You see that invitation from a “competitor” hanging there in your inbox. You’re pretty sure they are there only to grab your network connections and recruit you but, in an effort to do the same to them first, you click on the button allowing them to join your network and see your connections. Literally within 24 hours you begin receiving the recruiting messages through LinkedIn from them.
Since you are already familiar with the person you can simply ignore them. But what if they are a sales person for a company like, say, Northwest Financial and they pay you a visit then suddenly all of your friends on LinkedIn say, “Who is this guy from Northwest that says you referred him to me?”
It happened. Twice. The first guy finishes his pitch with me then whips out a print-out of my LinkedIn contacts and starts asking if I know these people. Aggressive guerrilla marketing. I like it when I am teaching it or doing it. Sometimes it feels a little invasive when it happens to me. So I offered the kid a job. Then I removed him from my network so he could no longer see my connections.
Removing contacts from your network really is simple. You just need to know where to look. Follow these 4 images and you’ll be trimming and culling in seconds flat.
Click on the “Connections” tab
Click on the “Remove Connections” link
Select the name(s) you wish to remove
Do the deed
Now don’t you feel more empowered? Not using LinkedIn? Join #LinkedInChat every Tuesday at 8PM on Twitter. You should also follow @LinkedInExpert Viveka von Rosen.
You’ve seen them. It’s those posts that say, “Please leave your comment your input is crucial to my life.” Those are the blatant ones almost anyone can recognize. There is another, too. The more covert approach is to write a post, even a tweet, designed with the sole purpose of provoking a response. Today we look at these.
“I like yellow. What is your favorite color?”
There is a belief, by a few, it is better to receive comments – thus placating the lack of personal esteem – than to deliver quality content. This stems from a general feeling of inadequacy or low self-respect. More often than not these are the same people who comment on other’s posts with vague relevance to the actual content. Is this a problem? Not for us, but certainly it is a great indication of the psychological condition of the person. Perhaps even a plea for help not just a cry for acceptance.
“I went to the Astros game and had a hot dog. Do you like chili or sauerkraut on your dogs?”
Certainly this approach works better than, “Will you please leave a comment so I can at least have the impression you respect me enough to comment on something I write?” In the end it really is the same technique. Is it bad? Probably not. This is, after all, social media and the same behavior happens in society. We all have that friend who sends out 100 invitations to their own birthday party, orders their own cake, hires the caterer and even has an open bar. Score. We need more friends like that!
Do these types of posts pleading for comments do any good?
They do. They allow others to interact on meaningless banter which is somewhat of a relief since many posts are intimidating and filled with too many points to adequately address. For the poster it may also have the same value as an artist painting a few strokes – an artistic release.
Anna Zahovaeva writes, “Emotions in art have social implications, and they always have something in common with the original feelings experienced by every human being, so an artist never experiences merely a simple emotion, but rather a kind of a general social feeling.” So the people who post these inane lines are expressing something relevant to social standards which results in a higher number of comments. There value may not be as inane as the content.
Think of the cocktail party.
When you leave a cocktail or dinner party you may talk about how well dressed someone is, how impressed you were with the business acumen of another attendee and how delightful the petifores were. What almost everyone will do is repeat the jokes they heard from the funny gent who was there. So while this technique may build social acceptance it likely does not generate an urgency to become transactional with the author.
How to get more blog comments (if it matters to you):
Leave the topic open – end with a statement such as, “Of course this is only my perspective yours may differ. If so, how?”
Ask questions – “What purpose do you think these types of posts serve? Are they valuable to you and the community?”
Be controversial – be careful with this one if you care about being offensive. “So for those with a diminished capacity to be informative perhaps inane babble about weak minded and childish topics is the best they can muster.”
Comment back – if someone comments on your post comment back. This is the same type of engagement you may encounter in a face to face situation.
I did it. I took a full week vacation with my wife. Ten days to be exact. Although I took measures to make sure I was staying active in social media there was a failure especially with Garious. Either way the experiment was a success and a couple of tools helped me recognize the impact of being unwired for ten days.
When I left home on the 8th day of June my Empire Avenue stock was valued over 60. Upon my return I tracked the largest number of sales since I began and my value had fallen to 48. Sure, it’s “just a game”. Oddly this game gives some of the best real-time tracking of influence and activity of any other free tool on the web.
More importantly, perhaps, was the very obvious drop in my Klout report. The image says a lot. What it says is if you do not stay active and regular you will see a negative change in your engagement scores which are, at least to some degree, accurate reflections of your social impact.
How to avoid and compensate
My intention was to have scheduled blog posts and a few automated tweets to keep others engaged and to check my streams when I had connectivity. In fact I purchased a Xoom just for this purpose. Unfortunately, or in the case of vacation, cell service is somewhat spotty in the mountains of Alaska once you get about 50 miles out of populated areas.
I signed up for an account on Garious and carefully crafted about 50 tweets for every purpose from notifying friends about upcoming Social Media Edge radio shows, reminding them about upcoming events like next month’s webinar, and even saying happy birthday to a couple of friends whose birthdays fall in those date ranges. The failure is yet unknown as I have only just returned. None of the Garious posts were sent out.
Foursquare also failed. While I was checking in at various spots in Alaska the posts, although they went to Foursquare, did not post to Twitter or Facebook. I mention this only because you may be planning a similar trip and caution you not to rely on Foursquare for continued engagement. In fact this happened not only in the Pacific Northwest but in Destin Florida earlier in the month when I would check in but never received points for checking in because Foursquare and the map always disagreed on my geographic location. In other words Foursquare would say I was not at the location I was checking in.
WordPress performed flawlessly and posted the pre-scheduled blog posts right on time. Pre-scheduling posts is a highly used technique by virtually everyone I know who depends on steady readership for their blog to stay connected.
Why is this important?
If you are in a business which requires you to keep your connections informed and engaged even a gap of one week, as plainly pictured in the Klout image, can mean a negative trend in your engagement scores. Scores are simply a reflection of actual performance and a way to measure and respond.
It almost sounds like a dichotomy. Selling and social are often regarded as polar opposites. For the truly successful brands they know social, marketing and selling all work together. Although I may change the word selling for the word buying but the title would not be as easily understood.
Let me clarify the use of the word buying versus the word selling. Old school sales training usually included the phrases, “stop selling when they start buying”, “if you’re still selling they aren’t yet buying”, “you can’t take any orders while you’re selling”, and other equally termed phrases. So to say “social selling” really could have a negative connotation while “social buying” does not. We can thank, in part, Tupperware and Mary Kay Ash for introducing us to the in-home sales party.
Today’s social environment can change with the wind. In the morning everyone can be energized by the previous night’s Idol finale and by afternoon be outraged over the invasion of one country by another. Gone are the days of isolated pockets of information and reverberation and welcome the Jungian collective consciousness at the speed of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, EmpireAvenue, and the list grows on.
There is a psychology and a science to being a transactional force in the social space. We know this from years of experience beginning in the 80’s en mass, with what is now universally referred to as “spam”. It is called spam because, like the product it is named for, it does not contain exactly what you were expecting. In the early days the online community was brutal. If a member posted their email address or contact information (there were no websites at the time) in a forum of any kind other than porn and dating they were instantly hailed upon with great verbal force and generally suspended (kicked) or banned by the SysOp for that group never to be allowed to participate again.
The social space was much smaller and tighter knit in those days. As BBS and CompuServe gave way to IRC, Prodigy and AOL things began to change. The runup to the blossoming of the World Wide Web in the mid 90’s was an amazing explosion to experience. During these times spam became UCE, Unsolicited Commercial Email, and spammers went to court and even jail for wire fraud and other charges of evil doing. It was all a part of the growth process which we are still in the very earliest pioneering of. We’re still an embryo.
Today, 2011, I can touch millions of people from a device that fits in my pocket and downloads data as quickly as my home PC … which I unplugged over two years ago. I can create content, just like this article, and host online video conferences without any wires connected to any devices. We can all turn on our video feed and have a live conference with audio and video for pennies – something which once carried a price-tag unreachable by even some mid-sized businesses and was out of the question for small businesses.
Now we have Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, LinkedIn, and have recently added EmpireAvenue to the mix. The social space is expanding at a speed before unknown in the growth of any movement or organization. You can announce a tweetup in 4 hours at a local restaurant in almost any city of size and have a dozen or more people show up. You can announce a free concert by a local favorite band and 24 hours later sell it out. You can post a video of a cat hugging a kitten and in 24 hours it will have been viewed by over 1,000,000 people. That’s million in the event you are numerically challenged.
So what are some of the important points of selling in the social space?
Be genuine – people can smell a fake and if they stepped in it first you can still suffer the modern version of stoning.
Be regular but not predictable – especially if you have a podcast or YouTube channel and want to develop a loyal following stay on schedule.
Know your core values both personally and corporately – if you know who you are and what you stand for it’s hard to forget or be led off topic. If you are an airline you fly people and stuff around the nation or world and you don’t dabble in hydroponic gardening.
Stay with what you know – I may ask a question about thermonuclear energy but you won’t see me posting any blog articles about how the release of sub-atomic particles is safe for naked humans unless I’m giving my very shaky view on the topic.
Inspire others to engage – people like to share their knowledge and experience so making a statement generally does not inspire as many as asking a question. For example very few people will comment on this blog post yet if I do a poll on Facebook and ask which of these points are most important in social selling several people will respond.
Respond to criticisms with care – we all are criticized. Sometimes it’s a troll (someone just causing mischief or attacking you to make their life somehow better) and sometimes it is a genuine complaint as in United Breaks Guitars. In this era of social equity playing an important role suing someone with the “sue first, talk later” attitude (see the Real Estate Zebra story) can cost you a tremendous amount of social equity.
Get professional help – in certain circles everyone tends to think they are social media experts/specialists/gurus just because they have a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, and a blog. Forget that they can’t tell you which SEO function is more important or how Page Rank pass-through affects inbound links or even how to calculate the reach and response value of a tweet. Come to think of it they have no idea what is the best time to tweet for their personal needs and will regurgitate the “Friday from 3PM to 8PM” they heard at their last conference. (My best time, at the moment, to get retweets is Sunday from 8AM to 3PM and that’s not a guess).
Using automated social engagement without creating noise?
Calling me an avid FourSquare user would not be accurate but I do check-in several times a week of late. I don’t really go that many “cool” places so my check-ins are like the grocery store, the bank, getting a hair cut, work, and the gas station. Which, in my case, generally means the QuickTrip around the corner from my home.
With the Georgia sun beating down and the temperature near triple digits today I decided I wanted a fountain Coke Zero. Oh, I had one in the can in the fridge but there is something about that highly carbonated water and syrup mixture the can just does not quite capture. So, off I went to the store and decided to check-in on FourSquare while there in hopes of, just maybe, reclaiming the mayorship. See, I’m not the only sad-sack because someone else is actually the mayor of my QT. At one time it was my friend Kathy Drewien but she abdicated.
When I returned home I heard Tweetcaster notifying me through my Evo of a new tweet. Logging on to the web version I found the tweet you see to the right. Now while I was at QT I noticed the Blockbuster video box on the sidewalk out front. There it was all neatly tucked next to the cases of bottled water. Almost, I say almost, I took a photo of it to go into my FourSquare check-in. Alas, I opted for the wall sign.
I am often asked if I use automation for myself or my clients in social media. The answer is yes, I do. Amazingly the act is sometimes criticized as “noise” or “spam”. No one is more concerned with noise in the social space than yours truly. There is a difference between noise, spam and valuable insertion of an automated delivery. (Do not tweet “iPad” without expecting true spam!)
I give BlockBuster kudos for a well-timed and relevant automated engagement. Did I respond? You bet! I clicked the link and wrote a post about it and will likely talk about it on Social Media Edge radio on the show where Guy Kawasaki is my guest.
How can you monitor key terms and engage this way without being spammy?
As much as I would love to drop a paragraph here being an end all answer it really is not possible to do so. I will say you could, and this certainly is not the only way or the easiest way, create a tweetalert to let you know when your keywords are tweeted. Unfortunately that may be too slow in response. So if you are interested just connect with me or phone me 877-7000-KEN and we can talk. Talking is free. If you are really serious about seeing result from your online presence you don’t “have” to pay anyone but if you’re serious you’ll want the best and want it fast.