Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to Get LinkedOut on LinkedIn

A professional communicator I’m connected to on LinkedIn but have never met – I accepted his link request because we share a former employer – used that service to send me a couple of messages promoting his new book. The most recent was annoying enough to use as an example of how not to leverage your social networking connections.

Here’s the text of the message:

"[Book title] is a book that provides new thinking and a practical approach to [book subject] to deliver bottom line results. Take a look at our flyer, and then go to (or your local bookstore) and buy it. [Book title] means business."

The flyer below the text is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The graphics are obtuse, the text refers to the co-authors by last name only (what are they, rock stars?), the abbreviated testimonials scream at me in all caps, the purchase URL is huge and not clickable (use TinyURL, guys, to shorten these – nobody is going to type in 70 plus characters), and it looks like two disparate print ads were visually aligned into one piece.

Major ugh.

So here’s my advice to this LinkedIn promoter and anyone else who wants to use this social networking site to promote or sell products or services:

  • Use the site to build relationships before hitting folks up with a sales pitch. Don’t link to me and immediately begin sending me commands to buy anything.
  • Don’t abuse your network by sending multiple promotional messages.
  • If you’re going to try to market something to me, tell me right up front what’s in it for me. The introductory text in this message could have told me that the information in this book will help me keep my job, get me a raise, make me more marketable, whatever. But it didn’t. So I lost interest very quickly.
  • Don’t boss me around. I don’t care what you’re taught in Copywriting 101, saying to me in an e-mail “Take a look at our flyer, and then go to Amazon and buy it” just plain annoys me. You Are Not The Boss Of Me. Use your words to warm me up, not piss me off. I would respond more positively if this message were worded more like, “Because we’re connected on LinkedIn, I thought you might be interested in information about my new book (title). It’s about (subject). I promise you it will help you (benefits to me). The flyer below has more detailed information; you can purchase it quickly and easily at, (tinyurl). Thanks so much for your consideration.”
  • Think real hard before using your network for anything this blatantly promotional.
  • Instead of clubbing people over the head with commands to do something that serves your purpose, use sites like this one to establish yourself as an expert. Respond to queries on your area of expertise. Ask people how you might be able to help them reach their networking goals. If you've got info about your product or service on your profile, they'll find it and will be more inclined to consider a purchase than if you command them to.

Have you used your LinkedIn network to sell a product or service effectively? I'd love to know more.


SueC said...

I've heard some online writers say LinkedIn is "out", since it's little more than a resume posting service. In ever got started really using it, in favor of other more active social networking efforts. LinkedIn has a rep I think that it appeals more to traditional corporate/business types but doesn't really rock the way other Web 2.0 services do. Curious to hear your feedback on that Sandra?

Terence said...

I head the Operations and Online Networking function for a corporate newswire, and I can say that Linkedin has served to introduce what my company does and how we contribute to the market we're a part of. I don't tend to do much introduction(online meet or greets), but when someone asks to sign up to our group page, we have in place a template that outlines our services, our goals, and how to reach those parties who can best service them. I don't aim to inundate people with repetitive email correspondence or "followups"--as I feel the template answers all questions.

I do feel that linkedin is the more grown-up( and living on his/her own) version of Facebook, but it can work for those who take the chance to understand what it is they're trying to market, and understand that clients/people/visitors enjoy being able to decide on their own terms.

Seamus Anthony said...

Seems like those dudes weren't really engaging the grey matter when they sent you that horrible marketing material.

Nice to come across this blog - looking forward to getting some publicity generating ideas for the "forthcoming" (as in not written) book ;-)