In the first three parts of this series, we’ve delved into…
This week, our focus is on the bad use of LINKEDIN. Note: while this post focuses on LinkedIn, most of the comments below also apply to other social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, etc.
For professionals in B2B firms, LinkedIn should be your #1 choice for social media marketing. I’ve seen some recent stats stating that LinkedIn has more than 330 million users worldwide, with over 107 million of them in the U.S.
And maybe because it’s relatively new… or maybe because it’s [mostly] free… but far too many businesspeople use and abuse LinkedIn – not only resulting in lousy outcomes, but negatively impacting the perception of them (and their firm) in the eyes of those who see their “work.” Here’s how…
- Incomplete or out-of-date personal profile. LinkedIn makes available so many ways for you to provide information and value to those who visit your profile – your photo, a nice summary, full bio, listing of recent posts, list of published materials, educational background, skills, recommendations and so on. And yet, I see a lot of profiles without photos, without all previous jobs listed, with no details on those previous jobs and so on. Stop being lazy… take 15 minutes and get it up-to-date!
- Of special note… please make sure to use a recent and decent photo. It doesn’t have to be professionally done (though there’s nothing wrong with that)… but skip the glamour shots or those from a late-night party. A simple photo taken at the office is just fine.
- Connecting with every Tom, Dick and Harriet. I turn down many more invitations to connect than I accept. Why? Because accepting invitations from people I don’t know, won’t ever know, don’t really care to know and with whom I will never be able to have a mutually-beneficial relationship is pointless. Want to grow your number of connections? Of course… but do it the right way.
- Look for those who work for potential clients or vendors.
- Look for those who work in your industry.
- Look for those with the appropriate title.
- Look for those who are members of the same LinkedIn groups as you.
- Look for those with whom you have a lot of shared connections.
- Spend a little time every week reaching out to potential contacts and inviting them to connect.
- Set up ‘tags’ and segment your connections… it will help with future communications and keeping your list ‘clean.’
- And when you reach out to someone to connect… DO NOT use the generic invitation text that comes with LinkedIn. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re just looking to add to your head count. Instead, take two minutes to craft a personalized invitation stating why you want to connect.
Remember… it’s not a quantity game – it’s a quality game.
- Just being a billboard. The power in social media is not in just having a presence… but in engaging the marketplace. Setting up your profile (see above) is just the start, but too many LinkedIn users stop Do you want real value from your LinkedIn presence? Then get ready… get set… engage!
- Post content regularly… whether it’s a link to something from your firm or to something written by someone else, share content you think is valuable.
- Read the posts of others and if you like what you read, click the LIKE button. And if you feel compelled to respond… then do it! It’s those kinds of interactions that really can have a positive impact.
- Recommend someone or highlight their skill(s)… but only if you think it’s warranted.
- Join groups – both the kind where your competitors and (more importantly) your clients hang out. Be active. Start and participate in threaded conversations. You can build a reputation as a thought-leader simply by the kinds of comments you post here.
- A words of caution… if you’re going to start a conversation, make it a real, legitimate kind of discussion – one that could inform, challenge or intrigue a reader. Avoid the inane questions (e.g. “If qualitative research were an animal, what kind of animal would it be?”) simply to be ‘active’ on social media. That’s just stupid.
- No company profile. Many firms – even those whose employees are very engaged on LinkedIn – have a lousy (or no) company profile. Again, why not?! It serves as, essentially, as second website. Take advantage of all it has to offer. Remember, if someone is doing their due diligence and checking out your personal LinkedIn profile… then they’re going to check out your company’s profile, too – don’t let it disappoint them.
- And remember… when you post something to your personal profile, you can also post that exact same thing to your company profile – keeping it current and relevant, as well.
- Most importantly… STOP SELLING! Yes, LinkedIn is a social media “marketing” tool… it should be used [appropriately] to help build your business. It is not, however, a “sales” tool. STOP with the overt sales pitches. STOP with the misleading posts that look helpful, but then link to a heavy-handed sales pitch. STOP trying to sell me and start helping me. Every time you try to sell me, it pushes me further away and the less I ever want to engage with you. But when you help me… when you provide information of value… when you participate in conversations and share your expertise… then, I’m more interested in learning about you and your business.
Social media marketing – and LinkedIn, in particular – should absolutely be an integral part of your marketing efforts. And like other marketing vehicles… there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. In particular, like all social platforms, LinkedIn should be used as engagement tool, an educational tool and a sharing tool… NOT a blatant sales tool. Good luck.