Category Archives for "Social"

Nov 12

How To Get The Most Out of Linkedin

By Rob Woods | Social

Today, LinkedIn serves over 259 million members, earning it a spot as one of the most popular social media networks worldwide. If your small businesses has yet to join the site, you could be missing out on business opportunities. With an account, you can:

  • Create business connections
  • Recruit employees
  • Join professional conversations
  • Advertise
  • Build your credibility

If you’re ready to join millions of other members on this professional platform, continue reading to learn how to reap all these benefits.

Setting Up Your Profile

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Image via LinkedIn.com

Before you can set up your company page for your small business, you must create a personal page. Start at LinkedIn.com and follow the instructions on the home page for registering.

Next, make sure that you’ve met the requirements for adding a company page. You’ll need to have a company email address that’s confirmed on your LinkedIn account and show that you’re a current employee by adding the experience to your profile.

Once you’ve met these requirements, find “Interests” at the top of the page, and then click on “Companies” in the drop-down menu.

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Image via LinkedIn.com

At the top right-hand corner, click “Add a Company,” and then follow the instructions for creating your company page.

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Image via LinkedIn.com

Tips For Creating a Killer Profile

  1. Write a compelling summary of your business.
  2. List your products on the Products and Services tab with the most important first.
  3. Include a captivating cover photo.
  4. Invite customers to recommend your business and encourage employees to connect with your business’s page.
  5. Add a careers page if you’re looking to recruit employees.
  6. Publish important updates to keep your profile interesting.

Creating Connections

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Image via LinkedIn.com

Creating connections is easy. One way to create a connection is to directly connect to people on their page by clicking “Connect” on their profile. Once they approve this connection, you can share links, endorse each other, and more. If people want to connect with you, simply accept their invite in your messages.

You can also connect with other companies professionally by following their pages. To do this, simply use the search bar at the top to find their page, and then click “Follow” to start receiving their updates.

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Image via LinkedIn.com

Perhaps one of the best ways to network on LinkedIn is to join or create groups. However, only LinkedIn members can join groups, and a company page is not considered a member page. If you still want to create connections by joining groups or discussions, this is a great opportunity for PR personnel to join conversations with people in your business’s niche, where they can help point people to your company page and your services.

Tips for Creating Connections

  1. Encourage your customers to follow your page.
  2. Ask employees to connect with your page on their personal profiles.
  3. Make connections that count by focusing on your niche.

Building Engagement

Image via Flickr by pursuethepassion

After you make connections, it’s important to engage with these people and businesses to make your connections valuable. There’s no one way to build engagement, but you might consider using the following tips in your strategy.

  1. Create a presence. Setting up an account and connecting with people isn’t going to do anything for your engagement. Show people you’re there by sharing updates, joining in group conversations, and monitoring your activity.
  2. Market yourself. Don’t be afraid to share your blog posts, ebooks, and other content on your updates to get people interacting with you.
  3. Get your employees involved. Ask them to join in conversations, share news, and actively grow their network.
  4. Ask for customer recommendations. You already know that customers can do a lot for you on LinkedIn, but their recommendations can also help keep conversations going, encourage others to consider your product, and influence community engagement.
  5. Advertise. With LinkedIn ads, you can easily target the proper audience to help foster connections and improve brand awareness.

Advertising on LinkedIn

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Image via LinkedIn.com

Advertising on LinkedIn is a wonderful option for businesses looking to target other professionals. For example, if you sell products or services that benefit other business owners, LinkedIn is the place to advertise to reach your target audience. Plus, visitors on partner sites can also see your ads.

But how exactly do you advertise on LinkedIn? Before you set up your ads, you’ll want to plan them out by considering a few things. First, keep in mind the different aspects of a LinkedIn ad:

  1. Headline
  2. Ad Copy
  3. Destination URL
  4. Photo

Before you design your LinkedIn ad, decide what landing pages you want to advertise and who your target audience is. You’ll also want to set a budget for your campaign at this time.

Next, brainstorm ideas on how you’ll present your destination URL. What headline will capture your audience’s attention? What do you have to say and how will you say it in just a 75-character ad copy? What kind of picture can you use to both represent your idea and capture your audience’s attention? Keep in mind you can use 15 different ad variations for each campaign, so you can always test out different ideas. If you need more ideas, research other LinkedIn ads.

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Image via LinkedIn.com

To design your ads, start here and follow the instructions. Once your campaign goes live, you can track your success on your LinkedIn ads analytics page.

Tips for Advertising

  1. Keep your headline, ad copy, and photo relevant to the destination URL.
  2. Begin with three ad variations for testing instead of the full 15 to really help measure the most successful option.
  3. Narrow your target audience to make your ads more useful.

Additional Tips

  1. Remember to use keywords in your profile, products page, and advertisements.
  2. Make your profile more interesting by adding videos, slide shows, and other graphics or documents.
  3. Don’t settle with LinkedIn’s automatic messages when making a connection, but make your connection more personal by customizing the text.
  4. Remember to proofread your profile, advertisements, and updates before they go live to maintain a professional appearance.
  5. Set a custom profile URL by going to Edit Profile > Manage Public Profile Settings > Customize Your Public Profile URL.

LinkedIn is a spectacular platform for making business connections and getting your name out, so consider joining the 259 million other members to discover these benefits.

 

Nov 19

Finding and Sharing Content with Social Media

By Rob Woods | Social

Postcards_and_magnifying_glassFor most business owners, who use social media, finding something to share on the Internet isn’t really a problem. From Facebook walls to Twitter trends to the myriad boards of Pinterest, chances are there’s always a piece of interesting, amusing, or educational content making the rounds every second of every day.

What can be difficult is finding content that’s relevant to your industry, speaks to your audience, and educates and converts your viewers—and, on occasion, helps to build your brand and authority. Funny cat videos are great, but they’re probably not going to do much to inform or captivate potential customers, unless you sell cat products.

Fortunately, you have a bevy of tools at your disposal to help you identify, analyze, and share content that fits your specific needs.

Google Alerts

You might not think of Google Alerts as a prime source of shareable content, but when configured properly they can provide timely updates on breaking industry news, technological advances, or topics your Web analytics have revealed as especially interesting to your audience.

Google Alerts can also be used to monitor brands, competitors, and trends; and the application supports advanced Google Operators for ultra-customizable searches by result, location, and niche.

RSS Feeds

An oldie but a goody, RSS feeds bring the best of other sites straight to your reader or inbox. Subscribing to feeds from industry leaders, general business and marketing blogs, and competitor sites can help you find and share content that transcends (without duplicating) the content produced by “the other guy.” Choose valuable content that will educate your readers, or offer them sound advice.

The demise of Google Reader left quite a few RSS aficionados in the lurch, but apps such as Feedly, Scoop.It and Hootsuite’s RSS plugin have stepped up to ease the sting and keep RSS relevant.

News, Industry, and General Information Sites

Finding and sharing original, high-quality content is made much easier by avoiding aggregators and (most) user-generated content sites. The closer you can get to the primary source or creator of the content, the better, because it can help boost your credibility when you share it. Reputable publications and blogs from your industry are a goldmine of shareable content, as are news and other sites that cover topics of interest to your audience.

Another choice to consider is Reddit, the fabled “Front Page of the Internet”. While this site is built on user-generated content, its front page is often abuzz with compelling content, and serves as a great leaping-off point for brainstorming or tracking down content to its (ultimately shareable) source.

Where to Find Shareable Content

Great content is as close as smartphone or the search bar of your browser when you use sites and apps design to help you collect, organize, and share.

  • Curata: Promising to “Feed your content need,” this content curation service offers a three-step process—Find, Organize, Share—for discovering and sharing content with your audience. They also offer a free reader tool that lets you start fresh with a new content profile or import your Google Reader data.
  • Storify: Acquired by LiveFyre in 2013, Storify offers users the chance to “tell stories” using the Web. You can search for content from across your social networks, mix and match elements, add your own text and images, and then share your new story with your followers and customers.
  • Flipboard: This mobile application lets you import content from all of your social media profiles and create “magazines” that can be shared with others. It also allows you to share individual pieces of content across your social networks, making it a popular and powerful choice for content discovery, consolidation, and distribution.
  • Pagemodo: A combination content discovery application and social media management tool, Pagemodo connects with your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can manage your cover pages, schedule posts for your own profiles as well as pages you own, and find and share content relevant to your followers’ interests using Pagemodo’s tools.
  • Lumi: This content discovery site (and app) from the creators of Last.fm searches for content based on your browsing history. Lumi is a browser extension for Chrome that tracks and anonymizes your browser history, and then uses it to find and suggest shareable content that matches your interests.

Share Your Own Content

While educational content from industry sources and entertaining articles from related fields are an essential part of any social media sharing effort, original content from your business has a very powerful impact all its own. Creating and sharing high-quality, well-sourced infographics, blog posts, articles, and other material helps build your brand and authority, and gives you a platform to speak to your audience in your own unique voice.

Tactical Sharing

Knowing when and where to share your content is just as important as knowing what content to share with which audience. Even the most fascinating content loses value if it’s shared poorly.
To get the most out of social media sharing, you must:

  • Identify your target audience and their interests
  • Share high-quality content that speaks to those interests, educates, and builds relationships
  • Interact with your audience using the sites they prefer
  • Identify the most popular times for sharing on each platform, and plan your own content distribution accordingly

Social media sites fall into two broad categories: ephemeral, constantly-updating sites like Twitter, and single-serve sharing sites like Facebook and Google+, which are more archival in nature than the stream-of-consciousness that is Twitter.

Make the Most of Twitter

The Twittersphere is a fast-paced and continually evolving environment. Sharing content can feel like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into a raging river, hoping someone, or even anyone, finds and reads it. Twitter’s mutability can work in your favor, however, if you use the correct tools.

Applications such as Tweriod can help by analyzing your Twitter activity (and that of your followers) to determine the best times to share a post. Because Twitter connects people all over the world, and is constantly updated, sharing your content just once limits your impact. But, armed with analytics, you can make smarter choices about sharing both original content and content from others.

For example, if Tweriod finds that you have only ten followers active at 5 AM on Monday (your time), that might not be the best time to announce your new product line or a persuasive blog post. But if you see spikes in follower activity at 10 AM, 1 PM, and again at 4:30 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, posting at those times will most likely yield greater returns from interested (and present) followers.

In addition, it’s not only acceptable, but recommended, to share good content on Twitter more than once throughout the day to accommodate followers in different time zones. If you’re based in New York City, and you tweet your latest blog post first thing in the morning, it’s likely that people in California will miss it. By the time they start their days and log into Twitter, your post has come and gone, replaced by the thousands of other tweets that followed it.

Space out three to four tweets to cover different time zones, including an “in case you missed it” for good measure. Use this sparingly, though, for your best content, and most often for your own content or important industry news rather than smaller items of interest.

SMART SHARING TIP:Understanding the general ebb and flow of Twitter (and all social media sites, really) is useful as well, since it gives you a tactical advantage. Knowing the most (and least) active periods of Twitter’s entire user base as well as those of your followers and visitors to your site allows you to share specific content at specific times for maximum impact.

Single-Serving Shares

What do all these sites have in common?

  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Unlike Twitter, these sites are all single-serving shares. When you share to sites like Facebook or Google+, you’re sharing not just in the moment, but for the foreseeable future and beyond. It’s critical to understand the best time and day to share on sites like these, because you only get one chance to make an effective impression. Stacking up duplicates like airplanes over O’Hare isn’t going to win you any friends. It makes you look like a bot or a spammer, and damages your credibility accordingly.

A post to Facebook, for example, will remain visible on your profile forever (or at least for the life of your profile, unless you delete the post or change its visibility settings). And it’ll feature in your friends’ newsfeeds, depending on their settings, for as long as it’s fresh, which is to say, until it stops attracting interaction from readers, is replaced by fresher content, or three hours (on average) have elapsed.

Even after it’s been replaced, it still lingers on as a part of your page or profile, so repeated posts may come back to haunt you if someone’s taking a leisurely scroll and notices you have seventeen copies of the same Mashable article shared on your Facebook wall, or multiples of the same photo in your Instagram feed.

A number of companies have developed analysis tools to help you make the most of sharing to single-serving sites. Analytics site GoSquared, for example, offers both real-time and historical data to help you build a posting schedule around traffic trends while also allowing you to take advantage of spikes or lulls in site activity.

In many cases, social media sites themselves offer analytic tools to help you schedule content sharing. For example, Pinterest, like Facebook, offers its own analytics service for businesses.
When it comes to sharing content on a single-share site, you must also make sure it:

  • Is relevant to your site and industry
  • Is credibly sourced
  • Is connected to your business specifically
  • Invites dialogue and interaction on your social media pages and your main site

Start with Facebook and Google+, then move on to sites like Pinterest and LinkedIn. Remember though, to spread out your posts to avoid cannibalizing your own posts and limiting their effectiveness. And if you use apps such as Buffer, Hootsuite, or TweetDeck to automate your posting, be sure to customize your posting schedule to avoid duplicates on single-serve sites.

SMART SHARING TIP: The one exception to this single-share rule is your own original content. Adding an extra share can help boost traffic to your site at key times. For example, if your analytics reveal that Thursdays at 10 AM is the time your site draws the most traffic, then definitely share original content from your site to your social media accounts at that time. But adding another share when your site’s drawing the least traffic—let’s say Tuesdays at 7 PM—accompanied by a friendly “In case you missed it…” can pull in visitors you might not have otherwise attracted.

As with Twitter, identifying lulls in site activity as a whole (rather than specific to your page or followers) can give you a tactical advantage. The number of users will be lower during these times, but you’ll also have far fewer competitors vying for the attention of those users, giving you an outstanding opportunity to connect with new customers and readers.

Using the Tools

Taking advantage of the capabilities offered by social media management tools gives you an edge, both in discovering content and sharing it with others. Three of the most popular and powerful applications for doing so—Hootsuite, Buffer, and TweetDeck—can be used individually or together to help you make the most of your social media sharing.


HootSuite
—This utility is ideal for managing multiple social media accounts simultaneously.

  • FEATURES:
    • Three plans available: Free, Pro, and Enterprise
    • Lets you update and monitor all your social media accounts from a single application
    • Allows automatic scheduled updates across accounts and to individual profiles
    • Includes analytics reports to help you track activity on your accounts and accounts you follow on multiple social media sites
    • Team feature lets multiple people contribute to and manage accounts
    • Integration with a wide range of social media sites and applications, including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and more
    • Mobile app, custom link shorteners, and browser integration available
    • Pro and Enterprise plans offer additional features such as message archiving, geo-targeting, and advanced technical support
    • Free 60-day trial
  • LIMITATIONS:
    • Feature set is limited with Hootsuite’s free plan; no teams, basic integration, and only 5 social media accounts
    • Enterprise feature set may be overkill for small or new businesses; Enterprise plan can be quite expensive, depending on the upgrades and features purchased
    • Adding team members and purchasing advanced analytics can quickly become expensive.

 

Buffer—This relative newcomer to the social media scene has features similar to Hootsuite. However, Buffer’s simple, powerful integration across multiple sites and application make it an outstanding choice for both scheduled updates and sharing on the fly as you surf the Web.

  • FEATURES:
    • Free, Awesome, and three-level Business plans available
    • Lets you schedule updates across all accounts or to individual sites and apps
    • Sharing can be planned using the scheduler, or done on the fly while browsing via plug-ins and extensions
    • Detailed analytics help you track your account activity and that of accounts you follow
    • Team feature lets multiple people contribute to and manage accounts
    • Integration with a wide range of social media sites and applications, including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and more (plus extensions for browsers such as Chrome and Firefox)
    • Awesome and Enterprise plans include extra features, unlimited posts, a greater number of social media accounts (up to 12 for Awesome, and up to 150 with Business), and team management (two team members for Awesome, up to 25 with Business)
    • Free 7-day trial for Business plans
  • LIMITATIONS:
    • Free plan is limited to only one of each kind of integrated social media account (e.g., one Facebook profile, one Twitter account, etc.); posts are limited in scope, timeframe, and number
    • No free trial with Awesome plan
    • Google+ Profiles are not currently supported (Google+ Pages are supported, however)

 

TweetDeck—This application is ideal for companies who want a powerful and flexible way to manage their Twitter accounts, track follower activity, and share content to the Twittersphere.

  • FEATURES:
    • Free
    • Customizable tweet scheduler for targeting specific audiences
    • Powerful filters and custom columns let you sort followers and content by keyword, create lists, and track trends for better sharing and content collection
    • Support for both Twitter and Bit.ly link shortening
    • Available as a mobile app, browser extension, and desktop application
  • LIMITATIONS:
    • Twitter-only; no integration with other social media sites or applications
    • No analytics or connection with other social media apps means you’ll need one or more additional application to help you maximize your sharing success

Finding and sharing great content doesn’t have to be a struggle. Be sure to use quality content that’s both fresh and relevant, and keep tabs on your audience’s interests and online activity to find inspiration.

Remember that sharing isn’t just about broadcasting–it’s about starting and encouraging discussion. Sharing content with your audience is just one more way you can connect with them, and work toward building long-term relationships.