert marketer. He started as a young guy trying to land a job.
His initial approach was fairly traditional: he took courses in SEO, content marketing, and social media, tweaked his resume, wrote a cover letter, and showed up on job boards. His efforts were worthless. He applied to hundreds of job postings, and no one responded.
His colleagues told him he was great at listening to advice, but that he was listening to bad sources. He realized that all the time he’d spent going to career counseling was hip on the outside but that no one knew his life’s journey better than himself.
Belcak preaches now just to get out and find the people you need to succeed: next-level employer or big name. It’s precisely what he did to light his college years on fire.
He says it’s as hard as listing your criteria for your dream job and hopping on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s more than just a digital resumé. It’s a career syllabus. And the path’s yours: find someone with a job at one of the companies that match your criteria and analyze common threads like career history, other experiences, and education. Note effective strategies and leverage your strengths by doing the courses or searching for a job in the historical category.
Belcak noticed that the people he wanted to be like on LinkedIn had side hustles and published online content. So he figured he needed to start there. He built his unique job search system based on testimonies and, from there, landed interviews with Google, Microsoft, and Twitter.
Belcak learned two important takeaways: if you really want to land a great job, you need a referral and a creative way to illustrate their value to you.
This was certainly beyond a resumé and cover letter.
Key Insight: The same networking concepts that Belcak learned in Principles and Strategies class were exactly the tools he needed to showcase his value as an entrepreneur and a creator. Think of why people are on LinkedIn, and use that information to craft your content and marketing strategy. The more you understand your audience, the more you can drive your objective.
Belcak didn’t stop pursuing his dream of becoming an entrepreneur, and he consistently looked for something new to learn.
He created an online presence using WordPress—that taught him how to build a website. He started an apparel company, worked with vendors, designers, and freelancers, and learned how the retail industry works. He built an app with a developer and learned how the online world works.
He heaped up failed project after failed project. But he didn’t waste time because he considered every failure to be a self-taught class.
Eventually, something clicked, and he landed a job at Microsoft. When people asked how he managed such a great position without following traditional promotion processes, he said he’d just given up on the path because it wasn’t working for him. He came up with a new way.
He wrote an 8,000-word article to share his process with more people. He uploaded it on his low-budget WordPress site and contacted influential publications to spread the word. The article gained 60,000 views in one month, and the success sent him straight to LinkedIn.
It all started when a colleague recommended he share some long-form SEO content he’d created. Belcak worried about what people would think of his posts.
He struggled to generate frequent, fresh content, so he sat down, wrote around 40 posts, and saved them on his computer for rainy days. He added one to two more posts to his backlog every week to keep it steady. Just as soon as his post momentum picked up, so did his following.
Belcak created a semi-weekly posting habit, then optimized and refined the volume and the quality. He says that if you try things backward—refining the quality and then increasing volume—then you’ll never get started. You’ll get stuck looking for the perfect post.
The minimum viable posting cadence to meaningful traction worked out to three posts per week, concluded Belcak. From there, focus on quality.
Key Insight: Find the posting frequency and cadence that allows you to churn out quality content. People won’t care if you post a ton of subpar content, even if you’re constantly popping up in their feeds. What they do care about, though, is that you provide them with unique insights and valuable, relevant content.
There’s a level of luck you need to become big on LinkedIn. But you need to show up in front of the professional network to be lucky—and that’s where data comes into play.
Belcak says that one of the biggest things that separates him from other creators is exactly the lesson he learned in college—each person’s unique strategy is the perfect strategy for them and not popular strategies that belong to others.
Belcak analyzes his top-performing posts based on:
He aggregates the data, breaks it down for evaluation, and applies his takeaways in his next post. That way, he constantly improves the content he produces and the outcome he receives from his audience. It’s all about paying attention, and nothing about crossing your fingers and tossing anything out, he says.
Following the ever-evolving web landscape is essential to reaching one’s audience because the audience is in the same flow.
His self-evaluation plan brought him nearly 1 million followers.
Key Insight: Your own data shows you why your posts perform the way they do and inform you of your next action steps. It’s both historical and forward-thinking. Without using data to drive your content, you’re basically shooting at a speeding target.
Belcak says, “These trends come, you can ride the wave, and then the wave kind of, you know, hits the shore and dies off. And then we got to find something new.”
Austin Belcak figured out how to attract, retain, and increase his following on LinkedIn. After all, he says that “content creation is basically networking at scale,” where you put out content that reflects your values and you can see your real audience connect with you.
“It’s all about connecting with people that you’re really genuinely excited to chat with. And that’s where the magic happens,” he says. “And I don’t think that having a CRM makes your relationships any less authentic. I think what makes your relationships authentic or not is how you approach them—and he firmly believes it.
We couldn’t agree with Austin Belcak more.
Reach out to our team of sales experts to take your online marketing to the next level.
At ScaleUpSales, we fuel your team with qualified sales opportunities and solutions for every stage of the sales process. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t on LinkedIn, and can help you carve a new path towards success–just like Austin Belcak did.