How Even Social Media & Social Selling Experts Are Getting LinkedIn Wrong – Part 1

In previous posts, I shared how CMOs at Xerox, Lithium, G2Crowd, Wiley and XOJet are getting LinkedIn wrong as they are simply focused on brand awareness, reach and filling the funnel.  I showed how the actions of these CMOs and others are the reasons behind why 8 out of 10 sales and marketing leaders are unable to prove a clear social media ROI on LinkedIn.

Now, as I review the actions, thoughts and ideas from some of the most recognized social media and social selling authors, experts and consultants, I understand why business leaders and sales and marketing professionals are failing to drive demand on LinkedIn. These experts including Jay Baer, Viveka von Rosen, Josh Turner, Christine Hueber, Brynne Tillman, Alice Heiman, John Nemo, David Meerman Scott, Dave Kerpen and others are even getting LinkedIn wrong. Keep reading my most controversial and provocative article yet to see what I mean….

Jay Baer Wrongly Believes Shotguns Trump Rifles in Social Media

On his blog (, in LinkedIn group discussions, on LinkedIn Pulse and even in his presentations (including the one at Social Fresh), Jay Baer mentioned that shotguns trump rifles in social media. He mentions that a shotgun approach gets a bigger reach and has a better opportunity for going viral. He believes that social media should be a volume play and that you should be focused on broadcasting the same content to the widest possible audience, regardless of the different needs, wants and expectations of your followers or connections.

Jay’s approach is taking the “social” out of “social media” and those sales and marketing executives that follow his approach are just seeing social media as another advertising medium to gain more brand awareness. When you have a high-priced solution with a complex sales process that requires strong relationships, then you better be sure you’re focusing on specific audiences and that you are relevant. Rifles trump shotguns in this case!

Wayne Breitbarth and David Meerman Scott Thinks You Should Be More of a Resource

David Meerman Scott (best-selling author with more than 250,000 books sold worldwide and keynote sales and marketing speaker) believes that only 10% of the content you share in social media circles including LinkedIn should be your own. Wayne Breitbarth (author of the Power Formula for LinkedIn Success) believes that for every 10 updates, 6 should be for content you didn’t create!

This positions you as a resource rather than a thought leader! LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to go directly to key decision makers and communicate to them your business value. Your business value shouldn’t be that you can curate content that would be relevant to them!

Keep in mind that a recent LinkedIn study shows that 80% of IT buyers say that thought leadership content is crucial in their decision making process – and I’m sure that if LinkedIn completed the study in other industries they’d get similar results. If thought leadership content was key, why would I focus on sharing other people’s content more?

Viveka von Rosen, Stephanie Sammons, Melonie Dodaro, Donna Serdula, Christine Hueber and Kurt Shaver Wrongly Use the LinkedIn Publishing Platform

These experts fail to understand that the LinkedIn publishing platform posts are tools that are meant to position you (using it ineffectively takes away from any positioning work that you may have done on your profile as they are linked directly from it.) Most importantly, they should challenge thoughts and actions and drive demand for an alternative option. The platform is not just another place to share content, despite what these experts may believe:  

  • Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing in an Hour a Day and one of the most well-known LinkedIn marketing consultants talks about how to customize your invitations on LinkedIn. Can’t that be found on almost every social media consultant’s website?
  • Melonie Dodaro – a contributor to LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog and best-selling author of the LinkedIn Code, shares on the LinkedIn publishing platform 7 messages that you should not send on LinkedIn including the default message (like this hasn’t been written about a million times in the last 5 years.) In her posts about LinkedIn profiles (as well as the posts from fellow Social Media Examiner contributor Stephanie Sammons) you’ll find tips about having a professional photo, a strong headline and a summary that is written in 1st person that is prospect-centric.  Notice the same old information just written by another author.
  • Christine Hueber, who self-proclaims herself as the #1 LinkedIn All-Time Top Female Expert mainly uses the LinkedIn Publishing Platform to promote her events, workshops, webinars etc. Most of the posts are blatant self-promotions even though B2B buyers are calling for more value. They want relationships first. They want to see real, differentiated value and how you turn their vision into results they want to achieve.  When Christine provides any value in her platform posts, it is generic value. For example, in a post where she talks about how to increase your website traffic 500+% with a simple strategy – she talks about consistent, compelling blogging (like no duh!) and then you have to sign up for a strategy session to learn about an effective system that makes blogging easy, fast and fun.
  • Donna Serdula, a LinkedIn profile makeover expert – uses the LinkedIn publishing platform to share information about completely overdone topics like “Should Your LinkedIn Profile Be Written in 1st Person or 3rd Person.” She also discusses things like the Microsoft Acquisition of LinkedIn, the LinkedIn lawsuit and how LinkedIn caps the number of searches you can complete with a free account. Now, how do these topics relate back to driving demand for LinkedIn profile makeovers?
  • Kurt Shaver (Founder of The Sales Foundry) and many others ineffectively newsjack and push out content.  When the news broke, about the Microsoft + LinkedIn acquisition, everyone started creating and sharing articles and posts about it. Kurt Shaver, started writing posts about how it’s mostly a tactic to beat Salesforce (who cares except for anyone in marketing automation) and Why Microsoft Buying LinkedIn is Like the Warriors Signing Kevin Durant. This may have gotten 2000+ views, hundreds of likes and comments and even Jeff Weiner’s attention, but if there is no next step action what good is it? If the acquisition isn’t changing anything now or in the near future for my prospects, why would I write about it?

Mark White Fails to Recognize the Importance of Mixing Content with LinkedIn Marketing

As of this writing, we’re at the end of August, and Mark White who has been training UK businesses how to use LinkedIn before I even founded only has 4 LinkedIn publishing platform posts and 3 blog posts for this year. He hasn’t blogged since March 14 of this year.

This LinkedIn consultant fails to understand that content plays an important role in:

  • Getting prospects to self-identify themselves inside LinkedIn groups as a prospect who is in need of your services or solutions
  • Challenging your prospects’ current approaches and opening their minds to alternative options
  • Communicating and demonstrating your unique business value
  • Making connections and nurturing key relationships with B2B decision makers as you move them through the buyer’s journey

Judy Parsons and Alice Heiman Tries to Sell How Quick and Easy It Is For Sales Leaders to Use LinkedIn.

Judy Parsons, a UK LinkedIn trainer, has a free ebook: One Hour to a LinkedIn Profile That Gets You Noticed! If she truly understood LinkedIn and how important it is for your profile to not only get noticed but to drive next steps, then she would not be promoting getting it done in just 1 hour. Recent studies show that most sellers are out of sync with buyers and that most sales people fail to communicate business value in person (and we find that even more fail on LinkedIn!) That’s why most of the time we spend on providing LinkedIn profile makeovers (10 to 14 hours overall) is actually spent on the positioning and messaging strategy. This is not something to be rushed as your personal profile is the foundation to your LinkedIn success.

Alice Heiman, one of the top sales consultants, coaches clients that they can achieve success on LinkedIn in just 15 to 30 minutes a day. Do you really think that you can make the right connections, engage in real conversations, and nurture relationships in just 15 minutes per day? These experts are speaking to their potential prospects lack of time to show sales professionals that they can do it. So, LinkedIn is becoming a shopping list of tactics for sales professionals rather than strategic actions that are leading to real outcomes. LinkedIn ROI should be qualitative with results that can be traced to activity, as opposed to actual time on the site.

Now, This Is Only Part 1 of My Series on How Social Media and Social Selling Experts Are Getting LinkedIn Wrong.  

In part 2, I’ll be talking about Brynne Tillman, Josh Turner, Judy Schramm, John Nemo and others. These experts may get mad at me for calling them out – but I am trying to initiate change in how we approach LinkedIn for sales, marketing and business development. It’s time that we go beyond awareness, reach and pushing out content on LinkedIn. It’s time that we stop focusing on “time spent.” It’s time we focus on creating real relationships and most importantly on driving demand and revenue.

In my LinkedIn Leads to Revenue webinar, I show sales and marketing leaders how they should be going beyond brand awareness. Click here to sign up for this webinar.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

5 thoughts on “How Even Social Media & Social Selling Experts Are Getting LinkedIn Wrong – Part 1

  1. Dear Kristina:
    Congratulations on executing a perfect example of one of the main points in Andy Crestodina’s keynote presentation last week at Content Marketing World….build on unique research and share strong opinions. Fascinating. Thanks to Marketing Insiders for sharing this provocative post.

  2. Hey Kristina. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Regarding my shotguns trump rifles approach, the point is that you need to be in more places because no one platform has sufficient reliable reach now. Certainly, Linkedin is terrific and I would agree that volume may not be the best play on that platform but I don’t think even you would argue that Linkedin alone is a sufficient social strategy.

    Also there are several points that you attribute to me that are not things I believe or have said, but are rather your interpretations of my other work, twisted to suit the narrative of your approach. I don’t particularly appreciate that. If you want to tell people what I’ve said, quote me, don’t paraphrase me.

    Third, my shotguns vs rifles concepts of course applies to marketing. In your rebuttal you mention circumstances where you have a complex sales process. There is, as I suspect you know, a significant difference between sales and marketing, even (and maybe even especially) on LinkedIn.

    Thank you for raising awareness and adding to the dialog around these important issues.

  3. What is truly amazing about those making claims about being a LinkedIn expert is the only ones actually adding any value with their posts are Victoria Ipri and Greg Cooper. To my mind anyone wanting to proclaim themselves as a LinkedIn expert must first establish some credibility by actually putting in a lot of effort to help others and add value to the community. Otherwise, what you have is a bunch of wannabees and receive pay from less knowledgeable folks in the LinkedIn Community.

  4. Thank you for calling these out. Too often people want to take all of the ideas from so-called thought leaders as gospel because they speak at lots of conferences or have a lot of followers, etc. I am sure each one of these people you point out will provide some defense of their approach or misinterpretations, etc. Many of the ideas some of these people share are platitudes and common sense and aren’t that compelling. And many many of these influencers are wholly focused on self-promotion, as you point out. Ultimately a lot of these folks are like one hit wonders from the 80’s. The ones who will endure will offer compelling ideas beyond paradigm shifts and platitudes.

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