One of the most pressing questions whether you’re a social media newbie or a social media maven is: What’s the best way to post information or share content to optimize your reach?
A study was recently conducted with more than 200 companies to determine how social media professionals may optimise their engagement with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations.
Researchers evaluated numerous factors such as the number of words in a post, the time of the posting, the day of the week as well as punctuation and the usage of hashtags.
As with many communications and marketing tactics, the answer depends entirely on the targeted audience.
The key finding: Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to post on Twitter if you want to reach consumers. For LinkedIn, Monday is your best day.
But if you want to reach other businesses, Tweet on Wednesday and post to LinkedIn on Sunday.
And what about the use of hashtags? Hashtags are best saved for business-to-business-oriented posts but don’t work nearly as well if consumers are your target.
The biggest surprise for me was that the use of questions marks significantly minimizes your click-through rates between 25 and 52 percent as compared to posts without questionmarks.
Check out this infographic for details on how to maximize your social sharing efforts. It’s an Eye Opener!
Are you designing and scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
What do you find gets the best results?
You’ve probably heard how important LinkedIn is becoming in business, such an integral part of your personal executive branding. You have a profile but you’re not getting much traction in terms of real results or a visible revenue stream. It all takes time and time is probably one of the commodities that you just don’t have… Right? Having a successful LinkedIn profile is not easy but we think there are a few key areas that will pay big dividends…
1. Treat your LinkedIn profile like a website:
Make sure it is formatted, clean, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. I strongly suggest creating your LinkedIn profile first in a word document – not only so you can “catch” errors, but also so you can get a better idea of what your profile will look like on the LinkedIn website. In some sections of LinkedIn you can also pull in bullets and special characters. Alas – still no bolding or italics other than what LinkedIn itself formats. Another bonus, if you’ve already created your profile in a Word document, sections of it can easily be copied into other social media platforms to keep your branding unified.
2. Know your keywords:
Like any website, LinkedIn’s internal search engines weigh your keywords heavily in its searches. Make sure you place your most important search or keywords strategically throughout your profile. Some places you might want to consider are your:
• Professional Headline
• Title Fields
• Education (Activities and Societies)
3. Keep your name clean:
Put only your first name in the first name field and your last name in the last name field. If someone is searching for you by name, LinkedIn will have a hard time finding you if your last name looks like this: Jones, Dr. Mark P. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
4. Keep your photo professional:
I recommend a close up and a smile. A full body shot of you and your family, you and your car, you and that fish you caught last week is unclear and unprofessional. I have seen some artists use artistic renderings of themselves – which is clever if your image is still clear. LinkedIn doesn’t like logos.
5. Don’t ignore the “post an update” function:
LinkedIn’s update function is much more robust than it used to be (taking some tips from Facebook and Twitter). People can now “like” and “comment” on your updates – which helps to build relationships within LinkedIn which play a big part in your becoming successful on LinkedIn. And with the introduction of LinkedIn Signal, the update section can now be a functional part of your SME (Subject Matter Expertise) and content strategy. Make sure you take a little time each day to “like” and “comment” on the updates of network as well.
6. Personalize your public profile URL:
Make sure your public profile reflects your name, your business, or your area of expertise: http://linkedin.com/in/carolokelly or http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert. Nothing says, “I’m a LinkedIn neophyte” like a public profile that reads: http://linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname9890734-akjshfiho
7. Personalize your websites:
When you edit your website, the drop down menu gives you the option of “other”. When you click on that, a new field opens up that allows you to type in your business name, website name, call to action, or description of your website. So instead of “Company Website” or “Personal Website” this section can read “Social Media for SMEs” or “Click here: Taxation Updates for 2013”
8. Juice up your “Experience” section:
“Experience” is not your resume. Make sure the jobs you choose to list support each other. Make sure you put all your keywords in the title section.
9. Utilize the “Experience” description area:
Use the 1000 characters in the description section to tell people why they should hire you or your company or buy your product. Tell a “save the day” story. Put in a testimonial. “Experience” is a great place to list “wins”, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented, a mini-shot of your personal website. Use this section as the foundation for your Company Profile
10. List your “additional education”:
Make sure you list your certifications and licenses as well as traditional education. LinkedIn has now added new sections where you can list areas of expertise, publications, patents licenses and certifications.
11. Get Recommendations:
LinkedIn tells you your profile is complete with three recommendations. I suggest between 5-10. And when you are asking for recommendations, provide a bulleted list of your skills, strengths and services so people will write a more complete recombination and not: “She’s great”. If you are comfortable doing so, you might write a recommendation that the recommender can use or base their recommendation from. You might want to add some of the better recommendations to your website. Ask for recommendations from thought leaders in your field, old employees, and well-known clients – these all go towards you becoming successful on LinkedIn and being able to see real results.
12. Join strategic groups:
Join groups in your own market or industry, your ideal client’s industry, groups that you are interested in, groups that your target prospects are members of, alumni groups, open groups and some big groups (Consider LinkedHR with 370,000 members). Once you join a group you can send a message to strategic members /prospects or invite strategic members to connect with you. In the next week or so I’ll be doing further posts on Groups and the best ways to manage them and use them strategically to your advantage.
13. Create a group:
Consider creating an open or closed group. Make sure you, or someone in your company is tasked to moderate it to keep it interesting and relevant. Make your group a destination and active forum.
14. Limit the invitations you send out:
You only get 3000 invitations in a lifetime – use them wisely. Even though LinkedIn gives you the tools to upload your entire list, make sure you only invite people who are already on LinkedIn and don’t invite more than 2500 people – leave a few invitations for the future. At this time you cannot buy more invitations.
15. When inviting others, tell them how you know them:
LinkedIn used to have an IDK “I don’t know” button that could get you in a lot of trouble. Now a person’s response to an invitation is “Accept” or “Ignore”. Nevertheless, when inviting someone to connect with you, I highly recommend telling him or her how you know them or why you want to connect.
16. Use “Answers”:
The answers section is a great place to position yourself as an SME or thought leader. Answer enough questions and you can drastically increase your exposure on LinkedIn as the “go to” person. It’s also a great place to get ideas for blog articles, or to re-purpose blog articles you have already written!
17. Always be courteous:
LinkedIn is a business-networking site. Be courteous. Try to Answer Inmails, messages, and requests for introductions within 72 hours. Remember your “Please” and Thank you”. Help someone out.
18. “Give” more than “Get”:
LinkedIn is a great place to get information, to get connections, to get clients, to get employees. But follow the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t spam. Don’t infiltrate email boxes with constant sales messages. Instead share valuable information via your groups, updates and answers and let clients come to you.
19. Use Applications:
Everyday LinkedIn is adding more useful applications. You can embed up to 8 in your profile. Take a look and see which ones will be most useful to you. I recommend their blogging apps (either Blog Link or WordPress), Slideshare, Google Presentation (to show YouTube Videos) Amazon Reading List (especially if you are an author or have published an eBook).
20. Life Long LinkedIn Learning
Continually try to keep up to date with the changes going on in the LinkedIn platform and learn how to use them to your best advantage. Keep an eye on LinkedIn blogs and articles and make use of tips on this site to make your profile and company pages as engaging and as relevant to your target audience as possible on an ongoing basis.
Here are 10 very simple steps to make sure that your social media marketing programme starts smart, has a strong launch and allows you to get the most from your new B2B communications.
1. Determine Social Media Marketing Programme Goals
Though it’s a brand new era, the place to begin is with the age-old exercise of goal-setting: Will you be working to generate new leads and sales, increase awareness of your offerings, decrease marketing spend as compared to traditional media, ensure the relevance of your company, decrease purchasing cycles, extend the reach of your market footprint… or achieve other goals?
Remember, you’ll be investing time, budget, and resources into your social media marketing programmes, so the first step is to determine exactly what you’re seeking to achieve in return.
2. Conduct Three-Point Research
A well-planned initiative always involves research at the outset, and with social media there are three key types of research that you’ll need to conduct—customer, competitive, and community:
To ensure that your programs deliver a high level of value, identify your customers’ business needs, challenges, and technology preferences.
To differentiate yourself from your competitors, understand which programs, tools, and content they are (and are not) employing.
Learn which online professional communities—and influencers—are relevant to your business sector so that you can start building relationships with them.
3. Set a Strategy
Now that you’ve determined your goals and done your research, you can move on to setting your strategy.
A (very) common misstep by marketers starting out in social media is that they identify a tool before setting a strategy: They just know “We need to get on Facebook, Now!”—but don’t know why they should, much less how they’ll use their presence to achieve business benefits.
Once you’ve set your strategy for reaching your goals, the set of tools you’ll need becomes very clear—whether your social media marketing strategy is to educate your audience on a business subject, produce an outlet for like-minded professionals to network, initiate a new communications channel or application that saves executives time and solves business problems, or create a new outlet for crowdsourcing product development.
4. Identify your Marketing 2.0 Toolset
Providing an unprecedented array of tools, technologies, and platforms, social media offers B2B marketers more choice than ever, at the most affordable costs. So choose wisely and make sure that the tools you choose support your strategy (step 3) and map to your audience’s comfort levels (step 2).
Some professional audiences are more comfortable participating in online forums than they are using Twitter or Facebook, whereas others might prefer content delivered in text, such as in the form of a blog, rather than via audio podcasts or online videos.
5. Define ROI Metrics
Now that you’ve designated your goals, strategy, and tools, it’s time to define a set of metrics to evaluate your program’s ROI.
Depending on your goals, metrics might measure the number of leads generated, increase in sales, the number of brand mentions and whether they’re positive or negative, improvement in search engine rankings, level of user engagement, and so on.
The point is that you’ll need to closely track progress, so you’ll want to define which metrics you’re assessing, how you’ll assess them, and how often. And you won’t only need them for your own department… Trust me, your boss will be asking for them, too.
6. Train Your People
Because these two-way tools give rise to powerful, customer-led communities, many marketing practices have drastically changed. The BIG action point here is to not only prepare your social media program but also prepare your people for social media.
Ensure that everyone involved with the program understands the fundamentals of marketing and communicating with these new media, practices that increase success rates, and what practices to avoid in order to decrease risk.
7. Create Content Processes
Social media marketing programs don’t have specific start and end dates—once they’re launched they keep going and need constant attention and care. Far too many marketers create the program, but not the processes needed to support the program.
Creating processes is key in ensuring that your programs remain “fresh” with new content and are managed by resources that can answer users’ questions in a timely fashion, interact with the community on a regular basis, and take care of issues when they arise.
8. Implement Monitoring Systems
In this new world order—where everyone has a voice and everyone is empowered with the tools to amplify their opinions, preferences, and ideas—monitoring online conversations is not a luxury, it’s a priority.
Whether a customer is expressing a compliment, voicing a complaint, or offering a suggestion, you need to know about it, no matter where on the Web it’s being mentioned.
There are plenty of free and paid services that will enable you to monitor online mentions; you’ll also need to identify which resource will be tracking brand mentions and responding to feedback when necessary.
9. Launch… and Promote!
Now that you’ve done the upfront work, built your program, created your processes, trained your people, and instituted brand monitoring systems, you’re ready to launch.
But just as we learned during the Web’s early days, the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality is a surefire way to fail.
It’s a good idea to stay in beta (or soft-launch mode) for a couple months to ensure all features and processes are working optimally, but when you’re ready you’ll most definitely want to promote your new social media marketing program and have a plan for doing so.
10. Facilitate Internal Communications
Once you’ve shared your program with the world, share the lessons learned and the progress of your social media programs with other departments and groups in your organization that would also benefit from those insights—such as Management, Customer Service, PR, Sales, and R&D.
You might distribute monthly reports, or make a quarterly event of holding brown-bag lunch briefings where you invite representatives from relevant departments to discuss findings and next steps—and let social media be a way to open up conversations within your own company, too.
What tools do you use to market through Social Media and how do you measure? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
So, what do you do when you’re at a conference and are hit with the inevitable question “What do you do?” Do you captivate strangers right off the bat? Do you get people asking questions and following up with you later? Your elevator pitch is a powerful marketing tool that tells your story in less than a minute. They are useful for every business person to have in her arsenal of networking tools to help with business, career and personal development. Many people actively dread networking but a strong pitch is an easy way to get motivated and broach those first few encounters.
The 10 tips below can help you craft an elevator pitch that people actually listen to, remember and respond to. Make sure you’re prepared with your own killer elevator pitch when the next opportunity presents itself for you to use it!
Here are our top tips to help you perfect your pitch and network like a pro.
1. Find the Sweet Spot
One of the key mistakes people make when answering what they do is to automatically start at the macro level, with their industry or job category. “I’m in IT,” or “I’m in social media”. While such broad descriptions may be true, it’s too abstract. You can be sure the other person’s eyes are glazing over. Remember, your pitch doesn’t need to tell your entire story; a great pitch succeeds if it draws interest from the other person and gets them wanting more.
2. Exude Confidence & Enthusiasm
Whether you’re dating or networking, confidence is a major plus. When answering what you do, don’t mumble through the response. Don’t apologise. Don’t assume that people won’t understand or care. By making that assumption you’ve lost their interest before you start. No matter how obscure your job or company, begin with the assumption that the other person will be interested, keep it simple, be excited and give examples.
3. It’s not all about you
People generally want to know what you can do for them. Your pitch should address your audience’s problems and offer solutions. It should focus on the benefits that the audience will get from working with you, so they understand why they can’t live without you!
4. Tell them what makes you better than the rest
Don’t be afraid to tell your audience what makes you different from your competitors. In other words, toot your own horn and explain exactly what you bring to the table that your competition does not.
5. Tell a story
What is the problem like without your solution? Explain the size and scale of the possibilities. When appropriate, throw in an analogy that helps your audience quickly relate to your product. Focus on the problems you solve… “My clients are typically struggling to… and I help them by…” Talking about how you help people, your job or business becomes instantly relatable and identifiable.
6. Ask Questions
Sometimes we become so focused on trotting out our pre-prepared Elevator Pitch that we forget to actually make conversation. The best way to be remembered is to build a connection. For this reason, never consider the other person “your audience.” Ask them questions, interact with them fully.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice!
No one will want to listen to your elevator pitch if it sounds like an elevator pitch. Practice your pitch in bright, noisy, awkward situations. That way, you’ll never be rattled by environmental distractions. Make sure you can deliver it in a conversational tone that does not sound like you’re reading a speech from cue cards. Try recording yourself and then watch your pitch from the perspective of your audience. Try it out on a group of friends or colleagues, and ask what specific points they remember. This instant feedback will help you determine what to cut or change in order to make a connection and be memorable.
8. Use everyday language, NOT industry jargon
Don’t get overly technical. Too many pitches get bogged down in legal, technical, or otherwise overly embellished language. Keep it simple and memorable.
9. Don’t try to Sell
The purpose of the 60-second pitch is simply to generate enough interest in your product or service to warrant a formal meeting. A “win” here is simply to have the other person understand what you do, the benefits you offer and to remember you.
10. Have a killer closing
Leave them with a memorable 1-liner that they can repeat to others. If you leave them excited and wanting more, you’ve done your job. From there, it’s just a matter of exchanging contact info and scheduling that follow-up meeting.
Savvy networkers always have their networking tools with them at all times. The Networking tool kit includes: Your elevator pitch, an ample supply of well branded business cards with all your relevant details, any pertinent collateral material (flyers, brochures, etc), your marketing message for the event – three bullet points you want people you meet to remember – and a confident and enthusiastic demeanour.
2. Set Your Goals
Successful networkers always have an idea of what the goal is for each event they attend. Know, before going in, what the outcome is that you want for yourself at each event. Do you want to meet 3 people and focus on getting to know them really well? Are you looking for an introduction to a certain type of client? Are you looking for information or connections that will get you that information? When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome. Be generous with your own knowledge and connections.
3. Arrive Early
Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy. As an early attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter and people won’t have settled into groups. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet. Many people dread walking into a room and introducing themselves to a bunch of strangers, you will not be alone in this. If you’re early, you can relax and focus on learning about the other people in the room. You will be judged by others, like it or not, based on their first impression of you, so be enthusiastic, engage in conversations, dress well, smile and be confident.
4. Ask Easy Questions & Be Genuine
Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen actively to their replies and engage fully in the conversation. Everyone knows when someone is “schmoozing”. Be genuine in your interactions with others at an event. It comes back to building trust, to building “Brand YOU”. When you are interested in learning about someone and their business you will leave a lasting impression as someone who genuinely cares. People choose to work with people they like and have an affinity with. Take care with other people.
5. Listen With Focus
When someone is speaking with you, give that person your entire focus. LISTEN ACTIVELY. Really hear what the person is saying, ask questions, engage. The greatest gift that you can give to another person is to truly hear what that person is saying. How rarely do we hear “She made me feel like the only person in the room”? Take a business card and if possible make a note about the person or conversation that will be valuable to them in your follow up.
6. Be a Giver and a Connector
Networking about is about connecting with people and getting to know them without the need for immediate gain. Be a known as a connector and you will be held in high esteem. Networking is about generosity. Quite simply, give and you shall receive. When you are generous, people will notice and respect you. And, people generally do business with people that they respect, trust, and like. Act like a host at every event you attend by connecting people. Always invite people who are standing by themselves into your group – they will really appreciate it. If you connect with someone and do something for them, your generosity will be repaid a hundred fold, often when you least expect it.
7. Share Your Passion
Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
8. Don’t Hijack the Conversation
Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
9. Don’t Sell – Educate.
The Savvy Networker knows that the immediate sale of a product is not the goal in networking. No one likes a direct hard sell. Networking is about building relationships with people who will be happy to tell others about who you are and what you do. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with those whose company they enjoy. At every opportunity, teach others about who you are, as a person, and what it is that you do. Always present a clear emphasis on the type of client that you are looking for. In doing this, you will be building a salesforce that can reach far wider than you can on your own.
10. Follow Up
After the event, send a short note to each person that you had direct contact with – not just an email – getting your brand across their desk. If there is a referral that you can supply, include that in the follow up note and mention something you discussed when you met or a blog entry or tweet of theirs you have read since. A great way to follow up with them online is not only to follow them on Twitter, but also to make a brief post about your conversation with them. Promoting other people is a great way to create value for them and build the relationship. Do not automatically send a LinkedIn or Facebook request. So often people immediately send social networking link requests to people they just met. However, different people have different policies about whom they link with. If they believe in only connecting with those whom they have established relationships, you make it awkward if you send them a link too early (which they then ignore). Best is to ask people if they would welcome such a link at this time. Be respectful of the fact that they might use social networking differently than you do.
Following up is, sadly, the most neglected part of networking. Since so many people fail to follow up, you can really stand out by just doing this simple act of reaching out to remind someone of who you are and what you do … and that you are interested in exploring a relationship.
Attending a conference with other participants from around the country such as the upcoming National Women’s Day conference or this week’s International Web Summit in Dublin opens up a world of opportunities for growth, learning, and fellowship. Why not take a little time to plan ahead so that you can maximize your results from attending.
1. Set Goals Before You Go
Before you leave for the conference, write down some goals that you want to accomplish during the conference. Be specific but holistic – not “I want 50 new business cards”! These goals could include items about specific skills you want to hone, questions you want to have answered, people you want to contact, areas for which you want to have referral contacts, etc. Set three to five goals for each day of the conference (some goals may stay in place each day) do a mind check on them throughout the day and then hold yourself accountable for them at the end of each day.
2. Be Prepared
It always astonishes me how often I meet people at conferences who can’t succinctly tell me what they do and why I should work with them or recommend them to my clients. Get your Elevator Pitch polished and ready. Be prepared to chat about your work – have three bullet points you always get across. Have your business cards to hand (not buried in your bag across the room), with strong branding and all your relevant details clearly printed. Ensure your website is up to date with your latest announcements or offers and that the branding on your site is the same as the branding on your cards. Bring samples if relevant, it’s always easier to touch or taste than to understand a waffling description. These are the most basic marketing must haves and it’s amazing how many people you meet without them.
3. Dress to Impress but Efficiently
The way you dress and your overall look tells me a lot about who you are, what area you work in and the way you do business. It may be unfair but it’s true. You need to always look professional but with your own style and flair. Plan your look for a conference, keeping in mind the people you will want to talk to and the message you want to leave with them. Hotels and conference centers are notorious for having great variations in temperature, so dress in layers that can be removed and added on. You will probably be spending more time on your feet and doing more walking than usual, maybe reconsider those killer heels unless you wear them daily. Be comfortable, you’ll exude more confidence.
4. Be Attractive
Everyone goes to a conference to learn and have fun, but no one enjoys being around people who are boorish, self-centered, or needy. Don’t be a seller or a clinger, be a conversation maker. Show enthusiasm for what you do, ask questions, introduce people, draw people into your circle and use humour to make people feel welcome and interesting. Be yourself. Have a friendly exit strategy ready it’s easy to get stuck with a group who are not helping achieve your conference goals.
5. Network, Network, Network
A conference is a priceless opportunity to make yourself and your brand known and to get to know others. You’ve already set some goals that will get you started. Now be alert to other opportunities. Always remember the person you’re chatting with may never buy from you but it’s who they know that counts. Be sure they understand what you do and the type of client you’re looking for – make it easy for them to refer you. Be a good and active listener and engage in the conversation if you want others to remember you. Get a card from everyone you meet and make a note on it as an aide memoire. Be active networking online throughout the conference, using hash tags give a live feed on the key learning points for each speaker on Twitter, give relevant updates through LinkedIn and on your company facebook pages. Comment on other posters updates, start conversations and meet up face to face.
6. Learn From Every Experience
You will learn a huge amount from attending a conference. There will be wonderful speakers with knowledge and experience to share. Take just one or two points from each session – Imagine you have to sum it up in a single tweet (Better still, send that Tweet!). You will learn a great deal as you network with colleagues. And there will be some mistakes you make that will also teach you important lessons. Learn from every single experience that you have. Keep a note of your key learning points both positive and negative.
7. Lighten Your Load
Conferences are great places to pick up “Stuff”. You’ll collect business cards, brochures, handouts, t-shirts, bags, books, tapes and random samples. Before you know it you will have more things to haul home then you can imagine. Working in Marketing I am a divil for this, I collect designs I like, marketing ideas I think might benefit clients, web shots etc. Needless to say most I never look at again. Lighten your load throughout the conference by trawling through the collateral you collect, make notes on it on the conversations you had with the provider and be ruthless in what you jettison. If you are abroad, simply post it home… It’s much easier to mail a few pounds of material to yourself than it is to haul it back on a plane. Make a note of everyone you met regardless of their value to your business, keep the cards with you. Make notes of what you promised and to whom to make follow up fast and easy. Do this at the end of each conference day.
8. Back at the Office
When you return to the office after the conference, be sure to promptly do whatever you have promised to do. Make contact with everyone you had conversations with, even just to say it was good to meet them, or to thank them for their advice. Don’t just send an email – write a letter – you are bringing your brand and message across their desk, again making it easy for them to refer you. Connect with these people on LinkedIn and Twitter using a personal message and if they accept your invitation you have access to their online networks, leveraging your relationship as a referral. Contact attendees you met based near you and arrange to meet up face to face to discover more about each other’s business. The more they understand what you do and the type of client you are looking for the more confidence they will have to refer business your way. Remember 14% of EU businesses say they will buy from an advert, 78% say they will buy from a referral. Go through the notes you made and look at where the learning can be applied – act on it!
Building a brand isn’t solely about numbers and figures. It’s about attracting an audience that will be an asset throughout your brand’s lifetime. Unfortunately, for a brand to be successful today, it has to distinguish itself amid the noise of thousands of others vying for attention on the same platforms.
With venues like Twitter and Facebook already flooded with brand marketers, how can you ensure that any outreach you do on behalf of your brand is actually working? Here are five ways to measure and monitor your brand’s effectiveness online.
1. Are You Engaging Your Fans?
Marketing is no longer about shouting in a crowded marketplace; it is about participating with fellow consumers, building relationships, and serving those who share your passion. This is why you should use social media to build those alliances and show how active, responsive, and engaged you are.
Orange, a French telecommunications company did a nice job of this when it asked followers to tweet their summer plans with the hashtag #thissummer. The company then recorded the plans with a special radio voice-over effect that followers could find on the company’s blog. That generated traffic and allowed followers to identify with the company’s branding. It was also a smart way to engage users about a topic they enjoy.
2. Are You Adding Value to the Conversation?
Create content that other people look forward to getting and want to pass on to others. Healthy Choice engaged their follower base by implementing a .75 cent coupon on Facebook that would increase in value as the site grew its followers. In a few weeks the brand went from 60,000 to 70,000 fans and 60% of new fans decided to subscribe to the Healthy Choice newsletter. The company chose to bring value to its customers, by reinforcing its brand image and increasing engagement. What are you doing to add value for your customers?
3. Are You Practicing the 20-to-1 Rule?
Give and you will receive. For example, a client recently posted a video review of his experience using a product. He wasn’t trying to sell anyone on it. He was simply being helpful by sharing something that he believed was of value. He practices digital generosity so when he does ask for something, his followers and fans respond. This phenomenon is what we have come to call the 20-to-1 rule. It means that you have to make twenty relational deposits for every marketing withdrawal. If you want to build a social media platform — one where people can listen to you — then you have to be a giver, not a taker… it feels good too!
4. Are You Monitoring Feedback?
Your brand cannot be effective if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. Feedback is easily accessible making it simple to correct problems if they arise. Your brand can be impacted in seconds. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Create an outpost where you can monitor what people are saying. This has three benefits: One, you can address your customer’s concerns. Two, you can receive immediate market feedback. And three, it demonstrates that you are listening and are responsive.
5. Are You Engaging Through Your Blog or Website?
Uploading a website into cyberspace and expecting its mere presence to create a following is futile. You may be coerced into thinking that flashy graphics will correlate to higher traffic, but this isn’t the case. For an online strategy to work, you need to create a site that is compelling and makes people want to come back for more. Consumers aren’t particularly interested in visiting a website because it is visually appealing, they like to feel that someone is listening to what they have to say. For example, end your blogs with a question so that readers will more likely engage with you. How are you engaging with your followers?
(This post was originally published on Mashable July 2012)
How are you sharing your blog? How are you making sure your content is found and then shared? Is your social media strategy working?
Are you promoting yourself via social networks, or are you leaving that to your readers? Do you make sure potential clients know about your blog, if you’re using it as a business platform?
Are you simply using the standard sharing options – Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc – or are you thinking of ways you can be a little creative when it comes to sharing your blog socially?
Let’s face it, if you’re using your blog as a business platform then the more eyeballs it gets, the better for finding potential new clients or customers. Even a personal blog can benefit from extra visitors.
So here are a few ways you can get outside the normal views of retweets and shares, and promote your blog to a bigger crowd that may miss it otherwise.
Social Sharing Groups
The most oft-used method of sharing a blog post is via social sharing buttons on the post itself.
These are either located at the top and/or bottom of the post, or to the side. But why not take this a little further, and create a social sharing group?
For example, one of the best resources for traffic to this blog is Stumbleupon. This is a great social sharing platform that lets you “stumble” the web, and allows you to give either a thumbs up or down to the site you’re currently on (you can also leave a review if you like).
What happens then is that the site is put into the Stumbleupon library, so anyone else using the stumble option could land on your blog. If they then like it, they give you a thumbs up and your currency increases on Stumbleupon. It’s easier than it sounds, and it’s a great passive traffic generator.
So create a Stumble group.
Grab about 10 of your online friends, and help promote each other’s blogs. Anytime a new post is published, have one of the group stumble it, then you can give it a thumbs up.
You can then take this idea to other social bookmarks – Reddit, Digg, etc. Just make sure you also highlight a lot of other great sites too – don’t create the group just to promote your work, that’s just spammy.
Side note: While traffic from Stumbleupon can be great, bounce rates can be affected (the amount of time someone stays on your site), so keep an eye on that in your analytics.
Turn Posts into Ebooks
You blog. You write. A lot. Depending on whether you’re a niche blogger or not, you might have a lot of posts on similar topics, or even run a blog series of interconnected posts.
So why not turn them into an ebook?
The market for ebooks is huge, and offers a great way for you to either give back to your blog community for reading you, or sell them as part of your business offerings.
Write a crafts blog? Put together some of your favourite tips and publish as an ebook. Chef? Collate some of your favourite recipes and sell them via your blog. And so on – the possibilities for what’s in your ebook are endless.
Turn Your Blog into a Slide
One of the best platforms around at the moment is Slideshare. Essentially taking PowerPoint presentations to the next level, Slideshare also allows uploads of PDF’s, documents and other presentations.
It then turns these into slideshows that you can either grab the embed code for or download to your hard drive, as well as the normal sharing options on Twitter and Facebook, etc.
You can even add audio or talk tracks, or turn your slides into mini-movies.
So working from your ebook idea, collate some of your best posts on a topic and create a presentation. Edit the posts accordingly to make the best use of Slideshare’s capabilities (perhaps a connecting image, statistic or similar), and then upload and choose your sharing settings.
If folks like it and decide to embed on their own blog, you instantly have a new audience. That could go one step further, and businesses could pick up your kick-ass presentation and use it as a training resource.
The next potential step from that is to bring you on board to expand on your initial ideas – so now your original blog post has become both a training resource and a client lead.
Just Getting Started
These are just three ways that you could take the normal social sharing option, and add a little extra to help promote your blog.
The thing is, just because you already have sharing options in place doesn’t mean you need to stop there. The great thing with blogs is that they can be essentially timeless, given the right post and topic. Why not use that?
How about you – what are you doing to extend the reach of your blog? Feel free to share your tips on what works for you in the comments.
(This post was originally published in For Bloggers June 2012)
To most business owners who have spent years and thousands of euros building their brand and developing a client base, chucking it all away to reinvent your business probably seems like the height of insanity. And if you do it on the fly or haphazardly, it probably is. But there are many reasons to tweak your business model, or to try out a whole new one, that make perfect sense. If you do it thoughtfully, it could be the best business decision you ever make.
Here’s our guide to reinventing your business, one smart step at a time.
Know When to Make a Change
The first step is deciding if it’s the right time for a change. Carol O’Kelly, a strategic marketing specialist and business development mentor says she sees a pattern with small-business owners. “Most people who come to me have been running their businesses for about seven to ten years,” she says. “They spend the first three years absorbed in getting things started. Then they’re in a growth phase for three or four years. Then they hit a hole, can’t sustain the business or don’t find the work challenging anymore and want to try something different.”
Many factors can push a small-business owner toward reinvention – it may be a market driven push, the need to spend more time with family or lack of financial sustainability. You may just be bored. All are legitimate reasons for change. But you need to be practical, too. Any change involves risk. You need to set out very clearly why you feel you want to change and be specific about it.
Decide What You Want
After the decision is made to change, you need to decide what type of change is necessary to meet your goals. “Once you decide there’s something you can do better, you need to decide whether to make a little tweak or a major overhaul,” O’Kelly says. “You have to decide what’s best for your brand. It’s a matter of looking at your core competencies and concentrating on what you’re best at.”
“Entrepreneurs have more ideas than they have time for. The absolute first stage is deciding to cut off all those other ideas and focus on one. Making a decision to make a decision is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do.”
The easiest way to figure out what to change – and at what magnitude – is to work backwards. Are you chiefly interested in reducing the hours you spend in the office? Are you sick of selling office supplies and think running a dog bakery is your destiny? “Once you have clarity on your goals and values,” O’Kelly says, “you have a compass to guide you and help you decide which ideas are good and which are simply the desire to do something different.”
Follow the Plan
The next step is something every business owner should be experienced at – developing and following a business plan. You need to approach each change as if you’re starting from scratch. You need to think it through thoroughly, figure out who the competition is, how you are going to beat them and what the costs are.
Entrepreneurs and owner/managers tend to rely on intuition a lot, but you need to make sure other people think your plan is a good idea. Sit down with a mentor for an hour and justify your proposed changes.
Make the Switch
During the transition, you’ll likely be running two businesses at once as you phase out the old business model and ramp up the new one. “Sometimes reinvention means running two businesses simultaneously for almost a year,” O’Kelly warns. “It’s overwhelming, and business owners are often so excited about the new model, they want to let go of the old model. It’s not fun.”
The solution is to create a detailed exit strategy. Allow time to negotiate new leases, bring on new employees or train current employees. Be transparent through the whole process with vendors, customers, employees and, most important, your family. Give everyone notice that changes are coming, when they will happen, what it means for them and why it is important for you.
Mentor and Manage
Even those committed to sticking to their business plans can start to deviate. O’Kelly suggests bringing in outside help. “Business owners sometimes need people to bounce things off of to keep them from going off in crazy directions,” she says. “Some people go through a grieving process. They’re letting go of a piece of something they’ve built and need to process that. There’s a lot of stuff to deal with, but if you don’t, it will come back and bite you hard.”
Although the process can be rough, reinventing your business can be a rush. “It’s an exciting place to be.” O’Kelly says.
More publicity… Less competition… Talent waiting to be scooped up… Here’s why starting up in a recessed economy may give your business a better shot. Do you have one good reason to start your business right now?Regardless of what people around you (including the media) may say, right now is the best time to get into business. Here are our Top 10 reasons you should start your business now-despite the current downturn:
1. Everything is Cheaper
Let’s face it – There is great value now in economic markets. This is the right time for fantastic deals in virtually every category, from land and equipment to commercial office space, personnel and fit outs. Some people have waited years to find value in these markets – and now that time has come.
2. Qualified People Are Hungry For Jobs
Having highly qualified people is the lynch pin of success in any business but it is an area where start-ups can fall. Start-ups are often unwilling and always unable to spend enough to get the highest level team to ensure the success of the business. This all changes in a recession. There are people now available willing to accept lower remuneration and keen to get a slice of the pie in a start up. Mindsets change in a recession too – those individuals who would normally never consider working in a small start-up are changing their focus on work directions. This all means that you will be able to source a really strong team at the outset for a fraction of what it would cost you in a growth environment.
3. Great PR By Going Against The Trend
The media loves a good story, and if you are optimistic by expanding,re-branding or getting into business now, you will find yourself and your new business in that category. Great PR like this will go a long way towards launching or branding your new business without it being seen as “Selling”.
4.Suppliers Are Giving Better Credit
Because the credit markets have virtually shut down, the B2B credit flows are keeping money circulating out of sheer necessity. That means a bullish outlook for companies looking for good terms on stock and inventories. When everyone is looking to survive, great deals can be had.
5. Believe it or Not There is Still Finance Out There
Individuals, family and friends who traditionally invested in stocks and shares will be less enthusiastic to do so at the moment but they’ll still want to put money into ventures likely to show revenue streams and eventually profits. That means they may be willing to finance a portion of your new venture, or the expansion of an enterprise that has proven itself over time. If you have a solid business plan that delivers real numbers, your chances of raising the capital you need increase exponentially.
6. Businesses Are Changing Suppliers
Everything is now on the table. As a smart Start-up if you can come in with greater value and an understanding of where your prospect is hurting you have a good chance of winning new business. You also have the advantage of being the “new kid on the block” when it comes to pitching your products and services. Many companies are desperate to find new partnerships with new businesses that have a different, better or more innovative way of delivering those products and services.
7. You Can Buy Everything You Need at Auction
In addition to everything being less expensive, you can find great deals at auctions, especially in terms of any large equipment and office furnishings. Auctions are also a great place to find hardly used or “gently” used restaurant and bar supplies at great prices. It’s an opportunity for you to get set up for a fraction of the price it would cost you in a growth market.
8. Ownership Equals Tax Incentives
Business ownership offers a variety of tax benefits that aren’t available to employees. While taxes should never be the sole reason to go into business for yourself, it should be one reason to add to you “benefits of business ownership” list.
9. You Can Find Great “Low Money” or “No Money” Deals
Many current business owners want out at any cost, meaning you can negotiate great win-win deals that allow the current owners to exit while giving you an opportunity to turn around what could be, if run right, a very viable business.And finally . . .
10. You’ve Lost Your Job, and You Have To Do Something
Sometimes, the best business decision is the one you are forced into, and the incentive (as well as need) for income is often enough to push you to go out on your own. It is also a great opportunity for you to strike out in area in which you have always been interested but had not considered part of your planned career.
There you have it:
Redstorm’s top 10 reasons to start your business in a recession. There’s no better time to start than now. Give us a call on +353 1 2360909 if you’d like to chat through any opportunities you are considering.
Wonderful flashy graphics, bright colors and spinning messages, they may look great but do your potential customers actually know what you are trying to say?
I think the biggest mistake we make in marketing is making everything so difficult for consumers to understand that they just don’t get what it is we do. And if they don’t understand it, they won’t feel compelled to act or buy… Marketing is about informing consumers about your products and services and telling them why they should pick you over your competitor – it really is that simple.
Are you doing that? If you are not it’s time to really analyse your marketing strategy and evaluate the point you’re trying to get across.
How do you do this? It’s by moving a customer from the point of just attracting their attention to inspiring them to actually take action – which is making a purchase from you. There are four basic (but often forgotten) steps to doing this.
Step 1: Get their attention
You have competition, it doesn’t have to be a lot of competition – but you have competition. It is up to you to get the attention of your consumers. Do you know how to do that? You speak to their need. You inform of them of the solution that you provide for that need. If you don’t provide a solution that benefits their business – it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
Step 2: Create a marketing message that speaks to them
You know your solution, and you know they need it, now you have to create a message that says “I’m your answer.” Have you done that with your marketing message? If not, why do you think they will buy your products or services? If you don’t inform them about your product who will? Craft your marketing message so it’s easy to understand and a consumer doesn’t want to walk out of a store without purchasing your product or service. Your marketing message has to speak about the solution as well as creating an urgency for the need. Have you done that? If not, again take it back to the drawing board!
Step 3: Evaluate different marketing methods
You have to examine the different marketing methods available today and really evaluate which ones will work for you, with your target market in mind and your budget in sight. Be aware of, and informed about, different marketing methods and which ones will work with your market. It’s not a one size fits all deal and these new marketing tools are changing every week. It’s an exciting time for marketing with all the new mobile and digital tools becoming available and the winning marketeer is the one who harnesses these new tools tightly and creatively for their business.
Step 4: Use marketing methods that are visible to your consumer
The reason you need to evaluate the different marketing methods and tools is so you can select those that are more visible to your potential purchaser. The great thing about marketing a small company is the ease with which you can create tightly targeted campaigns depending on your given audience for specific products or services. Don’t feel that a nationwide TV campaign is a must if a creative digital and mixed media campaign is affordable and successful. When you select the right marketing methods, you create a market position for your business that your potential consumers will see. When you select the wrong methods of marketing, you might as well throw your money out the window.
Choosing a name for your e-business requires just as much time and effort as naming a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s how to get started.Q: I’m opening an online store and was wondering how important the name of an online business really is. Should the name reflect what the business sells, or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?A: What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, a lot more than you might think. Deciding on a name for an online business is no less important than deciding on a name for a brick-and-mortar business. In each case, coming up with the business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd, while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business.Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. We live in an age when a business called “The Body Shop” might repair wrecked cars or sell bath products to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that’s right for you.The first thing you should do is determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. If the name you choose is available, you should immediately reserve the name and apply for legal ownership.Another important thing to consider, especially for an online business, is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the Web site address (or URL) a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you’re considering?You’ll undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive. Whatever you do, don’t use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that’s hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type.One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customers’ point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in customers that may drive them to you or drive them away.Finally, let’s talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use.Here’s to your success.
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.