The problem with LinkedIn these days is that too many people try to use it as an advertising and promotional platform rather than a classic social network. At its core, LinkedIn is a way to discover all the people in your business network who are linked to you via several degrees of separation in order to help you grow in your career. So why are so many people just trying to use LinkedIn as a way to spam others with offers and deals?
How not to use LinkedIn
Here’s a typical scenario: you get an offer to connect from someone who you don’t immediately recognize. The person seems legitimate enough (i.e. not a bot), but as soon as you accept the offer to connect, that person starts hitting you up with all kinds of spammy messages, trying to promote something.
Or here’s another scenario: you join a LinkedIn group, hoping to learn more about a certain topic and meet other likeminded individuals with interest in the same topic. Instead, you encounter spam message after spam message, with people just trying to get you to buy something or sign up for something.
How to use LinkedIn
There is a better way, folks. Let’s say that you are trying to build brand awareness. Fair enough. But brand awareness shouldn’t mean just plastering your company’s name wherever you can on LinkedIn. Instead, why not consider writing thought leadership pieces for your company’s page on LinkedIn? The idea here is to publish engaging content, not “salesy” promotional content.
In other words, writing content about the future direction of the industry is a “thought leadership” piece. However, writing content about the upcoming launch of your company’s new product is a promotional piece.
Moreover, LinkedIn has really been stepping up its game as a social network to showcase rich media, especially images and SlideShare presentations. So if you worked day and night on a new presentation, why not add value to the LinkedIn community by uploading it to LinkedIn for others to see? That might get you a real response, in fact, if people can see that you are a thought leader.
And what if your sole intent is to use LinkedIn as a promotional and advertising platform? Well, there are plenty of ways to use LinkedIn as it was intended to be used, and not just to hawk your products under the guise of friendship. For example, LinkedIn allows you to sponsor your content, much the same way that you would sponsor your content on Facebook. That is one way for your content to appear in someone else’s LinkedIn newsfeed without coming across as pure spam.
Don’t blame LinkedIn, blame Facebook
In many ways, you can blame Facebook for people using LinkedIn the wrong way. It was Facebook that created a mentality of relentlessly pumping out content, building up a massive amount of followers, and then doing everything within your power to connect with those followers on a regular basis.
But here’s the thing – Facebook is a social network for casual acquaintances and friends, not for business colleagues. It might be annoying when some people just use Facebook as a way to get attention… but at least they’re not trying to sell you something.
If you are using a Facebook mentality on LinkedIn, then it’s time to step back and reassess things. Blindly spamming as many people as you know (and, yes, telling me about your new product launch is spam!) is not the way to go if you want a real response.