Florian Decludt is one of the fastest-growing voices on LinkedIn. He talks to The Industry Leaders about his journey from doing a job he hated, to becoming one of the most influential new voices online and being hired to do a job he loves as a result!
Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got to where you are right now?
I’m currently a growth marketer at a company called Red Dot Growth. It’s a business validation service for companies. Let’s say you’re a company with an idea for a business, but you’re not 100% sure whether there’s a market for it, or how to get where you need to go. What we do is run a bunch of tests for you. We find you the right audience for what you want to sell. That way, when you start really spending money on advertising and marketing campaigns, you can be sure you’re spending it in the right places, rather than just carpet-bombing Facebook or TikTok and praying hard that it will work.
Sounds like you guys actually help founders find product-market fit for their companies?!
Exactly. The way I got into growth marketing was when I started posting regularly on LinkedIn, back in January 2021. I had a job I didn’t like, and the economy was rough due to Covid-19. Plus, I’d just gotten a pay cut, so I was working a lot of hours for a lot less money.
I wasn’t happy, so I started spending more time on LinkedIn. There, I began seeing Justin Welsh’s content about how to build a LinkedIn audience and about how to put yourself out there as a solopreneur. I thought it looked pretty straightforward and free! So in January 2021, I started posting once a day, every day.
Eventually, I found my own content market fit. I found my audience and the kind of content I needed for them. I started taking off and after three months of posting on LinkedIn, I was able to quit my job. I had built a big-enough audience to be able to live off it. That’s when I was noticed by my current boss who was launching Red Dot Growth. They were looking for a LinkedIn expert to work with our clients and help them grow their LinkedIn presence. It’s kind of crazy that such a little change – putting myself out there on LinkedIn, made all this happen. You can be whoever you want on LinkedIn if you think about it.
What made you choose LinkedIn?
I didn’t want to do video. I don’t have the time or energy for it, plus I don’t like being on camera that much. So I was looking for a written platform. LinkedIn is one of the few platforms that is still mostly text-based. And they aren’t really long posts - it’s still snackable content. I felt that was the best format for what I wanted to do and what I was comfortable with.
In the beginning, you aren’t going to have much traction. You won’t be getting that dopamine hit from 10,000 views a day or having posts go viral.
One of the key things, when you start out, is picking a format you actually enjoy. Because in the beginning, you aren’t going to have much traction. You won’t be getting that dopamine hit from 10,000 views a day or having posts go viral. Or even lots of people messaging you to say your content is awesome. So you have to be doing something you enjoy. Because if you’re doing something you hate, and you aren’t being rewarded for it, then you’re not going to get that feedback loop you need to keep you going; meaning you’ll stop after a couple of weeks or even days - long before you’d actually get any results.
There is no magic wand, right?
Definitely not. There isn’t a single path to growth on LinkedIn. It all depends on who you are and what your audience is.
Just because one guy tells you to do something, it doesn't mean you should do it. Try it for a week or two. If it works, and you feel good about it, then double down on it. If you feel too uncomfortable or you think it doesn’t work for your audience, you can always pivot and follow another person’s advice.
There’s no such thing as universal advice.
We actually have a question from a member of our community, Michelle Ensuque:
“I’ve heard it said that momentum builds and rises exponentially. At what point did Florian notice this happening? And does he believe in watching analytics?”
For me, when I started accelerating, I began pivoting my strategy.
The most common strategy on LinkedIn is the funnel strategy. You have top of funnel content, that is, talking about your personal life, entrepreneurship, and big topics that get a lot of attention and cast a wide net. Then you’ve got middle of funnel content: more about the niche, and demonstrating your expertise. Lastly, you have bottom of funnel content, super specific content aimed at converting people to your business.
I followed this strategy, and it was going well. I was gaining 1000 followers a month, give or take. Then I thought to myself, what if I just teach everything I know about growth. I would just tell people exactly how they should do things, on a step by step basis. I was pretty much giving away everything. The first month I did that, I gained 2500 followers.
But in terms of follower counts, something really important is asking yourself: why do people follow me? People follow you because they like your posts. They feel like you are going to keep posting more valuable content which they don’t want to miss. If every single day people see you on their feed giving extremely actionable advice about something they need, they're going to think you’re worth following. That’s why I think my follower count really went up.
You mentioned getting your current job, and that’s fantastic. But are you making money from your following? Are you planning on creating a course, or something else?
I have created a couple of courses on LinkedIn growth but I’ve taken them down because I update them all the time. I no longer use things I taught six months ago, and I don’t think it’s ethical to sell stuff I’m not applying myself.
Right now, the main benefit I’m getting from my follower count is leads for the company I work for. Two or three people contact me every week asking to hop on calls or find out more about what I do and how our company can help solve one of their problems.
But even if people don’t contact me, they see the stuff I post about Red Dot every single day. It’s more of an awareness thing. So, even when I’m not getting direct leads, I’m still on people’s minds. The moment they need a growth service, they will contact me because I’ll be the first person they’ll think about. That’s the main value of all this.
And what advice would you give to people who are doing the right things, have good content, yet don’t seem to be growing? What else should they be doing?
There’s a couple of things. Firstly, in some cases, LinkedIn is just not the right platform for certain audiences. But I do think that solopreneurs often make too much content about themselves. They talk about their journey without considering their audience.
If you’re thinking about quitting LinkedIn because it’s not working for you, the number one thing I’d say is figure out your target audience. Think about the demographic - are they women or men? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? Build an avatar of who your customer is. Once you have that, figure out their problems. Humans want their problems solved, and are constantly looking for solutions to their problems.
What you want to be doing is solving their problems through your content. If you do that, often, and if you become really specific about who you’re targeting, people are going to notice you at one point or another. It won’t happen overnight. I think it takes between three to six months before you start really seeing any value. And be strategic about who you network with, then build up relationships. It’s a long term process. The key is making content about your audience, not yourself.
Check out Florian's video interview with us on YouTube, where he gives insider tips on how to grow your following and what to do if you're thinking of quitting the platform.
Follow Florian on LinkedIn to read his content on all things digital marketing (we love his template for creating a perfect landing page!).