As some of you may know, I “publish” a monthly e-newsletter. It comprises blog posts I’ve written as well as a column of the more active posts I’ve made on other social media sites — LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
The social media posts go out every day — at least three each morning. I try to mix up the sources, but one highly useful source has been the Harvard Business Review Blog. It provides excellent leadership posts and up until recently has been available to everyone for free. I believe the value I add to you, my readers, is curation of the articles. I pass along only those I believe will be useful to business leaders. That little service requires, of course, that I read the articles/posts and decide quickly if I’m going to pass them along, bookmark them for my own use, or simply move on to the next post.
This just got to be more difficult because HBR has decided to monetize their blog. So now, unless you subscribe, you are allowed only 15 articles each month for free. Of course, I go through fifteen articles in one week trying to find the right ones to pass along to you. And on your end, you have to decide if the articles I’ve curated are worth clicking on and using one of your 15 free articles — or you can pay for a full-up subscription.
Now, I’m not suggesting that losing a place on my weekly postings is going to negatively affect the HBR Blog. Still, is that what they are in business to do? Make money on the blog? Or is it supposed to get their name out and build their brand? At any rate, I may well have to stop using them.
Here’s another change. A different leadership blog I use has been very good in the past about sharing leadership/management ideas that are valuable and have nothing to do with trying to sell a product or service. In the last several months though, the tone has greatly changed and the blog is much more likely to push a product or service in a not so subtle manner. What happened? Did some consultant look at the readership numbers and talk about what a big chance they’re missing? If so, I’d be interested in seeing the new trends. I’m willing to bet readership is going down. I won’t pass along an article that is geared to selling — at least not in this context.
My belief is that your social media presence is to build brand recognition and NOT to generate revenue directly. Don’t worry. If people find the information you provide to be useful and relevant, they will give you higher marks when it comes time to look at purchasing your product or service. They will still shop of course, and you still have to have high quality and a competitive price, but you will be given an advantage because you have been providing real value all along.
As I’ve said so many times before on this blog: if you want to make a sale, stop selling. If you want on-line purchasing, make sure that’s done on your e-commerce site, not on your blog posts. And if your product is articles, as HBR’s is, then leave the commerce part of the business model to the magazine (Harvard Business Review), not on the on-line blog site. I’m just saying . . .