Many Senior Executives tell me that some of their deepest reservations about Social Media and it’s use in business is they feel it can trivialise relationships and lead to unwarranted intrusions on their time. A great example of this problem came to me yesterday (Sunday).
A Senior Law figure in Manchester, sent the following message through LinkedIn. (Edited to protect the guilty, but not enough that I hope the sender can’t recognise it!)
Hi,Sorry for the mass message. Can you please take a moment and leave me a quick professional rating here: need five stars!!!!!
It is pretty much a clear case of spamming and a great example of why many CEOs are still reluctant to engage their businesses with Social Media for marketing.
Let’s breakdown the problems for a moment.
1. It was an abuse of the ‘trust’ side of Social Media. A quick look at the profile of this person confirmed that they rarely use LinkedIn. Their Activity log (which is on display within the network) shows no significant activity over the last month. They had not added any value to existing conversations, they hadn’t reached out to connect in a more meaningful way with users of the network.
2. The message is an outright lie. They are not ‘sorry’ for the mass message. If they were, they would have at the very least given a fuller explanation about why they taking this action, on Sunday (by most in the UK considered a ‘non-business day’ – still, just about) and why they needed the votes.
3. There is no ‘give back’ from the sender. By this I mean, the sender has not given an ‘if I can return the favour’ sign in the message. Instead they have effectively demanded (the 5 exclamation marks reinforce that demand) the readers immediate attention and response.
As a quick aside, this Executive’s Bizcard profile, apart from showing their LinkedIn picture and job title doesn’t even have any information that you could rate. There is no reason for rating the sender.
So Senior Manchester Law Executive, what should you be doing in order to get those ratings you desperately crave?
1. Don’t just get connected get involved. This particular person has over 500 connections, yet there is no sign of them engaging with the wider community. See who is active in your network, comment on things, share information. Add value to the relationships.
2. Timing. If you are focusing on Business-to-Business (B2B) messages try to avoid asking recipients for action during their ‘downtime’. This get’s tricky if you are operating globally and timezones create issues. So if that is the case avoiding demanding immediate action.
3. Give a reason. There is nothing wrong with a mass mail-out asking for an endorsement but say why and focus on those you have meaningful connections with.
4. Give back. You could say you will do the same / similar for those you mail out to. But be careful! If you make this promise make sure you keep it.
5. Follow-up. Irrespective of outcome (i.e. in this case whether or not you got 5 stars) write back and say thanks, include those who did not respond. You never know why they did not and they might just endorse you next time and don’t forget to reiterate your promise of the ‘Give Back. A genuine thank you means a lot.
LinkedIn has a massive advantage in the B2B environment in that your connections are just that and not necessarily your friends so there is no shame in keeping relationships on the network business focused. This is one of the reasons why it is often the first Social Media network Senior Executives I work with will try. It keeps them in familiar territory. However, it is crucial that the relationships are not abused and devalued in the way that has been described here. A good rule of thumb is, treat your Social Media contacts the same online as you would face-to-face.
3 Sheep has a free weekly Executive Digital Briefing, with strategic advice. You can also consider our Executive Digital Strategy Workshops or contact me to discuss Digital Mentoring, a bespoke service 3 Sheep runs to help CEOs get to grips with the Digital Economy.
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