Today I was sent a connection request on LinkedIn by a guy working for a “social agency” so seeing as I had a little bit of time on my hands I thought I would check them out…and this is what I found.

There were 15 people who seemed to operate under this banner:

  • 2 of the 15 had personalised their LinkedIn URL (13 hadn’t)
  • all of them had just one or two lines against each of the entries in the employment history
  • none of them had understood the difference between “summary” and “employment history” sections of their profile
  • those that had bothered to change their background image had the same generic branded image
  • none of them had any experience in either sales or marketing
  • none of them regularly published articles or posts, and most of them didn’t interact with their network at all
  • many of them said things like “I am currently working at…” (presumably they think they will be leaving soon?)
  • none of them had a single testimonial from a client
  • none of them had more than 10 endorsements for a single skill
  • several of the profiles said “ Please feel free to check out the video below…” there was no video

My point is that social media in business, social selling, social media marketing, employee advocacy and all of the other branches of social media are a very “fashionable” place to be and there are many companies that are set up to capitalise on this but it creates an environment where the byword should be “caveat emptor: (buyer beware) because for you to commission an organisation to help you with your social media it will take budget and this budget will often have to be carved-out of other things so you MUST spend it wisely.

The CEB/Gartner research showing that buyers are 57% (or more) of the way through the buying process before the seller is even aware of them changes the ability of the seller to be able to influence the buyers decision. The fact that (also according to Gartner) there are almost 7 people involved in the average buying team means that in 2/3 of deals nothing is sold because the 7 people cannot arrive at a consensus.

Despite this research (and much more) often companies believe that they just need to do more of what they are already doing as opposed to doing something new, something which acknowledges that the landscape has changed out of all recognition.

The answer is to engage in a way that prospects see as valuable to THEM rather than an intrusion by YOU. These people probably don’t want to be sold at…but perhaps they do want to “buy.”