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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are quite excited about a new feature that LinkedIn is launching today. You can now start conversations through “LinkedIn Mentions”. What this means is that you can “mention” companies and connections in your status updates and comments on the network.
If you’re familiar with Twitter mentions, you can expect LinkedIn mentions to work basically the same way. In fact, it looks as if the new feature will integrate directly with Twitter. In other words, if you mention a connection on LinkedIn, and that member has his or her Twitter account connected to LinkedIn, the mention will also show up as a Twitter mention. (This assumes that you choose to send the status update to Twitter through LinkedIn)
I’m a big fan of maximizing impact while minimizing time in social networking, and the LinkedIn mentions feature is certainly going to help with this. LinkedIn “mentions” is going to bring more of a real-time feel to the network as you will be notified as soon as anyone mentions you or your company. You will see the mentions at the top of the site under “notifications”, which is represented by the small flag symbol.
Mentioning Connections on LinkedIn
The LinkedIn Blog states the following regarding mentioning your connections:
“In addition to first-degree connections, you can also mention other LinkedIn members engaged in conversations in the comment sections of posts on the LinkedIn Homepage.”
I’ve always been an advocate for growing both the breadth and the depth of your LinkedIn network, versus limiting your connections. Every new connection is an opportunity to grow your visibility!
With the new mention feature, you will have the ability to more effectively engage your first-degree connections in updates and conversations. Additionally, you can engage in conversations beyond your first-degree connections in the home page comment sections of posts.
My hope is that you will also be able to engage with commenters on LinkedIn Influencer posts, as many those posts tend to generate lots of comments. Now, those comments may turn into true dialogue!
Mentioning Companies on LinkedIn
Why might you want to mention companies on LinkedIn through your status updates and comments?
By mentioning companies with value-added status updates or commentary, you can engage directly with the company (someone is running the page) and potentially the members who are following the company.
As with all social networking features, don’t be the person who abuses the privilege. I’m sure that with this feature we will see plenty of exploitation. Be the smart marketer and build online influence through adding value and empowering others. Use LinkedIn mentions to help other members solve problems, get smarter, and achieve more.
Below is a brief slideshow demonstrating the LinkedIn mentions feature:
What do you think? Are you excited about this new LinkedIn feature?
Originally Posted on by Stephanie Sammons
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!
This article first appeared in MarketingProfs
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.
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.
You could also use the WordPress application on LinkedIn, or Networked Blogs for Facebook as another couple of alternatives. Or you could re-purpose old posts for publication elsewhere.
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)
When choosing a name for your new company, keep these tips in mind to help you find one that will work now and in the future.Naming a business is a lot like laying the cornerstone of a building. Once it’s in place, the entire foundation and structure is aligned to that original stone. If it’s off, even just a bit, the rest of the building is off, and the misalignment becomes amplified. So if you have that gnawing sense that choosing a name for your new business is vitally important, you’re right. To help you get off to a good start, read on to discover the top 8 mistakes people make when it comes to choosing a name for their business:Mistake #1: Getting the “committee” involved in your decisionWe live in a democratic society, and it seems like the right thing to do, to involve everyone (your friends, family, employees and clients) in such an important decision. This approach, however, presents a few problems. Mainly, you often end up with a consensus decision, which results in a very safe, very Vanilla name. A better method is to involve only the key decision-makers – the fewer the better – and select only the people who have the company’s best interests at heart and those who have experience in this naming process.Mistake #2: Employing the “train wreck” method of creating a nameWhen forced to come up with a catchy name, many aspiring entrepreneurs simply take part of an adjective and weld it onto a noun, essentially colliding the two words head on to create a new word. The results are names that have a certain twisted rationale to them, but look and sound awful. Someone starting a high-end, service franchise becomes QualiServe. Someone starting a classy day spa becomes TranquiSpa. Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with either word, but they just don’t go together. The problem with this approach is that it’s forced–and looks and sounds that way.Mistake #3: Using words so plain they’ll never stand out in a crowdThe first company in a category can get away with this one. Hence you have General Motors. But once you have competition, it requires differentiation. Imagine if Yahoo! had come out as GeneralInternetDirectory.com? The name would be much more descriptive but hardly memorable. And with the onslaught of new media and advertising channels, it’s more important than ever to carve out your niche by displaying your uniqueness. Nothing does that better than a well conceived name.Mistake #4: Taking the atlas approach and using a map to name your companyIn the excitement of starting a new company, many businesses choose to use their city, county or region as part of their company name. While this may actually help in the beginning, it often becomes a hindrance as a company grows and reaches farther afield.Mistake #5: Turning your name into a clicheOnce past the literal, descriptive word choices, your thought process will most likely turn to metaphors. These can be great if they’re not overly used. For example, since many companies think of themselves as the top in their industry, the world is full of names like Summit, Apex, Pinnacle, Peak and so on. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with these names, they’re overworked. Instead, look for combinations of positive words and metaphors, and you’ll be much better served. A good example is the data storage company Iron Mountain, a name that conveys strength and security without sounding commonplace.Mistake #6: Making your business name overly obscureIt’s great for a name to have a special meaning or significance – it sets up a story that can be used to tell the company message. But if the reference is too obscure or too hard to spell and pronounce, you may never have the opportunity to speak to that customer because they’ll simply pass you by.So resist the urge to name your company after the mythical Greek god of fast service or the Latin phrase for “We’re number one!” If a name has a natural, intuitive sound and a special meaning, it can work. If it’s too complex and puzzling, it will remain a mystery to your customers. This is especially true if you’re reaching out to a mass audience.Mistake #7: Selecting an awkward nameDriven by the need for a domain name, many companies have resorted to awkwardly constructed or purposefully misspelled names. The results are company names that sound more like prescription drugs than real life businesses, names like KwaliTronix. It’s amazing how good some names begin to sound after searching for available domain names all night. But resist the urge. Avoid using a “K” in place of a “Q” or a “Ph” in place of an “F”. This makes spelling the name–and locating you on the internet–all that much harder.You may argue that “Xerox” and “Kodak” are pretty awkward. Keep in mind that many of the companies that successfully use this approach were either first to market or have large marketing budgets. “Verizon”, for instance, spent millions on their rebranding and education efforts. So did Accenture. So check your bank balance before you decide on these types of names.Mistake #8: Choosing the wrong name and then refusing to change itMany business owners know they have a problem with their name and just hope it will somehow magically resolve itself. Often they began with a regional name “Dublin Cleaning Services”. Having expanded nationwide they needed a change but how to do this with out losing the trust and brand value they have created over the past years of service? “DCS – nationwide cleaning”.And Finally…In the fever to start your new business or expand a current one, take time to think through some of these issues. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding these potential pitfalls, you’ll be able to create a name that works for both the short and long term. Like the original cornerstone of a building, it will support upward expansion as your company reaches new heights.
Remember social media networking takes time, the more involved in it you and your organisation become, the more time it will take. The more successful you become within the social media world, the more interactivity you encourage, the more successful you will become but it will take still more time. So, the key success factors for any strategy come into play with social media – know what you want, have a clear end goal and then find myriad ways to achieve it.
Begin with the End in Mind
Strategy isn’t the end goal – It’s the path you take to get to that end goal. So, first you need to think about setting some goals for your Social Media work. What do you want to achieve (end goal) by getting involved in social media. Remember, social media is highly measurable, but also include softer goals such as building a strong community, loyalty, trust and interactivity around your brand. Don’t measure your Social Media strategy solely in terms of percentages or ROI.So, let’s look at some basic goals you can achieve through Social Media:
• Increase customer base
• Generate leads
• Drive sales
• Build awareness
• Make money from your content
• Establish thought leadership
• Educate customers
• Reach new channels of customers
• Improve internal communication
Questions Before the Strategy
Before you go too far down any one path, you need to ask some basic questions:
• Are your key customer groups or influencer groups likely to be online?
• How are you going to add value through their online contact with you?
• How do you plan to engage them online through your new social media platform? Interactivity is key to repeat visits but it’s not all about selling.
• How well suited is your brand to the Social Media environment?
• Which Social Media platforms are you planning to include in your strategy? LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, Podcasting, Twitter etc
• What measures will you use to determine the success or failure of your strategy?
• How long are you going run with this new strategy before you call it a success or failure?
• Who has overall responsibility for each area? It’s critical that each message you send out to the market is aligned with your brand story and that you react to any feedback/comments/queries quickly.
• How will you incorporate this into people’s daily jobs getting them actively enthused?
• Are you ready to handle negativity? Platforms like blogs, podcasts and videos allow for external comments, not all of which will be good, and some company cultures aren’t ready to engage with those opinions.
Even looking at those few questions will tell you a lot about your business and whether or not Social Media is actually a good fit for you and your internal capabilities at this stage.
Where are you going? How are you going to get there? How do you know you’ve arrived? Simple?If you’re going to put a social media strategy into place, you need to know where you’re going (end goal), align and develop the paths you’re going to take (which platforms, who’s responsible, how to engage), measure the journey (what factors signify success or failure) and funnel all this back into the original strategy as you proceed, to make it more robust, better targeted and more effective as you move forward.
First Step to Social Media Success
Listen…!Seriously, before you start developing a Social Media strategy for your organisation – Listen…Listen to what’s going on in your market – who’s playing in Social Media?What are they saying? What platforms are they using? How are they bringing value to their communities? How are their brands represented and their stories told? What are they doing and how can you do it better?Also, have a listen to what the market is saying about you – even before you begin to court feedback through actively engaging in Social Media the market may be talking about you – you need to know what people are saying.
Have a look a couple of basic listening tools:
Google Reader and Google Alerts – set these up on your iGoogle home page so you can instantly see when someone mentions you. Don’t just set your alerts for your company name; use your own name, names of people on your team, directors, influencers, clients etc. Set up alerts for business areas where you are the leader, events that you run – anything that will relate to your organisation and will give you feedback on market reactions.
Technorati – Go to www.Technorati.com, search for your company (again using product, brand, personal names) in the search bar, and see what people are saying about you. Note the little orange RSS subscription button in the upper right. Copy that link location (Right click the link and say “Copy Link” or however your browser words that). Now, put that into Google Reader as one of your listening searches. Repeat this for your competitor’s name, brand, individuals, and some industry terms (make them succinct).
Google Blogsearch – Go to Google Blogsearch and do the same thing. Sure there will be some overlap, but it’s important to capture both. The subscription to searches link is on the left hand side about 1/3 down the page.
Try Summize – if you’re thinking about using social networks and social media, it’s likely that some of your customers are using Twitter. If so, go to Summize and put in your search terms there, too. Input as many searches as you need, copying the RSS feeds and putting them into Google Reader as above. Build a strong catalog of searches initially, you can prune the bad or ineffective ones after you have tried it for a while.
About You!What do you think? What else should we work into this “Starting a Social Media Strategy” piece to make it more useful to your needs?
Start promoting your business blog today with these five effective tips from TopRank: 1. Involve influential industry bloggersBy linking to popular blogs, you can gain the attention of both the influential blogger and his or her readers. But your blog won’t be the only one to benefit. You’ll be giving the other blog a little link juice – and be paying them a compliment at the same time. 2. Promote your blog via social mediaIf your organisation already has a solid presence on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels, leverage your followers or fans to promote your new blog.For example, when a new post goes live, create a short tweet with a link back to the post – and provide the link on your Facebook fan page. 3. Create “link-bait” posts and “sticky” headlinesCreating compelling headlines or posts that resonate with social web users is another way to garner attention for your new blog… who can resist a “Top 5 Tips…” article? 4. Promote the blog on your corporate websiteIt’s important to gain some valuable real estate on the homepage of your corporate site – particularly in the early stages of getting a new blog up and running. Create a button with a link to the blog to appear on the homepage, or at the least provide a link to the blog in the navigation of the site. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your blog.5. Promote the blog offlineFor all of the online channels available to promote your blog, there are just as many offline channels to leverage. Don’t limit yourself to the online world.Instead:Add your blog URL to business cards.Promote your blog at industry events.Get print publications to pick up blog posts.Use word of mouth to let customers and business partners know of the new blog.Include the blog URL in the boilerplate of press releases (and in online releases, too).Of course, these five tips are just a few of many ways to promote and market business blogs. Whatever promotional efforts you choose, look for tactics that will help you reach business goals whether they are increasing awareness, garnering buzz in the media or driving additional website traffic.Here’s the full article from Toprank…What tactics have you used to promote your blog? We’re launching our new Social Media Marketing Service in Paril – call us on +353 1 236 0909 to chat through any questions you may have on social media or blogging.