Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Can Businesses Do On Facebook?

by Barbara Wayman
reposted with permission

“Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.”   --Putt’s Law

It’s here: the new age of social media. By now you probably know that you can use Facebook to reconnect with old friends from high school, post photos and catch up on what your friends are doing, but did you know there are a lot of business goals you can accomplish on Facebook as well?

Here are my top four things businesses can do on Facebook:
1. Prospect for clients – People can be searched and segmented by narrow topic areas on social media, making it efficient to prospect for clients who may already have an interest in your product or service. Because in social media people opt in to join your group or become a fan of your company, you also have the benefit of a more motivated, interested audience than you might have in the offline world.

2. Listen to what people are saying/thinking about your company, industry and brand – You can use that information to develop new products and services that will appeal to your customers or to refine the products and services you currently have.

3. Develop better customer relations – By engaging more frequently with your customers in a way they enjoy and prefer, you strengthen the bonds between you.

4. Build your credibility and expertise – By being visible and active on social media, you increase the likelihood that when people think of your industry they think of you first.

Notice one thing I didn’t say was SELL, SELL, SELL. Social media has the potential to reach a huge potential market, but that doesn’t mean you immediately should sell to everyone in your network. That can be a real turn off and lead to people disconnecting from you online because it is so self-serving.

It’s like if you went to a party or networking event and you met some new people. You wouldn’t immediately whip out your product and ask them to buy it, right? Instead you might chat with them to get a better idea of their areas of interest and their needs, and if there seemed to be an overlap with what you were offering, you might give them your card and suggest they visit your company. It’s the same thing online. You need to build the relationships before people want to buy from you.

Facebook is great for building the know, like and trust factor that is so important for long-term success. Because since social media is so new there are people out there pushing their products in a very aggressive way, and it might make you think that’s an appropriate strategy. It’s not.

That doesn’t mean social media won’t help you sell your services, you just need to think of it with a longer timeline and in a more subtle way, compared to, “Okay I’ve set up my Facebook page so now I expect to see a 20% boost in sales this month.”

Facebook can be an important marketing tool for businesses when it is used effectively with reasonable goals.

Barbara Wayman, president of BlueTree Media, LLC, publishes The Stand Out Newsletter, an award-winning ezine for people who want to know how to leverage the power of marketing and public relations. Get your free subscription today at /ezine.html
©2009 Barbara Wayman, BlueTree Media, LLC

For more information there was also a great story in The New York Times last week on this same exact topic!

Monday, November 9, 2009

7 Ways to Get More Out of LinkedIn

by Sharlyn Lauby
reposted from Mashable

LinkedIn, which recently reached the 50 million user milestone, has long been considered the social networking site for professionals. If you’re in business, it is basically expected that you have a profile there.

But with the more mainstream platforms like Twitter and Facebook being used for business purposes, some professionals are neglecting their LinkedIn profiles. While LinkedIn is certainly not as dynamic as other social media sites, it still provides a lot of value — if you use it correctly. So whether you’re new to LinkedIn or a veteran, here are some of the things you should consider incorporating into your LinkedIn strategy.

1. Include a Photo Avatar
Some media reports claim that because organizations can use any criteria they want to make hiring decisions, photo avatars provide companies with information they may not have otherwise known about you based on a resume alone and could actually hurt you more than help. But, not including a photo with a social networking profile flies in the face of conventional wisdom when your goal is to build relationships and community.

Eric B. Meyer, an associate in the labor and employment group of Dilworth Paxson LLP, reminds us that when using a professional networking site such as LinkedIn, “don’t give a potential employer an easy excuse to remove you from consideration. Use a professional headshot and scrap the picture of you doing a keg-stand"

He adds that, “an employer may not discriminate when selecting one job applicant over another. For example, an employer may not base a hiring decision on such things as race, religion, gender, and national origin. Although actually proving an employer made a discriminatory hiring decision may be difficult.” Businesses who engage in hiring discrimination are the exception, not the rule. Just remember, by using an avatar, you will be providing information about yourself a prospective employer may not have otherwise obtained on its own.

2. Build Your Network of Connections
While we might be inclined to say quality is better than quantity, it could be possible that the number of connections you have says something about you. Greg Koutsis, corporate and international channel recruiter for Aplicor LLC, says, “if someone has 20-50+ connections then I know they probably check LinkedIn at least once a week. If someone has 1-19 then I realize they probably either haven’t begun to pop the hood and look inside or gotten past the initial threshold of their friends, family and past colleagues. They might be a great prospect for me to reach out to but this might not be the best use of my time. This combined with the profile they have listed lets me realize quickly if I am wasting my time with someone who has no interest or trust in LinkedIn.”
So you might say to yourself, if small numbers in the connection department signal you’re a novice, do large numbers mean you’ll connect with just about anyone? Koutsis says not necessarily. “I do not believe there’s a maximum number of connections that makes someone look like they will just connect with anyone. LinkedIn only shows 500 then adds the + sign after the 500 so you never really do know how many more than 500 connections someone has until you connect with them.”

3. Use Status Updates to Your Advantage
Once you complete your profile, there aren’t a lot of places to make regular updates in LinkedIn. The one space where you can keep your connections informed is the status updates section.

Lori Burke, director of human resources at Neighborhood America, explains that updates are not only an interesting read, but very valuable. “I’ve found new networking groups I may not have thought about [via status updates]. Additionally, it allows me to learn what others are involved with or in, who they may be connected to, etc. In total, it widens the scope of knowledge for me.”

4. Seek Meaningful Recommendations
A terrific feature of LinkedIn is the ability to provide recommendations. This is a place for your connections to comment about your work. Recommendations can be thought of as beefed up thank you cards. Instead of telling one person how you feel, you’re telling the world that person does good work.
It’s important to get good solid recommendations and Meyer offers some thoughts on how to do that. First, “think about who knows you best. It could be a co-worker or manager. It could also be a client or customer for whom you just did an incredible job on a huge project. If you seek a recommendation from a client or customer, be polite and remember to thank the person who gives you the recommendation.”

Then, “If you are going to seek a recommendation from a co-worker or manager, keep a few things in mind. Many employers have written policies against giving out anything other than neutral job references to current and former employees. These policies generally focus on giving recommendations, as opposed to seeking them. Still, as a courtesy to the person in your company from whom you seek a recommendation, just be sensitive to your company’s neutral reference policy.”

5. Optimize Your Profile
Your LinkedIn profile should not just be an online version of your resume, optimizing for search engines is key. The format of your LinkedIn profile might depend on whether you are currently employed and whether or not you are seeking new opportunities, says Koutsis. “If you are looking for a new position then you might want your profile to look more like a resume, but maybe not so much if I am currently employed.”
Burke doesn’t mind if the full content of the resume is on the profile as it can be helpful when searching for candidates. However, it is a bonus “when I find networkers who have added more content than you might find in a resume, such as a link to their portfolio.”

When filling out your profile, you should think about your goals for the type of networking you hope to get done. Also, since LinkedIn has the ability to search any word in the content, both Burke and Koutsis suggest listing all relevant keywords at the bottom of your profile if you want to be found easier.

6. Use Groups to Expand Your Reach
Groups are a beneficial networking tool and a great way to expand your network. Koutsis says that he doesn’t look at what groups a person belongs to when he’s searching for candidates but he does find potential resources using the groups function.

However, Meyer reminds us it’s possible to be viewed in a negative light based upon group membership. “For some time now, many employers are going beyond simply running a criminal background check in order to vet job applicants. Employers may be Googling candidates, checking out their public postings on Facebook, reviewing tweets on Twitter, and scrutinizing LinkedIn profiles. In a down economy — as in any economy, really — employers want to fill job openings with the best possible candidates.”

Today’s rule of thumb should be that anything you post in an online profile may as well be listed on your resume or bio. If you belong to a LinkedIn group that is inconsistent with the business image you wish to portray, then that could be a challenge for you. Meyer shared with me the example of belonging to a group called “The Deer Hunters” while applying for a position with an animal rights group (let’s just say, good luck with that).

7. Consider Whether to Link Your Profiles
Burke believes that accounts should be kept separate. “I believe that this strategy allows me to keep my professional personae separate from my personal. Case in point was the one time I posted a social media article to both applications. My Facebook family and friends found the information of little value to them and I believe the same may be true in reverse. However, I will post general information about me (i.e., speaking engagements) with both networks. In essence, it depends on the content,” she says.

On the other hand, Lance Haun, vice president of outreach at MeritBuilder, explains that LinkedIn is “a snapshot of your life at the time you updated your profile so including Twitter, Facebook, or a blog helps to add living context to your profile.” With the lines between work and life being blurred, posting something business related at 1:00 PM and a picture of a cat at 1:00 AM helps “bring the picture of a person together completely.”

In the end, Koutsis asks, “if people see no reason after viewing your profile to connect with you, then why did you reach out to them in the first place?” The most important thing we can do is create a complete and compelling profile. Because the bottom line is the value proposition you propose when you try to connect with someone on LinkedIn.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

5 Ways To Use Twitter's New List Feature For Marketers

By Rohit Bhargava
reposted from Influential Marketing Blog

There is no denying that Twitter has had a huge impact on how marketers are thinking about using social media tools for marketing. One thing that is most interesting about it, however, is how the site has managed to avoid overcomplicating itself with more features. Twitter is simple, and it just works. Of course the one overused word that has been used recently to describe Twitter is that it is a "firehose" of information, shooting out at a speed and volume that has threatened to make it unusable for many people. So when I had a chance to try out Twitter's new Lists feature (which I had been looking forward to seeing for some time), I was not only surprised, but also excited about what this will mean for all of us who use the site. Here are just a few reasons why I think lists may revolutionize how you use Twitter.
1.You can segment your firehose. The #1 criticism of Twitter is that if you follow thousands of people and see all their tweets appearing in one interface, it's tough to manage. Searches in third party tools like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck have made this more manageable, but those usually only work based on keywords, which is inefficient. What if I wanted to just see all the tweets from my colleagues at Ogilvy? That was tough to do. Now with lists, I can create my own group of colleagues and just reference that.

2.Offers a more meaningful metric of influence. You'll notice if you have a Twitter account that in the spot where it used to just list the number of tweets you have done, it now shows how frequently you are "listed." This is a new metric of influence that sits somewhere between followers and retweets - but one that indicates how frequently other Twitter users who are creating their own lists are including you on their list. In short order, I imagine that number (along with retweets) will become more influential than having hundreds of thousands of robot followers when it comes to measuring influence on Twitter.

3.Allows you to easily follow a trusted group of individuals. One of the biggest issues I have had in the past with Twitter is that it is difficult to follow a group of users all at once. Of course, you used to be able to use services like Tweepml to do this, but that was incomplete and the lists were often anonymously posted and so the data may not be as trustworthy. Now with Twitter Lists, you can create a list of all the attendees at a particular conference, for example, and with one click anyone can follow them.

4.Lets any user of Twitter segment who they actually read. Up until now, the greatest compliment you could give someone who you follow and read on Twitter was to retweet something they posted. Now with Twitter Lists, you can add them to a list and not only make your own experience of reading content on Twitter better (see #1 on this list), but you can also send a subtle reminder to the person you are following that unlike the other thousands of accounts you might follow, their's is one you actually pay attention to.

5.Gives brands an opportunity to aggregate multiple accounts. Many brands have multiple accounts - for example hotel brands that have a master account and then separate accounts for separate regional properties. This phenomenon was becoming more widespread, but now with Twitter Lists, brands can aggregate all their accounts together in a list - and best of all, if each Twitter account does this, the lists will show up on the sidebar linking anyone who sees one branded account to all the others.

Clearly, I'm excited about what Twitter Lists has to offer for marketers. What do you think - is this a big deal for marketers or for anyone else?
PS - Follow me on Twitter at @rohitbhargava