Instagram for business: 5 things to consider

Untitled design (1)With the various different social media platforms all over, it’s difficult to discern which are appropriate for your business. If you follow our blogs, you know that we always say to be conservative when it comes to which social media platforms you sign up for. We’ve discussed when to use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest and how they would apply to your business. Let’s keep that train going with Instagram.

What is it, how is it applicable for businesses, should I get on it, and all that good stuff.

Many, if not all, of you are vaguely familiar with Instagram whether or not you use it personally. Instagram is similar to Pinterest in that it is a primarily visual platform, but it does have very unique differences. For one, Instagram is mobile. Although you can access Instagram through a computer, you get all of the intended functionalities when you use its mobile feature, specifically the feature for cell phones. There is an app for tablets, but Instagram’s sweet spot is really on the cell phone.  That feature alone makes Instagram an awesome platform for marketing if it makes sense for your business.  Which brings us to the next question: Does it make sense for your business?

Does it make sense for your business?

A common misconception is that your business needs to be glamorous in order to be on any of these visually driving platforms i.e, Instagram, Pinterest, … This is 100% false and here’s why:

Social media allows you the opportunity to connect with and socialize with your target market at their level. An outlet such as Instagram humanizes your brand and acts as an opportunity to genuinely connect. Consider the intimate real estate that is instagram; the pictures that appear in a newsfeed are individually shown. You have the spotlight and the platform to genuinely tell your brand’s story without being salesy.

Consider this scenario: you’re a tire manufacturer. Nothing glamorous about that, but it could certainly be beneficial to be on Instagram. In this scenario, you could paint a picture of the history of the company. Maybe you’d include a photograph of the original founder from 1913 for throwback Thursday, or a picture of the whole family and the family pets just to show that there are humans behind the brand. It’d even be a wonderful idea to show behind the scenes how the tires are made from original design all the way down the production line to the shelves in the store. Instagram has recently adjusted its algorithm on the Explore tab to include a wider variety of pages you don’t currently follow. The Explore tab is now more personalized and tailored to included pages that users may actually be interested when previously it seemed that the pages were chosen at random. It includes content that people you follow have liked and content that is trending in the Instagram community. This expands your possible reach from just the people who follow you to those who they follow, as well. Previously, those featured on the Explore pages appeared to be top posters only. Now, everyone has a fair chance.

Now that I know that, how do I get started?

Well, it’s simple. Just sign up… Just kidding. Here are some actual steps to help get you started:

  1. Check out Instagram’s blog. It details how other businesses are using the platform and offers some tips that may prove helpful to your business.
  2. Do some hashtag research. A cool function of Instagram is that it allows you to search by hashtag and see all of the things posted relevant to that hashtag. With this functionality, you can be sure that you are using targeted hashtags that are reaching the groups you intend to reach.
  3. Sign up for an Iconosquare account. Iconosquare, previously known as Statigram, is a site that provides you with analytics and metrics for your Instagram account. With this, you can track your followers, find new people to follow, and create a marketing strategy. It even tells you whether or not the hashtags you’re using a popular and offers suggestions of hashtags that may be relevant.
  4.  Follow other accounts that are of interest and relevance. As with any social media account, it only works if you have a following and follow others. Follow all types of people, NETWORK! In the tire company example, you may want to follow other tire companies, or car related accounts, if you’re in a small community, it may be beneficial to follow other users within the community. This helps you establish a presence, and also may help you to show up on the Explore tabs of other people within your target market.
  5. ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE.  We always say this! It’s very important to always be engaging, because, well, it’s the whole point of social media. Engagement enables you to connect and network, not to mention it shows that you’re actually human and not a robot broadcaster.

As always, let us know your thoughts. Do you use Instagram for business? What do you think about using it for non-glamorous industries? Tell us about it in a tweet or email! We love chatting!

Why are you on Social Media?

Why Are You on Social Media-

Last week we completed our Content Calendar series and it really got us thinking about a few things… Things about your business, how you use social media and why?

Over the past few weeks we’ve been in the process of discussing our services with some new potential clients and we’re starting to notice a few things… For one, many business owners know that they should establish a Social Media presence, at least that’s what everyone keeps telling them, but they aren’t really sure what to do once they are there. So begin by asking yourself: how should my business be represented on Social Media, and how should we position ourselves to stand out from the rest?  These can be tough questions to answer but are necessary to the development and execution of your strategy.

It is our opinion that the role Social Media plays in your business’ online presence can fall into one of two categories:

Your Social Media drives traffic to your website, playing a key role in lead generation and sales conversion.
or
Your Social Media simply supports and beefs up your online presence.

For example, there are some industries that are just ideal for social media. Fashion, beauty, physical fitness and photography work well because they are rich in visual content. Followers and fans of these industries get the behind the scenes tour for their favorite brands and personalities. Social Media is an opportunity for these brands to have fun and engage with their followers in a way that would not be possible through their websites. Unfortunately, this utilization of Social Media does not lend itself to every industry. For example what are the chances that you will be compelled to  follow an accountant on Facebook, an exterminator on Instagram or the local dry cleaner on Pinterest? Pretty slim to none, right?

Well truth is you just might depending on your interaction with that particular business. This is where category 2 comes into play. As we previously mentioned we have been in talks with two potential clients regarding how we can assist them in developing and sustaining a presence on Social Media, one client operates a young dental practice and the other sells various insurance packages to local businesses. Neither of these businesses would be considered glamorous in the world of Social Media Marketing and neither are rich in a steady flow on exciting visual content. Does this mean they shouldn’t be on Social Media?

Of course is doesn’t! It just means we’ll need to be calculated… We explained to these clients that they will need to shift their view of the role Social Media will be playing in their businesses from category 1 to category 2. For these types of businesses we’re not looking to drive traffic from a platform to a website, but rather we are looking to create a Social Media presences that allows visitors from their websites to get a good sense of what that particular business is about. There are tons of dentist out there, so how will a patient decide between them? Well for one they’re going to ask around, read reviews and visit the offices’ website. But what will be that determining factor that helps seal the deal…. It very well might be their Social Media presence.

We explained to these clients that Social Media is an opportunity for them to share with the world what makes them special and unique. Social Media is a great place to highlight their company culture, explain various policies and  showcase their knowledge in a particular area. It’s also a great way for them to interact with their customers in a more relaxed setting. Everyone likes getting a birthday card in the mail, but imagine receiving a birthday wish from your Dog Groomer via twitter. You’d feel pretty special and a bit tickled for the unique interaction!

There is an opportunity for every industry to utilize social media effectively , it just takes some creativity and a little trial and error. Defining what your intentions are when it comes to creating a Social Media presence will not only save you time but confusion as well. Don’t set out with the intention of  doing what everyone else is doing, take the time to study the social accounts of other businesses in your industry. What are they doing well and what do you feel they could lose? Figure out what works best for you and be prepared to try many different things before settling on the strategies and tactics that are ideal for you!

As always we are most interested in hearing from you! Have a comment you’d like to share, or maybe you have a question you would like answered. Leave us a message below or email us at purelysocialinfo@gmail.com. We can wait to give you the advice or help you desire!

Content Calendar Part 4: Strategy

Creating AContent Calendar

Our Content Calendar series is finally drawing to an end, and we appreciate how you all have responded to the insights we have provided here…

In Part 1, we discussed the importance of creating a framework for your content.

In Part 2, we highlighted the significance of measuring your efforts on social platforms.

And last week in Part 3, we walked you through the development of your content calendar and what it should look like.

Today we’re going to discuss with you creating strategies for implementation that get results.

Let’s begin with a fresh take on things. Social Media Marketing is still immature in the world of business and many small business owners still just don’t get it or know how to effectively use social media for their business. Don’t be stubborn with your marketing and lack the flexibility that social media marketing calls for. Classic marketing attempts to segment “consumers” into demographics. We all are familiar with the concept and most likely do the exact same thing with our own customers. However, defining a customer or followers by a demographic is a little out dated. Demographics are generally used in polls of public opinion and marketing to group individuals based on a variety of socioeconomic points. Until recently, we could all easily be grouped into our appropriate demographic and marketers enjoyed creating messages tailored to appeal to these different demographics.

Thanks to industrialization and globalization it’s becoming harder and harder to define these demographics. The best example of this shift is in luxury brands that have seen their customer pools widen as consumers with lower incomes began to desire and buy luxury goods.

So what does this mean for you as a business owner looking to use social media to grow your bottom line? Well, for one it means your segmenting your customers based on the wrong factors. Grouping people together based on their zip code, annual income or level of education simply doesn’t work…. Why? Probably because people are INDIVIDUALS, who deserve and desire to be treated with a level of respect. Grouping individuals based on “social market” factors turns a person into a number. Today’s consumer is not a number, they’re individuals who make informed purchases that they believe align with who they are on a fundamental level. What you should be looking at instead is your audience’s online intended actions. What will someone do with the information, services and products you provide?

It never ceases to amaze us just how many businesses overlook the treasure trove of information they could simply obtain by surveying their customers. Stop trying to figure out what works and start asking your customers what they like, want and need. A simple survey can help you determine what new products and services to offer, identify trends and highlight customer intentions! There are tons of online survey tools out there such as SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys and SoGoSurvey, etc. Take the time to learn about your customers and how they feel about your brand. You want to develop a mindset for your organization that is focused on the wants and needs of the customer, to avoid doing damage control as a result of customer dissatisfaction.  Another great tool that can help you determine the intentions of your online audience is the Intent Index. The truth of the matter is that much of the information you seek is actually available within your organization in sales and service reports as well as in client records and inquires. Your online analytics can help as well, telling you what key words people are using to find you and where they are coming from.

Social

Image via iStockphoto

The goal behind focusing on your audiences’ intention is about obtaining more insights with less advertising, it’s about stepping into the customer’s shoes and out of your business bubble. Create a culture in your organization that encourages your team to create content based on the insights and information they have available to them. When creating campaigns for our clients we like to work backwards, in the sense that we like to always have a clear understanding of what their end goal for that particle campaign will be. Ask yourself what actions do you want your customer and followers to take after seeing your campaign, is it clicking a link, opting in, sharing, commenting or maybe you want to inspire them to create their own content around your brand. Whatever it is, you have to have a clear understanding and create a campaign that drives your desired actions.

Your social media strategy is simply a road map or guide lines for your desired intention. Take the time to analyze the appropriate social platforms for your business, as previously mentioned don’t be afraid to grow one platform at a time as you navigate your social media marketing. Determine how you  want to engage and with whom, develop your social voice and create a culture in your organization that empowers your team to be your loudest advocates. Creating a strategy that works should not scare you, in fact this entire content calendar series was roots in helping you to develop a successful strategy.

Take the time to write out your social media strategy, begin by determining what your main objective for using social media will be. Maybe your looking to easily facilitate a conversation between you and your customers, or you wish to support your vendors who have a smaller online presence. You can choose to educate or learn from others, whatever your objective is clearly state it for all in your team to know. Next, define how you intend to utilize each platform and how each platform with support the other’s. You may choose to use each platform to support a different area of your business. We’re firm believes that content and messaging should be tweaked to be unique to any particular platform. Give your audience a reason to follow you on multiple outlets to get a complete story or only on a few to get the information they desire. Either way but measurements in place to assess your efforts and be prepared to make changes when necessary. Most of all have fun!

We appreciate that you’ve taken the time to read this article. Be sure to leave an comments or questions you have below!

Content Calendar Part 1: Building a Framework

Creating AContent Calendar

This series is based on the wonderful teaching found in The Social Media MBA by Christer Holloman

If you’ve been following us here or on twitter (@PurelySocialTip), then you would know that we strive to provide you with the most relevant and practical information regarding your business’ presence on social media. And if you just stumbled upon us for the first time then let us welcome you!

Here at Purely Social™ our focus is on supporting small businesses with the information they need to successfully create a presence on social media that gets noticed. We have never claimed to be experts or gurus on the subject, rather we’re entrepreneurs who see the power of social media and strive to learn as much as we can on the subject daily. We love social media, because we’re naturally social people. Social Media is changing everything we know about communicating and engaging with people. It’s exciting, challenging and scary all at the same time!

Gone are the day’s of the elusive corporate voice. No longer is it acceptable to tell customers what they need or want. In our global, 24/7 digital age, customers have taken their power back, telling brands and businesses what they want and need. Today’s customer does their homework! Taking the time to research products for the best price and quality prior to making a purchase. Meaning, now more than ever it’s important for businesses to start listening to their consumer. For those who resist and have dragged their feet to get in the game will find a loss in market share to competitors who have jumped right in! Today’s consumer wants honesty, transparency and authenticity from the companies they do business with.

Brands and businesses that understand this new found opportunity to foster relationships with their customers get the formula:

Formula for Success

It is this balance between marketing the brand and the human element that you as a business owner have to strike. See despite all of our advance technologies, the fundamentals of the human socialization has very much remained the same. People inherently have a deep desire to share, collaborate and create with one another. Social Media is no different, the top 3 things people enjoy doing online are:

  • Share ideas
  • Share product knowledge
  • Help their peers solve problems

Does your business provide any other these services, and if not how can you begin to? Well now that you know what people are doing online we would advise you to take the time to listen to what your customers are saying. Stop guessing what they want or need and start listening to them, because there is a good chance they are telling you everything you really want to know.

Armed with some customer knowledge, now the real work begins. If you want to successfully leverage social media for your business then you’re going to have to be calculated! And by calculated we mean that everything you do from a marketing standpoint has to be accountable. Set objectives and timelines to measure what works. A Content Calendar is a great way to organize your thoughts and efforts.

Begin by developing guidelines for your engagement, especially if your not the only individual who handles your business’ social media. Take the time to think about how you want people to interact with your brand and how your brand will interact with people. Consider the good, the bad and the ugly! It’s work, but trust me it’s better than damage control.

Now you’re ready to start organizing your content. Keep in mind that you want to give special consideration to the fact that above all your plan needs to be flexible to accommodate the unexpected. However, feeling as though you need to regularly get the creative juices flowing and create new content can be daunting. Select four to six topics that you want to cover on your social media every week.

We advise creating a Copy Master List for each platform, modify the drafts as you deem suitable. Having a list of solid posts to pull from will help save time when it comes to automating posts. Lastly, pull out your calendar!

The aim is to plan out the next quarter. Look at upcoming events, sales your planning or major holidays that are significant to your business and fill them into your calendar. Next set objectives that are measurable, consider the necessary lead times for effective promotion and the effort it will take to meet the objective. These posts should be considered additions to your posts that cover your previously determined topics.

To be continued…

Our Top 3 Visual Content Creation Tools

3 Great ToolsWe all know that a picture is worth a 1000 words, which can be helpful on twitter where your limited to 140 characters. We also know that in the context of social media, and marketing as a whole, content is king. But many business owners that we talk to just don’t have the time or know how to create great visual content. Since we’re not ones for reinventing the wheel here, check out the Social Media Examiner’s recent article on How to Create Visual Social Media Content.

Our goal here at Purely Social is to do our best to provide business owners with the most useful information in regards to their business’ impact on social media. As many of you know, it takes a lot of work to create a significant following on any platform, and getting those followers to convert to paying customers can be an even bigger challenge! Your hope in creating posts is that your followers will engage with it and ultimately share it with their friends and family. But with the amount of content that the average person is bombarded with on a daily basis, creating great content that is not only informative but also moves people to share it, is not an easy task.

We recognize this challenge, heck we struggle with it from time to time ourselves. That’s why we’re always on the hunt for the best tools out there that business owners can use to really stand out from the crowd! So here are our top 3 tools for creating professional looking content that won’t break the bank:

1. Canva: We LOVE Canva! This simple and free to use website offers a variety of content design layouts to create ads, banners, infographics and more. The only limits truly are your imagination! Our fave feature is that from one screen you can create a number of different versions of the same content. This really allows you to play with color and text the determine which is best suited for your message. Not sure which version to go with, simply send a link for your project to a friend or your team member to view, they can even make edits if you give them permission. A majority of the graphics available for use are free, however, Canva offers a large image library that you can also pull from to complete your project. These images cost $1.00 each, but you only pay once you decide to download your finished project. If you have your own images or logo that you would like to use just simply upload them to the site and the possibilities are endless!

2. PowToon: When we stumbled onto this website off the suggestion of another marketer, we just knew we found a cool new tool. I600x240powtoon1370344200325t’s free at a basic level and it’s awesome! But it will take you some time to figure out how to use it, don’t worry they provide you with tons of tips and help. PowToon is a website which allows its users to create short, yet professional, animated videos and presentations! Whether you’re pitching your company to consumers, businesses, or investors, adding a PowToon to your website or social platform will get the conversation rolling! High impact content is what it takes to converts followers into customers. We really love this tool because with just a computer you can make a professional and informative video for your business with music, dialog and fun animation that eye catching. If your looking for even more options, their premium packages  start at $228 per year and offers hundreds of royalty free images, dozens of royalty free music tunes, and a higher export quality. Definitely worth checking out!

screen568x5683.Directr: We just think this is the most convenient cell phone app for any business owner… Currently only offered on the App Store for the iPhone or iPod Touch, the company asks  Android users that are interested in trying it out, to contact them directly. The reason why we just had to share  this app with you, is that it takes the complexity out of diy film-making. Directr provides you with ideas and assistance you in creating great product and service based videos. For each idea you’re provided with a storyboard that details the shots you’ll need to shoot as well as detailed instructions on how to get it done. Once the pieces of your video have been recorded the app provides you with everything you’ll need from music, titles, effects and voice over capabilities to complete the project. It will take some practice and the app allows you to see multiple takes before selecting the one that works best for each shot, which we feel is one of many neat features. What you’re left with in the end is a complete video you can share directly to social platforms. There is a free limited version and additional packages start at just $25 per month to create one video a month. Check out this informative video to learn more!

We hope that these tools will prove useful to you as well. What’s truly great about all of these tools is that they allow you to save on projects that would typically be timely and costly. These tools empower business owners to be creative and create outstanding content that gets noticed. And hey isn’t that what it’s all about?

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Awesome Engaging Brand of the Week — @helper

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 6.08.17 PM

So, we want to start a little something new here. We talk a lot about what business owners and brands should do on social media, (engagement being number one) so we thought it’d only be fitting for us to show you real life brands exemplifying these good habits.

This week, we pulled a screen shot of Hamburger Helper’s Twitter account. This is from a while back when we were doing our research, but if you go to their page now, you’ll still see engagement. Their page is a riot! They have created a personality and a voice for their little oven mitt character and are using it to the utmost effectivity. It’s pretty cool. How many times do you reach out to a brand and actually get a response?!

How can this apply to you? Well, it’s simple. Create a voice that speaks to your target audience: one that they can relate to, one that’s human and engaging, and use it! Reach out to your target audience and engage! Ask questions, share info, comment on their posts!

While you’re at it, comment on ours, too! We’d love to hear from you. What are some brands that you admire? Also, call out some brands that you think aren’t as engaging and tell us why! You can reach us on Twitter or in the comment boxes down below! =D

 

Awesome Engaging Brand of the Week

Engagement: What’s the Big Deal?!

How and Why to Engage Engage Engage

Engage design (2)

If you ask any knowledgeable social media marketing professional what is on their top 5 list of important factors for success on any social media platform, we guarantee that the word “engagement” will be somewhere in there. Content may be key, but engagement is the click you hear when you turn the key. Engagement makes the world go ‘round!

Some of you may not even be sure what “engagement” even really means. You hear it all the time, but you’re not clear as to what it entails. Because we’re so awesome, we came up with this acronym to help explain how to engage.

EDUCATE

Share your knowledge! Why not? People sharing knowledge is the reason that anyone knows anything for the most part. If you have something to contribute, don’t hold back! Feel free to lend a helping hand. If you happen to have an article that could prove helpful to your niche or to a conversation, share it!

NURTURE

This goes back to basics, simply be kind to your peers and if you see someone who needs help and you can help them by either offering a resource or assisting them personally, help out. Encourage their growth and build relationships. Once you build a relationship with people within your network, you extend your reach! Not to mention, you now have a dedicated audience who is eager to hear anything you have to tell them, because you developed that trust. Being a decent human being is really all it takes.

GIVE FREELY

Mike Stelzner once mentioned in a podcast that if you’re afraid to give out free information because you’re afraid that people won’t need to buy your product/service after you give them that information, then you need to re-evaluate your business. He’s right! We’re not saying share your innermost secrets that you spent years crafting and perfecting, but tips & tricks and detailed how-to’s? Why not! Give your followers a reason to want more. Give them helpful tips on how to use your product, or tips relevant to your niche, and they’ll notice. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most rampant forms of advertising. You have no idea who they know.

APPRECIATE

If someone retweets your content, follows you, or compliments your work, appreciate it! This goes back to the basic “please” and “thank you” we were taught as children. Somehow, people completely lose their manners when it comes to social media. Don’t be that person! Of course, at some point, it gets a little crazy and you can’t possibly thank every single person that follows you. In that case, a mass thank you is fine. People love being acknowledged; it’s human nature!

GET NOTICED

Don’t be afraid to stand out or say something different or uncouth. Standing out may actually attract positive attention and draw people in to read your post. We’ve seen posts titled “Social media is bullshit” and “You’re pissing into the wind with blogging & social media if you don’t REALLY know what your audience wants.” Sure, they’re both a tad on the vulgar side, but they catch your eye and make you WANT to find out more on the article. Be honest, how many times do you actually read the articles that other people post?

ENTERTAIN

Last, but not least, have a little bit of fun with it. Be yourself! Don’t be afraid to be comical, sarcastic, or animated! Share funny pictures and jokes and show your personal side. People like that! They like to know that they’re talking to a human and not an antisocial broadcaster!

See! Engaging is simple. Don’t take the social out of social media. Focus on socializing, connecting, and engaging, and you’ll see success in no time!

If you’re having any trouble or have any questions, don’t hesitate to @ us on Twitter @PurelySocialTip or leave your comments down below. We practice what we preach and would love to engage with you!

 

3 Best Practices for Getting Started on LinkedIn

If you’re a business owner, chances are you have a LinkedIn account. In fact there is an even better chance that LinkedIn was one of the first social platforms you joined. And if you’re not currently on LinkedIn, you may want to reconsider that after this article… Let’s begin with some reasons why you should not overlook the potential of this platform.

Beginner's Guide to
For starters, LinkedIn has over 200 million active users in over 200 countries, and they are all there for one thing…. to Network!It is the world’s largest networking platform for professionals, with an audience that tends to be more educated and affluent when compared to some of the more popular social networks. And because of this, the platform is ideal for connecting with other professionals, finding a job or generating business opportunities. If your business is a B2B, then LinkedIn is where you want to be!

According to the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Industry 2013 Report, 29% of marketers utilize LinkedIn for B2B in comparison to the 5% that use it for B2C. That means that for B2B, LinkedIn is just as significant as Facebook when it comes to social media marketing.Business owners we’ve spoken to have clearly stated that while they have pages on other social networks, they make money from LinkedIn!

And hey! why wouldn’t that be true? LinkedIn is, after all, the platform that says, “Hey, I’m serious. Let’s do business!” If you’ve ever taken the time to Google a client’s name before or after a meeting, the first result was most likely their LinkedIn profile. The appeal is in the ability to access your current network and connect to new networks, in one virtual place. In a way its your personal CRM with a social element. So here are some tips, to help you get started:

1. Invest In A Solid Profile:

Now that could be in time or money! Compile old resumes, sit down and take the time to really dive deep into your skills, strengths and hobbies. When you sit down to write this into the profile you want to keep in mind who your audience is, what are some of the challenges your customers face and how do you help them solve them? Who is your typical customer and what are the strengths of your business? Use this information to your advantage! You need to have a So What? mentality.

When your prospective customer reads your profile will it matter to them, what value or knowledge do you bring to the table that sets you apart? You know, you just probably don’t often take the time to reflect on it.  This is the key element that you don’t want to over look or half-ass. Think about it if your profile is half-filled out, you may be sending the message to your potential clients that you don’t finish what you start. A simple cut and paste of your resume just won’t do either, that will only show a lack of creativity. Your LinkedIn profile is not a resume or a bio, so put some thought into it. If you’re really looking for a killer profile hire someone to put it together for you, like The Written Coach.

2. Making Connections:

The very first thing we’re going to say on this topic is that LinkedIn limits the amount of connections you can personally make to 3000! So before you run off and connect with every single person whose business card you’ve ever collected, restrain yourself… Connect with individuals that  you either do business with or have the potential to do business with, sprinkled with those contacts that you believe have the ability to help you generate leads. If you hit the 3000 mark you’ll have to request additional connections from LinkedIn. Sounds like a pain to me… Just be mindful! Don’t let this make you feel limited, however. Consider adding a link to your profile at the bottom of your work email, inviting people to connect with you!

LinkedIn classifies your individual connections based on three levels of  degree. A 1st degree connection is either someone you have added to your network or they have added you to their network. 1st degree connections are directly connected to you, these are your family, friends, co-workers etc. A 2nd degree connection is a person connected to you by a 1st degree connection but not directly connected to you.  Lastly, a 3rd degree connection is someone who is connected to you by way of a 2nd degree connection. Remember your intention on LinkedIn is to grow your network… Why? Because LinkedIn rewards users with large networks with better search engine rankings. Do a simple keyword search within LinkedIn’s search engine and you will find that certain profiles rank higher than others.

making the connecion - LinkedinLinkedIn is not just a social network, it’s a database of skilled professionals, for professionals. In fact, a potential client may be searching for someone just like you but if you don’t share a common network connection or a LinkedIn group… you’re invisible! You are only allowed to access and communicate with the connections in your network. If you want to be found within LinkedIn, you need a large LinkedIn network.

Just know that whenever you invite someone to connect with you, you run the risk of your LinkedIn invitation being rejected. Therefore, we suggest adding a personal message to your invitations. Think about, who could resist adding a polite person who showers them with kind words? Consider:

“It was great meeting you at the networking event yesterday evening. I like to keep track of my contacts on LinkedIn. May I add you?”

or

“Hi Alex! I enjoy your posts on the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group. Would you mind if I add you to my professional network on LinkedIn? I have a number of connections that you may find useful in your networking.”

Beware, if you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, and they click I Don’t Know this person or Report as Spam, the recipient of your invite is citing you as an ABUSIVE LinkedIn user! 5 flagged invites and  your LinkedIn account is set to “restricted.” Once restricted, you must enter an email address each time you try adding new people to your network. Talk about a major inconvenience!

3. Join Groups:

LinkedIn gives you the ability to join 50 groups, and we would advise joining all 50! Besides reaching out to all of your contacts, groups are an ideal and simple way to grow your network. Groups provide you with opportunities to establish yourself as a reliable resource, learn more about your clients, and find help when trouble shooting issues that arise in your own business. So join groups with large numbers of members… like hundreds of thousands of members! Look for groups that contain your potential and existing customers, as well as business partners and competition.

Take the time to review who the members of each group are. Are there any members who are adding real value to the group? Who are the top contributors? These are people you may want to consider adding to your network. Connect the group’s active contributors, these people understand the importance of growing one’s network and are typically more open to connecting. Group managers are usually good for this too.

Keep in mind as you begin to contribute to these groups, any discussion you comment on you will automatically be notified anytime someone else comments on the same post. So to avoid unwanted spam simply un-check the notification setting prior to posting your comment. To avoid receiving too many emails from all these groups in general, simply:

1. Click your name at the upper right hand corner of your LinkedIn screen.
2. Click Privacy and Settings
3. Click the “Groups, Companies & Applications” section.
4. Click “Set the frequency of group digest emails”
5. Scroll through the list and choose Daily Digest, Weekly Digest, or No Email (depending on your preferences.)
6. Click Save Changes when finished.

Last thing you should know about groups… The groups dedicated to LIONs, Leading International Open Networkers (LIONs), are individuals who love networking and are open to connecting with just about anyone. By simply joining these groups you are letting other group members know you are willing to network and connect openly.

We hope these 3 tips will help you get started on LinkedIn, whether your new to the platform or have a profile you simply don’t use! Please feel free to share you feed back or leave us a comment. We’re not perfect so if you feel we have stated something in error, by all means let us know!

Effective Automation

(Yes, It’s possible and yes, you’re overthinking it)

So a few weeks ago, we had a great conversation about automation with a couple of our friends on Twitter, Phil Glutting and Charlene Kingston. Since we noticed that this is a popular topic among small business owners and new marketers, we decided to share with you.

Automation is a great way to multitask if you’re very busy and want to establish a social media presence without having to be actively posting. However, Auto DMs are plaguing Twitter and absent tweeters completely contradict the purpose of SOCIAL media. When we asked Phil and Charlene their thoughts on the matter, we were really enlightened by the response. Check out the whole conversation below and on storify for the full effect.

Here are a few quick tips on making your automation more effective that we were able to pull from the conversation:

  1. Just stop with the Auto DMs! @ replies are more personal and easier to start conversations with. You can even automate the @ replies with many of the Twitter tools available.
  2. Follow up your @ reply with a greeting, don’t use the message to sell yourself. Just be courteous and try to begin relationship building.
  3. If you must automate try this method: Schedule a few tweets to be posted during the day and add to the conversation throughout the day in real time .
  4. As you grow, modify your strategy. What worked with 1500 followers will not work with 11500.
  5. Always do what makes your community interaction better, not what’s easier for you.

What have your experiences been with automation? Are you pro or anti automation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below or @ us on twitter!

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3 Ways to Optimize your Hootsuite Usage… besides Automation

If you’re a business owner in today’s world, chances are you never feel as though there are enough hours in the day. So the last thing you have time for is wandering down the rabbit hole of social media. You know that social media is important for connecting and engaging with your customers, but creating a solid presence on any platform takes time… time you do not have.

Like many business owners you may choose to automate your posts through apps such as hootsuite or buffer. Automating your social media can save you time and energy but, be careful automation removes the real-time engagement. See our post Is Automation Making You Antisocial, for best practices.

3 ways to optimize your Hootsuite useWe believe that one of the best uses for Hootsuite is when you’re promoting an event or product and you are directing people to your site with a link. For example, say you host a weekly meet-up or Google hangout. Consider scheduling 3-5 posts a day promoting this upcoming event. Your scheduled posts should just include links not attached images, as they will not appear in the newsfeed unless people click on them ( and we all know that very few will click). So don’t waste your time posting content that most likely will go unseen. In these instances I recommend drafting the posts from a mobile device on twitter or scheduling the post directing in Facebook. Consider taking 1 day to draft up the week’s posts and keep them in a word document that will allow you to easily copy and paste the post into Linkedin or Google+. Consider shortening links with bitly.com versus the link shortener in Hootsuite. At this point most people know that owly.idhafd…etc. is a Hootsuite post and therefore automated. I have found that automated tweets can be a real turnoff for some.

Today we would like the discuss the top 3 ways to use Hootsuite other than scheduling posts

1. To watch your feeds all from one place: You probably don’t have time to check each platform multiple times through out the day. With hootsuites free membership you can attach up to 5 accounts that you wish to track on either Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Google+. So from the home screen you can watch your feeds for all of these platforms in one place in somewhat real time.

2. To monitor hashtags. If there a particular hashtag that you troll or follow, you can use hootsuite to follow that hashtag in real time.

3. Run Reports: This is one of the best reasons to use an app like hootsuite! Generate reports that show the results or your efforts as well as compare your efforts across multiple platforms