Gaming the System
It seemed like a good idea, and LinkedIn started it with LinkedIn Answers: Provide a forum where people who need information can ask questions and unselfish experts will provide helpful advice. The information seeker gets the critical help they need and the experts providing the information help make the world a better place. Everyone wins. That’s the theory of a perfect social media world that doesn’t exist.
It might work if the Internet were an orderly utopia where no one sought fame and fortune. Instead it’s an anarchy, which allows marketers-posing-as-networkers to come in and muck it up for everyone (and I use the term ‘marketers’ very loosely).
For example, someone posts a question like this on LinkedIn:
“How much do you believe a business would grow by having an effective social media strategy?”
Now, the asker of this question is, of course, a social media consultant. This marketer-posing-as-a-networker really has no intention of seeking information, rather she is looking for a potential customer through questioning sleight-of-hand.
There are legitimate questions from real people wanting real information. But unfortunately the marketers-posing-as-a-networkers show up here too. They provide self-serving half-answers with links to their website and blog for the purpose of selling their stuff. The same thing happens on Twitter (where anyone can appear to be famous). I once asked a question about website hosting and immediately started receiving @ messages from people I didn’t know suggesting I check out their affiliate-link filled website.
Missed Networking Opportunity
The thing is, these marketers-posing-as-a-networkers are really just con artists. They may fool a few of the people some of the time, but most people see them for what they are. Unfortunately, they’re missing a great opportunity to build a network of like-minded professionals and possible referrals.
I’ve never considered Twitter a marketing channel. Really, it’s a networking channel, as is LinkedIn and Facebook personal profiles. There’s no rigid line between networking and marketing, but there is opportunity. Are you marketing when you should be networking?