Group discussion posts are part of any good LinkedIn content strategy. Yet most posts (and authors) pushing blogs are being labeled as spam by moderators, or moved to the Promotions tab.
In response marketers are posting full articles within the Group discussion itself!
Is posting blog updates (in general) a LinkedIn content strategy best practice? Or is it dangerous a waste of time?
It's not effective in my experience. Yet we see hundreds of people posting blogs to Groups. So many that blog articles are being categorized as spam. Or they're automatically moved to "Promotions" in LinkedIn Groups.
Worse, authors of these posts earn negative reputation across all Groups. They get "SWAMMed."
Translation: Your LinkedIn discussions won't appear in the Group unless human eyes review them first (Site Wide Auto Moderation).
The deluge of blog posts posing as discussion-starters has forced many Group owners to abandon LinkedIn's moderation system completely. They're overwhelmed with crap. The result: blog posters are marked by LinkedIn's moderation system as a content swine and banished to SWAM purgatory.
Does posting blogs to Groups work?
Does it work? Maybe it's effective at getting attention, engagement and business leads. That might explain why we see so much of the practice. But if it does not work, what does? What does an effective, reliable LinkedIn content strategy look like. How can we learn and apply best practices to drive more leads?
According to Mark Zazeela of APC Postal Logistics:
I see so much stuff that is little more than copies of copies of copies. Ideas that are represented as new and are really nothing more than old ideas, rephrased and repackaged."
Randy Ring of simple view Inc. says:
Proper or not, my conclusion is: It appears many of the posts on LinkedIn are, in fact, posting to promote their business interests and generate leads, and almost always self-promoting."
LinkedIn Groups purists have told me point blank: NO selling, no way. LinkedIn Groups are for discussions ... and discussions are not sales pitches. They say blog posts that lead to articles containing a call-to-action within it is a sales pitch.
Many LinkedIn Group moderators say yes and are banning all posting of blogs in Groups---deleting or banishing them to the 'Promotions' tab. You can guess how many people even know there is such a place in a Group!
Eric Salmon of Salmon Media Interactive says posting blog links in LinkedIn can generate business leads:
I just stress that blogs are for informing and not a lead generation system. Blogging is not about generating leads but informing the public. Let the leads come as they may but never lose sight of what blogging is all about … INFORMATION!"
Provoking discussion works better
This is where I break from Mr. Salmon. I have tried over-and-over to share my knowledge, advice and tips on LinkedIn as "the experts" tell me to do. I've read Jay Baer's Youtility. Got it. But it's just not that easy.
Purely following the 'givers get' mantra rarely creates leads. Real life trumps guru wisdom.
Ok. I'll be fair. Yes, leads will occasionally just 'show up' based on kind gestures and proper networking. I admit it. However, kind gestures, good manners and having a process to lean on will generate more leads.
The truth is growing your business is not as easy as throwing up a blog, publishing a lot of insightful and helpful knowledge and watching the leads roll in. Having built my business purely on content marketing (and studied the content marketing greats) I can conclude definitively:
What works best is adding in a provocative element.
In my business, I teach a process that works remarkably well. It's worth my time investment.
- Ask a question that your target market needs answered as a provocative discussion-starter.
- Give your unique take on the answer in short form. If possible, again, make it provocative.
- Ask for others to provide their answers, tips and solutions.
- Slowly reveal your own 'better way', short-cut etc. in ways that are specific, action-oriented yet in-complete (thus creating intense curiosity in your words)
The main idea is answering prospects most urgent questions in ways that lead to more questions (that you can answer) ... that leads to a growing interest in an individual/business ... that sometimes leads to a mutually productive relationship. Maybe even a sales transaction.
Enter the nay-sayers
Whenever I describe the above method my critics show up. Many of them get paid to spend. They're marketers, not small business owners or bean counters. And that's fine. But they tell me, "you can't sell in here, Jeff. LinkedIn Groups are for discussions and that means NO selling."
Yet how is giving away free advice in ways that creates curiosity selling? Clearly it's not.
That's right. It's worse say these anti-marketing marketers who are quick to waive the rightious content marketing flag. THey often tell me, "Jeff what you're promoting is systematic trickery based on manipulating people with words."
And that, my friends, is unethical content marketing. It smacks of copywriting trickery.
But if this process is so evil and unethical, how can the people practicing this LinkedIn content strategy be building such sustainable businesses---where customers come back to over-and-over? Because we're tricking customers and dumbing them down? Hardly.
Why provocation works
Here's what the critics seem to miss. It IS possible for a seller to nurture buyers by placing the entire process in their hands.
This way, nobody is tricking anyone or engaging in self-promotion. Prospects are literally navigating themselves toward or away from what we sell.
Want a better LinkedIn content strategy? Try something that works. Here's why it works. As part of a discussion ...
- I (a seller) answer questions you need answered (or show you how to achieve a goal you need to reach faster)
- You (a buyer) engage more deeply with me based entirely on what I just DID for you (not something slick that I said)
- You become filled with confidence as a result of what you just DID (via what I helped you DO)
Result: You trust me based on what I just helped you DO, not what I said or how I said it.
Can I provoke you to get this process going? Yes. Can I give you incentive (reason) to take an action that begins this process? Yes.
After all, we are in business of putting food on the table right? That's why a business exists---to sell stuff.
In my experience potential buyers want to act---even if they're not a buyer yet. They don't want to read LinkedIn Group discussions so much as they want to read and act on a burning problem or exciting goal.
No, I cannot trick a buyer into doing something they already want to do ... and then continue to trick them to earn more business. It won't work long-term.
... BUT ...
I can lead you, Mr./Ms. Buyer, toward taking action on something you want to take action on. I'm just the conduit, the excuse. As a result, you might feel like I am the best resource on the subject ... the subject that relates to what you might eventually spend money on.
In the end, it's up to you, the buyer.
Still, they post and spam
There is a better way. This way. The sharing of advice and best practices in ways that directly benefit Group members AND the seller is what ethical, effective commerce is all about. Yet we continue to see people risk their own LinkedIn reputation to "get the word out" about their wisdom.
They're posting blogs as conversation-starters (and failing). They're not generating leads. Now they're resorting to posting blogs inside of discussion themselves after being told to stop.
Let's say your advice, wisdom or tips are original and bring utility to customers. LinkedIn Groups are great places to leverage that content into mutual benefit. But lately we're seeing bloggers post entire articles into Group discussions as "conversation starters" only to fall flat. In reaction some are commenting, "Great ideas ... but some of them are just theoretical and not applicable on most of the businesses."
That's not a good way to start your LinkedIn discussion. It's a great way to get banned.
What has been your experience? Are any of your posts being denied? Are you being SWAMmed or being marked as a content trouble-maker? Does posting your blogs to LinkedIn Groups work to grow your business? Can you point to specific leads?