Marketers always have to worry about what approach they choose to take. Everything is data-driven these days, so many marketers will do anything to get some clicks, impressions, purchases, followers, etc. Whether what they’re doing is appropriate and respectable or whether it’s sleazy and unethical doesn’t matter, as long as they get the numbers. Being sleazy can be very tempting. Most marketers don’t enjoy being inappropriate and unethical - what they think is that their approach is the most effective. Why convince you to click when they could trick you into clicking instead? It’s very tempting.
Being less than honest or sleazy is also pretty effective, at least on a surface level. These kinds of tricks and traps work well at first, so why not use them?
The problem is that it’s only temporary. Sleaze will net you a small boost in your numbers, but there’s no way you can build the foundation for your marketing on dishonest practices. Over time, clients, customers, other companies, and even algorithms will pick up on what you’re doing, and you will suffer the consequences.
Marketing on Linkedin is no different. There’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way may be tempting, but no one wants to deal with that kind of approach at the end of the day.
Long term, the risks aren’t worth it. You should even go so far as to avoid many sleazy practices like the plague since they do hurt your long term growth. Here’s a list of sleazy practices, as well as some deadly mistakes, you want to avoid at all costs when building your Linkedin:
Contacting the wrong people
Getting a significant number of followers is great, but why contact someone who works in a different field, lives in a different country and speaks a foreign language? The odds of them accepting your request are already low enough. All you’d be doing at this point is harm your profile’s reputation little by little.
Your connections need to remain honest. It has to be people that you already know in some way or people that are at least relevant to what you do. Before you send them a connection request, ask yourself if they are also interested in connecting with you or not. There’s no point going for total strangers. They have no reason to connect with you anyway. You’ll just come off as sleazy to them.
Asking the wrong people for endorsements, recommendations, or referrals.
There’s no point in asking someone you don’t know to write you a recommendation. The odds of them doing it are astronomically low. The upside is already negligible, but the downside is also bad. If you go around asking people who don’t know you for undeserved favours, then if, in the future, you do meet them and try to work with them, they may have had a terrible first impression of you. You could even get your account reported for spam, and Linkedin may even suspend you, or you could be flagged by the algorithm and get de-prioritized. There are real dangers to going around doing dishonest work, so just play it safe and keep things honest.
Trying to undermine other people on the platform
You may think that getting a quick jab in against one of your competitors will do you some good, especially if you write a killer comment under one of their posts, but the truth is that it’s just seen as unprofessional. As you know, being unprofessional on Linkedin is the last thing you want to be. Generally, you should avoid confronting or calling out your peers publicly. It doesn’t sit well with most people.
Using fake information
Putting in fake jobs or experience that you never had can be extremely tempting because who is going to check? It’s true; most people aren’t going to run background checks on your information. The issue is that those who do are typically the ones that matter the most: potential employers and big clients. These people will do their due diligence when it comes to verifying your profile information because their money’s on the line. They’re going to make sure you really do have a programming degree and that you did work with that one company for four years. It’s easy to make up the lie, but the hard part is keeping the lie going. Once you start coming under scrutiny, it’ll become harder and harder to keep up appearances. Seeing that someone is lying is, to no one’s surprise, the fastest way to never want to do business with them ever again.
Just stick to what’s true. You can’t make up for success anyway. If you lie, things will fall apart at some point, and you’ll harm both your personal brand and your business when that happens. If you feel like you need to lie to keep up with other people’s profiles, then maybe it’s time to get some new experiences. Take a course, branch out, put in the time and effort to catch up to everyone else - it’s the actual experience that matters anyway, not just saying it on your CV.
Linkedin is a great place to sell, but it’s not a marketplace. You can use Linkedin to promote your new products or services, that’s fine. You don’t want everything to be about sales, though. It’s kind of like automation. People will notice if you treat every single post, reply, message, and reaction like a sales opportunity. That’ll make people think that you’re just using Linkedin as an ad for your business, trying to get people to buy your products no matter what. Again, personalization disappears in this process.
Linkedin is a social media platform - there’s much more to do than just sell your product. You want to be building your brand, connecting with your audience, gaining their trust and confidence over time. Treat Linkedin like a simple marketplace where you put your ads, and you won’t see much success.
This mistake is perhaps the hardest to avoid. Automation is a great (and even sometimes necessary) thing to do with your social media. Once things start to scale up, things can get out of hand for a human to manually manage. In those cases, automation is good, and you want to take advantage of all the available tools these days to help you manage your social media more efficiently. There is, however, a point where too much automation won't be as productive as you think.
Automation is great for a lot of things, but it's not something you should be utilizing in your Linkedin profile. In fact, if you're the kind of person that like to read the terms and conditions, you'll learn that it's actually prohibited by the platform. Understandably, this hasn't stopped any enterprising programmers and startups to offer solutions that do it anyways.
Besides tempting action from Linkedin to hinder your account, you'll also achieve the opposite of what you want to aim for with social media profiles. An overly automated profile will give a terrible impression to visitors. Most people are okay with a few automated responses here or there. Still, if every single bit of activity coming from your account is automated, people will notice it very fast, and it's very off-putting. Think of it as the Linkedin equivalent of calling a Customer Service line and not speaking with a human. It just feels lazy, sleazy, and opportunistic.
Boosting your endorsements
There are many ways to get fake endorsements (or even recommendations) on Linkedin. You can do it the hard way and make fake accounts yourself and have them endorse your primary account, or you can purchase services that already have a horde of fake accounts ready to endorse and recommend your profile for a fee. This isn’t just sleazy; this is borderline unethical. It takes advantage of Linkedin’s best feature, which is having your peers speak in favour of you.
If you’re not concerned about the ethical problems that come with doing this, you should at least worry about the real dangers that come with engaging in this type of behaviour. Linkedin does their best to crack down on this sort of conduct, and the consequences of getting caught are quite grave. In the best case, your account will get suspended and de-prioritized by their algorithms very heavily (to counteract your fraudulent endorsements). In the worst case, Linkedin could outright delete your account permanently, forcing you to either abandon the platform or start from scratch with a fresh account. If your brand is big enough, news of you engaging in this type of behaviour will almost irreparably damage your brand, both with customers and with colleagues in your field. It’s just not worth it at the end of the day, so stay away from doing it.
Forgetting what Linkedin is.
No matter how much the “social” part of Linkedin grows, it will remain the premier professional platform. Linkedin tries its best to make the platform as casual as possible, but they always stick to the professional tone at the end of the day.
The easiest mistake you could make is to misjudge Linkedin for other, more casual, social media platforms. You need to understand the site for what it is. If you don’t, you’ll be starting things wrong from the very first step. Remember that Linkedin is about professionalism. There is space for your personality to shine through, to make some jokes, and just to be yourself, but you shouldn’t treat Linkedin as your outlet for your personal thoughts. People aren’t on Linkedin to interact with you on a personal level. Feel free to show off your personality as long as you relate whatever you’re doing to your professional life.
Making things political
Politics is an essential part of day-to-day life for many people, so you’d think that it could be something you could take advantage of. The problem is, politics is usually very divisive, and so unless you’re taking the safest and standard position, people on either side of the debate will see you as pandering to a specific group, which leaves a terrible impression on them.
Having the wrong profile picture.
Your profile picture is the first thing people see about your profile. It’s your first impression to everyone on the platform, and first impressions matter a lot. You can do so many small things that would make your profile picture suboptimal, but luckily they’re easy to avoid.
The easiest is to make sure you have a high quality, clear, well-lit picture. There’s nothing like a blurry or unclear photo to make someone click away from your profile. Often people use pictures of themselves but with other people - a family photo or an image of them at a conference. These pictures can be tempting, but you want to be the only person in your profile picture. Even if a picture with others can be nice, other people will just be distracting to viewers, and it will make your profile picture less memorable. If you’re the only one in it, then it’ll be easier for people to remember your face! One last mistake is not being appropriately dressed for your picture.
Neglecting your Inbox.
When you first sign up for a Linkedin account, you probably experience one of two things: you either forget that you even have an Inbox because no one is sending you any messages, or you quickly learn to ignore your Inbox since the few messages you get are probably automated messages from marketing bots that are useless to you. Keeping this attitude toward your Inbox would be a huge mistake since Linkedin messages are filled with different opportunities that you can’t get anywhere else on the site. For example, headhunters will often try to contact you through Linkedin, the same thing with small-scale clients trying to learn more about you and your business. You wouldn’t want to miss out on their messages and give up whatever opportunities they are presenting you, so make sure you’re always paying attention to your Inbox!
Not putting enough time into your profile.
Linkedin profiles, like other social media profiles, are all about precision and quality. If you’re being lazy about your profile and miss the mark on it, then your numbers will definitely suffer. Building a killer profile has a lot to it,but it’s completely worth the effort. Not giving your profile the attention it needs will just set you back compared to people competing with you who do put in the time and effort. Imagine you’re a user, and you come across two profiles. One is tightly built, is concise, personal, and informative. The other is still good, but it has some typos, some formatting errors, and is a bit too lengthy. Which one would you choose? Most people would obviously go for the first one.
Overall, Linkedin is a representation of both your and your business' or employer's identity. It's best to portray your best side, in order to completely leverage all that Linkedin has to offer.