LinkedIn’s Secret Weapon – The Flag !
First of all let me say that I am a longtime paying premium member of LinkedIn. I have also used their advertising platform for years, albeit with lackluster results. I saw the “benefit” of networking and sharing industry insights with my comrades in the Aerospace and Defense Industry. I have also enjoyed the conversations and comments generated by my content postings, and made many new contacts and friends. What follows is my opinion of LinkedIn’s best weapon against your competition.
I have discovered that LinkedIn has a “secret weapon”. It is available to anyone. Anyone can use it in the business war. Yes I will repeat this- “ANYONE” can use this secret weapon. The word “weapon” is defined as “An instrument of attack”. If we consider that the business world is a combative struggle against competitors, or for the attention of potential prospects, then the weapon that LinkedIn has developed is absolutely perfect. It is stealth, effective, and beautiful in its simplicity. Once deployed there is nothing that your enemy can do. This weapon is insidious, in that it is not easily noticed, causes great harm, and does not even allow you the benefit of knowing who has deployed this weapon against you or why. Furthermore, according to LinkedIn, not even LinkedIn has the ability neutralize the weapon.
I have been the target of this weapon 4-5 times over the last couple of years and have had many conversations with LinkedIn support without remedy. Over the last year, I have researched the web, business blogs, support blogs etc., and have discovered some riveting information that I share with you now. It is my hope that armed with this weapon; you too can succeed in beating your competition and be more successful.
This LinkedIn weapon is located in the Group Discussions of LinkedIn. It is known as “Flag”. Let me illustrate how powerful this weapon is. Anyone can flag a discussion entry for being a “promotion”, or a “job”, or for being “inappropriate”. Once you are flagged, your submissions of content are held in limbo across all of your groups unless and until a group manager authorizes it……And this is where it gets interesting. First, there is no succinct definition for “inappropriate”. It is subject to interpretation of the “flagger”. So content that is “flaggable” for one, may be totally appropriate for another. There are no rules here folks. It is the “Wild West”. Furthermore, many group managers are not managing their groups at all. I am a member of 50 groups, and about 60% of the managers have not been managing postings for the last 2-3 years. They are absent. Which means that they will not respond to any requests, approve any content, nor participate in the group.
In my case, I have been in “limbo” more than a few times, even with content that is “on topic”, appropriate, and neither a job nor promotion. And although the LinkedIn support pages describe this condition as lasting a few days to weeks, mine have lasted many months to years, as is the case with absent group owners and managers. In fact, one of my groups has an archive of posts from me spanning 6 pages. They have never seen the light of day, and the owner of the group has not responded to any messages from me.
In my opinion, LinkedIn is ignoring this situation, which provides opportunities for those that have competitors, and dangers for those that submit content. That being said, I’d like to offer some thoughts about this.
1. If you plan on submitting content, do not join any group that has an owner or manager who is absent, not participating, or appears to be “asleep at the wheel”. Remember, anyone can create a group. From a drug dealer, to a well-respected industry thought leader; there are no qualifications. Also please remember that anyone can flag you, and you won’t know who it is or why. This means you could be flagged again and again and again. It could be your ex-employee, your grumpy neighbor, or your wife’s boyfriend.
2. If you have a competitor, ex wife, ex boyfriend, etc. and find content that they have submitted, clearly there are no rules against being vindictive and flagging everything. I know this, as I have been the victim of these attacks.
In conclusion, “Flagging” has rendered LinkedIn groups useless for many of us that have business competition. Until LinkedIn corrects or changes this situation, it is my opinion that there are better platforms for distributing meaningful content to your followers and connections. Many people agree with me on this subject, and describe the LinkedIn platform as nothing more than a “job board”. Thanks for reading my “rant”.
The current state of Aerospace and Defense Supplier Marketing and Sales.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, I have consulted with, and or made presentations to 100’s of suppliers ranging in size from small start ups of 15-20 people, to larger Tier 1 and 2 manufacturing plants with more than 1000 full time employees.
Typically I am introduced to these companies when I receive a phone call from the owner or CEO. Invariably these calls follow a remarkably similar pattern. The conversation revolves around the caller’s “lack of new business”, or their “declining sales revenue”. I then will ask them about their marketing or sales strategy and learn that these four actions are almost always present:
1. They’ve hired more sales people. Generally without much training or experience.
2. They’ve attended more “industry shows”, but have no “post-show” follow up plan.
3. They’ve started a Facebook Page, without any content mechanism nor analytics.
4. They’ve started doing some print advertising in their industry magazines.
I then inquire about the results of these actions and in 99% of the cases, the results are negligible.
Although I have written about this before, the telephone calls continue to come from these befuddled leaders, asking “WHY”?
A little deeper into these calls I learn that these companies:
1. Have no CRM system, or a very limited one (outlook) for measuring their efforts.
2. Have no formal Marketing and Sales strategy; and in most cases have not formalized any Strategic Plan for the company. So they are managing their business by “flying blind”, “seat of the pants”.
3. Have not formalized any sales or marketing processes, nor do they feel the need to formalize them.
4. Have not implemented but 1 or 2 digital tools available.
5. Have no analytics to help them tailor their efforts for success.
6. Have not queried their customers with a survey or opinion poll, so they have no objective information about their customers.
7. Have no capture mechanism for learning who visits their website.
8. Have not done any studies of their competition.
9. Do not maintain a current customer list of buyers with emails and phone numbers.
In essence, they are operating without a plan, without any tools, and waiting for the phone to ring.
Does this sound familiar? If so, then I challenge you, the executive leadership of these companies to “Stop Fiddling While Rome Burns”, and lead your company into the future. There are literally hundreds of tools, books, platforms, consultants, blogs, and websites, which are available to help you. There is absolutely no excuse for poor performance. In the end though, it depends on you. You must take action. http://www.barryneighbors.com
Perhaps that’s the problem. Do you continue to “fiddle”, or do you embrace a strategy to change. The challenge is yours.
Barry Neighbors has extensive experience working with OEM's and A&D Suppliers on Supply Chain issues. Focused on developing a more efficient supply chain, or helping suppliers in their business development efforts.