Six Things to Not Do On LinkedIn and in Social Media Forums...Think Before You Post!
My last two rants have covered the irritating hijacking of productive online networking discussions. I've never written three pieces on the same topic before. But there is much to be said and learned, so I'm going to close this topic with one last thought on social media etiquette.
What I've addressed so far has touched on language barriers, listening and effective communication skills. In this Rant, I'm going to offer some basic DON'T suggestions for posting on LinkedIn and in other social media forums. I'm hardly a social media expert, and some of this is just common sense. But it's worth spelling out since social media is still a relatively new communication medium and clearly some people don't quite get it... yet.
These new communication strategies are challenging to stay on top of, so I've made the investment to learn more about it through The Marketing Animals program. They have some great content available and I would encourage you to check it out.
I'm going share some real world examples along with my Six Things to Not Do list. Click here for my video Rant on this topic.
1. Don't Derail Discussions with Solicitations.
Here is another recent example of what not to do. An excellent question was posted and constructive suggestions were made on this topic: What do you use as your title on your business cards? Sales Rep? Account Executive? Promotional Product Consultant? King of Creativity?
Responses included creative titles like:
Director of First Impressions
Business Construction Foreman
One person commented to each person who posted on this topic. Here are samples of his posts:
"Dear Cathy,I have gone through your profile.I have an idea to create a joint business where we grow by marketing and sourcing promo products to and from INDIA-CHINA-Bangladesh.What is your idea?"
"Dear Denise,I have seen you working in a IT company but you have interest in promo business too.Do you agree with me?"
"Dear Mr.Jim, I have gone through your profile.one of my idea: we source and do marketing jointly in INDIA-CHINA-Bangladesh for win win position.Whats your comment."
"Dear Bret, on going through your profile i see you have a reputation as printer and promo business.I have an idea that we do sourcing and marketing for each other in INDIA-CHINA-Bangladesh ot get win-win situation.What is your opinion?"
Lesson: Solicitations like these are completely off topic and clutter up a meaningful discussion. Solicitation has a time and place. Make sure you are picking the right time and the right place.
2. Don't Highjack a Topic Thread.
One long thread started with a request for product suggestions. Many good ideas were offered, but after over a month, one person decided to go into a completely different direction and pitch a product that had nothing to do with this discussion.
This is distracting to everyone. Anything unrelated to the discussion at hand, including offering other products that have nothing to do with the posted topic, is wrong. Be respectful and just start a new thread.
Lesson: For those who aren't aware of how to start a new discussion on Linkedin, hit the + sign at the top next to Discussion. Keep the threads on topic.
3. Don't Contribute Content That is Irrelevant.
In a long productive discussion thread, a distributor posted a generic industry web site link to a product, with an irrelevant sales pitch that had absolutely nothing to do with this topic.
Since this was an "industry" group I noted: "Generally this forum is made up of distributors who have access to the same products and supplier sources you are offering. Posting on a group with end-user buyers may be more effective for you."
Lesson: Understand your audience. Of course it makes good sales sense to try and build relationships thru social media, looking for potential business. But in this situation, why are they trying to sell distributors what they can buy from industry sources? The person posting clearly had no idea who their audience was.
4. Don't Use Social Media to Tear Down Relationships.
After posting the comment above, I received a personal message from the person who derailed the discussion with the off topic solicitation: "And you by the way are a Jack Ass!"
A direct message like this shows a lack of composure and understanding of how things work. That harsh comment destroys a relationship that never started. Perhaps that's no big deal, but what was the person's point? I offer grace to this person who clearly doesn't get it. We all are learning social media and proper etiquette is part of the process. Distributors and suppliers can work together to help each other, but not with that type of attitude.
Lesson: The Golden Rule isn't a dated concept. Treat others as you want to be treated.
5. Make Sure You Are Making Smart Connections and Don't Just Add Numbers.
I received a LinkedIn request from an "interior/exterior painter" across the country who is connected to someone I don't really know. Why connect with this person? There doesn't seem to be a benefit for either of us to establish a relationship. How many times has this happened to you?
Lesson: Be interested in relationships that benefit both parties. Adding connections for the sake of just adding to your numbers is unproductive. I also would suggest using a personal message when requesting to me connected, instead of the generic one that comes up. (I learned that from a Marketing Animals class.)
6. You Gotta Give to Get! (Don't Be An Idiot.)
One person in an industry forum expressed frustration that they had given many ideas and not gotten anything for it. He went on to imply that whoever provides an idea that leads to an order should be paid for it.
The groups I've been referring to are industry groups effectively made up of suppliers as well as distributors who actually could be considered competitors from around the country. The idea that someone would only help if they get something out of it may be a good business model for some, but it's not what online networking is all about.
I was fortunate to connect with a group of industry professionals early in my promotional products career that had a profound effect on my business. Working with three distributors in this group on a creative program we earned a PPAI Pyramid Award. Helping our colleagues is good business and raises the level of professionalism in our industry. This online group helped me understand the value of continuing education, volunteering, and the power of relationships.
Lesson: Give, and it will be given to you. (Luke 6:38) It makes good sense to help others in life and in business.
Social media serves a positive purpose connecting people and in many ways we help build up our businesses and the professional side of our industry. We learn from the meaningful topics that are discussed, making these new avenues of communication very beneficial. We just need to be considerate and think before we post. You won't do yourself any good professionally if you annoy people in online groups.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, MASI is affiliated with a large distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information and exclusive FREE offers from a few forward-thinking supplier companies. Don't miss out on what's happening! Opt in to receive their e-newsletters! LIKE their page on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Jeff can also be found on Linkedin.