Focus Less On Social Media, More On Your Website

Let’s face it! As a business, do you know who your customers are and where they hang on online? (Hint: Social media is no longer a valid answer). Social media is like transportation hubs with plenty of busy people seeking different destinations (or wasting time and keeping company).

From the late MySpace to the current list of competing young and aging social platforms (and the new kids on the block), your potential customers are deserting one platform to the other leaving your investment on marketing and advertising to the wind. There are no solid metrics and no easy way to measure your return on investment in social advertising. Budget allocation is driven by fear of competition and inability to comprehend and keep up with changing advertising dynamics among social media outlets, not to mention the pressure of the new industry that revolves around social media marketing like agencies, analytics firms and so on.

Attracted by the economy of scale and ease of use, social media has become a popular and easy target for scams and privacy threats. Your advertising budget may be burned in seconds on fake profiles, click farms or even bots pretending to click your links or fill your forms. Just look around and you will see fans, followers, likes and views being sold online as if it is another stock market. You are not only losing your money, but your website is sitting there collecting dust.

Granted that social media is not going to disappear anytime soon, there is no doubt it is losing efficiency to say the least. Your Facebook post is not reaching your fans (unless you pay or convince fans to interact). With hundreds of liked pages and accounts to follow (ex. Twitter), you can be sure your organic or paid presence does not capture much attention and may even be filtered out. And let’s admit it – social media is becoming less social and more commercial – after all, they now have investors and stakeholders to please with nice looking balance sheets.

So, should you just ignore your presence on social platforms? Not yet. However, you should optimize based on resources and target audience. Post a picture on Facebook, upload a video on YouTube or tweet your next activity, but don’t spend much there. The alternative? Your website (and blog) and traditional media coverage – unless and until a worthy innovation is out.

Your website is your official identity online. Keep it up to date and promote it. Make is SEO and user friendly for different screen sizes. Enrich it with relevant and new content. Attract visitors but do not pull their legs or push content down their throats. Be an attractive flower and be sure that bees and butterflies will discover you and enjoy the visit.

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Arab Business Network (ABN)

Arab Business Network is a new, and unique, LinkedIn group for business professionals. “Yet another group?” you would say, and the answer is “not quite, it’s a VIP one”. “So what?” you’d ask. ¬†Well, glad you asked. Here’s the rationale and story behind it.

ABN was formed thanks to both technical and operational difficulties and it aims at solving both. The technical part has to do with how LinkedIn groups are run and managed. I will not dwell further on this part as it was covered in a previous article. The main reason why ABN exists is what matters.
The Arab region has a great, yet not fully utilized, business potential. Think about the geographic and demographic characteristics of this part of the world. It has a great market size and a considerable market share as well. However, there are a few common challenges and gaps that can be easily identified across the region. Areas like innovation support, entrepreneurship, startup funding and marketing, IPR and sales management (shipping, addressing, payments, …) still have room for improvement. Despite issues of political stability in some countries (all parts of the world are subject to different instabilities), the collective economic aspects are very promising.

Imagine an adequate atmosphere where ideas are cultivated, innovators are mentored, connections are established, enabling funding is provided and partnerships are formed. The future projection of such an environment is great businesses in information technology, telecommunications, tourism, media, improved education and health, e-business, green energy and other areas that are now possible only by a stretch of imagination. This is what ABN is trying to help achieve.

ABN will function as a virtual incubator, a mentoring platform, a networking tool, a partnership enabler and a framework to help exchange ideas, knowledge, best practices, success and failure, problems and solutions, constructive discussions and feedback. At ABN, you are expected to give before you take.
As a unique platform, ABN is restricted, closed and limited in membership count. We care more about quality and relevance. Our ability to deliver, serve our membership base and manage the group in a timely manner is what counts. To stay focused and specialized, ABN does not offer jobs and promotions, all our content is based on relevant discussions and comments. We feel there are many groups and platforms for promotions and jobs and decided to stay away from these areas. We ask our members to be both active on regular basis and to limit their daily contribution to few items.

Our typical group members are innovators, entrepreneurs, startups and angel investors in the region as well as those willing to help and support advance our cause. A good example would be a college professor offering mentoring in business development or a journalist covering early stage innovators and startups.

First hand necessity for such a platform came out as part of the group owner’s experience in building Ezy Discount ( a startup for low ceremony, nearby deals with privacy – the G3 in coupon and voucher industry). As a cloud based service, product development and distribution were not an issue, but marketing and sales were not easy. The closest market was small and weak; funding options were very limited, demanding, lacked true partnership, and tied to non-business agenda. Apart from this first hand experience, we have witnessed great ideas, from student projects to innovative startups, wither out for similar reasons and decided to do something about it.

If you feel the same, have some enthusiasm, plan to help or see future potential in this endeavor, you are most welcome to jump aboard and sail with us. The group requires Linked In membership and can be found at http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=8104355

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LinkedIn’s SWAM: Victims Of Poorly Thought Out Moderation

A few days back, I saw a strange notification in a blue rectangle in a LinkedIn group. It reads “Your posts across groups are being moderated temporarily because one of your recent contributions was marked as spam or flagged for not being relevant” (The Learn More link leads to a help article that is not very helpful, especially if you cannot email your group admin). I was a top contributor to the group the previous day and could not recall any inappropriate activity. I checked my inbox to see if LinkedIn or group managers have sent me an alert, a warning or just a notification of the activity in question but did not find any. Now, any comment or post in any group requires permission and many stay for days or end up deleted – too much workload for managers as moderation spreads like viral. After a week of waiting, I deleted contributions in queue (in case they are used as bad criteria) and stopped contributing to any group.

After doing some searching around the issue, including LinkedIn’s help, I found about this automated group moderation and learned about the frustration of fellow members – there is even a group for SWAM (Site-Wide Automated Moderating) victims and it gave LinkedIn bad press in major media outlets (Ex. Forbes). If you are flagged in one group, and it may be unfair, you are punished across all groups.

Given that LinkedIn Groups is one of the few features (and may become the only one) that encourage people to hang out there, it is so strange that LinkedIn – after a few attempts – is still getting group moderation wrong. It doesn’t take a genius to fix it to an acceptable level over a short period of time and if LinkedIn cannot do it, who else could?

Let’s look at some quick fixes.

  • Group owners and managers should get some basic training in group administration, configure their groups correctly and show commitment.
  • Post or comment flags should be justified and alert sent to both group managers and the member involved (post/comment plus justification – keeping reporter anonymous to the member but revealing identity to manager).
  • Penalty should be local (same group)
  • After two or more different reports from different people, moderation is enabled for a couple of days with an alert to group admin to take action (moderation auto-clears if no action is taken).
  • If a member is moderated several times, the group admin can freeze their membership.
  • Members should have the option to hide all contributions from other members in a group (if they think it is spam or if they do not like them or their content for any reason)
  • More rules can be enforced based on information gathered from groups usage including group management settings and sanctions against group owners who fail to run their groups appropriately.

LinkedIn groups are usually run by, and cater for, people with potentially conflicting interests. It is unfair to pass judgements where bias could be the main reason behind reports (if you don’t agree with it, flag it). Spammers should be ignored rather than moderated, they will find ways around it and come back under different identities causing more harm to more members. How about an alternative: enable members to hide all contributions from this member – isn’t this more effective?

I do hope that LinkedIn takes groups seriously – not only moderation, but as an essential feature to attract and retain members. Otherwise, it will be doing other social platforms a great favor. Comments, including official LinkedIn feedback, welcome!

Posted in Linkedin Groups Moderation, LinkedIn SWAM, Site Wide Automatic Moderation | Comments Off