3 Things We've Learned After Years of LinkedIn Group Spam (and what to do now)
Today's guest blogger is Jeff Molander. Jeff is the authority on making social media sell, adjunct faculty at Loyola University business school, author of Off the Hook Marketing: How to make social media sell and a social sales training speaker.
In 2008 LinkedIn introduced Groups and for years now B2B marketers have been tortured by inappropriate, low-value comments and linking—people trying to promote "their thing." Sometimes those people are us! So after all these years what have we learned? As it turns out a lot. Here is a proven system to use LinkedIn for B2B sales leads and prospecting. Also, here's how to create, manage and/or participate in a LinkedIn Group and actually get something out of it…and make sure members do too!
The Problem in a Nutshell
A lot of people are coming into LinkedIn Groups armed with what does NOT work. Yet it’s not our fault. We have been mis-lead or are just uninformed. We see people doing things that don’t work. They’ve never worked—have never been good ways to network, collaborate or sell. Yet we’re not sure what to do. So we mimic what we see.
And the cycle continues.
Yet there ARE a few Groups out there that are remarkable. There are people creating meaningful relationships, partnerships, leads and sales.
The Bottom Line
It’s always been this way.
Most people have poor networking skills and don’t know how to sell very well. The Web / Linkedin Groups just gives MORE of those people the ability to get out there and demonstrate this—faster and easier.
Finding the “good models” to learn from is more difficult now.
All we tend to see is the noise of “what does not work.”
Succeeding is real work, requires discipline.
Creating conversation that has a worthwhile outcome is, and will forever be, a mixture of art, science. Finding a NEW way to create MEANING in the lives of another person is a learned talent that requires practice, discipline.
The Solution is Not Passion
How many times have you heard an expert say, “success is ALL about tapping into your passion!” Well, that’s bull. People won’t listen to you, or buy your thing…or participate in meaningful ways in a Group unless you FIRST create meaning for them.
You’ve got to prove something to them beyond your personality or your “cool Group culture.” You’ve first got to show them (if not help them create) a reason to trust you—give a positive result first.
People don’t want to buy into passion, personality or “brand culture.” They want to buy into (believe in) a fix—a solution to their problem or unique experience your Group…or product or service provides.
For instance, the key to creating “content (blogs, videos, etc.) that sells your thing” is creating (yourself) LinkedIn conversations that are actually designed to go somewhere. The key to creating a Group that takes people to where they want to go is real work. But good news: There is a process.
The Solution is PROCESS
Through my own research and marketing my products and services, I’m finding the only way to:
a. manage a LinkedIn group that creates meaning for members
b. help them get noticed on LinkedIn so they can…
c. get into a conversation that’s going somewhere
is to have something original (meaningful) to say about a way (a process) for people listening to get what it is that they want.
Originality doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how passionate you are about your LinkedIn Group, product or service. As Matt Linderman of 37Signals says…
“The problem with the 'follow your passion' chorus: We can’t all love the products we work with. Someone has to do the jobs and sell the things that don’t seem sexy but make the world go round.”
If all you or your Group has to offer the world is pre-packaged versions of what people already know—and you expose it inside LinkedIn Groups—don’t be surprised if nobody notices. Moreover don’t be surprised if nobody clicks, calls, emails, etc. And don’t be surprised if you’re a Group manager when you, in essence, run a group monologue!
So ask yourself:
“What process can I set up to teach people in my LinkedIn Group a better way to interact?”
“What guides can I provide to Group members that helps them work diligently to
a. have something to say more often and
b. say it in a way that will give them more of what they want?”
(connecting with others to learn from, sales leads, peer support, etc.)
3 New Best Practices for LinkedIn Group Management
I am successfully using Linkedin for sales prospecting by applying a simple system—making sure Group members:
Create valuable content (answers to burning questions prospects/customers ask all the time)
Monitor for people demonstrating need for it (in LinkedIn Groups)
Reveal answers in ways that create cravings for more of what we have to share (provoke interaction that creates discussion outside of LinkedIn!)
Custom media publishers already know this approach works (outside of LinkedIn). So why not apply it in LinkedIn Groups—in a way that tempts group members to email you for more details? Or in a way that rewards prospects for clicking over to your profile and then onward to your blog to acquire the knowledge? (to more clearly understand the thought you just provoked)
Photo credit: anumodbalan