Sharing content or Selling your stuff? A fine (and often crossed) line – Social Media Marketing

Toby MarshallSocial Media: your ‘how-to’ guideLeave a Comment

Social Media Marketing: There is a thin line between success and failureWhile the online social media marketing revolution has enabled time saving ways of targeting prospects; developing professional relationships to take offline and convert into sales is time consuming. If you have valuable content, is it okay to be “lazy” and simply link to your blog on LinkedIn Groups? Or is this pure spam, that will damage your online reputation? What are the most efficient and effective means of sharing content to start valuable conversations?

Tanya Roberts inspired these questions in her discussion on our LinkedIn group, Small Business Evolution, “I Got Lazy”. As an experienced marketer, she acknowledged that posting a link was a textbook mistake for engaging with prospects, but with competing priorities, she resorted to this method of sharing content because she knew it was valuable.

This discussion sparked some valuable and insightful comments with diverse opinions.

“I Hate Blatant Sales Pitches on LinkedIn”

Most agreed that spammers who use LinkedIn purely for promotions diminished the quality of groups, discouraging active and valuable contributors. Many groups have engaging discussions posted daily, accruing numerous insightful comments. Why should they bother, however, when their posts can scarcely be seen among the sea of links?

Richard Hussey commented: “The problem comes when too many people use a group as a way to broadcast their products and offers – the real users then just give up”.

LinkedIn established the ‘Promotions Area’ to distinguish selling from discussing, but many groups lack regular moderation and are overrun with links to blogs and downloads. These links are often irrelevant; and time and again we see the same individuals posting identical links on multiple groups.  This is an untargeted approach that does little more than damage your brand image and earns you the label ‘spammer’. These are the type of group members we quickly boot out.

Relevant and Informative Links are Okay; It’s all about the Intention

On the other hand, others argued that links that lead to useful content are relevant and should be shared in groups. Ziv Magen commented: “I really don’t see anything wrong with informational links, as long as they’re relevant to the group topics and actually contribute something to the discussions, as opposed to crude ‘me, myself and I’ posts”. The contribution to discussions and the overall value added to the group should be key factors in assessing the validity of links in groups; perhaps it is too much of a generalisation to put a blanket rule that all links are bad.

This view was shared by Richard Hussey who put forward that “Subtle promotion is fine as long as it’s well produced and genuinely informs and helps people develop their understanding of something relevant. Tanya, I would be happy to follow the link you posted if there is something useful to me at the end of it. That’s the whole point of content based marketing – it’s mutually beneficial

Tanya Roberts also differentiated between links “intended for the benefit of the reader” and “blatant self-promotion”, asserting that intending to assist others is different from “actively sell[ing]”.

Take this blog post, for instance. It is relevant to Small Business Evolution members and adds value by summarising a very popular and active discussion that generated good insights; but since it’s a link; does that disqualify its value?

My view on this issue is simple; that the purpose of discussions is to discuss. So there must be sufficient content to enable members to understand the issue and respond without wasting their time opening new pages.

The only purpose of a link is to provide more information and background that builds on the discussion – it then delivers value to both the reader and the poster. As Richard puts so neatly, this is “the whole point of content based marketing”.

I also hate the links that LinkedIn encourages you to use. It just clutters the page with logos and sales pitches. We manage 14 groups and know the sheer amount of links is overwhelming.

Read more about the intricate Social Media Marketing industry.

Cheers, Toby. [C661]

Toby leads a team of young and international B2B Marketers at Lead Creation.