Just back from a 6 week trip through Europe (part work, part play) and had the opportunity to network with successful Social Media Marketers from Italy, Norway, and London. One of the biggest challenges we agreed upon was helping clients understand the difference between "Traditional Marketing" and "Online Marketing/Social Media Marketing".
For the longest time marketing consisted of pushing out a message about a product or company that was strictly controlled by that company itself. However, with social media, all that changed. With multiple online mediums, all controlled by the the individuals participating within them, people are busy having conversations, sharing resources, and forming communities. Your product/company is being discussed. Do you want to be part of the conversation?
Here are some of the main differences between "traditional" vs "social" marketing:
1) Dominate the market vs Create a community within the market
2) Shout out loud vs Listen and contribute
3) Push the product/service vs Pull in the people with your message/story
4) Advertising vs Word of mouth
5) Pursue "leads" vs Nurture relationships and create referrals
I too often see posts in LinkedIn Groups that are merely advertisements. This use of "traditional marketing" in a social media platform simply does not work. It is critical to participate with rather than attempt to impress upon your customers. The social web is a place where people gather to share and improve their condition. Join in the conversation, demonstrate value, and then, if appropriate, offer solutions to any problems being discussed.