For most small businesses it’s not exactly a walk in the park to attract ideal new clients. And for many, LinkedIn rightly so is a key channel for growth objectives. But it is noisy and competitive platform with all guns blazing in the race for visibility and content marketing traction writes Sue Parker.
Central to growing market visibility and generating enquiries is your personal reputation and conduct. Whether using the platform for business growth, entrepreneurial positioning, leadership or career growth, your conduct and reputation goes hand in hand.
The heat is on for businesses to survive and thrive this year and so the appeal of fast wins and the promise of gaining easy influencer status abounds on LinkedIn,
The delusion of influencers
The whole rhetoric and market sway of becoming an influencer has lost its gloss. Every Tom, Dick and Mary wants to be one and there are thousands of coaches and services now peddling solutions, especially around LinkedIn.
Every social media platform attracts the good, ugly, fraudulent and honest. I do wish there was a vaccine for ethics but that is as likely as Gary V becoming a priest. Humans are humans and LinkedIn likewise draws a solid mix of those desperate and delusional.
But when it comes to putting dollars in the bank, raising visibility and professional brand influence, there are no easy wins in building business and leadership trust.
Integrity, consistency, time and value add are the evergreen reputation pillars. LinkedIn members who try and swoop up quick wins to give the impression of ‘smashing it’ with fake social proof will and do come unstuck at some point. All that glitters isn’t always gold.
The key to protecting your brand and mitigate risk is to apply critical thinking and assessment to avoid lazy hyperbole and dodgy marketing ploys.
There are can be key warning bells on LinkedIn which cast doubt on ethical marketing and authentic business value. In the mad scramble to reap sales and business leads, members will be blindsided into believing certain marketing practices are the ‘done thing, everyone is doing them and are acceptable’. Or they are well aware that the practices are deceitful but don’t give a flying fig anyhow.
The big test of any marketing is the transparency of the actions and processes. Dubious marketing practices are kept hidden and secret, a bit like the Freemason’s handshake!.
And winning acclaim when it was fake will chip away at wellbeing and self-worth. I call these practices the ‘underbelly of LinkedIn” as they can be fraudulent and nefarious at worst, foolish and a waste of time and money at best.
Run for the hills if you are considering the following practices and likewise if you observe them from others:
Engagement Pods are not a silver bullet for visibility and status but a slippery slope. And whilst there appeared to be a reduction in 2020, they have resurfaced in full throttle. Why? I believe competitive desperation, self-doubt and the economic roller coaster is contributing.
An engagement pod in its true form is set up to game the algorithm. Pods group businesses together (circa 10 to 1000 nationally or globally and mostly totally disparate) to enforce engagement on each other’s post to boost visibility. Pods can be fee-based or free, but the former has now become a pernicious business model and sell in itself on the platform.
The vacuous, back-patting, effusive garbage comments, international-3rd country engagement and local echo chamber clamour is as deafening as useless.
Paid Followers & Fake Profile Engagement
All that glitters isn’t gold and this sits central to the issue of paid followers and fake engagement. Again the use of fake and paid services to garner the appearance of influencer status has not abated in 2021 but perhaps re-engineered a little more adroitly (in some cases)
Further, the click farm industry has grown due to demand by the lazy and unethical. Sellers are global and in Australia.
Outsourcing profile management
Your personal profile is yours and it’s important to be a real human on LinkedIn. Do not outsource personal profile activities and connection requests outside of your company. . . Also, many outsourced services combine automation, click farms and engagement pod activities as a ‘done for you’ service.
Outsourcing is very dangerous stuff as your brand and profile can and will be compromised. I have seen 100s of people in LinkedIn jail or teetering.
The issue of automation is being addressed by LinkedIn regularly but nowhere near robustly enough. Automation and chrome tools are prohibited in the User Agreement
And this year there has been communication from LinkedIn HQ that sending more than 100 invitations per week will be deemed an alert for automated activity. However, this is haphazard on enforcement but it is happening and members being suspended. But nonetheless, there is a myriad of smart communication best practice reasons why you shouldn’t automate invitations, notwithstanding the generic cut and paste flavour and spray and pray intent. Quality vs quantity every time.
Being an influencer has nothing to do with likes or followers but the power of the work you do and how it impacts your industry and client needs in a fresh and unique way.
Be clear, creative and brave on LinkedIn as being ethical doesn’t mean boring, How you use the fabulous and powerful LinkedIn channel matters and echo chambers and vanity ploys don’t build authentic trust-based reputations.
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