Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Four simple rules to build a following on social media

Every day, including weekends, I receive unsolicited requests to connect on LinkedIn. "Since you are a person I trust" they say, "I'd like you to join my professional network".  Really?  We've never met.  And besides, I strongly suspect you're trying to sell me something.  Or, worse still, one of your key metrics is the number of connections you have on LinkedIn.

What's even more surprising is that many of these new 'friends' profess to be marketing, digital or social media experts.  Yet their very actions in seeking to connect with me in this way show the degree of their expertise: diddly squat.

Of course all individuals and organisations are interested in building effective networks.  That's where sales are made, recommendations offered and ongoing engagement ensured.  But please, please, please if you want to connect with me - and I suspect any other potential customer - follow these simple rules:

  1. Make it a no-brainer to connect with you.  Share something with me; show me you know something I should know or might find useful; give me a compelling reason to invest in networking with you.
  2. Be transparent.  Tell me who you are, what you do and why you'd like to connect. What's in it for me?
  3. Show you understand something about me.  Even if it's that I'm in marketing.  Even better, show you've read my blog or LinkedIn updates.
  4. Ask about me.  What am I really interested in?  What's my view on content marketing? Have I used marketing automation?
Hang on a minute, aren't these some of the very basic rules of effective marcoms and sales? Knowing your audience, tailoring your message and listening. Shame on you so-called marketing, digital or social media "experts" who think it's fine to simply try and connect.

While on the subject of LinkedIn, has anyone noticed how the curse of the cute kitten photo has managed to spread from Facebook to LinkedIn? Does this mark the dumbing down of the network? Or should I learn to relax more on a Friday afternoon?