Archive | October, 2011

Using LinkedIn for B2B Social Media

31 Oct

Social media is becoming a standard component of every B2B Internet marketing campaign.

 

While Facebook and Twitter are better suited for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies, data from multiple research firms suggests the most effective social media choice in the B2B marketing toolbox for acquiring customers is LinkedIn.

 

Some interesting B2B-related facts about LinkedIn:

 

• 57 percent of companies on LinkedIn have generated customers directly from their activity on the site.

 

• 20 percent of all B2B logins to social media sites in January 2011 were done through LinkedIn. Only six months earlier, the site represented just three percent of all B2B logins.

 

• Members of the high-tech and finance sectors represent 18 percent of the more than 100 million users on LinkedIn.

 

• Every Fortune 500 company has executives on LinkedIn.

 

Many business to business advertising firms and their respective clients are already on LinkedIn using site features such as LinkedIn Groups to engage with prospects and connect with other professionals in their industry.

 

Recently, LinkedIn added three new features to its site and opened public access to another. The following is a breakdown of these new features that are designed to give users the capability to forge stronger connections with other professionals in the LinkedIn community.

 

InMaps

Provides a graphical representation of all the connections in a user’s LinkedIn network. User connections are divided into groups by categories such as school or employer. The name of each connection is sized according to the number of contacts they have in that particular InMap group. This allows the user to see which connections in their network are gateways to other contacts.

 

LinkedIn Skills

The Skills page allows users to search for other LinkedIn professionals according to specific skill. Search results provide users with a list of others sharing that skill within their community as well as in related companies, jobs and certain locations.

 

LinkedIn Signal

This feature provides a real-time feed of posts from social media sites such as Twitter. The posts are typically organized by a user’s connections. Signal can provide real-time information also on what people are saying about a particular topic by typing in keywords in the application search box.

 

LinkedIn Today

This application is a news page consisting of stories shared by a user’s connections and other professionals in the LinkedIn community. LinkedIn Today allows users to follow as many as 22 industries and an array of news outlets. The “Today” feature can also be accessed remotely via the new LinkedIn iPhone application.

As previously-mentioned, its emphasis on business already makes LinkedIn the premiere social media site for B2B agencies and their clients. But, by actively using some of the new tools offered by LinkedIn, B2B companies can enhance their level of engagement with colleagues, customers and prospects.

 

 

Advertisements

How to Find Success in Social Media Marketing!

24 Oct

Used correctly social media marketing can give you a platform for brand awareness, exposure, networking, and a huge boost in traffic & sales. The problem is, most people don’t know how to use the social media properties correctly…

Social media marketing gives you an edge over larger competitors. Studies show that most companies are not yet adopting social media, leaving a sweet gap for the “little guy” to do big business in that space.

Follow these 10 simple tips to create your own strategy for Social Media Marketing success:

1. Map Out Your Social Media Strategy

What is it you most hope to accomplish with your social media marketing plan? What response do you expect from your target market? Ideas to consider in your overall objective might include:

-Branding
-Networking
-Exposure
-Inbound Links/SEO
-Relationship/Trust Building
-Customer Relations (think @comcastcares on Twitter)

2. Connect With Your Target Market

Get an image of your ideal customer or website visitor clearly in your mind. Who are they? What are they searching for? What do they want and need the most? What do you feel they expect from you through social media communications?

Consider what they experience on their end in everything you do. They are the person that you want to attract into your funnel, so you want to make a great impression – and also include a strong, specific call-to-action.

3. Offer Consistent, Quality Content

The content that you post to social media properties should be both consistent as in regular updates, and also consistent with your overall message or objective.

If you are an MLM recruiter for example, provide quality resources for recruits. If you own an ecommerce gardening site, offer gardening tips. Whatever your message, you want to make it consistent across the web.

This helps you achieve your branding objectives, and allows you to create the perception that you want people to have of you or your company. Anyone who follows you online should easily be able to fill in the blank: (You/Your Company) is known for ___ .

Being consistent with your message and your branding also lends toward your goal of relevance and theming when it comes to SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

4. Focus on Content, Not Marketing

Most people get this backwards. If you focus on valuable, high-quality content then that content will do the marketing for you.

You shouldn’t have to digg or bookmark your own content, but rather focus on writing such great content that your readers give it an unsolicited digg or stumble for you.

Your job is to write, and provide easy access to social media services where your readers can share your content with their friends & groups.

When people like what you have to say, they will share it – period. And when they share it, the search engines will take notice. Write top quality content & updates, and let the rest happen naturally.

5. Caution! Do Not Over-Optimize

Social Media Marketing can help you achieve top search engine rankings for specific keyword phrases. But be careful… because there is such a thing as over-optimization.

Using the same anchor text everywhere that you link to (or request a link to) your site leaves a ‘digital footprint’, throwing up a red flag that you may be trying to manipulate the search results (or PageRank).

Avoid this by using natural variations in anchor text for the links that point back to your primary website. You need a certain number of “click here” or similar links to give balance to your optimization strategy.

6. Stop Linking To Your Home Page!

Social media is about micro-topical conversations, so consider how you can introduce internal offers or pages of your website into these conversations.

This will keep your groups and followers engaged in the topic at hand, and provide higher value to your readers.

These deep links, or links pointing to internal pages on your site or blog, help it gain authority in the search engines as well. All other things being equal between two identical websites, the one with more deep links will outrank the other. This also gives you more exposure in the search engine results, since your internal pages will begin ranking for specific relevant keyword phrases.

Tip: Your home page may not be the best link to share on your Profile while networking on social sites. Consider linking to your “about me” page instead for a more personable introduction to you and your site.

7. Provide a Valuable Resource

There’s a reason its called Social Media, and not Self-Promotional Media. Keep that in mind when you consider your social media marketing plan.

If all you post is self-promotional links and requests, you will eventually become a part of the “noise” and ultimately be filtered out by your target market. They may not unfollow or delete you, but they will begin to scan over your posts and tweets without even realizing it.

Avoid this by becoming a valuable resource in your niche. Share links to domains that you don’t own. And I don’t mean your own Squidoo pages or Facebook profiles – I mean domains you have ZERO association with. Provide value to your groups by sharing relevant links and resources.

You mean, you want me to *gasp* promote my competitors?! Yes – and become friends with them too. Interlinking and networking is powerful!

8. Social Networking

To truly achieve your social media marketing objectives, you need to do some social networking as well. Forget the word “competitor”. Other publishers or webmasters in your niche will be your best friends in the social media landscape!

Locate every competitor on your level (or within reasonable range) and create an “inner circle” of friends or business peers. These are people you can interview or be interviewed by, exchange links with, joint venture with, etc. Stop looking at them as competition, and start looking at how you can leverage each others’ position in the marketplace!

Tip: Don’t ask for favors. And don’t flaunt the favors you do. Simply follow, comment on, link to, or otherwise become “known” to select publishers in your niche. They will notice… and generally begin to reciprocate. Given a little time the relationship will form naturally and be incredibly beneficial on both sides.

9. Build Rapport

Get involved in discussions, reply to blog comments, ask for feedback (and then respond to it and act on it!). People want to know that you’re a real person, and not just “a company” – or worse: a bot spitting out links and sucking in cash.

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion or to express your thoughts on hot topics within your niche. Your unique voice in the market will attract your ideal visitors and customers.

Social media gives you an opportunity to be personable. An ecommerce site has its limits when it comes to establishing trust and building long-term customer relationships, so use social media as an opportunity to make a real connection with your target market.

10. Link Freely – And Don’t Apologize For It!

This is somewhat of a combination of tips #3 and #7. One thing that really makes me cringe is the 2 words “shameless plug” – promise me you wont ever use that phrase!

The people that follow you, subscribe to your updates, or ‘friend you’ on social media sites… want to hear your latest news and tips. If they don’t, they’ll quickly unfollow you – which is fine. This is not a numbers game or a vanity contest – it is a means of syndicating and socializing in a professional yet personable way.

There is a right and a wrong way to link to resources and content on social media sites. The wrong way is to say “read my blog post” or “visit my website”. The right way is to share a cool link (whether its yours, or something of interest to your readers from another website) and to open a discussion on that topic.

Have a clear objective, be a valuable resource, and use social media properties in the way they were intended to be used. Anything else will get you filtered out, unfollowed, banned or blacklisted… and ultimately be a complete waste of your time.

Done right, following these 10 simple tips, social media marketing can currently grow your online business faster than any other means.

5 Top Tips For Successful Social Media Marketing

19 Oct

When it comes to a successful social media campaign, the key is to make sure fans, followers and connections aren’t just reading, but engaging in what you have to say. Often, engagement is thought of as being pro-active, but it’s equally as important to use tools that help organize and disseminate information to give you the best chance of getting a good response.

And yes, you’ve heard it all before…  but what have you actually done about it? Have you actually found a way to act on all the great advice there is out there?

Tip 1: Organize Your Team

First and foremost you need to organize your social life. If you work as a team, who is managing which accounts? Do you have clients you post on behalf of? Are they posting at the same time as you? These are all questions you need to ask so you never double contact someone. By this, I mean, someone asks a question like “Where do I find info on your return policy?” and 3 different people all reply to that same person. It’s reply inundation and a major turn off. Even if you’re a “one man band” you may wear different social hats. Setting yourself up with different “team” views (even if you’re alone) helps keep you organized and on task.

Tip 2: Geo-Target

Never under-estimate the power of local. Did you know that almost all tweets are now geo-tagged even if not sent from a phone? Use this to your advantage by searching what’s being said about your industry in your location. A restaurant monitoring all tweets about their cafe within 20 miles has a perfect chance to send someone a “thanks for eating at my restaurant, mention this tweet code and get 10% off your next meal!”

Tip 3: Stop ignoring Linkedin

Linkedin is still, to some extent, the red haired step child of the “big 3,” behind Twitter and Facebook. But for marketing, there’s a big opportunity. Start Linkedin Groups and start building a following around your brand, and post to it regularly. Get the Linkedin share plugin on your site.

Tip 4: Give Credit

RSS posting is a great way to keep information going out to your followers and fans, but what if the information is not yours? Make sure to marke “RT @ ” the person, or “So and so wrote a great post.”  You do not want your streams to be cluttered with so much information that your following has no idea what’s important. Also, people tend to like being mentioned, and there’s a good chance if you’re posting someone’s feed, they will post yours in return, so let them know!

Tip 5: Be Regular

Granted, you can’t be at your social media dashboard at all hours of the day, but it’s important to have content going out to hit all the time zones you need to interact with. Schedule some posts up for when you’re away (or sleeping) to keep all corners of the world engaged. Just be sure to be ready to respond as soon as you get your computer started the next day.

How to Help your Social Media Marketing Provider!

10 Oct

If you’ve decided to outsource your SEO to a consultant or firm, your new SEO company is going to need three things from you in order to create, launch and maintain a successful SEO campaign. Without these three things, your SEO will never get up to full-throttle and won’t reach its full potential by any of the great SEO companies out there:

 

1. Trust

Remember that your SEO partner is on your side! They are pulling for your website to succeed as much as you are and are going to do everything in their power to help your site and brand reach their full potential online. However, in order to maximize their efforts you as the SEO client have to be willing to trust your SEO company to do the work you hired them to do!

 

Case in point, I was working with a client that didn’t feel comfortable letting us handle their blog commenting (part of their link building campaign). So we just researched the blogs they should be commenting on every month and passed it back to them; they were supposed to leave the comments. Guess what happened? They never left the comments! The hardest part of blog commenting is finding good, relevant blogs to comment on. Leaving the actual comment takes hardly any time compared to the amount of time spent researching. If the client had just trusted us a little bit more to leave well-written, quality comments on their behalf, their link building would have been much more effective and well-rounded.

 

2. Content

In my opinion, the worst thing a company can do is launch a blog and then NOT routinely write in it. I will spend all day arguing the benefits of a business blog, but I would rather a client not even launch one than create it and not write for it. Just about every component of SEO and inbound marketing relies on the consistent creation of content. Social networks consume billions upon billions of pieces of content every day, the search engines weigh content to determine a site’s importance, great content helps you connect with your target audience, builds your online reputation and so much more. Without content, your SEO is essentially flat lined. Content is what propels you forward and takes your site to the next level.

 

Not every business or website owner is a great writer and that’s ok! If you don’t feel comfortable writing content for your blog, than let your SEO partner handle it. They know how to create good content that is both search engine AND user friendly, that works to build your brand and encourages your target audience to share it with their social networks. Again, it comes back to trust. If you don’t trust your SEO partner to write content (say you work in a highly specialized field and your SEO partner just doesn’t have the knowledge) than it becomes your responsibility to supply your SEO partner with the content. You write it up and they will leverage it for your website.

 

3. Involvement

Handing your SEO campaign off to a consultant or agency does not mean you get to wash your hands of SEO completely! Your SEO partner is going to do everything they can to help your site succeed, but they need direction from you to know what “success” means. What are your online goals? Who is your target audience? Have you done any serious link building before? What are your assets and weaknesses? No one knows your brand better than you and your SEO company needs access to the information you have if you want them to do their job properly! You provide the direction and your SEO partner will provide the experience.

Social Media and Public Relations Go Hand in Hand

3 Oct

Social media goes hand in hand with public relations and marketing. Teams in both areas need to be closely aligned to help ensure success and avoid costly missteps. How does a chief marketing officer go about generating smooth interplay between these two groups? Below are three steps to keep in mind:

Find a social-media “point person” and cultivate that person’s reach and influence so it extends to both the marketing and public-relations teams.

This individual is typically an employee in the marketing or public-relations team who really understands the company and the business. A good example is Ford’s social-media maven, Scott Monty, who created a robust social-media presence for Ford by giving the brand a personality and engaging with users.

How do you find a point person? First, look around — do you have a marketing rock star with an interest in social media who knows your business and, more importantly, can talk about it? If so, give that person the proper training to assume this role. It’s easier to teach an insider about social media than it is to teach a new employee the nuances of your business. Look at your investment in social media as a long-term marketing commitment and not something you want to use as a transition to other resources.

A second way to find the point person is to hire social-media experts to find someone. As when you hire a public-relations firm, the agency you choose must know your company and understand its goals, long-term vision and strategy.

The majority of companies are just beginning to build out their social departments. Most teams are small and the level of experience is low, because this is such a new element of marketing. We expect to see a considerable amount of progress over the next few years.

Use analytics data to help tell a cohesive story about return on investment that’s driven by joint marketing and public-relations efforts.

A stronger association between hard data (measures of return-on-investment) and soft data (measures of brand-building) is occurring in social media. More and more public relations teams and agencies are beginning to measure social media’s effects. Generally the data are of the softer variety, as opposed to measuring hard sales, and include social-media mentions, sentiment and social influencers.

Chief marketing officers are in a position to push for a deeper investment into analysis that ties softer metrics with core key-performance sales indicators, such as site traffic and revenue. The next revolution of social-media marketing will be driven by hard indicators, so it’s better to start investing now. Analytics platform suites, such as Adobe’s Omniture, are expected to release new tools to measure social-media engagement against return on investment.

Infuse social media into every facet of the business, starting with public relations.

Social media need to be integrated into the entire organization, starting with public relations. All departments need to be included — from the public-relations team being on top of the latest social trends and tools, to the IT team integrating social media into digital assets, to the call center diffusing customer service issues via social-media channels.

When the integral role of social media isn’t communicated well across the company, viral public-relations crises can strike. One of the most famous examples occurred when two Domino’s Pizza employees who didn’t understand the consequences of their prankish behavior put a gross video on YouTube. United Airlines’ customer-service department was embarrassed by a YouTube video into making good on a passenger’s guitar that airline employees had broken. If these companies had infused social media throughout their organizations, such incidents might have been avoided.

At the end of the day, social media need to become part of an organization’s DNA. The CMO and the executive team must ensure cooperation, not competition, among different business units. Public relations can be leveraged across all social-media initiatives and employees can become invaluable brand advocates in their online conversations. Crises can be avoided, internal and external communications will be more effective and the company will be stronger as a whole.