What do I always tell clients, family, friends, cocktail party-goers (whose eyes glaze over as they get the answer), etc. when they ask about how social media can really benefit a non-consumer-products company (i.e. B2B social media)?
Build relationships. Strengthen relationships. Be genuine. Add value.
I always add something like “social media can help with driving traffic to your site and building links for SEO, but that isn’t the main goal.” (clients seem to enjoy this; friends, family, cocktail-party-goers – not so much).
And I believe it when I say it – and I believe it now.
So, why did I start using LinkedIn Groups to push links to our news content over the past couple of weeks? I wanted to see what kind of traffic that activity would bring to our site.
Lazy and dumb.
Lazy, because I simply submitted the URL to the news story (from our tailored news feed) and edited the lead-in to the article. No time spent adding value to the story, or time spent initiating a conversation.
Dumb because there is absolutely no value created. Users may see an interesting piece of content, but it’s a quick fix and they move on. If I had kept up with this over a sustained period of time, I’m sure it would have hurt my personal brand, and KoMarketing’s brand.
I was lucky enough to have someone in one of the LinkedIn Groups comment very simply:
Good insights in this article Andy. Thanks for sharing. Is there anything you’d like to discuss about the article in particular?
I could be wrong, but I took this as a very polite way of saying “got any value to add here, or are you just going to submit your own content here?” If I didn’t read the comment correctly, that’s OK. Simply thinking about how to respond became a valuable exercise for me.
Here is how I responded:
To be honest, I did not have an angle when submitting this story. We have an outside service provide us with custom-written news articles that are specific to B2B and I wanted to share that content with the group.
That said, it’s probably a piss-poor way for me to use social media, so I’ll just say “guilty”.
Now that you ask the question, I’ll say that I think many B2B marketers are “getting it” that the way to use social media is to be genuine and not be overly promotional. Sometimes it comes down to an issue of resources in terms of who is going to create that genuine, valuable interaction, and sometimes it comes down to lack of creativity.
Of course, my thoughts here are the epitome of irony, because that is exactly what I was doing by submitting a news article from our website, and not initiating any valuable discussion.
I’m glad you asked the question, as it helped me stop and think about the purpose of sharing our news articles in LinkedIn Groups.
Looking forward to connecting in this Group more frequently!
I also went to Twitter, found that Group member’s profile there and made sure to try and make a connection that way.
Sometimes it just takes a minute or two of reflection before you realize that you are doing something that you wouldn’t recommend to someone else, and then make a change for the better (now, if my wife ever reads this, I may have to make some other changes at home that won’t be as easy).