31 August 2012

How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

Is your LinkedIn page getting the notice it deserves?  In particular are you getting the right audience to your Linkedin page? If not, the following steps will help significantly.
  1. Your Photograph - Many will argue that your photograph should be a professionally taken studio shot against a plain white background.  The only problem is that you then look just everyone else.  Personally I choose to have a high degree of light and shadow in my photo with a map of the world in the background, declaring my global intentions.  Be different, stand out, get out of the office.  Needless to say, if you have no photograph people will not want to link in.  Its a matter of trust.
  2. Your Name - There seems to be a debate here also.  Many will say your name should be your name only.  If you want to stand out with authority in a LinkedIn group discussion you will need more.  If you have qualifications that others don't have in your field put them in.  Differentiate yourself again.  If you are talking to an accountant you want to know you are talking to a CPA.  The term LION which I have in my title, I will explain later.
  3. Your Public Profile Link - We all have a public profile link on LinkedIn.  To change this go to your name on the top right of your LinkedIn page.  Click "Settings" and then "edit your public profile".  If you want to be seen you need to set your profile to "make public to everyone".  Your profile has its own URL which initially has a default of random numbers and letters.  Click "Customize your public profile URL" and replace the garbage with your name.  Now if you type your name into Google, your Linkedin profile will be among the top listings.
  4. Summary, Work Experience, Skills, Interests And Expertise - Use keywords here for which you want to be found.  Its that simple. No need to go crazy with multiple keywords meaning the same thing but keywords nonetheless.  Make your "summary" personal by speaking in the first person, this draws more attention for some reason.  Also your "summary" can be used to address your target audience directly . Give readers a reason to connect and do business. 
  5. Recommendations - The more you have the better.  I'm told 10 is ideal.  Just ask those that you have done business with.  Recommendations are an easy thing to overlook but they add credibility to those that don't know you.
  6. Your Connections - It definitely looks good to have lots of connections.  The truth is, the more connections you have, the easier it is to connect with anyone.  I joined the LinkedIn Open Networker group to increase my connections, hence the term LION after my name. LIONs like to connect and expand their network.      
  7. Your Websites - By selecting "other" rather than "website" you can replace your website's URL with a more meaningful term such as "my marketing blog".  This will simply make more sense to the reader who will then more likely go and have a look.
  8. Groups - You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn.  I would suggest you join as many as you can.  The more groups you join, the more it shows your field(s) of expertise.  Naturally it makes sense to participate on the groups discussions.  By answering other's questions you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and gain connections. 
  9. Answers - Under the "More" tab on the top right of your LI page, you will find a section called "answers".  Here you can answer peoples queries, show your expertise and connect.   Equally this is a great place for asking questions and get an opinion on a matter.  Either way it forces engagement and connections.
  10. Share Your Update - This section has now been moved to the LinkedIn Home page.  If you are doing something important that is best broadcast, share it with your LinkedIn connections here.  If you are promoting a new blog post this way, I would announce it more than once as the LinkedIn home page now reads like a Twitter feed.
  11. Blog Lists - Again under the "more" tab there is a section called "applications".  There are a variety to choose from. In particular choose to list your blogs.  These will be displayed at the very bottom of your LinkedIn page.  Show your expertise that you have gathered in your blog posts.
  12. LinkedIn and Twitter - There was a time when your tweets could automatically be sent to LinkedIn by including "#in" at the end of your tweet.  This seems to have been done away with, just recently.  Now when you post an update on the LinkedIn homepage and press "share" the update is also sent to your Twitter followers.  I can see this changing in the near future as it is not as effective.
PS Blog lists and Twitter were removed from LinkedIn from the 12/12/2012.  Answers disappeared at the end of January 2013.
    That's plenty to get you on the right track.  I will do another blog post on getting business with LinkedIn in the near future.  Keep watching
If I have forgotten anything which you feel is of importance please let me know via a comment below.

28 August 2012

5 Ways To Automate Twitter

There are a number of tools to automate your Twitter and Facebook accounts.  They all have varying degrees of automation and fuctionality.  Depending on what you are trying to achieve, one of these many suit you better than the other.  Some of you may choose to experiment with them all.  While an automated Twitter feed gives a core of tweets, your social media accounts will need human input or you will loose followers and friends.  Here's my list:

TweetDeck - From TweetDeck you can post directly to Facebook and tweet directly to Twitter.  It also handles LinkedIn and FourSquare.  It is free to use.  You cannot schedule (set the time at which you want posts to be sent).  Its best feature is that TweetDeck has multiple columns so that you can search for multiple keywords or hashtags in real time.  This makes it an ideal listening tool.  Realistically its level of automation is poor but it lets you put all your apples in one barrel.

TweetAdder 3.0 - This application has to be purchased for a once off fee.  The price varies depending on the number of profiles you want to list. It starts at $55 for one profile and ranges to $188 for unlimited profiles.  It manages Twitter accounts only but it can manage a number of them.  Where TweetDeck is under-automated I feel TweetAdder is uber-automated.  It does not allow for any additional human input.  It allows you to generate a list of followers based on keywords, keywords in the tweebs' bios, hashtag keywords and location.  TweetAdder can be set to automatically follow this list, unfollow and follow back.  You can feed tweets from a bucket list or from an RSS feed.  You can also re-tweet based on keywords.  Automated "thank you" messages can also be set up.  While TweetAdder has all the bells and whistle, it reminds me of a visit I had aboard a submarine where crew were employed to oversee technology that automated everything.  The point is thats overkill.  But you might like overkill.

SocialOomph - By contrast again SocialOomph has a very dated interface compared to TweetAdder.  The professional version  costs roughly $36 per month.  You can post and schedule posts to Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn and our blog.  It also handles Status New, Plurk and Onlywire, if of interest.  It generates suggestions of people to follow on Tweeter.  This list of possible followers needs to be vetted before acceptance.  I didnt find any means to balance followers and following ie you can unfollow from SocialOomph.  It does handle automated direct messages to thank followers for following.

Hootsuite - This has a very user friendly interface where you can add many social media accounts and any number of them.  Your Twitter account will automatically be broken up into columns of home feed, mentions, direct messages and sent tweets.  Hootesuit creates live streams of individual subject matter which you can keep separate.  You can post to all profiles at once.  Posts can also be scheduled.  One nice feature is the use of a social bar where your posts can be sent directly to the likes of Digg and Reddit.  The possibilities are endless here.  If you are a social media manager then this one is for you. 

Tweepi -  Lists your Twitter followers in such a way that you can see how many they are following, when they last tweeted and where or not they are following you.  This allows you to flushout those that aren't following you and follow those that are following you.  Tweeti also allows you to follow a specific user's followers in order to grow your followers.  On the upgraded version you can force users to unfollow you.  All in all a power Twitter only tool.

Please let me know your views on social media automation and what you find to be most effective?

26 August 2012

How Twitter Can Benefit Your Business

Many small and medium sized businesses are still resisting to use Twitter.  Generally the questions is asked who will be responsible for keeping the social media channels up to date, who will provide the content and who will deal with queries.  Putting these questions aside, here are a number of sound business reasons to use Twitter for business.
  1. Use Twitter as a listening channel.  Using the "search" box on Twitter and type in the keywords for your own product for service. If you operate in a particlar area you can add "near:your_area" to the search.  The term "-http" generally removes marketeers active in that sector.  If you need to search to multiple search words simultaneously use the Twitter tool Tweetdeck.  This will give you a realtime listing of the tweets for your search words.
  2. Use Twitter For Inbound Marketing. Having found tweebs looking for your product/service you can actively engaged these potential customers.    Send them a direct message (DM) with your website URL.  Ask if you can answer any queries they might have.  Gather information. Sure you can let customers find you through a Google search but you'll be one of many.  Twitter goes more direct engagement.
  3. Promote Your Product Or Sevice.  Let the public know who you are, what you do and where you do it.  Bang that drum.  Use the hashtag followed by your keyword to get found on Twitter eg #socialmedia.
  4. Keep Your Customers Informed.  Twitter is the ideal tool for announcing industry updates, news or events.  Let your existing followers knows whats newsworthy. 
  5. Identify Any Unhappy Customers.  Unhappy customers cost sales.  You know the old story,  a happy customer will recommend you to 3  people and an unhappy customer will tell 11 people to steer clear of you.  Deal with them using a direct message on Twitter.
  6. Twitter Makes An Ideal PR Tool.  Promote your product or brand, keeping customers informed and dealing with unhappy customers all fall into the area of public relations.  But does your PR department use Twitter?  Manage your communications with Twitter.  Communicate your company's successes without bragging or giving too much away.  Its all good for business.
  7. Communicate With Employees.  Many companies have email free days and use Twitter to communicate instead.  Got something urgent use Twitter.
  8. Recruit Employees Through Twitter.  Employment agencies use Twitter to annouce any vacancies.  Its a low cost way of getting the word out there.
  9. Built Your Network.  Your "followers" are part of your network, build on them.  Be reciprocal with your followers' tweets and retweet them to help spread their message.  This will be appreciated. 
  10. Virally Spread Your Message.  Likewise ask your follows to "Pls RT" or retweet your message to increase its reach.
  11. Order Taking.  Some companies are equipped to take your order my tweet.  This is an automated error free way of doing business.
That should be enough to get you started using Twitter.

24 August 2012

4 Ways To Use Pinterest For Business

Post image for 4 Ways To Use Pinterest For Business

Who doesn’t like visual things? We all do.
We live in a visual world, and that’s what makes Pinterest so great for small businesses. It’s a way to share your products and interests through photos to create a vibe, evoke a feeling and make a connection with a potential customer.
Today, I’d like to share four ways that you can use Pinterest to further your reach and grow your business.

But first things first, what is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a virtual pinboard, a vision board or mood board of sorts. It’s a place to save cool things you find on the web, in a magazine, or even in a shop. Users can simply add Pinterest to their browser to capture things they find online or they can snap a quick pic of something they see on the street or in a magazine and upload it to their board.

Best of all, Pinterest is social. You can share pins via twitter or facebook, users can like a pin or repin it. You can also follow people on Pinterest and be notified when they have new pins. Or you can go old school and use the search function to find something specific.
All of this means that there are a lot of eyes to potentially see what folks are pinning on Pinterest.

So, how can you use Pinterest to grow your business?

  • Show your style If you run a design company of some sort, Pinterest is a grand slam for you. You can find clients solely based off your boards. Share your winning design boards and ideas. Don’t be shy. Or if you are looking for a designer, search Pinterest to find one that’s your style.
  • Market research If you run a retail store you can create a collaboration board where anyone can add to it. Title it “Things you’d like to see” and ask your followers to pin cool things they would like to see in your shop. Or if you design and create goods, use Pinterest to see trends. Check out what people are pinning and use boards for inspiration. Now, that’s a fun way to do market research.
  • Word of mouth Pinning your own goods over and over is frowned upon on Pinterest. But offering a really easy way for visitors to your site to share your goods on their boards, is a fantastically smart marketing move. Pinterest makes it really easy to create a “pin it” button for your retail site. They even have a button creator that will automatically fill out a description for the person pinning. This means users can share your marketing message with just a click of a button.
  • Community building Because Pinterest supports open, collaboration boards, it’s a great place to share like-minded finds. Create a board for your friends, fans and followers to collaborate. Title it, add a description and moderate it from time to time. Creating and moderating a pin board is a fun way to further your “expert” factor.

Drive traffic home

As with all social media, make sure you have your Pinterest account driving traffic back to your site. Pinterest is so cool that it allows you a place to link up to your website, Facebook and Twitter account in your profile.
So what are you waiting for? Go get that “pin it” button, add it to your site pronto and like any social network, engage and have fun!
How are you going to use Pinterest for business?
by Sarah Burns "The Mogul Mom"blogger

21 August 2012

How To Build Your Online Business Community

Social media has the power to create a sense of community around your organisation.  A prime example of an organisation using community build is the Red Cross.  The question however is always how?  You know you have "likes" on your Facebook page, followers on Twitter and even the odd guest post on your blog.  These are the obvious things to do but is it enough?

Things to consider:
  1. Your website/blog's shared purpose - You must have a buy in, something your readers can identify with and belong to.  Yours readers will be looking for like minded people with the same kind of problem or difficulty that you can solve. 
  2. You are the leader - Communities need a spokesperson that is you.  You need to maintain the community'ss purpose and its direction.  Conversation and connections will need to be probed and expanded.  Use your personal story to illustrate the community's purpose, after all people have similar problems.  Find guest bloggers who can spread the word of your movement.
  3. You are also the enforcer - some posts by members may need to be policed if abusive to other members or not in line with the site's purpose.
  4. Aim for inclusion - make sure members feel their points and concerns are met.  Also you will need to be seen to be fair so that all members need to receive the same consideration and be heard equally
  5. Create a Referral System - The best way to grow a community is to create a referral system, ideally with an incentive.  This incentive can be a prize for the member would refers the highest number of new members in a given time period.  Again such a referral system may will not suit all business models.  Another idea would be free admission to the community for getting two new members to sign up.  You need a self-perpetuating system build in or it all becomes an uphill struggle. 
  6. Continuity is key - All of the participants must feel that there is a benefit to continuing to visit the community, otherwise your member numbers will dwindle. Increasing content is of importance here.
  7. Your content - Growing a community requires content that is relevant to your target's interests.  This needs to be kept up to date.
  8. Work with feedback - Be aware that you may need to rethink the community's purpose based on the questions you are asked by your members.
  9. It takes time - And continual effort.  Do not expect a "critical mass" or "tipping point" number of followers that will arrive out of nowhere and make all the difference.  Should this happen (by some remote chance) then its a bonus.  You will continually win and loose new members even while growing at a steady pace. 
  10. In practical terms - Spread your group's shared purpose on Twitter.  Retweet messages from like minded people.  Spread the word of your movement through bloggers already blogging in that space. 
  11. Include outgoing links and related article on your blog posts.  Use an automated Twitter and Facebook feed on your subject matter to seed these online conversations. 

I would welcome comments or ideas, please comment below.

19 August 2012

7 Reasons To Blog For Business

 We all know blogging is becoming more and more popular so why should we get involved?  I know everyone will have their own reasons in their own order of importance but here are a few you should consider.
  1. Express Your Thoughts - Blogging is a perfect medium for this.  Typing out your thoughts at the time, will bring structure and clarify to your ideas.  There is plenty of scope to flesh them out. 
  2. Share Your Thoughts - Having written a blog post it is easy to share it though the use of social media be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Reddit. 
  3. Get FeedBack - By allowing others to comment on your blog or website you connect with the wider community and invite feedback on your ideas. 

By sticking to a common theme you can share your passion, interest and expertise in a particular subject matter.  This is often referred to as niche blogging.  Niche blogging has many business advantages.  It allows you to
  1. Raise Your Personal Profile - Blogging is definitely a way of standing out from the crowd, gathering a crowd around you and delivery your personal message to that crowd.  While more and more people are doing this, it is not for everyone.  Its worth mentioning that the marketing guru Seth Godin started off by blogging.  His first book was a collection of his first blog posts. 
  2. Raise Your Brand - Be it your personal brand or your comany brand, it will be elevated through association with a blog.  Even if you are blogging just to be heard your blog will become your brand.  All the more reason to keep your blog consistant or to a theme. 
  3. Show That You Are Human - A blog allows the writer and his followers to express their opinions and will bring across the humanity of those involved rather than just a corporate image.  Emotion is convincing and builds long term loyalty.
  4. Show Your Expertise - Again by sticking to a niche area you can demonstrate the depth of your knowledge on the subject matter.  The first question you will have to answer is "how much expertise should I share"?  You may want to test the water.  Many argue that in today's world where you can google anything, that information has no real value but its implimentation does.  This means that you give information  away freely but charge for the strategizing and application of your intellectual propertery.  Depending on your business model you may have varying views on this.  Either way sharing your expertise will establish you as an authority in your field.  In many cases demonstrating your expertise will automatically raise your personal and/or band profile. 
  5. Position Yourself - Your blog will show both your point of view and your strengths within a given niche.  This will automatically position you, show how you are different, relative to others in your field.
  6. Influence Others - Having established that you are a credible expert and that you have a position or point of view on why things in your industry are the way they are or where they are going, it becomes easy to influence your followers. 
  7. Drive Traffic - My recent experence is that blogging literally forces you to drive traffic to your site.  After all you want to be heard, don't you?
If you have any comments on the above please leave a comment below.

12 August 2012

Powerful Uses For Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free tool that is easy to overlook. Think of it as a monitoring station, where you can track news, blogs, video, discussion and books on your keyword subject matter.  You can set the frequency of the alert and have it delivered by email or RSS feed. 

1. Monitor Your Brand
One of the first uses of Google Alerts I came across was to monitor for customer chatter on your own brand, goods or service.  Find a conversation relevant to your company, product or service gives you the chance to jump in and engage with potential customers.  In the worst case of someone damning your brand or service you can jump in and intervene.

2. Monitor Your Competitors
Google Alerts is an ideal way of keeping abreast of your competitors' latest product launches or news.  It makes sense to know what your competition is doing.

3. Monitor For Customers
Keywords covering your product offering that your potential customers would be using can be monitored.  Just select "discussions", "as it happens" and select the frequency of update.
If someone is looking for your product you have a chance to get in front of the customer.  This is the core of inbound marketing, a social media strategy that drives lead generation.

4. Monitor Industry News
Google Alerts can be used to aggregate the best of the news in your industry sector.  You have the option of hand picking bits of news or feeding the highlights to your Facebook page or Twitter.  This can be done using the RSS feed selection.  The trick here would be to interweave this newsfeed with more personalised posts.  Blog aggregation can also be done with Google Alerts rather than Google Reader.  Again this is a handy way of compiling all relevant information for a blog of your own or an industry related company newsletter.

 Google Alerts