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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.

Is it?

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. 

  1. Ask a question that your target market needs answered as a provocative discussion-starter.
  2. Give your unique take on the answer in short form. If possible, again, make it provocative. 
  3. Ask for others to provide their answers, tips and solutions.
  4. 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?

Jeff Molander

Published 23 August, 2013 by Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is a professional speaker, publisher and accomplished entrepreneur having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com. He is a regular contributor to Econsultancy. 

29 more posts from this author

Comments (18)

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R. Milton

Thank you for sharing this tutorial on what to do and what not to do while blogging via LinkedIn. I agree that asking a targeted question or giving a unique take on a familiar topic would be the best ways to open the floor for legitimate discussion.

about 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Thanks, Brent and R. I'm host a short online class this week---on the portion where I'm discussing "what works better" above.

If you're interested in attending...
http://oth.me/LiWebinar

about 3 years ago

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Nancy Myrland

Hi Jeff...I don't mind seeing blog post links in Groups at all. The groups I belong to have to do with my areas of interest, so if someone posts something of interest, I don't mind seeing a link to it. I share links to my blog posts, and have even asked group members from time to time if they are permissible, or if they would rather I not. I have always received comments that indicate members appreciate the advice. It's the group posts that are obvious spam...offers to buy 200000 Twitter followers and the like....that do diminish the value of a group, particularly when they aren't being monitored by the moderator.

about 3 years ago

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Lionel Tepper, Managing Editor, ScreenMedia Daily

I agree with most of your points, and I have experienced most of the same things with our LinkedIn group as well as posting content to other groups. I would like to add that one additional item that people should avoid doing, and that is, don't use services such as ShareThis, or other content sharing apps to send content to multiple groups. Doing so raises the possibility of being banned for spamming across LinkedIn's system. We used to use share content this way, but no longer use any social sharing apps. It's much better to customize posts to individual groups, and space out your posting frequency so you don't have multiple posts in LinkedIn's newsfeed.

On another note, I am always surprised by group owners who ban or delay responses by people who take a contrary point of view. It seems that not every group is open to free discussion. Some group owners run their groups for the purpose of self-promotion and are truly not interested in open discussion. Sad, but true.

about 3 years ago

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Neil Ferree

I've read the average LI use belongs to 7 Groups. My count is a little higher. On posts that I curate from Scoop.it that "fit" one of my LI Groups, I "always" make sure to include an "Insight" to the Scoop so as to frame what the post is about and why the info is helpful. While my #1 social platform is Google+, the #1 traffic source the past 90 days has come from LI so my assessment is this technique works just fine.

about 3 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

I don't mind when people post full blogs, especially when the topic invites discussion and commentary. I think it's easy to go overboard because LinkedIn groups can be such great sources of traffic and leads and more is better, right? But like anything that works it gets abused. You have to figure out what works best for your audience.

about 3 years ago

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Joseph Lowe, Personal at Personal

Thank you for posting! this is really helpful. Now, I will be more cautious with LinkedIn

about 3 years ago

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Helen Trudgeon

Thanks for your posting. As a Content Marketer AND the moderator of a LinkedIn Group, I've witnessed a huge surge in the number of blogs being added to the group over the last 3-6 months. And yes, a lot of them are purely self-promotion, and I would be surprised how many actually generate business for the poster.

However, I do try to let through the posts which genuinely have something to say, but the ones which are blatant sales pitches end up in Promotions. The repeat offenders are all added to the moderation list. They soon get the message.

about 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

@Nancy, how do you decide what is information people already know or can find elsewhere? Do you even worry about this issue. In the social media/content marketing industry we have a HUGE echo-chamber. What happens is this: 90% of what gets published is either non-original thought or widely known information (think "Top 7 ways to _____" posts). In other words noise. Any good group moderator (IMHO) filters out the noise. How do you go about that... or, like I said, do you bother?

@Lionel, thanks for your advice. Yes, Group owners are, for the most part, first to say, "no selling or promoting in here!" and last to actually practice it. I have been squelched by some of the biggest names in social media marketing (just last week) and traditional sales/marketing gurus. Why? Because I dared to offer something new that provoked thoughtful discussion ... conversation that benefited all parties (myself included).

@Helen, your balance is refreshing. What Group do you moderate?

Thanks for all the comments and feedback, everyone.

about 3 years ago

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Shiv

Sharing a quality content in groups is welcome and self promoted contents distribution should be banned in all across social networking sites.

about 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

@Shiv Ok but what is being defined as self-promotion has become WAY too wide in my experience. If I generate a discussion by asking a question that my target market needs answered... answer it with my own take and invite discussion around it... and keep sharing my own tips and opinions I am labeled "too promotional" by many. And that's just silly, Shiv.

Because if we are forced to ban conversation that leads to mutually beneficial, commercial relationships (or not!) ... what kind of world would we be living in?

My answer: A world filled with chit-chat that doesn't generate material value.

Just like we cannot ever remove all the guns from the world as a means to eliminate gun violence, we should not look to ban conversations to rid ourselves of poorly executed promotions. Unlike gun violence, we should not look down on people trying to earn a living using online media.

We SHOULD clean up our house and learn BETTER ways of going about it.

Just my 2 cents ;)

about 3 years ago

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Marc Zazeela

Jeff,

I think you got it right when you used the word "provocative". Is your blog post provoking further discussion or is it simply a billboard for you or your company.

On Linkedin, you see both.

If I am looking for information or white papers on a particular topic, I can easily find them myself. I don't need to come to a Linkedin group. I come to exchange ideas and share information. And I believe, that is what Linkedin's creators had intended.

When you attend a live networking event, how do you feel about the guy/gal who works the room handing out business cards to anyone who will take one?

Cheers,
Marc

almost 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Marc, I honestly believe people:

a) Don't know better. Most people see people doing what does NOT work on LinkedIn and do it themselves. Why? Because they see others doing it ("it must be working for them, otherwise they would not waste the time").

b) It's the Internet! We're darn near anonymous. Even if you have a profile picture what's the consequence of walking into the networking event and handing out cards? (when the event is LinkedIn) Online, the perception is there isn't one. Because there isn't for the most part, historically speaking. We just become a facet of the noise and crap that the Internet is best known for. We blend in very nicely.

c) Don't have a better way. Most people don't know that being provocative and guiding discussions (rather than ruling them or manipulating people) works.

d) Are lazy. Having something to say and being provocative takes WORK. No, it's not impossible. But it's not very "scale-able."

e) Still believe that you can drop a quarter in the Internet and have it spit out money. Marketing gurus keep these ridiculous ideas alive and keep us believing in fantasies ("going viral" as a business goal versus slow-and-steady steps to grow).

Wow. That's a lot of letters. A - E. I'd better stop :)

almost 3 years ago

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Tom Schulte

Great article Mark!

I run a LinkedIn Group called Linked 2 Leadership (25,000+ members) for the last 5 years. Recently, I was fed up with the "read my blog!!!!" type of posts in the discussion area, so I created a poll and sent it to my group members to determine what they want to see in the group discussions. I got over 700 responses in just a few hours to help me understand how to moderate the group.

Here are two highlights that the group said they wanted to experience:

>>> Only 2% wanted to see discussions that were just links to someone's blog or even an online article from a major publisher (Forbes, Business Week, FastCompany, etc.)

>>> However, 77% wanted to have links to blogs or online articles available if it was subordinated to a true "discussion" and it provided clarity, more information, or background that would help the discussion.

So, I immediately made ALL discussion requests submit for approval and had my team of moderators (L2L Deputy Sheriffs) approve only the ones that met our new specs.

Of course, many clever people tried to disguise their "read my blog!!!" posts by skirting the rules, so I created a visual set of simulated posts that should exactly how to create a proper discussion. I recently made this template available in a post on our blog titled "Anatomy of a Proper L2L Discussion." (See the Do's and Don'ts here: http://linked2leadership.com/2013/08/29/anatomy-of-a-proper-l2l-discussion/)

My next step is to send a group email to the 20,000+ members who have opted in to receive emails from me and re-explain the new rules to them in hopes for better compliance.

I am sure that most will (re-)learn to play nice in our sandbox and that some will simply either leave the group willingly or be removed and blocked from the group.

Either way, we are truly focused on providing the best way to keep out playground safe, clean and fun for everyone.

thanks again for your article!

Tom Schulte
Atlanta, GA USA
Skype: tommycast

almost 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Tom: You are a pioneer. Thanks for sharing. Question please? Why have you decided to not allow the last example you give:

Linking to a supportive blog article and modifying the lead-in to it so it is not a copy of the article's lead?

You say it's simple to modify. Is it? Not in my experience.

A re-write shows effort. It provides a reason to NOT leave the discussion to get the information. Right?

You ask that posters, "please actually start a true discussion and add you blog or interesting article link as a subordinate feature to add clarity, show more information, or help the discussion along."

Re-writing an original lead-in to the blog post does exactly that. Or it should at least.

Thanks for considering and for sharing your experience.

Also, you might add this practice of mine into your suggestion:
Invite discussion at the end of every post.

almost 3 years ago

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Tom Schulte

Thanks for your kind comment, Jeff!

With the survey results that I received, it is clear that a REAL discussion is what is desired on the LinkedIn group discussion area. And the feigned discussions that are simply reworks of a blog are blatantly apparent as attempts at the "read my blog!!!" folks.

The last example that I show in my new rules post () that you reference is simply an attempt to get someone to click on a blog post or online article. Many discussion attempts look like this. They are a question in the title and simply add a sentence or two to the front of their blog post entry. if you compare this to the example I have at the top of the page that illustrates the type of effort it really takes to engage readers on the L2L Group discussion type, you can see a clear difference in the approach.

In fact, I would ague that the example cited in how to design a proper entry actually creates an AUTHENTIC interest in the article rather than a tangential one.

Simply re-examine the last entry and you can see that it is a low-quality attempt at creating something authentic when it really is just a hack job at increasing traffic.

That's all :O)

Tom

almost 3 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Hi, Tom...
Sorry. You're right. I skimmed.

Ugh. Welcome to life online. Everything happens way too fast.

Thank you for showing up here. I will likely be using your page/link moving forward in my training and client interactions. Great stuff.

almost 3 years ago

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Uwe

Great write-up. Gives some good insights how we should all behave on Linkedin!

almost 3 years ago

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