linkedin

The Missing “Link”

LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media platforms to use. Like many of you, I use it to conduct business development activities, discover potential new talent, and find out what some of my peers are working on. As a business owner and marketer, I also use it as a platform to target my potential clients and “tout” my expertise through the sharing of my company’s updates as well as industry-related articles.

LinkedIn has two distinct options: the LinkedIn profile page which most of us have to showcase our personal “resumes”, and the company page that is set up for your company.

While I know many business owners and marketers have an LI profile, many small businesses still do not have a company LI page. So what exactly is the difference between a profile page and a company page on LinkedIn? A LinkedIn profile is probably the most powerful tool you can use for business development as it allows you to highlight your professional experience, connect with your peers or potential clients, join industry-related groups, post your blogs or other articles, and share awards and updates.

I have seen many companies use the profile page as their company page, but LinkedIn has a distinct company page that provides your business with the opportunity to engage with followers with targeted and regular news and activities, share career opportunities, and expand your online brand presence.

If you are a business owner or marketer with a B2B business, an LI company page is a must! If you have a B2C business, it is still a good idea to have some presence on this platform, as this platform is great for SEO and for expanding your reach to influencers.

Here are some reasons I‘d recommend considering using an LI company page for your business:

1. Show How You are Unique

In the description on your company page, emphasize how you stand out from your competitors. You might want to include company news and share information about your company culture. This will help you reach potential customers and also new hires. Support the content with professional videos, or images to help you show how your company is different.

2. Improve SEO

We all hear about SEO, but did you know that Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts highly in the search engine results pages? Having the page and posting on it frequently will help you increase your SEO and increase site traffic.

3. Share Content

It makes sense that you need to write posts that your viewers want to see and share with others. The more you can engage your viewers, the more likely you are to expand your global reach and influence. You can also link your post back to your website for more information and to convert them into a warm business lead. It’s a good idea to create a media mix on this platform as well, so consider using different formats such as SlideShare business presentations, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts and videos.

4. Measure Success

Like most social platforms, you can view analytical data about your company page to help you gain deeper insights into your page performance.

Having a LinkedIn company page will help you network and prospect to a targeted audience for quality sales leads, while establishing your business’ public image on a global scale as a reputable and trustworthy organization. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer!

Social Media is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Social media isn’t just about tweeting where you ate last night, posting vacation photos on Facebook  or finding a date on Tinder. It’s serious business for companies that are serious about attracting and  driving targeted customers to their website and converting leads into customers. In response to the  importance of social media in business, colleges and  universities now offer degree programs in social media – Seneca College (Certificate in Social Media), University of Florida (Masters Degree in Social Media) and Georgetown University (Certificate in Social Media Management) are just a few offering social media degrees. And there’s a rise in social media-oriented M.B.A. programs.

What can social media do for your company?

Every company can benefit from social media. Here are 10 great benefits that your company can derive from a well planned and well executed social media campaign.

  1. Generates leads in a very cost effective manner
  2. Helps establish your brand & increases brand awareness
  3. Builds brand loyalty
  4. Increases website traffic
  5. An excellent platform for engaging with your customers
  6. Helps you reach a targeted audience
  7. Expands your reach
  8. Helps build relationships
  9. Delivers higher conversion rates
  10. Decreases marketing costs

 

Who is using social media for business?

According to the Social Media Examiner, 96% of marketers are using social media.

Why isn’t social media working for my company?

Unfortunately, social media is not a do-it-yourself project. It’s a specialty that requires a particular expertise and skill set. Just as you’re the expert in running your business there are professionals whose expertise is social media.

They understand the science and art behind it and the subtle nuances that can make a big difference in results. Social media requires a strategy, the content that will deliver results, and the analytics to measure those results.

It’s not as simple as just writing a tweet, hoping for the best and expecting results. If you haven’t been seeing results from your social media efforts, I strongly urge you to contact a marketing agency or a consultant to manage social media for your company. With proper expertise in place your social media campaigns will deliver results.

 

The Future of Social Media

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 9.10.25 AM.pngThe future of social media is a topic of endless conversation with many differing opinions. The truth is that no one knows what the future will bring, but that doesn’t stop anyone from putting in their two cents. One thing I can tell you for sure is that things will continue to change and evolve.

Social networks have been in existence for quite some time and contrary to popular belief, Facebook was not one of the first. A social networking site called Six Degrees was founded in 1997. It allowed users to create a profile and then friend other users. After that ICQ, my Space, LinkedIn (still in existence) and others came along. Facebook didn’t exist until 2004 when Mark Zuckerberg registered thefacebook.com domain and Twitter didn’t arrive on the scene until 2006. As you can see it’s really in the last 10 years that social media has exploded on the landscape and become a worldwide phenomenon.

How are we using social networks?

  1. News/current affairs
  2. Staying in touch with friends and family
  3. Reconnecting with old friends
  4. Sharing photos/videos
  5. Dating
  6. Business networking
  7. Connecting with people who share a hobby/interest
  8. Promoting products/services
  9. Filling spare time
  10. Connecting with political/public figures

Who’s using social networks?

Women and men use social media at similar rates. Young adults aged 18 – 29 are the most likely to use social media. The biggest increase in usage is among adults aged 65+. (Pew Research Center)

What will the future of social media look like?

A few trends in the future of social media are beginning to emerge.

  • Instead of enormous catch-all sites like Facebook, social media sites that are vertical specific – music, cars, films, sports (or sport specific) – have huge potential.
  • All social media sites will be responsive to mobile.
  • Shopping on social media sites will be common.
  • Businesses will encourage employees to share content.
  • Targeted social media advertising will increase.
  • Social video is the way of the future.

Social media is here to stay. As smoke signals eventually evolved into the mobile phone, I know social media will continue to evolve and to me, the future looks exciting.

 

 

Do You Know What Your LinkedIn Strategy Should Look Like?

building-your-linkedin-networkLinkedIn is the world’s leading professional social media website and growing at the rate of one new member per second. LinkedIn is increasingly used to connect businesses and develop connections amongst professionals. Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn serves as a useful business development tool.

Social media has become a large part of business marketing strategies all around the globe. I know that many of you have a strategy in place for your business’s social media, but does the strategy break down the different platforms?

Just as you wouldn’t use a net to catch a whale, you can’t use a Facebook strategy to engage your audience on LinkedIn. Different audiences require different strategies and being as LinkedIn’s is focused on connecting businesses, your strategy needs to be focused on developing areas of your business.

Start your strategy by outlining your objectives and goals – these could be financial, brand exposure, or even partnerships. You then should decide on who you are interested in connecting with – C-level individuals, influencers, etc. Once you know whom, then you might consider the vertical e.g. financial, insurance, manufacturing, etc. With the groundwork laid, then you will want to consider how you are going to engage with these individuals – via connections, invites, notifications, group discussions, referrals, etc.? Once you have made the connections, how do you plan to keep in touch with them? As a final step, you’ll need to measure your success against your objectives.

Having a LinkedIn strategy that is different from other social media strategies is crucial to developing your marketing success on this platform. Consider your current LinkedIn practices and explore how they could benefit from a strategy.

Have you ever considered the need for a specific LinkedIn strategy? Is it different from other social media strategies? I look forward to a lively discussion!

Your Social Media – When is it a Waste of Time?

social_media_ROIWhether you’re a small or big business, being on social media is a good idea. The visibility and connectivity accessible through social media has convinced most business owners that it’s worth their while. But what isn’t so clear is how to measure what’s working and what’s not, and when to drop a platform that’s just waste of time and energy.

While its possible to track ROI and conversions, it can be tough to accurately measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign. You might find that some social media efforts that drive visitors to your content can be measured in other ways. For example, if your social strategy isn’t so content-heavy, and if you are promoting products or events, then your business would fit a more traditional measure for ROI and conversions. The only way to know if what you’re doing is enough is to have a gauge on your ROI.

In order to get there, you have to align your objectives to your measurement. For each network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) you’ll need to have an objective before you can decide on how successful the network is. You’ll need to decide what measurement would be the most valuable to you. Maybe you’re a blogger and your goals are e-mail sign-ups and blog followers, or, maybe you are a retailer looking to increase sales and traffic to your website – either way you must consider your key metric. I can guarantee that if you have had no objectives for your social media, then you will be extremely disappointed with the results.

Capturing the data is the easy part – measuring interactions (likes, clicks, shares, followers) and analyzing traffic, reach, and leads, can help gauge what your business is getting out of its social media investment, but you’ll need to measure these outcomes against your objectives.

Like all marketing tools, each social media network provides some general trends and demographic information to help guide your decision as to which platform your unique business should focus on, but ultimately, you need to understand your brand and your audience before you can choose the right platform, set objectives and measure if it is successful.

If you leverage the right tools and tactics necessary to better understand your audience, then you are more likely to put out messaging and content that is most likely to increase loyalty, drive sales, and help you reach company goals.

Measuring social media ROI can be extremely frustrating and difficult. I’d love to know how you measure your social media ROI, and what metrics you measure. Share your comments and thoughts with me in the comment section!

Social Media Strategy Before Social Media Tools

10-Steps-To-A-Successful-Social-Media-StrategyIt seems easy, right? Just choose which social networks you want to appear on and then post away! Wrong. Unfortunately, many businesses have taken the approach of tools before strategy and the results are, not surprisingly, poor. A posting schedule lacks focus, approach, and direction, which are the crucial first steps in driving your business’ success.

Social media is just another tool in the marketing tool box, much like your website, advertising, special promotions, and campaigns, so you need to look at creating a social media strategy BEFORE you decide on which network to use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Tools need to be considered last, not first. Why? Because tools change. They always do. There was a time when Netscape seemed invincible. Yahoo, too. And how can we forget about MySpace. If you fall in love with tools, you’ll constantly be changing directions, with no real plan to guide your way.

The strategy will further outline how you brand yourself in social media networks. For businesses with an established brand, this may not be a problem, but you will need to investigate how your offline branding strategy translates into social media marketing.

Unless you have the internal skills and expertise, I’d strongly recommend you engage the services of a strategic marketer to help you create your strategy.

In addition to kicking off the strategy with a clear definition of what makes your business unique, you’ll want to make sure your strategy includes consideration of what your relationship is with your audience, how they use social media, how you’ll deal with unfavourable comments, what resources will monitor the conversations and what metrics you are going to use to determine your success.

What do you think? What are your special tips for making social media engagement effective at driving your business’s success?  I look forward to your comments below.

Why the C-Suite Needs to Understand Social Media

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This quarter’s C-Suite Survey measured the advance of social media among Canadian businesses. The survey interviewed 129 executives between June 4 and June 24, 2014.

The survey is absolutely worth the read, but here are the highlights and my opinion upon reflecting on these results.

Key Takeaways:

  1. There has been an increase in engagement from half of Canada’s top companies who are now tweeting.
  2. Executives are more likely to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, than Facebook. That may be a comment on personalities: Facebook is about community, whereas Twitter is more of a megaphone.
  3. Relatively few see social media as a transformational force. Only a minority of companies has shifted resources from traditional, paid media or communications. Those that have done so have reassigned only 20 per cent of their media budgets.
  4. Nearly half of executives said they do not know how online media can help them, and almost half of those engaged in social media doubt that it helps their company’s bottom line.
  5. Executives agreed that social media opens up companies to reputational concerns. They are more likely to be put off by the downside of social media than they are to embrace the opportunities.

Take a look through the entire C-Suite Survey as it also highlights how beneficial social media are and the main value of using social media vs. traditional forms of communication.

My Advice:

It’s true that social media does not perfectly align with all business models, but it was surprising to me that the survey found so many companies and smaller firms avoiding using this inexpensive media. As a marketing advisor with almost 20 years in the business, I know corporate reputation is just too important to ignore and social media can play a pivotal role in building supporters, quick reaction and interaction as well as branding and offers a huge opportunity to take part in online conversations. Social media does produce results, but like any tactic, it needs to begin with a strategy. If, for example, you want to increase brand, then a social media strategy needs to be created with this objective in mind. The strategy will indicate frequency, and use of which networks, measurement, types of campaigns, etc.

I don’t want C-level executives to be disenchanted and discouraged by the power of social media. It can have an impact on your bottom line, but to see impact will take time, commitment, and a solid strategy.   You may want to enlist the help of a marketing advisor or agency. Plan your social media no differently than you would any other media spend and give it time to grow and see the ROI.

NOTE: The quarterly C-Suite Survey was conducted for Report on Business News Network by Gandalf Group, and sponsored by KPMG.

What do you think about the survey? Do you think it reflects the sentiment at your company? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Does Size Really Matter?

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In the realm of social media, more likes and more followers increases your brand’s recognition, engagement and ultimately sales.  So it seems simple that from a strategic view, your social media plan should include ways to increase your fan base and thereby increase leads if not sales.

This is straightforward, honest marketing: you try to showcase your activities or your brands offers and uniqueness and in turn you gain fans and followers. Did you know, though, that in an online platform, marketers are able to gain “fake” brand love by buying fans on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, Pinterest and even Yelp testimonials and LinkedIn contacts – all in the name of increasing the perceived size of their audience?

Many have questioned if “buying” these fans effects the bottom line?  Do more numbers/fans actually increase ROI?  “How can I trust anything online if it is all fake?” Ahhhh yes.  Well the jury is still out as one must question the legitimacy of these “fans”  – are they real people, are they bots, are they part of a general conspiracy for Facebook, for example, to look like they have a huge fan base of 85 million when in fact some of these are just “fake profiles”?

One large indicator of a Facebook page with purchased fans is to look at engagement.  If for example they have 5,000 fans and the engagement (shares, comments and likes) on any one post is 14 people then I might question the legitimacy of their followship.

As a marketer dealing with smaller brands, social media is not so much about the size of the numbers as it is about the engagement and lead opportunities.   If buying fans can lead to your ultimate goal, then perhaps it is something worth considering.  Do your homework though as there are literally hundreds of “agencies” selling fans – make sure yours are legitimate or you could do major damage to your brand.

The bottom line remains that you really can’t “spam your way” to Facebook brand love or Google review love. Either you have a genuine brand and a genuine approach to the market… or you don’t. If you don’t, you can’t buy customer/client love- it’s really that simple.  So if you buy fake profiles it won’t make your brand any more loved, as the people don’t exist to engage with your brand and fake people don’t buy products or services.

Would you ever consider buying social media fans? Would an increased number of fans outweigh actual engagement on your social media sites? I look forward to your thoughts below.

Social Media: Understand Why Before Hiring an Internal or External Resource (1 of 2)

As the owner of a marketing agency, I am often asked whether a company should take on social media themselves, or hire an outside agency to do it for them. It’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most important and frequently asked questions of our digital business age.  However, before I answer who should implement your social media, I want to address why you should make social media an integral part of your marketing strategy.

 

Small and medium business (SMB) owners, particularly those of B2B businesses, struggle with finding the value of social media. They often think of it as nothing more than people talking about what they had for dinner last night, or the music they are listening to (which, depending on your company’s field of expertise, may be rather useful information!). To be sure, there are many conversations occurring, covering a wide array of topics. Regardless, if you have a brand and want to further it,I advise you not toignore social media.

 

If we think back to about 14 years ago, in 1998, when the internet was at its infancy, many SMB’s were questioning whether or not they should have a website.  Although it is hard for us to imagine this debate happening today, business owners were questioning the validity of websites, and wanted to see hard evidence to substantiate their investment.

 

Their questions made perfect sense then, as they do today regarding social media – they want to see real proof to justify an investment in social media, either with internal staff or an external agency.

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There are various statistics bandied about the industry when looking for this “hard evidence” or value in social media, but the top four stats that stand out for me are:

 

  • 62% of the world’s population uses social networking, making it the most popular online activity.
  • Over half of social networkers follow a brand online.
  • Over half of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand if they are fans of the company online.
  • Online ad spending increased to just over $30 billion in the U.S. last year, over 20% increase (Source: ComScore).

 

I share these four stats as I feel that they best provide the “hard evidence” a SMB needs to understand why they should integrate social media into their marketing strategy: the audience is there, your competitors are there, the audience wants to engage with brands there, and you can target your advertising there.

 

Simply put, social media is not going away anytime soon. As such, if you are not using social media in your marketing strategy, you run the risk of losing business to other companies that are.

 

In next week’s blog, I’ll outline some points to consider when making a decision to use internal or external resources to execute your social media strategy.

Have you integrated social media into your marketing strategy?  If not, why not? If so, do you have any success stories you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments below.

Why do we all need advice?

We all want it and need it, but as small to medium-sized business owners we may need it most of all, but are more likely to steer clear of it.

The fact is all of us, regardless of what you do for a living, have some level of expertise on that topic.  You don’t have to look far for evidence of this – there are columnists whose opinion matters; reality TV shows where we see individuals sing to the best of their ability or perform some talent; in social media blogs like this one, or FaceBook posts or LinkedIn profiles, and even how-to videos on YouTube – we find experts.   For business owners, there are expert associations, Boards of Trade, or peer advisory boards like The Alternative Board.  There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of experts giving advice on everything from soup to nuts.

advice, advisors, Creativeworks, marketing

Do you really need an advisor?

Unless you really do know everything, then yes, you do need an advisor. From Prime Ministers to the Queen of England, we all need to consult with a person we feel knows more than we do on a certain topic, or can at the very least, offer us insights and a good ear for us to walk through an approach or plan we’ve been considering.  As business owners, we all need help to strengthen an area of our business whether that is marketing, employment hiring practices, or operations and management.

Having an advisor is NOT admitting defeat, it’s substantiating your value: knowing what you do well at and what you want to improve on are two of the pillars of success.


How do you find the right advisor for your business?

The answer to this question is found by asking yourself a few pointed questions: what do you need advice on? How would that advice help you in your business and what do you expect this advisor to do for you?

Once you are clear on exactly what you need, how it will help and what you want as a result, you are ready to hire your advisor.  Here are a few tips to help you in your search.

  1. Start with some research both on and offline.  Ask your fellow business owners if they have advisors; search the blogs, FaceBook and LinkedIn on the advice topic you are seeking. e.g. small business peer advisory
  2. Narrow down your list to the top 3 and then contact them to see their response times, style, and general “fit”
  3. Once you’ve made contact, meet with them. Much like a job interview, go prepared with questions you have about their experience, other similar clients, success stories, and if applicable, their training and education.  If this is a Board of Trade, you can go to one of their scheduled meetings.
  4. During this meeting you should determine if the personality is a good fit for you.  An advisor needs to understand you and be able to identify with you and your needs.  Make sure they do.
  5. After you’ve met with all three, you might want to ask them to send you a quote on how they feel they can help you and how much it will cost. For Boards of Trade, you will need to look at the annual or monthly dues and time commitment.

advice, advisors, Creativeworks, marketing

As a marketing advisor, a few years ago I was looking for a business advisor; someone who could help me keep my business on track and provide advice and guidance as business issues came up like: what my bookkeeper should take care of, do I need a noncompeting agreement for my staff; what is the protocol for employee incentives and so much more.  I found TAB, a peer advisory board of individual business owners like myself who meet on a regular basis to help each other in our businesses.  I also have one-on-one coaching sessions. It was not what I was looking for but it’s a thousand times better than what I could have even imagined.

This experience has taught me something so critical – we all need help and there is literally someone for everyone.

Do you have an advisor?  Can you share your story?