Linkedin Group Etiquette for Professionals
Most days, I share my experience as an entrepreneur with a growing international business, on the cusp of something that is hopefully "big" but also has hurdles along the way. Many of these hurdles are the best reminders on how to improve business processes and be a better leader and/or marketer, or just to grow a thicker skin.
Yesterday, an obvious up-and-coming competitor posted some quite offensive commentary on a Linkedin Group. I thought for a while as to whether I would just leave it or if it had an impact in the group which affected what the perception of our brand may be. To that end, I had to respond. I didn't get into the nitty gritty, but it was an overarching response. The idea of Linkedin Groups is to share ideas, interact, demonstrate thought leadership on various topics and meet people who may potentially have something worthwhile to say that may a) change your life, b) improve your knowledge, and/or c) give you a good laugh.
There is potential to misuse the Linkedin Groups platform in ways that it is not intended for, like pitching products and services through making comments on other peoples discussions or by putting down an obvious competitor. So here's a "share" from last night:
The first comment from the "competitor" was that they were directly trying to do a sales pitch: "I have written a guide to selecting a marketing consultant....here's my blog", then it went on to directly attack the writer of the blog: "surprised by Mellissah's lack of ability..." : Please. Do you expect for someone not to reply to this. In further correspondence, the person proclaimed to have "pitched" against our company - which is strange in itself as we don't pitch. We have a particular offering that is completely different to anyone else on the market, and people either want that or they want project work or are happy to use a bunch of freelancers and different agencies. We say "no" to more businesses than we take on, only because it is about cultural fit and it is absolutely critical for a business that works with Marketing Eye to want high growth and have a business strategy in place to achieve that. The company in question is mainly made up of freelancers. Need I say more.
The "competitor" went on to say: "I have to strongly disagree about the need to have industry segment experience... it is a disadvantage as it doesn't bring a fresh perspective." Well, that may be true to a few industries, but I did go back and explain that that is not the case across all industry sectors. For instance, a fashion marketer would find it difficult to market a biotechnology company that is listing on the stock exchange. The reason being is that there are more things in play in some industries like key influencers, analysts, regulations from industry bodies and government and various target audience requirements. As a marketer, you actually need to know all of these things before you go in and meet with a client. They are critical to any conversation, let alone any marketing activity that you may do on their behalf.
In marketing, one size does not fit all. I am sure people can argue this, just like the fact that people can argue that something is pink rather than red and so on, but the reality is, sometimes it is only the specialist marketing knowledge that can cut through the traction and produce a marketing strategy followed by marketing campaigns and activities that are tailored to the company that they are representing. It is also costly for a company to pay a marketing consultant to come up to speed. Why do this if you don't need to?
When posting a blog on a group, it is important to understand a few things. The first is that people DON'T have to read it and are more likely to read it if the topic stands out or they follow the writer and/or company. Secondly, people are entitled to an opinion and as a blogger, you must respect that. We post good and bad comments on our blog because we believe in people having the right to an opinion.
What is not alright is "personal" and when someone writes something "personal" particularly when they are clearly a competitor who isn't doing so well - it's a sticky situation.
Last night, I called "him" out. An expert in online marketing with outlandish comments - I don't think so. The person I am speaking about is ranked more than 4 million on the Alexa ratings, their website does not come up on any major keywords for their business and they have a hundred or so people following them on twitter. I was naughty and did do a comparison: Marketing Eye #1 for most of our main keywords, otherwise definitely on the first page of Google. 21,000 followers on Twitter and thousands of people read our blogs each week. I had to prove a point that as an expert, you need to have some background. Look at www.jeffbullas.com - he can say anything because he is living proof. So is Seth Godin. Marketing legends!!!
So, as a marketer, how can you profess to be an "expert" and able to give good advice to a small business if this is the case? Practice what you preach buddy!
The rest of the commentary in the group was both "food for thought" and interesting. I enjoyed reading their views whether they were pro the article or not. Quite frankly, the article was written to provoke discussion and that it did in a very big way. As a marketer who is constantly learning new things and growing in knowledge and experience - there is nothing better than learning other people's points of view and appreciating them. At times, I even change my mind on topics and there is nothing more than I love than for this situation to occur.
Some etiquette for everyone to consider with Linkedin Groups:1. When joining a group, make sure it is a good fit. I only join groups associated with marketing and business.
2. Ask yourself whether the discussion you are posting "adds-value" to the group and post it only if it does.
3. Be respectful and courteous. Good manners goes a long way. Never make an opinion personal to the writer otherwise they will need to respond as it is their brand that you are playing with and you may not like the response.
4. Don't be deliberately derogatory to others just because you disagree with their point of view.
5. No sales pitch - ever! You may write a blog and you can sell as much as you want in your blog and share it - but when it comes to comments, don't sell. With blogs, people can choose to read it or not, but with your comments, you just come across as "self-serving" and "self-promoting".
One other person made an assumption that Marketing Eye "bought keywords" - which is so far from the truth it isn't funny. I did write back that we are #1 because we build websites properly and know how to create content, but have never spent a cent on AdWords, sponsored links or anything else. We are advocates of building websites right and making your website meaningful and content driven to achieve sales results. Most small businesses have little or no extra money to spend on marketing, so we ensure that their website is SEM/SEO - always.