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300k Views! LinkedIn Marketing Strategies Turned Human

with Carla New

 

LinkedIn marketing strategies you never knew that can get you many views, comments, likes, and shares for your content.

Can you imagine waking up and seeing one of your posts has hit:

  • 344,122 views
  • 15,945 reactions
  • 1,519 comments? 

That’s what happened to Carla Partridge New. When you learn what it was she did that inspired this virality, you may not believe how simple it was. Or, was it? Find out why I’ve been OBSESSED with Carla’s story and journey. 

 

Introduction to Carla

Carla joined Camera Confidence in June 2019. Having her as a member of our community and through our personal connection on Facebook, I think of her as someone who shares the real stuff without much of a filter. She is great at sharing a lot of what people are thinking but may not be brave enough to put out there. Carla says she used to have a filter but doesn’t anymore; she speaks her mind from a place of love. 

 

 

Creating a Movement of Authenticity through Hair and LinkedIn

On March 26, 2021, I posted on Facebook because LinkedIn has been a struggle for me. I love to show up on social media in a fun, goofy, unfiltered way, which seems to always fall flat on LinkedIn. I need to unlock how it works, and I am determined to do so. I asked people for tips on LinkedIn, and Carla responded because she clearly figured it out.  

About four hours after I posted, Carla saw my post. At that point, there were maybe 25 comments on it saying to connect with this person or that person for tips. She saw a comment by a lady named Nancy saying to connect with her friend. Because Carla is nosy, she clicked on the link, which led her to a YouTube video. She was watching one of my trainings and listening to this other video simultaneously, taking in some goodness from the LinkedIn video, which was about how to optimize your profile.

Carla was an early adopter of LinkedIn. She joined about a year after it started. She didn’t even realize people posted on their feeds, as she spends a lot of time in her messages, fielding spammy connection requests. The training was talking about optimizing your profile. Back when she joined, she chemically relaxed her hair (she had been doing so for around 40 years), so she looked completely different than the way she does now. She probably uploaded that picture, where she did straighten her hair with hot tools, in summer of 2015. That picture was everywhere, her website, Facebook, etc. While she had changed her Facebook picture back in 2019 after doing a photo shoot with her natural hair with a wonderful local photographer, she hadn’t gotten the nerve to change her LinkedIn picture yet.

For those who don’t know, Black women have this journey with their hair. The way their hair grows naturally sometimes causes controversy. People call their hair “kinky,” “nappy,” “unkempt,” and “unprofessional.” Carla was born in 1970, so she grew up in a time where most people were straightening their hair. You were taught that straight hair, more like a Caucasian woman, was the only way to look professional. She was always getting her hair done as a result. Looking at that picture now, that picture was taken right before a national conference in Phoenix. She is a leader in her direct sales company, and she was asked to speak and do some training classes. She remembers scheduling a hair appointment right after her last training class so she could get her hair straightened again before getting dressed to go to the gala. 

Carla really did straighten her hair for maybe 40 years, from age four until about age 44. She has a twin sister and an older sister. Every Saturday, they would spend the entire day getting their hair done. Because there were three of them, they would fight for who would go first so they could finish first and go out and play with their friends. They grew up in an all-Caucasian neighborhood, so their friends would come ring their doorbell in the morning, asking them to play. Carla would have to say no, saying that she was getting her hair done. They would come back 15 minutes later. Depending on what order she was, they would come back three hours later or six hours later, and she was still getting her hair done. If she was last to go, it might be 7pm or 9pm, and she only had a few minutes to play. Saturday was a wash, no pun intended. Then they would go to church the next day. Then you spent the entire week making sure you didn’t get your hair wet. She spent from birth to 12 living this life.

When she was 12, she could finally get a chemical relaxer. Then they were able to manage their own hair. It was a simpler process. From 12-41, she was getting chemical relaxers or using heat to straighten her own hair on a weekly basis. 

LinkedIn is a professional platform. Carla uses it from the perspective of being a corporate employee. For a while, she didn’t have a picture at all. America has had issues with discrimination, and Carla’s race is fairly neutral in terms of race. Her voice also doesn’t necessarily clue folks in either. She left her profile without a picture until 2015, until she uploaded that straight hair photo. 

Back in 2019, she did this photo shoot with her natural hair, which was a big step. She was always taught that before anything special, you go get your hair done. This was the first time Carla was leaving her hair natural for something like this. She made a Facebook post about it and changed her profile picture on there shortly after the photo shoot was done in 2019. So after watching my video and watching this YouTube video on LinkedIn profile optimization, Carla had the realization that her LinkedIn profile didn’t represent her anymore. She was afraid to change her profile picture there. Why was she afraid? Even though she had a job already, she was on an emotional rollercoaster. She eventually convinced herself to do it. 

In numerous states around the country, the Crown Act was passed that states it is illegal to discriminate against Black people for wearing their natural hair. Yes, Black people have been fired or not hired or not promoted because employers and hiring managers don’t like their natural hair. Black men wear durags in order to protect their hair. Rubbing your head against your pillow while you sleep will potentially destroy your hair, and durags prevent that from happening. But it is written in dress codes that durags, braids, and cornrows are unacceptable.

Carla eventually convinced herself to change her picture because she said that if for some reason something bad happens, whatever that means, she could always delete the post and reinstate the old profile picture as if she had never changed it. 

So she changed her picture. Even though Facebook and LinkedIn are different, she made a post on Facebook saying that she updated her LinkedIn profile picture. Maybe 200 people interacted with the post. She wondered what would happen if she said something about it on LinkedIn. LinkedIn connections aren’t notified about profile picture changes the way they are on Facebook. So she decided to write a post notifying her connections about what she did and why. Probably at around 4pm on a Friday, she wrote a post saying, “I did a thing today. I changed my profile picture on LinkedIn. I would have never done this before with this hair. I would never have started a first day of a job with this new hair. I would have never taken a work ID photo with this hair or interviewed for an internal promotion because there is a certain connotation that our society has on our natural hair.” Because Carla doesn’t really use LinkedIn outside of her inbox, she posted and walked away. Who knew it wold turn into such an impactful LinkedIn marketing strategy. 

Carla had left LinkedIn open on her computer while she was sending some emails for her job. She heard some notification alerts but ignored them. Right before logging off for the night, she had maybe 13 reactions. Cool. She set her phone down and came back around 8pm that night. It had 89 reactions, which was surprising. Fast forward to the next morning, Saturday morning. Carla woke up and had an email from LinkedIn saying they noticed a lot of activity on her profile. There are a lot of connection requests; they wanted to help her prioritize them. Then she realized the post was probably making people angry; whenever a Black person talks about their authentic self, people are either supportive and learn something, or there is a negative reaction. She thought the negative reaction was what was happening. 

Finally, she looked, and her profile had exploded. There were over 100 comments and maybe 300 reactions at the time. She didn’t realize people used LinkedIn on Saturday. Carla downloaded the app onto her phone finally, and her phone was jumping off the couch all day long with notifications. The numbers just kept growing. She was messaging me every hour freaking out. She probably had about 200 connection requests that she didn’t know what to do with. They were all like, “I saw your post. I am so inspired by it.” Other Black women were like, “Welcome to the club. I did that, too.” Or, “I changed mine today, too because of you.” Also, white women were like, “I also have curly hair, and I have the same issue. You inspired me to stop straightening my hair.” A beautiful older Asian woman with gray, curly hair said, “Carla, you inspired me to do mine. I feel like I’m living a lie. I have straight dark hair as my profile picture, but I’m on Zoom all day with different hair.” People from all over the world were messaging me. She met so many beautiful humans. What she also learned was that so many white people did not know how bad this issue was. Now, there are 344,142 views; 15,945 reactions; and over 1,500 comments. 

Of these 1,500 comments, only three were negative. Two were by the same person. He didn’t understand why she would bother to take the time to tell people of this change. He said, “What’s going to be next? Nudists are going to post about being naked on LinkedIn?” Carla had no idea how to handle it. The community helped educate him, and Carla added to it, posting about the Crown Act. He came back two hours later and said, “I realize I am the only one having an issue with this. I didn’t know this. Thank you for educating me.” Additional comments got a little weird, but Carla thought it was beautiful to publicly admit this. The other negative commenter said, “I don’t know what the big deal is. I have never not hired someone because of their hair.” But that person is just one person. Black people’s hair should not be part of a dress code, but it is. 

Being authentic on LinkedIn created a movement. LinkedIn has a profile, and they even commented about a week after the original post, saying, “Your profile is only complete if it’s completely you. Love this, Carla and thanks for sharing!” A LinkedIn coach asked if she could save Carla’s photo and share it with her students as an example of a perfect LinkedIn photo. Carla said yes, and the coach reported that her students loved the picture. 

Carla received views from about 1,200 LinkedIn employees as well as employees from Amazon and Microsoft. She did not post to gain followers, connections, or interactions. But she has met the most beautiful people from all over the world. She has been interviewed on a podcast. She has been asked to collaborate with people from all over the world. People will update Carla on their own hair journeys as they make their decisions to be more authentic publicly. People think Carla is so confident, but she has struggled with insecurity and her inability to be her authentic self. Allowing people to blossom like that is such a beautiful thing, and it’s through something as simple and as complex as hair. Black hair for both men and women may be complex, but it’s also so simple.

What if the narrative could be flipped? What if the way to get whatever job you wanted or the promotion you wanted or any other opportunity you wanted was to show up as your true authentic self rather than conforming to society’s standards? Carla has noticed a huge shift in her personal business when she started being more authentic. She doesn’t wear makeup, which is fine; she could never sell makeup because putting on makeup would make her feel like she was living a lie. She has no issue with makeup for other people, but it’s just not her thing. No nails, natural hair, natural skin. She has fully embraced her natural self. Getting her hair wet in the rain doesn’t bother her anymore. 

 

 

How to Show Up More Authentically in Your Own Life

Carla has a twin sister. She didn’t have to do so much talking when she grew up because her twin would talk for her. Once she moved away to college, she had to learn to exist without her twin. She has the gift of gab, but in certain situations, she wouldn’t speak. She has since come out of her shell. Rather than trying to look up to people, Carla has learned to look within. Have that positivity and empowerment come from within. People can’t motivate another person; they can inspire someone to be motivated. Carla looks within to motivate herself. When you exude that, showing up in confidence, it inspires others to do the same. 

Carla is the hot mess express. She doesn’t hold anything back. If something goes wrong in her life, she brings people along for the ride, telling them about it. She was doing a Facebook Live once, and her ring light fell and hit her in the head in the middle of it. She embraces those moments. Because people witness Carla being awkward and uncomfortable, that gives them permission to do the same. 

There are certainly some nuances to how Carla posts on Facebook. She doesn’t share things like, “This week, I dropped my coffee, and I’ve had an awful week.” She is not posting in a way where she is complaining or living in the negativity. She is sharing these moments in a way that is light-hearted and silly. We really stand for that attitude here in our quest to stand for joy. “If we can find the possibilities in the problems,” we can inspire others through how we share our experiences. 

I say that Carla needs a coffee table book because over the years, there have been so many times where people say, “Oh, that would only happen to Carla New.” She started this series on her Facebook profile called “A Day in the Life of Carla P. New.” She will structure it as “Season 50, Day 189” and recap what happened that day. Before social media, people thought she was a habitual liar because the craziest things happened to her. But now she can take pictures or go live to recap something right after it happened. Laughter is the best medicine. Carla has a humorous, matter of fact voice that resonates with people. For example, she has a pin called “Pointless Meeting Survivor,” a symbol of working in corporate America. 

    • Here is an example of a post. Carla is the mother of two teenagers. One morning, her son came downstairs and said, “Mom I need to go shopping ASAP. None of my pants fit. I am going to be walking around in floods if I don’t get pants today.” I said, “Okay. I can take you in between calls. My next call is at noon, and I have another one at 3pm.” My son said, “Ok, cool.” At 12:48pm, I told my son, “Ok, my call is over. Let’s go.” He said, “Ugh, now?” I said, “Yeah, now because my next call is at 3pm. I need to take you between calls.” My son said, “I don’t want to go out right now. Can we just go another day?” His emergency is now not an emergency. Other teen parents are certainly going through these same things, so she opts to share moments like that.
    • Les and Oona Brown have this hilarious story where they had one more piece of peach cobbler in the fridge, and Les really wanted it. But he had a speaking engagement, and if he eats right before he speaks, it’s not great. So he took the piece of peach cobbler, put it in a bowl, covered the bowl with Saran wrap, and stuck it in a cabinet above the fridge under a can so that it was completely hidden. Oona, Les’ daughter, came in, saw the empty bowl of peach cobbler on the counter, and knew that her dad had hidden the piece of cobbler somewhere. She sat on the deck and said, “Lord, I need Your help in this moment. I really want that peach cobbler. Tell me where it is.” She got really quiet and listened. Somehow, this divine download happened, where she knew the peach cobbler had to be in the cabinet. She went back into the house, opened the cabinet, and sees a weird soup can out of place. She moved it, saw the bowl of peach cobbler, and ate the entire thing. Then she took a bunch of grapes, put them in the bowl, covered the bowl back up, and stuck it back in Les’ hiding place. She waited for her dad to get home. When Les gets home, she got her camera ready. He walks into the kitchen and says, “I bet you’re wondering what happened to that peach cobbler.” She said, “You know, I was wondering what happened.” He goes, “I gotcha.” He opens the cabinet and is so excited. As soon as he looks in the bowl, he realizes it’s grapes. He screams, and she took a picture of his face. A little story like that, these things that happen in our day, these are such great moments to share. 

You don’t know when people are paying attention to you being your authentic self. But we promise you that they are. They will follow along on that journey with you. 

Carla is a fly by the seat of her pants kind of person, so she doesn’t collect these stories anywhere before posting them. But what she does now is once she posts them on Facebook, she saves them in the Collections function on her profile. As she is writing the post for the day, or as her Memories come up, she will save them there. When I searched for “A Day in the Life of Carla P. New” on Carla’s profile, so many great stories popped up, such as this one:

    • Carla’s family is fairly non-traditional. Her husband has been a stay-at-home dad since 2007. As he was learning how to do all the things, he allowed their kids to do what they wanted during the day. She comes home one day, and he washed some clothes that he had picked up off the floor, also picking up crayons with them. So there was a load of laundry that included red, blue, and green crayons along with Double Bubble gum in the dryer. He tried to clean up some of the crayon from the dryer with paper towel… He also kept doing multiple loads once he discovered the crayons in the laundry! But posting this from a place of humor was so great. Carla had originally posted this back in 2013, but she reshared it through the Memories function as a reminder of the crazy things that have happened to her throughout her life.

Laughter is the absolute best medicine. It’s totally free! Humor may not be a trait that everyone has, or thinks they have, but it’s a coping mechanism that Carla uses. Whenever she is authentic in a humorous way, being 100% transparent about the adversity she faces or these crazy moments in her life really does resonate with so many people. She once had a friend from college saying, “Thank you for your constant posts about ADHD. You sharing your stories helps me to understand my teenage daughter who has it, too. Her brain thinks differently; I need to pay attention to how I’m showing up with her.” Carla used to be embarrassed about her ADHD. Own your skin; own your hair. Own who you are. If you have a mental health diagnosis, like anxiety, ADHD, or PTSD, all of which Carla have, share it. It’s okay. These make you who you are and inform how you think.  

 

Contact Carla

Additional Resources

  • Carla’s LinkedIn post

Carla’s “A Day in the Life” Collection on Facebook