Put YOUR Brand to Work for YOU in LinkedIn with a Company Page.

 Monday, November 21, 2011
 

LinkedIn recently announced their update to Company Pages that now helps companies and small businesses become more engaged on the network.  Having a Company page is a company’s profile of record on LinkedIn and is a powerful tool to speak to millions of professionals through word-of-mouth recommendations with trusted testimonials. It is very similar to a LinkedIn Profile for a company.

If you’re already a LinkedIn Member, Company pages are a new great way to research companies you are interested in, follow what they have to say through their updates and shared information, and see what kind of people work there.  You can even review products and services you use on a Company Page.

Company Pages present a great opportunity to reveal the human side of your company by allowing others to peek at the individuals behind your brand and highlight how members use your products or services. A Company Page offers tools to bring your brand to life and truly engage your audience.

Until now, company pages existed in isolation.  Businesses are now able to update their individual company page to enable followers to receive updates and insights about company news, employee moves, job opportunities and much more.  This is a brand new opportunity to showcase your thought leadership and expand your business.

Want to post a company status update for your Company?  Any company page administrator can post a note in the status box on your company’s overview page.  Keep your followers thinking about your company by sharing updates, promotions, announcements, news articles or videos. Updates will appear on your followers’ home pages.  Followers can comment, like or share updates. This allows you to develop a unique conversation between your company and your followers. Best of all, these interactions can be seen by your followers’ networks exposing your company to a greater audience. You can also view the LinkedIn Metrics to see what followers found engaging to optimize the conversation.  Get your company conversation started today by setting up a company page on LinkedIn.

Brands can now have company pages, and users can 'follow' the company page for updates from those companies. The LinkedIn network has more of a business networking and career focus, and the way that users connect is much more formal.  Users in LinkedIn often have fewer, more intimate connections than they would on Facebook or Twitter. The content shared and discussions started to engage your audience are usually more industry and business-focused which makes LinkedIn a great source for B2B Marketing.


Want to find and follow your favorite Companies?  You can locate and find interesting companies in one of two ways:

  • From any Member’s LinkedIn Profile.
    You can click through to company pages from any LinkedIn Member’s profile. Just mouse-over any company on a LinkedIn profile page and on the resulting popup, click through to a company page or click the “Follow Company” link.  If a smaller company has not claimed their company page, you may not find them.

  • From the LinkedIn Header.
    One of the easiest ways to find a Company Page’s homepage is in the LinkedIn navigation bar at the top of any page. You can also search by using the search box in the box in the navigation bar for any company.

  • From the Company Page.
    If you’ve found a company page of interest that you like by searching for a specific company name or keyword, just click “Follow Company” to stay updated on that company.

Having the ability to follow companies helps you track developments at companies of interest to you, including job opportunities or other business developments.

Now that you know how to set up a Company Page and Search and Follow Other Company Pages, listed below are Tips to Engage your Audience Listeners.


Five tips to “turbo-charge” your LinkedIn company status updates:

1. Say “Hello” to Start a Relationship.

Introduce yourself first by describing who you are, why you and your business are here and don’t start off with the sales pitch. Truly engage your audience. Get to know your audience. For example, an IT services firm should tailor its messages differently to their tech-savvy followers than an audience of  marketing executives.

Remember - your followers are already interested in hearing what you have to say so be brief, authentic, honest and relevant.

3. Think Quality - Not Quantity.

Offer insightful news, tips and other relevant information about your industry or business. Engage your followers with what you have to say and build relationships. Don’t just blast yoru readers with sales pitches or promotional messages.

Develop friends first! If you build your LinkedIn Company Page based on relevant content, the business results will follow. A humorous, effective status update can go viral and expose you to a wider audience as your followers “like,” share, or comment on company-driven content with their own professional network of followers.

A great example is Dell’s update about rival HP that created lots of buzz recently.



2. Mix Up Your Content with Varying Your Status Updates.

Company Status Updates are posts made by a company to share anything from company news about product releases to promotions to relevant industry tips and articles. Company posts are visible on the company’s Overview tab by any LinkedIn member. Anyone who follows a company will see the posts directly on their homepage. All LinkedIn members are able to view posts, click on embedded links or view videos and are also able to comment, like, or share a post.

In one post, consider highlighting a new product release, share an article link to press coverage or industry news and in another post, highlight a new product release or a list of hot topics or hot jobs. Photos are great! Try posting a YouTube video, opinion pole or even an infographic - even better.

Here are some great examples of spicing up your content and engaging you readers:

The Harvard Business School Executive Education that posts video Q&As with faculty, online newsletters, podcasts, and other multimedia content to engage with users.


Intuit posts a weekly news video broadcast to keep their followers informed:



4. Participate in Conversations. 

Ask for feedback from your followers and find out what they want from your company. Start by asking questions and then watch how your followers respond and interact with other readers who are commenting.

Answer their questions timely and highlight insightful comments and show your followers that you’re actually listening to what they are saying.


5. Analyze Your Engagement Often.

How do you know if you’re doing well? Utilize the Free Analytics Tool in  LinkedIn and check the stats that appear on your posts within 24 hours after your status update goes live. This will allow you to see what types of information and links create the most comments, likes, and clicks. Use this data to understand who your followers are, refine your strategy and optimize the conversation.

Use your time wisely and effectively in your social media marketing efforts. Remember: just because a social network is "popular," doesn't make it necessarily right for your business or industry. Use analytics as your guideline for what steps to take next. Monitor the traffic and leads you're generating from your online presence on each individual social media site. Is the return on investment (ROI) significant enough based on the amount of time and effort you're spending there? Is one social networking site performing better for you than another? These are all important questions to adjust your strategy accordingly so you can focus more of your time on the social networks that work for you and your business, and less of your time on those that don't.

About DJ Heckes, Author of Full BRAIN Marketing and Owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts



DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing .  She focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their Small Business Marketing strategies.  DJ Heckes also presents customized training programs for Business Marketing, Social Media, Leadership and Trade Show Marketing. Learn more at www.EXHIB-IT.com  and www.fullBRAINMarketing.com.  Be sure to follow us!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com




Maximizing LinkedIn to Build YOUR Business

 Monday, October 31, 2011
 

How many of you have asked yourself “I’m over 40 and I don’t understand this Social Media Stuff? Well, you are not alone as I have heard this statement so many times throughout my social media training workshops.

Try looking at social media as if a business cocktail reception party without restraints of time or space. Then ask yourself these questions before delving into Social Media without a strategic plan.

  1. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. Why do you want to go there?

Social engagement typically foals into three pillars

 Feedback = crowd sourcing ideas, innovation, marketing effectiveness, when you want to enhance customer experience. Decrease time to market for a new product or getting to market with a higher quality product or5 having better marketing effectiveness. Measurement or ROI in this space is very closely aligned with your business mission and if looking at general metrics, will not get to the ROI.

Advocacy = true word of mouth around an issue, an idea product or service. Measure things around brand consideration and brand preference and this is where conversions and sales may come in.

Support = when you have a peer to peer to peer support  model where you have one customer helping another to figure out the best way to use your product or service and in the support model you want to measure cost deflection for example.  This takes money out of the cost for providing support and you can totally socialize this function.

  1. Use LinkedIn for Lead Generation.

Participation is much more than just talking—that's what marketers and sales people have been doing for years. True participation is a mixture of:

  • Listening to current customers, prospects, industry experts and other influencers in the market space and internalizing what you hear to improve your business.
  • Speaking to the overall market conversation with quality, supportive and helpful content that people want to respond to, inquire about and pass on to others.
  • Caring about what is being said about your products, your company, your competitors and your industry, but more importantly, caring about helping your customers and prospects fulfill their wants and needs.
  • Sharing your experiences—positive and negative—and your insights as you grow your company and evolve your product lines.
  • Building relationships with market conversation Influencers, Participants and Listeners based on the mutual interest of the consumer problems that need to be solved with product innovation.
  1. Using LinkedIn to Develop a Customer Focused Culture with Extreme Focus.

The Three Key Questions

I am completely convinced that whoever “owns the voice of the customer” and uses that information to build an organizational culture of Extreme Customer Focus… will own the marketplace.

The following list I want you to ask yourself three incredibly important questions:

  • 1 What can I do with this?
  •  How can I make this work for my business?
  •  What can I do right away?
  • What is Extreme Customer Focus?
    • The family restaurant that has bathrooms cleaner than yours at home, with fresh flowers, free diapers, handy-wipes, lotion and mints.
    • The doctor’s office with a juice, coffee and fresh fruit while you wait (or better yet, that gets you in on time, every time).
    • The lawn care company that leaves a nicely arranged bouquet of fresh flowers from your yard every time they trim your plants.
    • The upper-end restaurant that gives you a hand-written thank you card with your check.
    • The drycleaner that simply sews on any missing buttons they find.
    • The downtown business that offers to “feed the meter” while you shop.
    • The restaurant that offers you a free dessert for taking 5 minutes to fill out an in-depth survey.

Listening and learning from and about the customer has taken on new dimensions with the advent of wide-scale use of social media. This concept has been added to questions on how your organization listens to customers.

  1. Why LinkedIn?

Have you ever Googled yourself?  If you are active in Social Media, your LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media Links will also show up which gives you more exposure in Google.

Check out the LinkedIn Stats and Who is actually using LinkedIn!


  1. Connecting  YOUR Way to Success Using LinkedIn.

Create a Compelling Prfoile and NOT a Resume rehash. I see many people list their Curriculum Vitae or a resume of information in Their Profile.  All I can say is Blah, Blah, Blah. 

Take Advantage of All of LinkedIn’s Features.

How many of you are comfortable with all the profile features?  Have you updated your profile 100%?  LinkedIn will keep the % for you so be sure to optimize and fill out all profile info.  Then SHARE your Profile when updated or make changes. See next to my photo what I have done in LinkedIn to optimize my profile.  I listed what I specialize in which is also optimized.

  1. Create Compelling Profile

In the summary is where you can really focus on optimized keywords.   See here I used

Trade show exhibits, trade show marketing, marketing, small business and also listed my credentials at bottom for certifications for the business.

Be sure to list Specialties with keywords as you can see on the top right here for what I did.  Yes, you can bullet the info to be easier to read.

Treat this area as your elevator speech with keywords that are searchable in your industry.

Did you know under the Skills area you can add your keywords here?  I listed 22 Skills to cover both companies.

Under my website I put keywords with Hyperlinks to the websites. Also see under interests w here I again listed Keywords

LinkedIn Is YOUR Online Rolodex so be sure to IMPORT your Email Addresses.

While researching LinkedIn and updating this Blog, I found this person who is a person well connected in LinkedIn that I found and I wanted to add him to my network.  I went through my 2nd degree connections and asked for an introduction as she was connected to Steve.  This is how you can really focus on growth.

It is just like referrals face to face but the new way on the internet.

  1. Manage YOUR Contacts Into Categories for Connecting with the Right Messages.

Ok, how many of you are over 500 connections???  Well, I am at 1820 and growing. I needed to organize my connections. 

How to do this?

You can purchase a program to do this for you called PROFILE ORGANIZER as an upgrade for Business Plan at $39.95/Mo at yearly contract or $49.95/Mo month to month or even an Executive Level for more money but you really do NOT need to.  Here is how to do it Free

Go to your Contacts tab at the top of YOUR LinkedIn Page.  Then go view your contacts and beside each name you will see Edit Tags.

Assign your categories for marketing.  As you can see from my connections, I have listed by groups, Out of State, NM, etc.  This will allow me to communicate more effectively with my network.

  1. Connect YOUR Way to Success with Status Updates.
  • 1 – 3 times per week
  • Start with a Lower Case Action Verb
  • Share What You Are Working On
  • Include Links to Articles, Presentations
  • Update Status – Strictly Business

  1. Recommendations.
  • Give Them
  • Ask for Them
  • Don’t Forget to Return the Favor!


  1. Tips for using LinkedIn.

  • Answer Questions to Highlight Your Subject Expertise
  • Communicate. Show Interest. Look for Ways to Help.
  • Be Yourself. Be Real. Spend Time Being YOU.
  • Don’t Always be in Selling Mode.
  • Have Fun!

  1. Promote YOUR Events.

Start with Individual, Community, National and then Global.

Businesses are increasingly adopting customer-focused processes to gain competitive advantage. But for building a business around customers, companies need to understand them. They need to engage in regular dialogue and conversations and keep people informed of what you are doing and planning.


Step 1: Adding an Event

Anyone can add an event and have it appear on their profile. To enter in a new event:

Go to the More menu at the top of your home page and then click Events.

Click the Add an Event tab.

Enter any information you have about the event.

If you want the event to appear on your profile, click I'm attending and then select Attendee, Presenter, or Exhibitor.

Click Publish Event.

A network update will be generated to your connections if you indicate you will be attending the event.

Event Attendance Display

Each event displays three buttons to select from to reveal your level of interest in that event:

"Attending" - This button offers dropdown options to select if you plan on attending, presenting or exhibiting at the event.

"Interested" - This button can be selected if you are interested in the event but have not yet decided.

"Not Interested" - This button can be selected if you are not planning on attending or are not interested in the event.

A network update will be sent out to your connections after you have clicked on one of the possible actions. Attendee names will appear publicly on the Events "Overview" and "Attendees" tabs.

NOTIFYING Your Network about an Event.

If you find an event you want to share, you can notify your network by clicking the Share link under the event summary on the event's Overview tab. This allows you to send a LinkedIn message to any of your 1st degree connections.

You can also let your fellow group members know of an upcoming event that may interest them by posting it as a discussion.

  1. Find the Value of LinkedIn Groups.
    1. Choose a Target Market
    2. Join Groups for those Markets
    3. Can Join Up to 50 Groups
    4. Actively Participate in a Meaningful Way
    5. Set Communications to Weekly

Here is an example of my KeepitQUERQUE Group.  I am President and I needed some volunteers for an event so I went in there to post a comment.

Here you can do your own search for groups to check out and request to Join.  Some are automatic when you join and others have to be on an approval system and you wait for the response for approval or not.

On the right you can see many of the groups I am involved in.  I am also in the WBC one.

Search by Industry, Key Words.                      

 Get Involved Within YOUR Groups.

  1. How to Listen – Start with Setting up Alerts!


Google Alerts = www.google.com/alerts

Yahoo Alerts:  alerts.yahoo.com
Technorati Alerts = www.technorati.com/watchlist - Powerful Social media Seawrchenging watches for your terms and updates you

RSS Feed Subscriptions to Search results Technorati, Feedster, Yahoo & Google News, Blog Pulse
Social Media tags: tabbulb.com, tagfetch.com, keotag.com

  1. Manage LinkedIn with LIMITED Resources and LinkedIn Profile Stats.

Go to the Profile Stats and view your connections and View the Stats


I hope you learned a lot about truly optimizing your LinkedIn Profile and will start updating your Profile today, start listening, engaging and joining groups.

About DJ Heckes, Author of Full BRAIN Marketing and Owner of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts


DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and Full BRAIN Marketing  .  She focuses on educating and training companies to significantly improve their Small Business Marketing strategies.  DJ Heckes also presents customized training programs for Business Marketing, Social Media, Leadership and Trade Show Marketing. Learn more at www.EXHIB-IT.com  and www.fullBRAINMarketing.com.  Be sure to follow us!

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



How to Get The Most from LinkedIn

 Monday, September 12, 2011
 

What Can LinkedIn Do for Me?

LinkedIn has been around since 2003, and many people use it differently.  The question of what it can do for people seems to be a very popular question.  In short, LinkedIn is a professional networking site with an executive representation of Fortune 500 companies.  It is a great way to find people and is a great way to read someone's business history in a single screen. The site also helps you to understand who they know and network with.

Some interesting facts you probably did not know about LinkedIn:

- The average number of LinkedIn connections for people who work at Google is forty-seven.

- The average number for Harvard Business School grads is fifty-eight, so you could skip the MBA, work at Google, and probably get most of the connections you need. Later, you can hire Harvard MBAs to prepare your income taxes.

- People with more than twenty connections are thirty-four times more likely to be approached with a job opportunity than people with less than five.

- All 500 of the Fortune 500 are represented in LinkedIn. In fact, 499 of them are represented by director-level and above employees.

Top Reasons to Use LinkedIn

 1. Building your Reputation. LinkedIn is a great tool for people to outline their experience, accomplishment, organizations and network. Too often I have seen incomplete profiles. A crucial element to get LinkedIn to work for you is to make sure your profile is 100% complete. Include all your previous employers, groups you belong to, your "advertisement", websites and other important information. LinkedIn is also becoming a place where employers find candidates, so if you are job hunting, this may be the place for you.


 2. Find Qualified Candidates. You want to find the best candidate because it will benefit the company, but weeding through all the applicants can be exhausting. Well, how about using your network to find employees? LinkedIn has a great job posting board, which is also very inexpensive. Even if you don't want to field unknown candidates, you can send out an email to all your connections.

 3. Find New Connections. Have you ever felt like sometimes you see the same people at the networking events? Would you like to meet new people? Use LinkedIn and do a search. For example, let's say you want to meet Architects. I just go to LinkedIn and type “Architects” in the search box. LinkedIn will search your contact's contacts and return the results. The best part is it shows you how you are connected to the person, which can then be used for introductions. LinkedIn also provides results of what they call 3rd degree friends. Essentially, your contact has a contact that knows the architect. It seems complicated, but it is a great way to expand your network and your friend's network. Try a search, see what happens. LinkedIn also has introductions, a tool they offer to give you an introduction to a person you want to meet.

 4. Increase your Google Ranking. Ever wondered how people's names come up so high up on Google searches? I don’t have the secret Google formula, but can tell you a well written LinkedIn profile earns a high rank on the page. The more information you have on LinkedIn (or Blog articles), the better your Google ranking.

5. Scope out Competition, Customers & Partners.  Most people use Google or another search engine to see what information they can find out about their market. The market includes your customers, competitors and partners. LinkedIn is a great tool for research.  Another key advantage is to see what groups your customers or potential customers belong to.

 6. Groups. LinkedIn just added a new tool to search groups. The groups range from networking groups to Alumni groups to Company groups. Groups can be a great tool for networking. There are many different ways to use the groups and their members as leads into conversations. As a plus, when you join a group you can show the group on your profile. The benefit could be others see the group and find they have a common thread with you.

7. Recommendations. LinkedIn has created a system where your contacts can recommend you. Leverage the power of LinkedIn to get recommendations and be sure to give them as well.

8. Help Others. Use LinkedIn to introduce people you think would be a good match. You can easily do introductions to the people with LinkedIn's inMail. The nice thing about giving a contact more connections on LinkedIn is that no one wants to be the person with the least contacts....so help out a friend and send them a contact or two that makes sense for them. Part of helping others can be helping them use LinkedIn.

9. Use it on the go. LinkedIn is configured to be able to use it on your handheld device. While you waiting at the airport, doctor's office or another waiting area, log into LinkedIn and network from anywhere. Just go to linkedin.com.

10. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends. Small business owners deal with challenging questions on a slew of topics each day. LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to those vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network (LinkedIn tells me there are over 200 different categories on Answers including one dedicated to small business and over 2000 groups on small business related topics). Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topicshere.

I hope this helps you take LinkedIn beyond the usual uses and makes you and your business even more successful.



6 Quick Tips to Increase your Facebook Exposure and EdgeRank

 Monday, May 16, 2011
 
If you are wondering how you can have 550 friends in Facebook but only have 15-20 show up in your news feed, here is your answer. It is not that those other friends have stopped using Facebook.  Chances are they are all still there. It is just they are not showing up in your news feed.

If you have not noticed, there are two settings on your Facebook news feed.  The “Most Recent” news feed shows most of the content published by your Facebook friends in a chronological order and the “Top News” filters content based on EdgeRank.
When you have friends and family with a high EdgeRank, they are more likely to show up in your “Top News” feeds. Users with a low EdgeRank may not even show up in your “Most Recent” news feeds.

For businesses or others that are looking to promote, market or just interact through Facebook, the implications of this new change are huge. “Top News” is the default setting.  Unless a friend or fan changes their default, it is quite possible they will never see your updates.  No matter how great the content, no matter how well you manage your Facebook page, EdgeRank may be holding you back.

Facebook looks at everything published as “objects.” These can be identified as status updates, links, photos, video or anything else that is shared on Facebook. Each object receives a ranking (EdgeRank) which determines if the information will show in your personal newsfeed. Posts with a high EdgeRank appear in your appear in your “Top News” feed.  Posts with a low EdgeRank will not.  According to a study done by The Daily Beast last fall, posts with a really low EdgeRank may not show up in your “Most Recent” news feeds.
A post’s affinity score is based on the interactions you have with the friend or fan who published the post.  Friends or fans with whom you interact with regularly receive a higher affinity score.  Every time you visit a fan page, click the “Like” button, comment on a user’s status or view a picture, you increase the affinity score with that user.

InThe Daily Beast s tudy, it points out that this affinity score only works one way.  It cannot increase your affinity score in another user’s feed by constantly clicking on their “Like:” buttons or viewing their pictures.  Although doing this will increase the likelihood that you’ll see their updates, your posts will not do any better in their news feed until they return the favor.

How to Level the Interaction.
Different types of interactions are weighted differently in Facebook. Activates that require higher levels of user engagement receive a higher score than those that don’t. For example, if you leave a comment on a photo it takes more effort on the user’s part than clicking the “Like” button. Posts that receive higher levels of interaction are more likely to show up in a user’s newsfeed.

Timeliness of Posts.
Most people do not want to read yesterday’s news.  Newer posts have a better chance of showing up in your news feed than older ones.
Here are six quick tips to arm you with a better understanding of these three elements to increase the likelihood that your content or posts will appear in your friends’ or fans’ “Top News” feeds.

1.   Publish Posts that Encourage Interaction.
Unless you are interesting enough to draw comments, simple status updates are not going to move you into the “Top News” feeds.  You need to publish content that naturally encourages others to click-through or create a discussion.  Content such as creative games that require a response (i.e., caption contests or trivia) open up opportunities to add high EdgeRank weighted interaction and build affinity with your new users.

 

2.   Keep your Content Fresh.
The Facebook stream moved fast. It you have content that is not getting a response, don’t be afraid to let them go and move on to the next best content post. If the content post is good but didn’t get you the response desired, consider repurposing it or sending it  out again at a different date and time.


3.   Try Creating a Forum.
Ever notice how political content on Facebook generates a ton of comments? Although it makes sense not to mix politics and Facebook, people love to debate and discuss hot topic issues. Make your fan page a place to be known for constructive discussion on the latest industry topics. Although this approach may be a little time consuming in the beginning and requires careful management, content from a fan page filed with healthy discussions are more likely to receive a higher EdgeRank.

 

4.   Share Links with Others.
Links require interaction with other users when they click on the link to view the content. While it is good to share content from your own website, don’t be afraid to promote some interesting content from other sources too. Twitter users discovered long ago that the more valuable content you share, the better chance you have of driving followers to your own content.  A comment that encourages someone to open the link or leave a comment can go a long way.

 

5.   Make the Most of Your Photos and Videos.
Photos and videos show up in a Facebook news feed as a thumbnail image. Due to the size, they almost require some type of interaction as users click on them to make them larger to see what the photo entails. Be sure to add a comment when posting photos or videos to encourage users to open the photo and add comments of their own.
 

6.   Ask Other Users to Share
Don’t be afraid to ask other users to share your content or click on the Like Button, especially if you are new to Facebook. It can take a while for a Facebook page to gain momentum and anything you can do to help it along will only speed up the process for growth.

With the introduction of EdgeRank, it may make it more difficult to share information on Facebook. Ultimately, it still comes down to your content being posted. Publishing content that users are willing to share and interact with has always been vital to any Facebook marketing campaign. With the recent Facebook changes that occurred on March 1st and the new “Send” Button assed the end of April, that content may now need a little extra push to get the attention it deserves.

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com
      



5 Ways to Build Influential Connections Using LinkedIn Groups

 Monday, April 18, 2011
 
To build influential relationships online, you have to find places where you can consistently add value and have engaging conversations with your target demographic audience.

LinkedIn Groups is a great way to do just that, but you must use the right strategy to be successful. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups. However you can’t spend enough time in all of those groups to make a difference.

It is best to narrow your approach and focus on building deep, meaningful relationships to help build your influence in LinkedIn Groups. This will help enhance your credibility and generate new connections. 

1.   Identify the Best Group Opportunities.

Start by evaluating the groups that you have joined or are thinking about joining. Which 3 to 5 groups most accurately represent your target demographic? Also, choose groups whose membership isn’t so large that you will go unnoticed. Choose groups that have at least a few hundred members, but not more than a few thousand. This will help maximize your visibility. 

Set up a plan to visit each group 2-3 times a week and make frequent, consistent appearances.  See below for an example of a Financial Advisors Group Discussion.


 


2. Target the Most Popular Discussions in Each Group

The most popular discussions within a group will generally get you the most visibility. These are topics where members are the most actively engaged and feature discussions that you will want to be a part of. These are usually featured at the top of the discussion page. See example of a post with comment.


 

When adding your voice in the conversation, make sure to respond to comments, provide insight and ask thought provoking questions to help move the conversations forward. You can also “like” and “share” these discussions with your exisiting connections. 

As you add value to these discussions, members will begin to recognize you as a leader within the group.

3. Follow Up and Follow Through

Make sure to keep up on the discussions you start and join. Don’t let too much time lapse between posts and don’t leave the conversation open. Keep your comments fresh and interesting to show your commitment to the group.

Don’t forget to like other comments made by group members and share their insights with your followers. This helps the other group members and they will return the favor. By promoting and connecting others on LinkedIn, you can build your social influence. 

4. Start Your Own Discussion


Starting your own discussion thread can be a powerful tool within the group. However, you must be strategic when doing this. I suggest you wait to start your own discussions until after you have spent time participating in the top discussions first and have been listening for some time to get to know the voices of the people in the group.

Before starting your own discussion, do some research and look back at past discussions. Which topics were popular and which were not? Look at what the top contributors are saying and what is important to them? What are their goals and objectives?

When starting your own discussions, ask a question, ask for advice, or post an interesting article related to the group. Your goal is to encourage as much engagement as possible.

 

 
If your posts and comments are engaging members of the group, you will be recognized as a “Top Influencer” on the group page’s side bar. This can help build your visibility and give you authority within the group.  You can see below that Stephanie Sammons has been a top Influencer of the week with her active participation with posting comments. Get your name out there for Top Influencers of the Week with timely posts.


 

It is important that you are adding value to the discussions that you join and start. Avoid trying to sell products or services as that will get you ignored or worse, kicked out of the group. 

5. Start Your Own Group 

After you have joined groups, contributed to discussions and started your own discussions, you can create your own group. Beware as this takes a time commitment and you will be responsible for managing the group, members and discussions. You will also be able to feature discussions with the “Manager’s Choice” feature.

 

When starting your group, make sure that you have a well- defined theme or else you may not get much traffic. Focus on bringing in people who can benefit from sharing mutual experiences and ideas.

Using this strategy can help you get the most from your time and energy. Make a commitment to add value to a small number of groups on a consistent basis. This will help you build influence and new connections. 


DJ Heckes, CEO & Author
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts
www.exhib-it.com
Full BRAIN Marketing
www.fullbrainmarketing.com
      



Grow Your Business With 5 Social Data Tips

 Monday, April 11, 2011
 
Social media enables you to match data created by social interactions with individual’s preferences and general interests. This gives marketers profiles with great insights on how to tailor future offers and products to their customer base. 

1. Listening Data 
The first rule of every social media plan is to listen. Monitoring news related to your industry helps give you a sense of what people are saying about you and your products or services. Social media enables you to expand this information and make it more relevant. 

You can gather real time data about the reactions to your products and marketing campaigns by looking at interactions on Facebook, retweets, mentions on Twitter and comments on your blogs. Measuring the volume, emotion and relevance of these interactions, and tracking over time, will allow you to determine how new products, services and campaigns were received by your customers. 

Using tools like Google Alerts and HootSuite allow you to monitor the basic volume of interactions. If you have a high volume and manual tracking is not possible, there are paid products such as Radian 6, Meltwater buzz and Scout Labs available. 

Companies like Dell and Gatorade have set up company “listening” centers where employees constantly interact and listen within social media about their brand. 

2. Strategic Forecasting Data 
Companies like RapLeaf allow you to identify your customer base by revealing key insights and trends about which social networks your customers are using as well as which websites they are visiting, location trends and demographic trends. 

Using this data will help you to hone your financial performance objections and also assist in product development. You can also use this information to tailor promotions for each social network and then track the revenue. Knowing this information about your customer base allows for more accurate targeting and the option of personalizing campaigns. 

3. Real Time Tracking Data 
Social media allows marketers to view relevant and real time trends, including how their campaigns are performing at any given time and how changes to these campaigns affect results. 

Tracking this data allows businesses to see how a campaign is performing and allows them to identify positive or negative trends and make instant changes as needed along the way. This ability enables your business to curtail any wasteful spending or funding if the campaign isn’t going as planned. 

4. Benchmarking Data 
Social Media allows you to understand your performance relative to your competitor’s performance, because so much of it is accessible. Once you have gathered your data, compare it to your competitors to gain a better perspective on your performance. 

When doing so, be sure to compare the size of your communities to that of your competitors, as well as the level of activity. Do your followers post more or less than your competitors? You can also see who is following you and your competitors and who has more relevant community members for your industry. 

If you are receiving either more or fewer interactions than your competitor, but posting the same amount of content, look at the differences in your content and what is driving the results. Don’t forget to account for competitors in each social channel you are active on and if possible, benchmark yourself against competitors that are active across multiple channels. 

5. Reflection and Insight 
No matter how prepared a company is, there is always a level of uncertainty in social media. The advantage to tracking services is that you won’t find yourself guessing why something worked or didn’t work. Customer feedback is significant and more readily available for companies looking to reformulate their efforts. 

By understanding the campaign through your consumer’s eyes and gaining the ability to gauge their evaluation process, social data can be an invaluable tool. How will you use this social data in 2011 to grow your business and eliminate the coming to a “dead end” scenario? Using metrics to “measure and adjust” provides a company the opportunity to evaluate and adjust the social media strategy as needed. 

This allows your social media efforts to be measured (quantifiable) with the belief that your efforts are working (succeeding). With these components being measured, you can purposefully iterate to improve even more. This data is much better that being a “naïve optimist” with limited ability to measure your social media efforts (fuzzy) and believing that the efforts are working (succeeding). 

Most businesses realize that social media is worth the effort, but are not quite sure how best to measure their efforts. I hope this information above helps you get started in your social media campaign and allows you to think strategically, while realizing that tactical measurements are also as important in whatever social media campaign strategy you have in place. 



Improve YOUR Public Relations Efforts to Create More Buzz

 Monday, February 28, 2011
 
Writing press releases can offer you the most influential publicity at affordable costs more than any other way of promotion. It is significant in this hyper-competitive environment we all live and work in and can be a vigorous advertising means for any business. The success behind effective PR is the way it is written and needs to serve as a good reading piece for your targeted media audience.

A press release can be used to announce a variety of information:

• Changes in corporate identity, such as company name or logo 
• Changes in corporate structure (new division or subsidiary) 
• Corporate opinion (opinion on industry trends)
• Corporate philanthropy (volunteer work, donations) 
• Events (open houses, tradeshow involvement, speaking engagements, award ceremonies) 
• Features • Hiring of agencies (public relations, accounting, law firm) 
• Increase in market share or revenue 
• Joint venture 
• Media advisories 
• Milestones (customers served, years in business) 
• New funding 
• New partner 
• New product 
• Personnel changes
• Round of funding received by the company 
• Significant new customer 
• Significant modification to an existing product 

If your press release does not contain breaking news, you may want to consider submitting your release as a feature distribution. Feature releases often get play in the "lifestyles" or "living" section of local newspapers and are designed for verbatim pickup. You can distribute your press release as a feature any day of the week or you can take advantage of topical packages from the distribution company. 

PR marketing work wonders if your PR hits the proper audience at the proper time. It is used to foster interest in products or services that you market through your business venture. Your PR news release can be used as a useful tool to make people aware of recent happenings, interesting events and new products or services that are launched by your company. However, PR should be written using these components: 

• Source – Location to send Press Release 
• Publication Date 
• For IMMEDIATE RELEASSE should appear in upper left-hand margin with all letters capitalized 
• Headline - Should include a strong hook in headline 
• Dateline - Should include a Dateline with the city your press release is issued and date 
• Lead Paragraph – A strong introductory paragraph that grasps the readers’ attention and should contain your most relevant  message to include the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why) • Body – develop a strategy story to support the Lead Paragraph 
• Company Boilerplate – A short paragraph that describes your company, products, services, history 
• By expert writers who know the formula of writing a purposeful news material. Your PR should be newsworthy and not like an  advertisement object of your company. 

Although press releases are an important marketing tool, some may not be relevant and have a great story to tell. Writing a press release is not a cup of tea for all, it needs proper skill and perfect expressions. If you do not have qualified skills to build the buzz about your story, then hire some expert press release writer who has innate qualities of constructing theme based news release. When writing your own Press Release, you must consider that your PR must attract editor's interest and it must also contain the essential news item information. 

Knowing when and how to write press releases for one’s company can be as overwhelming and confusing. 

Creating “buzz” can be defined as anything which makes people talk about your business! See below some suggested ways to use Public Relations to get more buzz/media coverage: 

1. Work with a designer or programmer to create a cute object that can animate your name, product, service, and at the end, give  your email, phone number, URL, etc.... This is a great way to use Buzz as a publicity stunt? 

2. Invent a new process, system, cycle, or technique for your product or service. Send out a Press Release for it. 

3. Invent a new word for your industry that is catchy. This actually WORKS!

4. Don't confuse Buzz with Hype. Hype is bull. Buzz is truth and builds excitement about something folks want to believe in. 

5. Negative Buzz is not necessarily good Buzz. Bad PR is still considered Bad PR, and no PR is just as bad. 

6. Sponsor something that is considered high tech, creative and wild. Protest something which has a majority favorable / positive  public response. Get your company branding up on a billboard, and bring a radio station, and do the show from 80 feet up. 

7. A continual flow of Press Releases to your target audience helps keep your brand in front of companies and creates a greater,  stronger 'Buzz'. It also helps if you can get an endorsement, by someone who is respected in the marketplace that you are  advertising. This does wonders for giving your 'Buzz' a boost. 

After you have newsworthy information to write about, be sure to use different outlets for your press release and information. It is important to know how to reach your target audience through traditional, digital or social media marketing methodologies. 
We use our website to post all Press Releases written and also send them out to the publication sites or use two of the national public relations press release distribution sites. 

Then I recommend go into your social media community to tweet about the press release with a link back to the landing page where the actual press releases resides. After you have tweeted about it, go into some of your LinkedIn Groups and create discussions about the topic to create more viral buzz around the topic. When that is working for you, go into Facebook and post the links with building awareness and comments in that community. Have you tried writing an article or blog and post the information about your story and submit the 700 words+ blog to many of the free online distribution sites? This also helps with the press release buzz. 

I have written many guest blogs on national sites and then written a press release about the guest blogs posted that focus on a story. See here for the March guest blogs that will be on the S.C.O.R.E. National website. 

1. The Powerful Match: Social Media and Online Content- March 7: <http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-the-powerful-match- social-media-and-online-content/> 

2. Develop a Social Media Content Strategy with Metrics- March 14: http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-develop-a-social- media-content-strategy-with-metrics/ 

3. Create Meaningful and Effective Online Content- March 21: http://blog.score.org/2011/03/marketing-create-meaningful-and- effective-online-content/ 

  4. 6 Ways to Improve Your Blog with Inbound Links- March 28: 
 
You can build a lot of buzz around your business IF you have a compelling story, innovative new way to do business or a new product and grow your business. All it takes is a strategic mind, a little work and a focus with metrics in place. 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author 
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts 
www.exhib-it.com 
Full BRAIN Marketing 
www.fullbrainmarketing.com



37 Apps You Should Know About to Enhance YOUR Facebook Page (Part 1 of Part 2 Blog)

 Monday, January 31, 2011
 
Facebook and Social Media changes on a daily basis. Be in the know and be sure to use these applications to enhance your own Facebook page. Become the Leader in Social Media. 

There are thousands of Apps to help you engage with your fans. Here are 75 to become familiar with. These Apps show you how to customize your landing tabs, add videos and photos, add a blog, add chat, add contests, polls, relocation, email, ecommerce, scheduling and much more. 

 Why Facebook Apps? 

By using Facebook Apps you can enhance the experience users have on your page. You will be able to keep them engaged and coming back. You will also be increasing your viral visibility, which means every time someone interacts on your page; it posts on their page, showing their friends that they were on your page. This is FREE advertising! 

You can find the Apps in the Facebook App Directory 



There are literally thousands of apps so make sure to click Business on the right hand menu to narrow your search. Also make sure to focus on Apps that actually publish content to your page. This will help people find the Apps. 

There is also appbistro.com that allows you to browse their comprehensive directory of Apps for businesses. 

With Facebook not allowing us to have custom content/apps on the Wall tab (left column), we need to become more creative to ensure the content on the tabs is actually seen by viewers. 

 A great tracking App via Facebook Insights allows you to see which of your tabs gets the most clicks. 



Focus on the Apps that publish content to your own Fan Page stream. Which would be the page wall and news feed of your fans. Add a few Apps that allow for more engagement at specified times, such as a live streaming video and live chat Apps that are listed below.

Custom Landing Tabs 

It’s important to have a custom branded landing tab that visitors see the first time they go to your page. Jeff Wildman, founder of BrandGlue reported on InsideFacebook that having a custom landing tab doubles conversion to fans: 

 “We ran an A/B test just four weeks ago to guesstimate the efficacy of a landing tab. We drove visitors to the fan page of a major brand using ads. Those ad-driven visitors converted to fans at a rate of approximately 47% WITH a landing tab. When we turned off the landing tab, those same ad-driven visitors converted to fans at approximately 23%. A VERY noticeable loss in conversions over the course of the campaign.” 

The most popular App for creating your custom content is the Static FBML App. You are able to design your own landing pages using html code. Below is an example of the EXHIB-IT landing page: 



 There is also TabSite: They offer a free version as well as two paid versions where you get step by step help designing your own pages. 



 These sites offer easy-to-use templates for putting together your tabs: 

These Apps offer suites of Apps including custom landing tabs. Some of these Apps are free, while others have a fee. 


These are hands on customization services for designers/developers that will essentially do the work for you with affordable rates:

Custom Fan Page Designs 
FanPageGenerator 
HyperArts 
KickApps 
Likeable Media 
SayItSocial 
140ology 

Ways to incorporate YOUR blogs into Facebook: 

A great app for importing your blog onto your Facebook page is Networked Blogs 



Once you add the App to your page, you place the widget on your blog and you can track how many followers you have on your blog. Try adding the Networked Blogs App to your personal profile in addition to your Fan Page. 




RSS Feed and Content Publishers – see these Apps that can easily import any of your content that has an RSS or Atom Feed. You can import your Twitter favorites and Google reader shared items by using the RSS Graffiti App. 

RSS Graffiti 
Social RSS 
Involver – RSS Feed (free version posts to your Tab and a Pro version post to your wall) 
North Social – RSS Feed 
Objective marketer (complete publishing platform – used and recommended by a great marketer named Guy Kawasaki). 

 Twitter 

Selective Tweets – This App allows you to post your tweets to your Facebook page by including #fb at the end of your tweet. 

To publish your Facebook content to Twitter, use the Twitter App



 Another great Twitter solution is to install an App that pulls in all your tweets onto a tab but does not publish in the stream. Not sure if you want to do this since a primary goal of tweeting is to view the tweets in your news Feeds to your fans.

• Involvers Twitter Facebook App 
• North Social Twitter Feed Facebook App 

Flickr Photos - Display photos using Flickr Tab App

SlideShare 

If you have presentations on SlideShare, you can display them on your Facebook page by installing the SlideShare app. 

You can also set up your SlideShare account so that when you publish new slides it will automatically post the like to your wall. In the next blog we will cover more Apps to use in Facebook! 

DJ Heckes, CEO & Author 
EXHIB-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts 
www.exhib-it.com 
Full BRAIN Marketing 
www.fullbrainmarketing.com 
 



Competitive Intelligence Strategies

 Monday, April 26, 2010
 
Competitive intelligence also has to do with determining what your business rivals will do before they do it. Strategically, it is the power to gain foreknowledge of your competitor’s plans and to plan your business strategy to countervail their plans. As you might expect, this will involve many methods at the tactical collection level, but it will also require integration into your existing information infrastructure, analysis, and distribution of the information. In summary, it is the calculation of business decisions on the grounds of that information and the analysis of same. This is the “intelligence” part of the formula.

Competitive intelligence and competitive analysis are the processes of collecting, storing, and analyzing acquired information and applying said information about products, services, customers, and competitors to develop a competitive advantage. This process is an ethical and legal business practice with a focus on external business environments, and coveting this gathered information to yield a competitive edge.

In a former Blog, I talked about Using Competitive Intelligence for your Marketing Strategy. I received many positive comments about this when I wrote a blog on the topic. In the last chapter, I shared a true story about what can happen if customers inadvertently go to a competitor’s company. 

The story illustrated the importance of creating an overall marketing strategy. It also set out the importance of setting one’s company apart from a competitor while developing a positioning and marketing strategy. This enabled Company A to position their business for additional growth by redefining their business by knowing and realizing the differences between their company and their main competitor’s company. Differentiation is more than simply being different. It is about the unique differences the customer perceives to be the reason they buy from you versus a competitor. There is a systematic process for developing an effective positioning for your business. This systematic process requires you to know your target markets and your main competitors, and it takes time. 

Determine How Your Company is Positioned Against a Competitor

Here is a list of considerations to make when determining how your company is positioned against a competitor.

 • What products or services are offered by competitors that are not offered in your business? Are you and the company’s employees (if any) as well qualified to serve as specialists or customer problem solvers as the competition? 

 • How does the competition treat their customers? Is their service prompt and efficient? 

 • Does the competition accept credit cards or charge cards for their services that are not accepted by your company? 

 • How does your corporate brand sensory image compare to the competition? 

 • Can you or the employees answer questions about your competitor’s products and services knowledgeably and objectively? 

 • Who keeps complete records on each customer, you or the competition? 

 • Do you have a system in place to mail a thank-you letter or send an e-mail after each sales call, whether or not a sale was made? Does the competition? • What equipment does the competition use that is better than yours? 

 • As you watch the product display of the competition, do the products seem to be moving off the shelf? 

 • How soon are the products marked down or moved to a sale table? 

 • How many times has the competition’s name been mentioned in the press or the newspapers in the past three months? (Count only the times for free publicity such as announcements, promotions, seminars, sponsorships, speeches, donations, etc.) How many times has your name or the company name been published for these reasons? 

 • How much advertising (number and size/time) does the competition do each month? How much does your company do? 

DJ Heckes
CEO & Author Full BRAIN Marketing 
www.fullbrainmarketing.com

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