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Blog What Are Your Top Performing Posts Saying? How to Test Like An Expert

What Are Your Top Performing Posts Saying? How to Test Like An Expert

When my brother and I started our video and social media marketing agency back in 2015, our content honestly looked and sounded like it was recorded on a potato. It was such bad quality.

The content was also very selfishly focused around us and the messages we wanted to push out to the world – rather than thinking about what our audience wanted and how we could provide value for them.

It’s taken a lot of time, practice, and effort to get where we are now. And even today, I don’t have all the answers.

But we’ve learned a lot over the last few years and I want to share some of those insights with you.

So, today we’re talking about top-performing posts. How to create one, what they’re telling you, and what you need to do once you’ve got a top-performing post.

Let’s kick things off with an example.

Our lightbulb moment

In 2017, we came up with a fun idea for a testimonial video for Knowlton. We wanted our current customers to say nice things about working with us, so that we could attract more business.

However, we knew that would be boring.

No one wants to watch a five-minute video of our customers saying how brilliant we are.

So we came up with this creative idea in two parts.

Part one: we actually did the standard approach to creating a testimonials video. We went out and shot interviews with our actual customers. They all said nice things about working with us, which was great because we got the credibility and social proof we were looking for.

Part two: my brother and I put on fake mustaches and wigs, dressed up as different characters, and pretended to be our own customers… talking about how brilliant it is to work with ourselves.

Sounds weird, but stick with me!

Text "in 2017 we had an idea" with various Facebook comments praising a video. Planable and Knowlton logos in the top right corner.

These fake interviews were witty and fun. We gave ourselves absurd job titles like dolphin trainer and beekeeper, and basically created comedy sketch testimonials for our own business.

Then, we cut the fake interviews in between the real interviews to create a five-minute testimonials video. The idea was that the fake interviews would hold the attention of the viewer long enough to get them to actually watch the real interview, which had the credibility and social proof of us delivering good work for our clients.

The best part?

Right at the end, some text showed up on the screen that said:

“We’ve had your attention for five minutes. It’s time to grab your customer’s attention. Work with us and we’ll show you how.”

The viewer would then think: “I’ve just watched a five-minute advert for this agency and I loved it.” So, maybe they’d want to do business with us. That was the theory, anyway.

It worked incredibly well.

This is when we first discovered a kind of unique approach to marketing that we call advertainment.

There’s a few reasons why this was a turning point for us:

  • Great engagement: lots of people were saying they really enjoyed consuming this piece of content.
  • New business: it also drove more new business to our agency than anything we tried doing in the previous two years – significantly more new business!
  • Lightbulb moment: it was when we realized you can create a unique win-win situation where viewers actually enjoy consuming the content that convinces them to become customers

Here’s the video if you’d like to take a look for yourself:

How can you create a top-performing post?

It’s important to understand a top-performing post depends on your objective. For example, if you want to reach as many people as possible, your top-performing post will be the one that generates the most impressions and reach in the most cost-effective way.

So, when we talk about a top-performing post here, it can mean different things depending on your goals.

With that in mind, you might not have what you’d call a top-performing post at this point. So let’s take a step back and go over some tips on how to actually create one of those.

Steps to create a top-performing post: trigger emotion, entertain, trigger nostalgia, make it native, make it on brand. Planable and Knowlton logos.

Test, test, test

The fastest way to succeed in marketing is to test lots of different things. Most will fail and some of it will be incredibly effective. As cliche as it may sound, you learn a lot from your failures.

We created not-so-good content for two years and then one testimonial video did so well that it completely changed the trajectory of our business.

Test something completely new every week. It doesn’t have to be a massive campaign. It can just be a new way of formulating your copy, a different angle for a video or a blog.

Trigger emotion

As humans, we take action when our emotions are triggered. Look back at everything you’ve engaged with or shared on social media recently and honestly ask yourself:

“Did that trigger something inside me?”

Yes, of course it did! No one shares content unless it makes them feel something.

How does a B2B campaign for a safety gloves manufacturing company sound to you? Incredibly boring? Well, you can still trigger emotion and try to make it more exciting.

That’s what we did and it ended up generating a million-pound contract through LinkedIn – which was a huge success!

The product helped to reduce injuries and deaths. So, we wanted the decision maker who purchases these gloves to really think about saving their team’s lives.

All of the messaging we used focused on the emotion that comes with saving the lives of people in your team. For example, at the start of every piece of content, the hook was:

‘Stop scrolling and save lives.’

Person in an orange safety vest and red glove holds up hand with large white text "STOP SCROLLING" overlaying the image.


Our agency has become quite well known for this one. Every day we post fun, entertaining content that ultimately helps us sell what we do.

This brings me to the second part of the campaign with the safety glove company.

Here we tried something completely different. We painted a picture of life without these gloves, which meant more injuries and people on your team recovering at home.

That’s the idea we went with. We had this really tough-looking guy recovering at home while his kids were putting makeup on him and making him look like a princess. This was the entertaining angle.

Man wearing a neck brace, pink feather boa, tiara, and heavy makeup, sitting in a kitchen with a sign "HOME" in the background.

You can get pretty creative with this one, so brainstorm ideas and try to see if you and your team can come up with relevant, entertaining pitches for your brand.

Trigger nostalgia

Nowhere near enough brands are taking advantage of this one. It’s such a great feeling to create within your target audience.

Think back to when you last saw something on social media that reminded you of your childhood and growing up. For me as a 90s kid, it’s things like PlayStation One or Tamagotchi that take me back to how I felt as a kid.

Do you know what else was huge in the 90s? Sunny D. We relaunched this classic orange drink brand last year with an incredibly effective nostalgic campaign.

It featured two British celebrities from the 90s. A guy called Shaun Williamson who is very well known for playing the character Barry in Eastenders, and Dave Benson Phillips, another well-known TV show host from a show called Get Your Own Back.

We launched a very nostalgic campaign with an entertaining script, then created lots of assets for Instagram and TikTok and did this big launch that generated over 11 million views, and three million engagements. It was also featured in national press like Lad Bible, Mail Online, and so on.

@sunnydofficialuk 🍊📺 Shaun WIlliamson wants to take you millennials back to the glory days. Introducing… Shauny D #ItsStillAThing #ShaunyD #90sVibes ♬ original sound – Sunny D UK

We really tapped into the nostalgic feeling of the good old days that millennials would remember and it created this viral potential, with everyone wanting to share this content that took them back to the 90s.

Make it native

Make your content native to the platform it’s distributed on. I feel like we marketers say this all the time and everyone nods along. But seriously, it makes a huge difference.

Don’t just spray the same piece of creative over every platform. Think about how you can make it native to each platform.

A good example of how we did this was when we worked with BBC StoryWorks to create a TikTok playbook for their production team, to support them in making better content for TikTok.

After all, it all starts on the production level. Right?

If you want to post content on TikTok that does really well, you need to think about the way you’re producing it. Ask yourself:

  • How are you posting it?
  • Are you using the interactive features?
  • Are you adding stickers?
  • Are you duetting people?

You really need to think about how to use all the interactive elements available to you so that your content works as well as it can on that specific platform.

Make it on brand

Ultimately, all of us are trying to build a brand that people love. So it’s really important to think if what you’re doing is aligned with your brand.

We did this with a company called Wahl. They produce hair clippers and we did a collaboration with a little TV show you may have heard of called Peaky Blinders.

They brought out a collaboration product range and we produced a whole range of creative in the style of Peaky Blinders. The production team at Peaky Blinders had to sign off on all the content and it was a really successful campaign that generated over a million pounds of ecommerce revenue.

Three men in vintage suits sit at a table in a dimly lit room with a painted wall mural and vintage decor, in the style of the TV series Peaky Blinders.

The whole campaign was fully on brand for Wahl, since Peaky Blinders has a very distinct aesthetic associated with the show. All the male characters have hairstyles where the sides are shaved – so it matched really well with the Wahl product range.

What are your top-performing posts telling you?

Now that we’ve just gone through some of the levers you can pull to get that top-performing post, let’s talk about what happens once you have one.

Congrats! You have a top-performing post. That means something is working. But what is working?

In marketing, we’re constantly testing lots of different things. When things go well, the key is understanding what specifically is going well and why.

So here’s an example I’m going to go through with you, featuring my top-performing posts from the last 90 days on LinkedIn.

My LinkedIn test post

At the beginning of the year, I thought I’m going to try something new. So I did this multiple-image post about a successful marketing campaign and the copy was a breakdown of why I thought it did so well.

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising SURREAL's marketing campaign for being fun, clever, relatable, and detailed.

I went with a Surreal campaign from early January where they used purposefully bad graphic design on product posters. The whole vibe of the message was:

“Oh it’s January – we can’t be bothered, so just buy our product.”

It was funny and relatable, and it really worked for them.

Now, my breakdown post was formatted in a certain way and it covered why I thought the campaign was so good. It became my top-performing post from the last seven years, generating 233,000 impressions organically within a couple of days and tons of engagement. Crazy!

But then I asked myself – why did this work?

Was it the posting time? No. I post pretty consistently at 07:30 and then again at 11:00-11:30, five days a week. That’s not really a variable so I can rule that out.

Maybe it’s the copy. Was this just really good copy, with a different format?

Was it the media I used? There are lots of different formats you can use on Linkedin. It could have been a video, a poll, or simply a text-based post. Did it perform better because I made it a multiple-image post?

Was it the post topic? This was very relevant.

Was it timely? We’re talking about the start of January here. Maybe the messaging of the campaign that I chose to highlight was resonating even more with everyone because it was so spot on for the beginning of the year.

Another thing people brought up in the comments was that the campaign was copied. So did it trigger marketers, who saw someone else do this and thought they copied it?

There are a million different factors at play. It’s a struggle to figure out what on earth happened.

Here’s what it was. This is why it was so successful. Are you ready for it?

I have no idea.

So where do you go from here?

Try and emulate success

I had all these theories, but I didn’t know what actually worked and why. So it was time to try and emulate the success of that post.

Get ready to go on a bit of a journey with me. And don’t judge because I failed a lot.

Here we go.

Attempt 1

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising Bensons for Beds' marketing campaign for being relatable, innovative, trend-focused, unique, and a clever PR stunt.

I thought the first attempt at emulating that success would be easy. I thought to myself:

“I’m going to use the same copy format, I’ll use multiple images, I’ll use a cool campaign from Benson for Beds that seemed perfect.”

It was going to instantly work.


I got a few thousand impressions and a bit of engagement. It’s still good as organic reach and engagement, but a clear failure compared to the big win I had before.

Then I took another look at my first try. One of the images I used was a bit cut off. And I started to think I should test something new for my next attempt.

Attempt 2

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton commending Roman Lolo's TikTok marketing approach for storytelling, creativity, engagement, viral content, and consistency.

I tried again. This time, I thought I’d stick with the copy formula, but change the focus from images to video. So I found an amazing video on TikTok from a guy who creates storytelling videos. Then I did another breakdown as to why this was so good.

It got around 7,000 impressions. Nowhere near my top-performing post.


Attempt 3

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising Cadbury's 200-Year Anniversary Campaign for its nostalgia, limited edition buzz, meaningful Alzheimer's Research UK partnership, and educational impact.

Third time’s a charm? I went back to an image-based post, but this time I used three images.

I broke down Cadbury’s Dairy Milk campaign and why it was brilliant.


It got around 7,000 impressions.

Attempt 4

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising KitKat's new ad for its timeliness, creative wordplay, rapid execution, relatable visuals, and multi-channel approach.

I tried again. Maybe a slightly smaller image would do the trick. I covered Kit Kat’s ‘Have a Brrr’ campaign. Surely this time…


Going back to the Surreal one, I kept thinking it worked so well because it was timely. At the start of January, everyone was thinking and feeling exactly what the campaign was communicating. That’s why it was so clever.

Meanwhile, ‘Have a brrr’ was perhaps a bit more generic. It could be why it didn’t quite work for my post.

Attempt 5

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton sharing three marketing lessons from a campaign to relaunch Sunny D, emphasizing due diligence, preparation, and market research.

The next thing I tried was to feature the Sunny D campaign we did, which was incredibly effective. I’ll share one of the campaign videos and do a breakdown.

Not a complete failure since this one acted as a trust-building piece of content for us, showing that we’re good at what we do, and it generated over 7000 organic impressions and a lot of engagement.

But it still got nowhere near that first post, so….


Attempt 6

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton critiquing Travel Supermarket's ad with Shaun Williamson for missing relatable references, nostalgia, and comedic scriptwriting opportunities.

Now I’m thinking that I need to change things up a bit. I featured a 16:9 video of a travel supermarket campaign.

I also flipped the script. Instead of breaking down why I thought it was so amazing, I broke down why I thought it wasn’t that great and how they could’ve improved it.

Different angle. Maybe?

Still stuck at 7000 impressions.


Attempt 7

LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising McVitie's campaign for introducing a Chief Dunking Officer, solving poor dunking issues, and recognizing the cultural importance of biscuit dunking.

Mcvities did a really clever and fun campaign about dunking biscuits into tea. They had their first Chief Dunking Officer (CDO) conducting an experiment to determine the optimal tea-dunking time for their biscuits.

It’s very relatable to a massive audience because everyone loves a biscuit, especially in the UK.

I went back to the original angle of breaking down what I loved about it, I used images not videos. And this one did alright, I managed to jump over the 7,000 hurdle and got more than 12,000 impressions.

Not bad

Attempt 8



LinkedIn post by Dan Knowlton praising Lidl's new campaign for being cheeky, risky, authentic, and forming an emotional connection by using real employees.

All this trial and error led to my top-performing post EVER.

The process worked.

I did a breakdown of a cheeky, yet very cool Lidl campaign. They recreated famous aftershave and perfume ad visuals – but with staff from different Lidl branches rather than celebrities and models.

Here was the major success I was looking for. My post got around 320,000 impressions.

Since then, I’ve probably had another one or two posts really blow up like this, and around 20 that haven’t.

It’s a constant battle trying to recreate that initial success.

Lessons learned

So what can you take away from this story?

As I said earlier – test, test, test. Try and test something new right now. It can be anything – a new posting format, copy style, or type of creative.

You can get inspiration from so many cool places. TikTok is a perfect example.

Some of the most effective campaigns we’ve run for leading brands were based on amazing ideas we got from random, small TikTok creators who had one video blow up.

If you had to formulate it as a three-part process, it would be:

  1. Get inspired.
  2. Test new things and see what works.
  3. Try and emulate that success.

Copy parts of what you think worked and keep testing different variations until you get similar results.

Dan Knowlton

Dan Knowlton, the co-founder of Knowlton, accidentally discovered a game-changing marketing strategy in 2017 called ‘Advertainment’ that has delivered millions in trackable sales for some of the world’s leading brands. Starting with humorous videos crafted in a spare room with his brother, now co-founder Lloyd, Knowlton has propelled brands like Wahl, BBC Storyworks, and Sunny D to new heights. Additionally, Dan shares his insights as the co-host of the Business Anchors podcast & on stages around the world.

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