LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing: 5 dangers of failure

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2010/04/21 · 37 comments 11,641 views

in e marketing 101 serving a need

The other day got me thinking about some of the problems Xing or LinkedIn groups. Please don’t misunderstand, I really like groups and participate in the discussions on several whenever I can.

My main problem is that it is difficult to make them work for our company – or yours, for that matter.

So this post breaks down the issues and goes over exactly which big hurdles to master and focus on, and most importantly, how to apply these data to ensure smart changes to your group strategy.

Below are five critical steps to ensuring that groups on Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook or Ning are off to a great start. Or you can check to make sure your current group has mastered these challenges and what adjustments need to made otherwise on the road to success.

We have already addressed some other important issues pertaining to being effective on Xing, LinkedIn, Viadeo or Facebook here:

Here are the danger zones to watch out for before launching any kind of group for your company or yourself.

    Danger zone 1: No business purpose

If you are not clear what the business purpose for a group on Xing, Ning or Facebook is, why have it?

Even for a group that focuses on your hobby, such as trekking or mountaineering, writing down the intended purpose makes sense (e.g., finding others to share my next trekking trip with after work). Plus, re-evaluating six months later whether the purpose is still the right one or being fulfilled is helpful to ensuring the effectiveness of your group.

Within an organization, if your group is not aligned to specific business needs, it will be that much more difficult to get top management’s support or justify the required time as an entrepreneur.

    Danger zone 2: Moderators lack correct skill-set

Managing a group on your own is tough. It is generally more efficient to have a small group of motivated co-moderators with different skills. Of course, they must get along well, and hopefully they even like each other a little bit.

There are three skill sets and knowledge areas required for the moderator team to be successful:

    a) communication and interpersonal skills;
    b) subject area knowledge and skills (e.g., depending on the focus of your group, knowledge in human resource management, marketing, financial markets, etc. is required); and
    c) business knowledge and skills.

Ideally the group’s manager or chief moderator will have a grasp of all three skill sets and therefore be able to manage experts and make correct decisions within each topic area.

The evidence we have uncovered indicates that people who can fulfill this requirement are in short supply. I have to work hard to get it right myself.

    Danger zone 3: Poor project management

Virtual groups or community initiatives fail because those in charge lack two basic points of project management expertise:

    1. Lack of stakeholder management – what the group wants versus what top management wants,
    2. No planning for scalability from launch to large membership – how will you keep people involved whether there are 10 or 100,000 members?

There are also risks involved in having a virtual community that require analysis and careful management to mitigate possible fall-outs (see How Nestlé failed to do it right on Facebook).

Typical nonsense situations are where projects:

    a) set out to compete with the very vested interests they require cooperation from (typically consultants),
    b) with untrained administrative support,
    c) without well-defined targets, while
    d) ignoring key senior stakeholders.
    Danger zone 4: Poor stakeholder management

We can agree that poor project management is a serious issue, but so is stakeholder management. Key players such as management or important suppliers and customers matter. So do influencers that may be experts in a topic or content offered to group members.

The term blended learning implies that technology is not an end in itself. Hence, the group and its core supporters may require offline get-togethers or informal meetings using Voice-over-IP (VoIP) to make sure that everyone is pulling in the same, and right, direction.

Please manage your stakeholders – easier said than done, as we discussed here:

    Danger zone 5: Failure to demonstrate value

My take is that most of us can manage several of the above challenges quite easily. Nevertheless, we may not have written down the answers, or we may not have spelled out what value must be achieved with such a group.

Value could be increasing your conversion rate, such as more webpage visitors signing up for your service. Or it could just be increasing your company or personal visibility.

If value cannot be spelled out clearly, as well as understood and agreed on by stakeholders, you may not get what you came for:

More resources

Take-aways
Image - graphic - tweet - @ComMetrics - Why your Facebook, LinkedIn and Xing #metrics fail http://su.pr/2nvHUNEven if your group is already in full swing, it does not hurt to look at the above danger zones to see how well you are doing.

Sometimes, careful assessment down the line helps fine-tune your direction, making higher performance more feasible. Still, be careful regarding:

    purpose – figure out the purpose of a group on LinkedIn or a fanpage on Facebook;
    co-moderators – these are critical and hopefully complement the chief moderator’s talents because they will certainly have shortcomings; and,
    value proposition – unless your stakeholders (e.g., top management, target clients), co-moderators AND co-workers understand and agree with your value proposition for having a group, you are in trouble right from the start.

What is your take? How did you figure out the purpose for your group? Did it work? What needed changing?

Are you still trying to decide if you should have a group on LinkedIn or a fanpage on Facebook? How did you go about deciding what purpose you want to realize by doing so? Share, please! Please let us know in the comments!

You can get updates for this blog on Twitter by following @ComMetrics, get a free subscription by RSS, or get new posts via email:

Article source: ComMetrics – LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing: 5 dangers of failure

ComMetrics University – coffee break webinarsImage - graphic - tweet - @IFB_Loewenmut - Urs E. Gattiker @ComMetrics bietet wöchentliche Kurz-Webinare zu #SocialMedia Themen an http://ow.ly/1t0FE Lohnt sich!
Webinars are held every Wednesday at 8:45 AM CET for no more than 20 minutes – the time you spend on a coffee break.

If you are quick you might still be able to join today’s session.  Why not sign up for next week’s webinar – Wed. April 28, 2010 – right here:

==> What is your strategy for social media? Why has it failed you so far?

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  • http://deborahdrake.com/Blog Deborah Drake – Catalyst

    “If value cannot be spelled out clearly, as well as understood and agreed on by stakeholders, you may not get what you came for.”

    This quote resonates with me so entirely.

    And this was addressed on another Great “Coffee Break” Webinar with a full house of global participants from the Xing Group: Social Media Monitoring (https://www.xing.com/net/smmetrics) and some great is insights from participants that I truly hope land as comments both on Xing and here.

    Technology is a wonderful thing as it allows for a diverse cultural group to gather virtually to discuss in real-time.

    The value of being intentional is powerful.

    And planning doesn't hurt either.

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Thanks Deborah for this thoughtful comment. Probably spent it on this blog writing away instead of taking time out for your well deserved nightly rest.

      I agree, I really enjoyed the webinar quite a bit and had a good time indeed. We had:

      – somebody participating whilst riding the subway
      – somebody being on a plane – just told me now that watching the webinar got him to miss breakfast
      – another participant from down under

      and many more having a cup of coffee whilst getting read for a busy day at the office.

      Just great and I really appreciate the great job you did as the moderator of this webinar. Thanks.

  • http://www.nouhailler.com Patrick Nouhailler

    Great Webinar session and great post.

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  • http://karenpurves.com karenpurves

    Interesting seminar and a great way of getting into the subject better.

    Understanding one's motives for doing social media is at the core of marketing – nothing new there. But, as people are encouraged as described in Deborah's comment or want to be “where the party is”, this thinking tends to fall by the wayside.

    I am a real advocate of being clear about what you want form your marketing for it makes monitoring that much easier and you feel better when it is working.

    For if the goal was for reputation building and being seen as an expert, then the audience that you want to exchange with may be lightly different in the beginning than say for building awareness and list building of potential customers.

    I see the reputation building can be a smaller group and the sort of engagement within that group would be higher. For through the relationships, more enquiries can arrive.

    For companies with an establish brand and reputation in the marketplace, the objective of the social media presence could be around deepening brand loyalty. This would mean a larger group at the outset with perhaps less engagement but higher consumption of what is on offer eg coupons etc.

    It is interesting when a group set up for the former starts to become the latter. This is similar to the subtle changes of branding encompassing the style of communications, frequency and the content…
    but just with all brand-movement projects has to be done slowly to remain inclusive whilst still bringing in those new “fans”

    There is lots more that can be written on this subject, buts that's all for now!

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Karen

      Thanks so much for this comment. Yes the interesting part is if the focus shifts or if it is reputation building versus awareness building….

      The differences are such that the group's focus has to differ. But I think on all three, LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing it is probably more suitable for reputation building considering the audience. At Facebook it can most certainly include awareness raising and even building a list of prospects.

      But we will find out in the near future how this works and certainly discuss some more during next week's webinars next Wednesday April 28 (space is limited):

      8:45 hours (11:45 pm PST) http://ad.vu/ypg6 and
      16:00 hours (10am EST) http://ad.vu/ypeu

      Karen, thanks for sharing.

      • Olga Henggi

        Hi Urs,

        I could not join your webinar in the morning.

        You write in our group: The more narrow the focus of the group, the higher the skill levels of members are likely to be = more insightful comments may happen as one participant pointed out..

        Yes, it can be a huge part of success. However, there are some business groups e.g. on XING with no specific direction of discussions. They are just about business. Some of these groups are doing quite well.

        What do you think keeps the interest of the members in such groups?
        Do you think that narrowing of discussions can increase the number of participants?
        How to measure interest and plan future discussions in such groups?

        Olga

        • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

          Olga

          If find the questions you ask very interesting:

          “What do you think keeps the interest of the members in such groups?
          Do you think that narrowing of discussions can increase the number of participants?
          How to measure interest and plan future discussions in such groups?”

          I am not sure I can give you an answer maybe it needs a whole book.

          I think narrowing down of a group's focus such as ours on Xing ==> http://www.xing.com/net/smmetrics/ helps in increasing participation by each member (i.e. the percentage of lurkers can be kept a bit smaller than if the focus is wider).

          But a great level of participation might come at some cost. For instance, the group with a narrow focus is attractive to a smaller group of people.
          Put different. If a group's topic is general (e.g., http://www.xing.com/net/Internationalbusinessclub) it is more attractive to more people. Moreover, people are likely more inclined to answer from time to time. As well, if a one liner can do the trick, people will participate. But if a group's membership is used to longer responses, this might stop some members to write a comment and participate.

          Olga thanks for sharing.

  • Joyce Treptow

    G'd evening group,

    It was definitely a good decision to join today's webinar hosted by Urs… it is exactly what I need(ed). I loved the interaction among the group – especially when there were technical problems e.g.with the sound, there was always s.b. offering help (“press the F5 button to refresh”).

    What I really liked was the short presentation which demonstrated the “interaction of quantity and quantity!” The webinar was def. an enrichment and I couldn't wait for it to end so that I could register for the next one.

    My motivation: I'll soon be creating & moderating the international alumni group (of and) on behalf of my university on Xing, thus I believe I'll be able implement the learned stuff.

    I'm looking forward to joining future webinars where I'll be able to ask questions and also learn from the rest of you.. thx! and I hope that I'll be able to contribute wherever possible!
    Have a good night ( for those in Europe)

    Enjoy your afternoon in the Americas
    Regards
    Joyce

    • http://My.ComMetrics.com Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear Joyce

      Thanks for the comment and I am very glad that it was a useful webinar for you.

      I hope we can top this one next time of course. I have started a discussion about some of the issues we need to address next time right here:

      ===> Your social media strategy failed – what to do now?

      Maybe you can add your views there. I am especially curious to know how this will affect your Xing group for your universit'y's alumni… will your strategy work and if not could we change it. If so how.

      Give it a try and share.

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  • http://twitter.com/devseo/status/13195093003 Alex Hall

    http://su.pr/5o56Kx – LinkedIn, Viadeo and Xing: 5 dangers of failure

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  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

  • http://www.wunderkarten.de/ Anke Hochzeit

    For me it was never under consideration. Fortunately – if I have a look at all the problems you described here….But for all who think about: it should be a well thought-out plan…

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