What are YOUR Personal Brand Descriptors?

What are YOUR Personal Brand Descriptors?

Not only what are your Personal Brand Descriptors but do they drive you day to day?

When I ask people what their Personal Brand descriptors are I always, always, always get someone who says “Professional” or “Team Player” or “Multi Tasker”. Now clearly these attributes are incredibly important in a work environment but seriously, do you wake up and leap out of bed at 6am shouting “Yeay! I’m Professional”?

Really, does that drive you to challenge your self? To strive to be better? To stretch yourself? Are you proud when you meet someone new through business and the one take away they have from you is that you are “Professional”? Really?

Personal Brand Descriptors take a bit of effort. They must be authentic to you. They must be active, not passive. They should stretch you a bit. They need to be positive. Ideally they should be Emotional rather then Functional. They should be really obvious to people who meet you. They should come across at every touch point with your audiences; spoken, written, social media, video…

They are clear drivers for you every day. That’s why it’s so worth while taking the time to really work on them. Ask people who know you what words they would use to describe you. What elements of “You” do they value and why. What elements do they know are in there somewhere but they can see you keep under wraps.

Think about going to a Networking Event (Oh the Horrors!). I’m naturally quite a shy person so I abhor these events. So, without my Personal Brand Descriptors I go in to a conference and at the Networking break I’d firstly head straight to the loo for 5 minutes, then to the tea station, oh and then the iPhone calls – I look busy, unapproachable and in demand; but wont have to talk to anyone – then I head off wondering why I put myself through this because it was all a bit rubbish and I didn’t make any valuable contacts.

Now, consider I attend the “Horrors” of a networking evening armed with my own Personal Brand Descriptors; Curious, Engaging, Brave. I will go out of my way to embody these words because I know my brand and I know these are an integral part of this brand. It is not me actively going up to a stranger and asking “What encouraged you to attend tonight” it’s my brand (which I’m really proud of) because I’m being “Curious”, even if, initially, I need to force myself to do it. Then I find myself introducing someone I have just met at the tea station to someone I know through a sports club – because I am “Engaging” and I’m doing it all because despite myself I am “BRAVE”.

Don’t forget you tailor these Personal Brand Descriptors to your own authentic self so if you’re very quite and internal choose words that are authentically you but that stretch you a bit. “Listener”, “Interested” “Brave” (for a bit of Scary Spice!).

Know your story, know who you are, know your audience. Be passionate about it and let your descriptors drive you.

Social Selling: LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting – Part One

Social Selling: LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting – Part One

 

 

Yesterday I was giving a full day Advanced Workshop/Presentation to the Sales Institute of Ireland on Social Selling Through LinkedIn.  It was being run in the absolutely gorgeous newly renovated rooms in the National Concert Hall in Dublin.  Lots of light, huge airy room, massive screen, great coffee and pastries and then I had to teach Top Sales People with enormous monthly quotas how to Sell through #LinkedIn.

Here is my problem – I have been training companies for years in how to use LinkedIn through NOT selling!

However, I am so convinced of the power of doing business through LinkedIn that I decided to bring that knowledge to the table and turn it slightly on its ear. So, instead of “Selling” we worked on how to focus on warm introductions and recommendations and on how to get these prospects to arrive in your sales funnel at a much higher lever than the normal entry point. Here’s a little bit of what we covered.

People Do Business with People

It is human nature to chat, hang out or even do business with people you can personally connect with. Research shows B2B decision-makers count their interactions with salespeople as the major determinant of whom they choose – more than product quality, brand reputation and pricing combined! That means that if you, as the sales person, can give your buyer a personal hook to connect with you’re already ahead of the game.

I asked all the participants to tell me a bit about themselves at the start of the course yesterday. No one had ever met before. Everyone told me who they worked for, their title and what their company was famous for supplying. I asked each one again “Anything else you want to tell us?” Again, they told me the company had been operating for X years and employed X number of people. I was nearly dying inside!

Finally someone told me they were building a house… The room erupted…  “Oh My God It;’s SO stressful!” “Do you have a good electrician?” “Where are you getting your bathroom?” “My brother has just finished here’s what he learned” “Here;s the number of a great painter”…. We had noise and conversations and numbers being exchanged.  Simply because there was a Personal Hook people could easily relate to. How easy was that? We were having conversations, advice and information were being exchanged, everyone was engaged.

Now… How is that any different to LinkedIn? You MUST create Conversations, Exchange Information and Advice and Be Engaged! That is the core to any successful Sales Funnel. Give me something to connect with, show me some personality in your copy, some flair.  That personal engagement will ensure that you are personally connected to your contact. That in turn means that they will come to you for information and advice, engage with your posted content and become the solution to their problems.

There are many ways you can do that on LinkedIn.  The first, is to ensure your profile and the Summary piece especially are full of personality, watch your voice in your writing. You want them to be able to hear you speak when they read your Summary.  They’ll only read the first couple of lines though (no time!) so make sure it is clear – What you do, who you serve and your value to them. All in the first 3 lines of your summary.

It is NOT a CV, do not mention that you’re experienced, motivated, a team player, self starter… these are all taken for granted now. Make yourself Stand Out. Show Passion. Tell Stories!

Make sure that you know very specifically who you are selling to, what their worries are and what solution they will value from you. Then fill the rest of your (2000 characters) summary with Keywords (Google Adwords, Tools – Keyword Planner) scripted into your key messages aimed at that specific audience with those specific problems (see below for campaigns). Don’t forget to put in a recommendation here. Use all the space. Show your personality!

I often change my summary depending on the specific work campaign Redstorm is running. So, I am often working to attract different target audiences with a different set of values. SMEs looking for an internal Marketing Department, websites and branding; Bluechips looking for LinkedIn Training or Personal Branding for their top tier executives –  I advise everyone to open and save a word/pages document and spend time writing a couple of headlines and summaries based on their main key targets so it’s then easy to switch between them depending on your business focus at the time.  I’m not suggesting you appear psychotic! Just tweaking the message and keywords to appear in different search results is incredibly effective.

The very first piece of real estate anyone sees in LinkedIn is your cover graphic and photo.  So why did everyone bar one yesterday have the LinkedIn blue graphic? You need to Stand Out – Change the graphic! Use Canva to design a header graphic with your company colours and message of the month or campaign message on it. Change it regularly! Here’s mine:

 

Social Selling LinkedIn

 

It makes it really easy to see what I do.  I have a clear smiling photo that shows my personality – you get a feeling for what it would be like to meet me face-to-face.

The next piece of real estate and one of the most high powered search areas in LinkedIn is your header.  People have an awful habit of putting their title here.  But that just means you’ll show up when a sales person wants to sell into “Business Development Managers”… Why not use this to give a shot of what you deliver? Keyword heaven!!! It doesn’t have to read well; it has to tell your potential connection what you will bring to the table. It has to tell the search engines to show you in their results. Be creative!

Can you see the difference between me putting “Marketing Strategy, Communications, Social Media, Digital Strategist, LinkedIn, Branding, Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker” versus “CEO Redstorm”?

In Part Two of this “Social Selling – Linkedin for Sales Prospecting” I’ll be looking at how to successfully engage and create Great Conversations across the platform.

 

If you’re having any difficulty with your own profile give me a bell on 087 2476600 and we can chat it through!

 

 

Social Selling: LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting – Part One

9 Simple Tactics to Increase Your Social Media Shares

Sociall networking

We all know the effort that goes into creating content right?

Wouldn’t it be great to create that piece of content and KNOW that you’re going to get LOADS of social media shares on the SAME piece of content?

Here are some easy tips to ensure you increase the amount people share, comment and use your content!

Remember to follow the basics first:

  • Create Great Content
  • Use a Variety of Media – Text, Infographics, Video, Podcasts etc…
  • Store Your Content on Your Website – So You Control It
  • Use a Link Shortening Tool – Bitly/Tiny etc
  • Use a Scheduling Software (for free) Hootsuite/Buffer etc
  • Have Your “Standard Operating Procedures” (yawn) in place! More later…
  • Know Your Keywords
  • Know Your Audience
  • Know Your Message!

 

  1. SHARE CONTENT MORE THAN ONCE

One of the best ways to get more social media “Shares” and engagement is to share your content more than once. You have one great piece of content, you put it up on Facebook and then you’re done? Seriously? After all that work? No Way!

Get your shortened link, a couple of good quality relevant photos, several keyword rich sound bites and you’re good to go! I’d even suggest you put all this into an excel spreadsheet to make it clear at a glance! Using Hootsuite (for example) you can then choose which platforms you want to use for this content and plan when you want to publish and with what keyword rich message.  Don’t forget, publish several times on EACH platform with a different message at different times of the day. Very effective for very little extra effort… Lovin’ this!

Getting into the Habit (Standard Operating Procedures – more on this later) of sharing content more than once also lets you get to know what kind of images, messaging and hashtags work with your audience, and can help you to determine when your audience is the most active and what they are most likely to ENGAGE with.

 

2. CREATE CONTENT THAT ADDS VALUE TO YOUR CUSTOMER

You REALLY need to know your audience. Know what they value, know what is relevant to them, know what experience you bring that removes their worries, solves their niggles. Notice I’m using the word “Know”. This is not guess work on your side.  You need to know it For A Fact. So, go ask them.

People are much more likely to share content that they perceive as highly valuable to them. If you can consistently create that type of content – they will share it.

 

3. CREATE “SNACKABLE” CONTENT

Snackable content is generally short, quick and easily digestible. Snackable content can include quotes, infographics, and stats.  Get creative in the way you present your information and find additional ways to frame and present your ideas in shorter forms. You still need the longer version (like this post) as Google loves 1500+ words but to drive sharing and engagement people often share the quick bites.  It’s all good brand building for you. And easier to create.

 

4. SHARE POSTS WHEN FOLLOWERS ARE ACTIVE

Figuring out when your followers are online and active is essential to getting the most impact out of each of your social media posts. Social Media platforms are so immediate that its easy to be missed in the 6000 tweets sent every second!

Use in-network analytics tools (like the new Twitter Dashboard) to help you determine when your audience is online and ready to be engaged.

 

5. PROVIDE CONTEXT IN HEADLINES/MESSAGING

Your headline can make or break your content – research has shown that up to 80% of readers will decide whether or not to click through on a link based on your title.

Make sure headlines, sound bites and messaging offer clear context for your content and what the reader will get out of it.  Good keyword research and knowing your audience well will pay hugely here.  Be sure to use Active and Descriptive words to encourage your readers to interact with your content.

 

6. MAKE SOCIAL MEDIA SHARE BUTTONS EASY TO FIND

This sounds SO simple but seriously, I don’t know how often I find great content that I know my readers would love but can I find anyway of sharing it? I don’t have time to go searching, make it easy!

Be careful how and where these buttons appear.  There are the coolest sharing buttons that are “Sticky”, they stay in place when you scroll through content and appear at the side of your blog post.  BUT when you read the post on a mobile device you can’t read the content it disappears behind these lovely sharing buttons!

Make sure that its clear which buttons do what – does the big F at the end of your blog post mean I can share your content on my Facebook page or does it mean that I will now follow you on Facebook.  There’s a Big Difference!

 

7. IMAGES MATTER

Always include an image in your post as it increases shares and engagement by over 80%. Even better, include an image showing people, better again show those people being Active.

Some platforms, like Pinterest and Facebook will automatically pull the post’s featured image so make sure it’s a good one.  Using software such as canva.com makes it easy to get the correct sized image for each platform as it does it automatically for you. No more excuses for dodgy imagery. Just don’t lose your entire day designing!

 

8. TRY “CLICK TO TWEET” OPTIONS

It’s the little things in life! “Click to Tweet” plugins let you choose parts of your post that your reader can simply click on to tweet out to all their followers. Firstly, this makes it super easy for your readers to share key notes of your content. They’ll like that. They look good, there adding value to their followers.  And secondly it lets you highlight the critical take away points from your article.

I use a plugin, but if your site isn’t on WordPress you can try ClickToTweet.com or run Google search for click to tweet services.

 

9. USE CALLS TO ACTION

Take it back to the old fashioned Call to Action (CTA). Have a think about what exactly it is you want your readers to do.  For example ask them (nicely) to share your post if they’ve found it of value. Include this messaging in all your landing/sales pages too.  Be clear in your Calls to Action, leave no room for doubt and incentivise readers to follow your CTAs!

Social Selling: LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting – Part One

Design Your Own Personal Branding Strategy:

Personal BrandingEverything’s so loud now and so instantaneous that it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. The level of competition is fierce, it’s global and it’s To be seen, to be heard and to be valued amongst your competitors in the eye of a small number of potential clients.

Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. After all, you might work for a business that works with other businesses, but it’s people working with people and that’s what makes business relationships valuable.  Even if you have your own company, with a great brand, you, yourself need to stand out.

Remember:    “People Do Business with People”

So, how can you go about building a great Personal Brand that stands out, is authentic, is valuable, relevant and engaging?

It’s All About YOU:

What are your drivers? Your Values? Your Key Descriptors? Stay away from all those wonderfully dull, overused words; Professional, Team Player, Good Communicator. Everyone is all of these things surely? You want to stand out. No – You NEED to stand out!

Aim to discover words that describe you, drive you and are a bit of a stretch for you. These will be your descriptors and will remind you at every touch point what you want people to get from their interactions with you.  Find words that are Emotional rather than Functional. You’ll always bond with someone a lot faster over emotional connections. Try out descriptors/drivers like;

Curious, Exciting, Kind, Welcoming, Empowering.  They are all action based emotive descriptors. Before you go into that next Big Deal Meeting – Remind yourself of these words, Be these words and Stretch to Fit these words.

Who Will Connect With You?

The next area to really look closely at is who are you dealing with? Who is your Audience? Now, that may seem clearly straight forward. Your Customer – the one you really want to buy from you. But everyone in business (Business Owner, Manager, Entrepreneur, Solopreneur, Blue Chip Sales Director) has numerous audiences, some more critical to the “Yes Decision” than others. But ignore your Influencers, Connectors, Detractors and Advocates at your peril.

Make the effort to delineate those audiences, clearly. What they value, where they have knowledge gaps, what they worry about, what comes between them and a “Yes Decision”, who they need to impress, what’s relevant for them.

Use this information to craft your personal brand that is engaging, valuable, authentic and relevant. Build a series of messages based on your brand for each of these audiences. Show them that you are of interest and of value to them.  Prove to them that you are a giver, a helper, a connector. Be authentic to yourself, your beliefs and values in a way that shows you to be the best match for them. In a way that is energising, engaging and clear.  Be clear and concise in your Personal Brand. It must be easily understood by you and by those who meet you. It must be consistent, every time I meet you I know what you’ll be like; Don’t let me down, don’t confuse me or disappoint me.

A great authentic Personal Brand is the best calling card you can possibly have. Now all you have to do is get it out there!

5 LinkedIn Company Page Tips to Enhance Your Marketing

5 LinkedIn Company Page Tips to Enhance Your Marketing

Do you use LinkedIn for business?

Do you have a LinkedIn company page?

In this article, I’ll show you how to get the most from your LinkedIn company page, in five easy steps.

Why a LinkedIn Company Page?

The benefits of a well-oiled LinkedIn company page include engaging followers with company news, updates, events and relevant content.

There’s also the improved search engine rankings as LinkedIn pages often perform well in company searches.  And let’s not forget lead generation opportunities from your content marketing.

In fact, research shows that 50% of LinkedIn members are more likely to purchase from companies when they engage with them on LinkedIn.

Here’s how to make your LinkedIn company page work for you:

#1: Optimize Your LinkedIn Page

Showcase what your business has to offer. Smart marketers who build out their products and services page tend to attract twice as many company followers than those who don’t.

Use this page to tell members what you do best and give them compelling reasons to follow you.

Remember that you can link to just about anything from your products and services page, including your latest and greatest white papers, case studies or how-to content.

You’ll best attract customers when you turn your products, services or anything else relevant to your business into focal points. Here are just a few examples of what to feature prominently:

  • Products: The software you sell or the apps you’ve built
  • Services: A list of your résumé writing services or your tax consulting brochure
  • Other: Webinars you host or your company’s white papers or ebooks 
    hubspot products

    Use the products and services page to raise awareness of your brand, promote career opportunities and educate potential customers on your products and services.

Company pages are also very SEO-friendly. Google previews up to 156 characters of your page’s text. Be sure to edit your description so that it leads with powerful, keyword-rich sentences. Plus, members can search for companies by keyword on LinkedIn, so include words and phrases that describe your business, expertise and industry focus.

Finally, remember to include your company contact information, descriptions of offerings and your areas of expertise. Your primary attributes can also function as keyword tags.

Once you’ve done that, ask your customers to recommend the products and services they favor. Authentic advocacy equals credible endorsement!

#2: Engage Your Audience

With LinkedIn company pages, you can now like and share content as a company. Before, you could only do so as an individual. This is a big change, so use it toengage other members!

For example, your company page admins can like and respond to member comments that are made in response to something you post on your company page.Consider sharing your customers’ and prospects’ content—from their corporate blogs, product updates and company posts—to get these kinds of interactions going. And don’t forget content from their employees! You’ll develop trust with buyers while developing a more professional corporate brand identity.

Hands down, content that’s customized to your followers’ and customers’ professional interests resonates the most.

With LinkedIn’s targeted updates, you can easily tailor your message to your audience. For example, when you create an update, you can choose to share it with “all followers” or to a “targeted audience.”

Choose the latter to send your update to a subset of followers based on geography, industry, company size or level of seniority. Just as with any social network, LinkedIn is a community where targeted engagement is essential for success.

targeted company update

Company updates allow your administrators to directly engage with viewers and followers of your company page. You can post and share items like company news, promotions, relevant industry articles and YouTube videos.

When you update from your company page, use these two essential tips for creating compelling content:

  • Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead! Concise intros and snappy headlines are more likely to result in higher engagement than long, dry copy. You have only moments to show your audience why they should care, so being succinct is crucial. Grab your readers’ attention right away by starting your update with your most important thought.
  • Make your content valuable and “snackable.” Develop quality content that is quick to consume, so members will want to share it with their connections and networks. In fact, our data shows that the most successful updates include a picture, chart, video or link to an article. When you do not have a link or image to include, engage your audience by asking a question.

Lastly, keep in mind that professionals will check your updates on multiple devices.

#3: Attract More Followers

The more the merrier on the social merry-go-round. Here are some simple, effective strategies for attracting more followers with your company updates:

  • Engage your colleagues. Employees are 70% more likely to engage with your company updates, so don’t forget to ask them to do it! Initiate communication and make it easy for them to respond.
  • Cultivate a larger following with a multi-channel approach. Encourage your teammates to add a link to your company page in their email signatures. If needed, ask your designer for help creating a customized banner or button.
  • Add a Follow button to your website. Your web team can pull code for a Follow button from developer.linkedin.com to add to your blog or website. This lets LinkedIn members follow your company with a single click. 
    follow button

    Add a Follow button to your website, making it easy to grow your LinkedIn company page follower base.

#4: Follow the 4-1-1 Rule

The 4-1-1 Rule was coined by Tippingpoint Labs and Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute. The rule states:

“For every one self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”

4 1 1 rule

Consistent posting: Create an editorial calendar of updates within your company, and highlight relevant third-party material. Then share it with company followers. Image Source: Tippingpoint Labs.

Apply this simple rule to your activity on your LinkedIn company page, and you’ve struck gold. You’ll authentically engage in conversations, build awareness and interact with LinkedIn members without giving the impression that you’re a self-centered know-it-all.

For marketers, the 4-1-1 Rule is particularly useful when applied to building relationships with prospective customers. This kind of trust hinges on your ability tofoster an informative dialogue regularly. It also keeps you at the front of prospects’ minds as they move through the buying phase.

As Jay Baer says, “Sell something, get a customer for a day. Help someone, get a customer for life.”

#5: Analyze for the Prize

Company page administrators have access to LinkedIn Analytics that help them better engage with their followers and monitor their success. There is a goldmine of insights available to help you focus and refine your strategy, including:

  • Engagement % — Engagement = interactions + clicks + followers acquired. In other words, this metric answers the question, “Of those who’ve seen my update, how many are truly engaging with it?” Look at updates with higher engagement rates, and note the type of content, people targeted, date and time. Then you’ll know how to optimize future content around what’s proven to work.
  • Demographics — From seniority and industry to company size and function, demographics give you a snapshot of your followers. With this information, you cantailor the type of content you share on your company page, as well as the tone in which it’s delivered. Demographics will also help you determine segments to target with targeted status updates.
  • How You Compare — Knowing how your company page compares to your competitors’ pages is a great way to determine whether you should change your strategy.

Bonus Tip

Host a company “Lunch & Learn” to evangelize the power of company updates, and share tips and tricks with your team. This can have a significant impact on your company page’s overall reach.

Consider third-party apps like GaggleAMP and Addvocate to show employees which updates are most important for your company and are pre-approved for sharing.

Over to You

What do you think? Are you using LinkedIn’s company pages to connect your business with the professionals you most want to reach? How do you update your followers on company news, products and services and job openings?

This article originally appeared in the Social Media Examiner

Best Practices for a Solid Social Media Strategy

Best Practices for a Solid Social Media Strategy

Social media has grown from a curiosity to an integral piece of corporate strategy in the space of only a few years. Nearly overnight, business owners have brought on whole teams of specialists to craft effective social media strategies and manage multiplying numbers of social media accounts. The truth is that you can build an efficient and valuable social media strategy by following a few Best Practices. Successful businesses start by identifying the social networks they need to be active on and the tactics they need to use on each network. A good strategy will discuss the type of content to be posted — including a discussion of “Voice” and “Tone.” Following the social activities of others is useful to come up with your own “style.” When you find a brand whose approach you like, spend some time studying what they do with their followers. Watch for several weeks and get a sense of the cadence of their social activities. Immersion will give you confidence for the next step — Implementation.

Here are some Best Practices as you put your plan into action:

PURPOSE

Nobody has time to waste. Take a look at your strategy and review the reasons your business is implementing a social media marketing plan. What do you want out of social activities? Are you trying to drive people to your website, your blog, or your Facebook page? Focusing on your ultimate goal will guide your next steps: what you do (what channels you will use), when you do it (what schedule you will aim for), and what content you’ll share (blogs, ebooks, testimonials, webinars, tip sheets, etc.). This kind of analysis can head off social missteps (remember the United Airlines baggage handlers’ debacle?) and help you focus on what’s important and productive.

SCHEDULING

Social media is global now; it doesn’t sleep. Your social media management tool needs to allow you to easily schedule messages, unless you have employees who cover all the time zones in shifts! Even while you sleep in, say, Duluth, you will want to schedule messages to go out to your customers in Tokyo during their workday.

If you want to take scheduling to the next level, look for a tool like HootSuite that integrates with a Contact Relationship Manager like Nimble and offers the ability to schedule large batches of messages at once. This will be an incredibly useful timesaver when it comes to managing campaigns or contests that require heavy messaging around a certain period of time.

GEO
When it comes to interacting with your customers, those in different locations may have different needs, speak different languages, or follow different trends. You’re going to want to optimize your searches and filter them by language to help you curate relevant content for different demographics.

KEYWORDS
Through social media, businesses can keep their finger on the pulse of their industry. Setting up keyword search streams provides insight into what your customers think is trendy. This can be great intelligence to help you develop a marketing strategy that focuses on your customer’s lifestyles and personal preferences. There are lots of apps that will help with this; you can set up Google alerts for free and chose how often you want to be notified.

Keywords are useful for keeping track of competitors’ activities but they’re also useful for tracking brands that are complementary to yours. If your product or service is often purchased in conjunction with another product or service, keep an eye on the complementary product’s social media activity. Be ready to take advantage of promotions or recent sales — because these are potential leads ready to be converted.

COLLABORATION
It takes two, as they say, to tango, especially when it comes to being social. An effective social media campaign will benefit from collaboration. Set clear expectations and solicit employee buy-in. Can your employees help you with the management of your social presence? Are they enthusiastic about participating? Do you have a social media management tool that enables you to seamlessly collaborate with your team to ensure you execute an integrated social media management strategy? The answers to these questions can mean a greatly amplified social voice for your brand.

REPORTING
Gone are the days of social media purely being about “building buzz.” It is now a line item in budgets as business owners invest resources to turn social relationships into business opportunities. With a line item comes the need to demonstrate return on investment.

Set up a system for analyzing important metrics (such as click-through rates on shortened links, clicks by region, and top referrers). It’s also important to have access to Facebook Insights and Google Analytics. You’ll want to track your Twitter @mentions and watch trends as people follow you on Twitter. Are you on Google+ or LinkedIn? What metrics will tell you if you are succeeding? You might have to pull your statistics from several places, but the data is valuable and worth a bit of trouble.

Access in-depth granular metrics on the efficacy of your social media programs. This is important because you will understand which messages result in the highest number of conversions, which platform is providing the greatest return — even what time of day is most effective to drive traffic.

WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED
Social media is here to stay, but it’s still in its formative stages, and a lot of brands are still just skimming the surface of its business potential. To maintain a competitive advantage, businesses need to stay alert and aware. Develop a strategy you are comfortable implementing, even if you start small.. Then stay focused. Don’t waste your time telling your followers where you’re eating lunch. Have a purpose, prioritize your tasks, and keep good metrics to track results. When you do these things, your social media efforts will result in increased revenue to your business.

Why LinkedIn Should Be Your First Port of Call For B2B Marketing

Why LinkedIn Should Be Your First Port of Call For B2B Marketing

LinkedIn is often overlooked in B2B marketing campaigns – but that may be a missed opportunity

Salesforce: Linkedin officesPhotograph: Bloomberg

Samsung’s launch of the Galaxy Note 2 “phablet” (a mobile phone of near-tablet size) at the beginning of this year made great use of LinkedIn, the professional networking site which is often overlooked in consumer marketing campaigns.

The mobile phone giant created a microsite and invited visitors to sign in with their LinkedIn membership profiles. They were then encouraged to share their thoughts about the phablet with their LinkedIn connections, enabling Samsung to reach a global audience of 20 million people. Samsung’s director of social media marketing, Andy Hwang, points to LinkedIn’s ability to precisely target audiences, adding: “It provided a platform for driving word of mouth and shifting perceptions among consumers worldwide.”

Since its launch 10 years ago, LinkedIn has become the first port of call for businesses wanting to use social media for B2B marketing, staff recruitment and disseminating industry information. But it comes low down the list of social platforms that brands consider for marketing to consumers, a situation the company is seeking to remedy.

Its 239 million members worldwide tend to spend less time on the site compared with users of Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn’s members are there for serious reasons. They are less likely to lie in their profiles and they visit the site to enhance their position in the world.

With 3m company pages, the marketing potential seems huge. LinkedIn’s marketing solutions division accounts for about a quarter of the company’s revenues, recruitment account for more than half of revenues, while subscriptions make up about a fifth. In the second quarter of this year, the marketing unit’s profits grew 36% on the 2012 period to over $85m (£54m).

Josh Graff, head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions across Europe, says this shows that advertising on LinkedIn “is truly coming of age”. He adds: “The platform has changed. People used to think of it just as a place to secure a new job. But six times more impressions flow from people seeking information about companies than those specifically looking for a new job.

“More and more consumer brands such as Samsung and Mercedes are going on LinkedIn every day because they can target our members who are affluent, educated and influential and have a high disposable income.” He says that a third of visits to the site come via mobile, up from a fifth a year ago.

Paul Armstrong at Digital Orange Consulting points to figures from digital analysts ComScore, which show that the 9.4 million unique UK visitors to LinkedIn in July were evenly spread across the age groups. But the site has an above-average proportion of high-income visitors. While nearly 6 million had incomes under £50,000 a year, 3.5 million earned in excess of 50K, according to ComScore. “People are getting to understand that it is a controlled space, there’s not a lot of noise going on there and it is a simple eco-system. It is becoming a hub for high-quality business information,” he says.

LinkedIn has recently introduced Sponsored Updates, where businesses can pay to ensure their posts appear in the news feeds of members, who they can target using a range of criteria.

Graff says this enables brands to promote new and relevant information, such as white papers, research and infographics, particularly important for companies seeking to build their reputations for thought leadership on business issues. This helps the site’s B2B marketing strategy, positioning it as a resource for anyone in business who wants advice, data and contacts.

Computer giant HP uses LinkedIn to target small businesses through its Business Answers page, where firms can discuss areas of interest such as tax. Rebecca Shears, head of marketing for printing and personal systems at HP, says: “We had research which showed that more and more small businesses are turning to social media and are looking for peer-to-peer advice, so we launched the hub two years ago. Now we’ve got over 9,000 members. The main reason we are doing it is to position HP as a brand that supports businesses.” She says members of the LinkedIn page are 20% more likely to recommend HP products than the average population.

Though the LinkedIn page is free for HP to run, the computer giant supports it with advertising. Shears says that if HP doesn’t buy the ads, rival companies will.

Of course, B2B marketing also has a consumer spin off. Vodafone UK’s business division uses LinkedIn to promote its Your Better Business website, which offers information and advice to business people. Helen Moon, head of Enterprise Brand at Vodafone UK, says LinkedIn is a powerful platform for disseminating business information. She adds: “There is a definite halo effect for consumers on LinkedIn. Business people are also consumers so they absorb information which shapes their personal and professional opinions.”

In truth, all the social media sites are works in progress for marketing, says Leo Ryan, head of Ogilvy@Social. “LinkedIn certainly is not a natural place for consumer marketing,” he adds. “Though that’s not to say you can’t do something innovative there. Facebook’s billion-strong membership is a hard number to ignore, so it is the default site for brands, while Twitter can have such an impact on the news cycle. LinkedIn is behind Instagram for consumer campaigns. But if B2B’s your thing, it is the first stop.”

LinkedIn’s share price is soaring in the US. Investors seem to like LinkedIn’s argument that the site’s users go there for serious reasons and that this offers brands strong marketing potential.

Article Originally Appeared:  By David Benady in The Guardian – Wednesday 11 September 2013

 
How to Maximize the Reach of Your Social Media Posts

How to Maximize the Reach of Your Social Media Posts

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.

how to maximise the reach of your social mediaThe 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!

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Are you designing and  scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
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hat do you find gets the best results?

20 Tips to a Successful LinkedIn Profile

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
•             Specialties
•             Interests
•             Recommendations
•             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. (markjones@gmail.com)

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.

Social Selling: LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting – Part One

A 10 Step Social Media Marketing Guide for B2B

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.

digital marketing

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:

  1. To ensure that your programs deliver a high level of value, identify your customers’ business needs, challenges, and technology preferences.
  2. To differentiate yourself from your competitors, understand which programs, tools, and content they are (and are not) employing.
  3. 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!

 

 This article first appeared in MarketingProfs