Archive for the ‘B2B’ Category

When Crisis Knocks: Being PR Savvy through Social Media

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Social media has been a game changer for PR folks across the board. No matter what type of business, industry, or organization you are in, social media means you can run for a minute, but you sure cannot hide.

I have been in PR and marketing for more than 20 years, working mostly in B2B organizations, and I have witnessed the drastic shift in how we communicate the corporate messages—good, bad, and ugly. I think that in order to appreciate and use what we’ve learned, it’s sometimes important to look back and think on what worked then, how things have changed, and what lessons we can carry forward to improve our role as PR professionals.

In the “good ole days” when agencies had fat budgets and big offices, often the PR strategy was crafted to “spin” a story a certain way to try and control the outcomes. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it would not. Either way, that control is largely gone with the use of social media, smartphones, and mobile communications.

I hear and read often that companies can’t control their stories. That’s only true if they let it get out of control in the first place. Sometimes it gets out without anyone doing anything. An explosion or fire would be this type of crisis. The media is relentless when it comes to a crisis, and a company has to be ready to be totally “bombarded” and handle all inquiries. A very tough skin is needed for this, as dealing with a heady crisis and doing good PR is not for the weak or inexperienced.

I have only had two really bad crisis client PR projects and—though we got through them as well as we could have under the terrible circumstances—it’s highly stressful and downright scary work. I’ve had CNN, AP reporters, international calls, and the local media all on my back at once, and there is no class or training that can prepare you for the actual day that happens. But I learned a ton, didn’t sleep much, and added great depth to my experience in PR under pressure.

Now, onto the three main points I would like to make. Corporations with big news to tell (good and bad) need to understand a few key points:

  • The art of being proactive and always anticipating what can happen: When crisis comes—often by surprise—you must immediately be ready to anticipate what will happen next. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a crisis PR/communications plan ALREADY WRITTEN before something happens. The most common thing to anticipate is that people love to talk about a crisis, which means you will have two major projects: one is dealing with and getting accurate information to the media (you want them on your team, and they can make or break you) and dealing with comments that are posted on the Internet. Immediately, you need a team that’s social savvy to monitor what’s being said, and you will need this 24/7. How you handle these steps is critical. In dealing with the media, you must be fair and straightforward, and you must set the pace. When we had crisis #1, I set up a system to communicate with all the media and used different tools to post information. The first was the posting of updates and statements as they became available to the top of the client website. This helped us do two things: control information in written statements and mass distribution (we didn’t have time to do press releases). The second tool was the use of the wire; we monitored the Internet. It took a team of four to six people dedicated to this, and I worked remotely in the client’s conference room for days.
  • The discipline and intelligence to use confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements: I hate to say “duh,” but I said it. Companies and organizations that can’t keep information from leaking out deserve what they get. And I would fire any communications staffer immediately if I found out he or she talked about highly confidential information. Rumors cannot exist if you want good PR results. For example, last year, one of my clients (and large employer) announced the decision to relocate its corporate headquarters to downtown Memphis. The CEO, COO, CFO, and legal team made everybody—including me—sign a non-disclosure. I had the pleasure of coordinating the press for the announcement and the event we held onsite. That was a difficult “secret” to keep quiet, but we did it, and that’s proof that companies can indeed control when big news gets announced, how it’s announced, and to whom it’s announced.
  • Telling a story well through both traditional and social: I think social media has given us the transparency we need to find real, truthful information and has forced companies and organizations to be more diligent about being truthful. My dad always told me that if you tell the truth all the time, you never have to worry about telling a story—a powerful lesson. Social media gives us great channels to be truthful and to be transparent. Social media has changed PR in many positive ways, and I think that the positives far outweigh the negatives. All of this is why companies need to already be “in” the game of social. Establish your footprint and tell your story, so that when you have to defend yourself in a crisis, you can. As my good friend and social media consultant @GlenGilmore says, “Build your tribe before you need it.” And believe me, one day you will need it.

Thanks for reading this, and I’d love to hear how social media has helped or hurt you in a crisis.

The Sexiest Ain’t Always the Best

By Wayne Breitbarth, CEO of Power Formula and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success: Kick-Start Your Business, Brand, and Job Search

Facebook is the bikini of the social media wardrobe. Some people choose to bare all, sharing intimate personal details, shocking photographs, and other information that is sure to make your mother blush.

Then there’s Twitter—short bursts of engaging verbiage that informs or moves others to action. Consider it the wardrobe accessories or the flashy, eye-catching addition to every outfit.

Now where does that leave LinkedIn? In the social media wardrobe, I would consider it the practical navy blue suit—a necessity in any professional’s wardrobe.

LinkedIn currently has more than 100 million members, with a new person being added every minute. As reported on the LinkedIn website, the average user’s household income is $91,566, 63.2% of users hold a college or postgraduate degree, and 20.6% are middle management or above. I don’t know about you, but those sound like the kind of people I’d like to add to my network.

Facebook and Twitter may be more fun—and I’m not questioning the value they can provide—but in my opinion, LinkedIn is where the real work gets done, especially if you are in the B2B space. Perhaps it is the less-than-sexy nature of LinkedIn that causes many people to include only the basics in their LinkedIn profile. If your profile is in need of a makeover, here are a few suggestions to glam it up:

  • Summary: I find this to be the most consistently underutilized section of the profile. I like to think of it as your cover letter. Some people may not read beyond this point, so take full advantage of the 2,000 available characters. There is a tendency to treat the Summary as a resume and focus on the past. I suggest you treat it as a presentation of your business plan. Briefly summarize specific, quantifiable accomplishments and direct the reader to a few of the most important parts of your profile. But then focus on what you are doing now, how you can help the reader of your profile, and what you plan to be doing in the future. Regurgitating your resume is unnecessary because those facts will be outlined in other sections of your profile. Ask yourself: If I have only a few minutes to share my professional story with a potential customer, client, or business partner, what would I want to say? Then use the Summary to tell your story in a friendly, conversational way.
  • files: The key to networking, whether face to face or online, is freely sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. This builds trust. Once they know and trust you, they will want to do business with you. enables you to post PDF, Excel, and Word files to your profile. These files can be downloaded by visitors. This is a great place to post white papers, articles, company brochures, photos of your projects or products, customer testimonials, and other documents that increase your credibility and helpfulness.
  • Google presentation/SlideShare: Let’s face it—most people would rather watch TV than read a book. These two applications allow you to post slide shows that showcase your personal expertise, presentations about your company, and/or photos of projects you have done. Video is becoming an increasingly important part of many companies’ branding efforts, and if video is part of your slide show, you can post those files here.
  • Other applications: LinkedIn has an extensive list of applications to enhance your profile. Some are industry specific (e.g., real estate pro, legal updates, etc.), and others can be valuable to most LinkedIn users. Connect your blog to your LinkedIn profile, use Events to find interesting professional events, or share your favorite books with your network through Reading List by Amazon. Whatever your LinkedIn strategy, there is a plethora of applications to help you achieve your goals.

These additions are fun, easy, and will certainly make your profile more appealing to viewers, but don’t overlook the blue-suit basics. Include a descriptive headline and professional-quality photograph, and thoroughly outline your educational background and employment history. And don’t neglect to seek out those all-important recommendations. They provide essential outside verification of the information you have provided in your profile.

While wearing the bikini and the glamorous accessories can be fun—the lasting impact and real productivity are products of the professional garb!

The Practical Marketing Applications of Facebook (Part 4 of 4)

By Sam Mallikarjunan, Chief Executive Officer of Mallikarjunan Media Group

Part 3

Facebook Profiles for Brands

There are some cases in which profiles are very appropriate for brands, such as personal or celebrity brands. My profile, for example, is much more useful for me than a page would be, since it chronicles my personal life and allows for deeper levels of engagement with my friends. Also, profiles provide the unique ability to invite users to events, organize them into convenient lists, tag them in posts and photos, and interact on a far deeper level by commenting on their posts, links, walls, etc.

However, we must be mindful of the fact that many consumers still resent the intrusion of marketers into social media. Many of them find it bothersome enough that we have paid ads and pages. The fact that we’d intrude into their lives with profiles of our own may offend some.

Also, there’s an issue of scale when choosing between pages and profiles. It’s not Facebook’s intent that profiles be used for marketing businesses; therefore, they reserve the right to prevent you from making additional friend requests, which can severely limit the potential reach of your Facebook marketing efforts. So while Facebook profiles have some engagement features that may be more useful than pages, you must balance the advantages of pages and decide which is better for your company or brand.

Are you a personal brand, or do you want a deeper level of engagement with a smaller number of people? If so, consider a profile!

Facebook Apps

I remember when Facebook first opened themselves up for third-party application development. For a while, I checked every day to see what was new and what was the latest and greatest. Now, with countless apps being added every day, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them all.

Facebook apps provide a fascinating opportunity for marketers. If you can create an application that is useful to your consumers, whether they’re already your customers or not, you can create your own phenomenon to help put your brand in front of a massive audience of potential customers. If you can create a tool, game, or other system that builds value relevant to your consumers, you can do amazing things.

Can you think of any kind of neat app or game that would make using your product or service easier?

Tips and Tricks

Here’s a neat trick on how to use Facebook PPC for B2B sales: If you’re targeting a specific company, find out what city its corporate headquarters is located in. Then target fans of its page who live in the same city as the company’s HQ. Odds are, most or many of their employees (including senior management) are fans of the company page. This gives you a unique opportunity to put your ad right in front of their faces, and even create custom landing pages to capture their e-mails or phone numbers for follow-up campaigns.

What about you? If you know of other ways to use Facebook for marketing, or if you have any questions on what I’ve written here, feel free to comment below!

How Social Media is Helping Marketing, PR, and Sales Become Better Friends

By Michael Brenner, Senior Director of Global Marketing at SAP

The biggest question I get asked on B2B Marketing Insider is about the challenges of sales and marketing alignment. I try to address the big issues in B2B marketing—such as integrated marketing, demand generation, and social media—but somehow, the topic comes back around to the relationship between sales and marketing. And it extends to our colleagues in PR.

I guess this shouldn’t be a huge shocker. I started my career in sales. Then I quickly moved into marketing to follow my frustrations. The alignment problem is what drove me into marketing.

BtoB Magazine recently reported on a Forrester survey that proves the point that this is huge challenge: only 8% of B2B companies say they have tight alignment between sales and marketing. Just 8%. They identify marketing’s long-term view vs. sales’ short-term view as the main reason for this disconnect.

So how can marketing and PR lead our organizations to better alignment with sales? The answer is social media.

A recent survey of 175 CMOs by Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club tells us that 74% of CMOs will tie their social media activities to quantifiable ROI in 2011. While that should help address the timing differences, I think there is more to it.

Today more than ever, marketing sells and sales people are marketing. And we are all communicators—some of us just more highly trained or capable. As Joe Pulizzi recently exclaimed, “Yes, We’re All Media Companies. What Now?” We need the content we produce across our companies to be professional, solve real customer problems, and be easily found.

Along comes social media, causing even more of a collision between sales, marketing, and PR/communications. The reason? We are all trying to align around customers through social channels. Add customer service, support, HR, and operations folks, and we have a real social media cocktail party happening.

Steps towards social alignment:

  • Define the goal. Marketing and PR should help lead our organizations to a better total customer experience in alignment with sales, but also across our entire organizations.
  • Work together. Social media can help us all get along (better). Marketing and PR should continue to take a leadership role in social media by defining how to best orchestrate social media strategy with sales, customer service, support, and other customer-focused groups across our companies.
  • Develop a crisis plan. This is really where PR can take the lead. They have the skills and best practices knowledge, but they also need to partner with marketing, sales, HR, and customer service so that a 360-degree process is identified. As the Kenneth Cole fiasco on Twitter showed us, the crisis can come from anywhere, even within. So get your crisis plan in place today.
  • Manage responses. One of the biggest opportunities for companies in social media is to develop a full response plan for inquiries, complaints, and so-called “trolls.” Here is an excellent example of a social triage process that can be used a model. By taking a leadership role in defining how we listen to social conversations and how we will respond, our companies can begin to achieve the true goal of a positive total customer experience.

I believe that by following these steps, we will start to see marketing, sales, PR, and all the functions across our companies become much better friends. And we just might create some new, happy customers along the way.

Social Marketing: Building a Continuum of Access Points

By Allen Fuqua, Chief Marketing Officer at Winstead

Nat Slavin, founder and President of Wicker Park Group, is fond of saying that in today’s market, “one size fits one.” He’s right. For marketers and business developers in the B2B space, this must become the mantra for strategy and tactical execution.

Though many professionals see this as a burden, the reality is much more positive. For those of us willing to engage individuals on their own terms and with genuine interest in their issues and challenges, then the relationship process becomes an easy game.

But in order for “one size fits one” to be sustainable and scalable, it must be built into a go-to-market strategy and the appropriate corresponding programs. These must allow the organization to focus on listening, gathering client feedback, and then responding in a personalized manner. This isn’t new and really isn’t that difficult if you build the appropriate tool set. Here’s an example.

About 30 years ago, I was involved in a community outreach to a target market of some 150,000 people. Our objective was to engage people in a manner where they could obtain personal support from a small community group, investigate ways to build a better life and relationships, and work through any outlier personal problems. Yeah, pretty soft, personal, and “none of your business”-type stuff.

So how did we engage with a large target market in a personal way? We built communication platforms that allowed people to choose where and how they would access information and engagement. It looked like this:

  • We ran one-minute radio spots regularly on local stations with messages that inspired listeners to consider some aspect of their lives and relationships. Each spot had a way to connect with us if the person so desired. (Today, this might be a blog.)
  • We ran ads in the local newspaper that highlighted the issues we tried to address and provided a response option. (Online ads on targeted sites.)
  • We developed community events with speakers addressing very specific issues our target audience might be dealing with. These were publicized with ads and public notices. (Webinars, meetups, etc.)
  • We operated (here’s a time stamp for you) a “code-a-phone” number (for those of you under 45, a code-a-phone is a telephone answering machine which plays a message to anyone who calls that number) that ran a different helpful spot (much like the radio spots) on a daily basis and provided a response option. (Twitter.)
  • We operated a storefront, street-level office in the central downtown business district. People could access professional counseling and materials or enroll in a community group. (Surely you can make the connection here.)
  • We organized and facilitated community groups (10 to 12 people per group) that met in people’s homes and had audio/tutorial group materials and a trained facilitator. These groups provided an environment for people to explore any number of issues while building a small functioning community. (User groups, interest groups, etc.)

I share this with you so you can see what a continuum of social marketing options might look like. The point of this continuum is to allow each of our target audience members to choose where and how they are comfortable interacting with content and people. Those who are marginally interested or shy can listen to radio spots or call a phone number to hear a message. For those who are ready to interact publicly, there are seminars. For those who want to talk to someone personally, there is a storefront to access specific expertise. I think you get the idea.

Well, that’s also how personalization works in social media. We plan a continuum of access points and build in response capabilities at each point—based on the interest represented by the target’s actions. No one pushes except our target client. The client determines the context, the content, and the interaction. We give him/her options and are always at the ready, no matter what level of interaction they are comfortable with.

Build your social marketing capability with a continuum of access points and content. That will allow you to listen and your target to fit it to themselves.

Using One-to-Many Technologies to Create One-to-One Experiences

By David Harkleroad, Chief Marketing Officer at Hay Group

I’m re-reading Neil Rackham’s B2B classic, Major Account Sales Strategy. While written in 1989, it is still remarkably relevant—and he would have included a section on social media had it existed at the time!

Neil asked experienced B2B sales professionals about the hardest part of selling, expecting to hear, “getting a consensus of needs when several different people are involved in the decision” or “getting customers to see that the need is urgent enough to justify action.” Surprisingly, they said, “getting in the door in the first place!” He concluded, “if you’re trying to penetrate a new account, the easiest starting point is to find a receptive individual—somebody who’s prepared to listen.”

To find those receptive individuals, B2B firms traditionally rely on business developers—or, as any Mad Men aficionado knows, the Roger Coopers or Pete Campbells—who leverage relationships, cold call, or, in its modern day equivalent, spam (does anyone ever open those?) to get in the door. As an aside, many B2B business leaders confuse these prospecting activities (a one-to-one activity) with marketing (one-to-many), much to all of our chagrin.

Today, social media, as many thoughtful B2B marketing peers have learned, offers real opportunities for marketing success by, in essence, using one-to-many technologies to create one-to-one experiences. To build those connections takes time, creativity, repetition, and the right content—similar to any other marketing approach. The challenge is tweaking that content to raise brand awareness, and more importantly, to create sales leads and conversations. A few simple, cost-effective ways to experiment:

  • Make it easy for people to opt in to your content. Listen to what your targets have to say, and create content that both supports your marketing objectives and matters to your online audiences. At the same time, think through a clear call to action for every touchpoint you have online. Offer a clear and simple way to connect for additional information, and track those leads.
  • Have a content hub. A blog isn’t realistic for everyone, although that is the ideal. Consider creating a robust microsite as a center for information on a key topic. It’s a nice platform for external audiences but can also effectively rally internal audiences and salespeople. Or, for those without the corporate resources, a social media news release, such as those found at PitchEngine, can house a variety of multimedia content. Whatever the method, offer clear ways to connect or to solicit input.
  • Build relationships with bloggers. As Kevin Briody notes in The Very Basics of Blogger Outreach, you must identify the right bloggers—and get to know them. This is the time to roll up your sleeves, because there is no “easy” list. However, there are some sources that can help point you in the right direction: Alltop, Google Blog Search, and Technorati. Once you identify a few key bloggers, look around their sites for any helpful information on blog rolls or lists they might produce themselves, such as this one, which offers a robust community of management and leadership bloggers.
  • Engage on Twitter. It’s critical to build your followers before you launch a social media campaign. Adam Holden-Bache provides six useful steps to find your B2B audience on Twitter. Listen for a while. Check to see if your LinkedIn connections are on Twitter. Scan for any customers, prospects, key bloggers, and competitors.

At Hay Group, these efforts have already generated one-to-one meetings with organizations we want to do business with. And our consultants report much more receptivity to meeting requests, which is perhaps the most satisfying result, since it increases their confidence to go open some more doors.

What tactics have worked for you? Please share your successes, so we can all learn.

Content is King in B2B

By John Watton, Chief Marketing Officer at ShipServ

I really enjoyed presenting at B2B Marketing Magazine’s recent conference in London. It was a tough assignment, as I was on just before the two-minute moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. to honor Armistice Day. There’s nothing like standing between an audience and a nation’s respect for those who gave their lives in armed conflict. So timing was critical to say the least. No over-runs this time. (And, on a separate note, I have to say a mournful moment of reflection is hardly the crescendo a presenter is looking to end on).

Anyway, I was presenting on the theme “Campaigns are dead. Long live content.” What really struck me after the presentation was the power of great content—its potential to propagate and the transparent trackability of feedback on social media:

  1. Feedback. I could, thanks to several tweeters in the room, get immediate feedback on what the audience thought. Thankfully, it was good (I blushed appropriately), but in the past, I’ve found it almost impossible to gauge an audience’s reactions. Remember, I also work in the UK, and we’re all far too polite. Twitter just unlocks those inhibitions.
  2. Propagation. Within an hour, the network kicked in, and I could see that from a core of say six to nine tweeters, 20-plus were retweeting comments on/from my presentation, some from as far afield as Brazil and the U.S. The content spread.
  3. Trackability. All of this was transparent and visible to me. A few hours after my session, I loaded my presentation onto SlideShare and tweeted the delegates (still in session). Within two hours, there had been 222 views of my presentation. SlideShare also selected my content as one of the featured presentations on its home page.

Within 48 hours of the conference, my presentation had received 862 views and 63 downloads. This just blew me away. Remember, I’m a CMO, but I’m no Seth Godin. Despite being a marketing pro of many years, I don’t sell marketing services nor make a living from doing so. So this was very rewarding for me.

What’s my learning? It wasn’t the viral power of social media (we all know that), but to harness that power, you need great content at the heart of what you do. What I had to say resonated. That wasn’t by accident. I prepared. I tried to make sure my content was relevant, interesting, engaging, surprising, and of value. And it worked.

The result: people liked it, shared it, and spread the word. And for all of us B2B marketers, we should never forget that if we get the basics right with great content, social media gives us the power to connect and engage on an impressive scale.

Do CMOs Really Understand the Value of Twitter?

By Kent Huffman, Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

In a recent blog post on, CMO Club CEO Pete Krainik noted, “Most Chief Marketing Officers see the value of engaging with customers—and the value of engaging them where they hang out, talk, and spend their time.” Pete is surely right about that. But then why are only a very small percentage of CMOs active in the social media world themselves, particularly on Twitter?

I attended the CMO Club’s semiannual CMO Summit in San Francisco last week. Again this year, it was an excellent event and was well attended by a nice cross-section of B2C and B2B Chief Marketing Officers from around the country, representing all different types and sizes of companies and organizations. On the last day of the Summit, I was part of a panel who discussed the business impact of social media and community building, including the most effective social media marketing tools. But surprisingly, I discovered that out of the 80-plus heads of marketing in attendance at the Summit, only 16 who carry the official title of CMO for their organizations are currently active on Twitter:

B2C Chief Marketing Officers:

B2B Chief Marketing Officers:

B2C/B2B Chief Marketing Officers:

This is obviously not a scientific study, but two things struck me when reviewing this list: 1) even though there were more B2C CMOs at the Summit than B2B, more B2B CMOs are active on Twitter than their B2C counterparts, and 2) very few “big brands” in either the B2C or B2B world are represented by their CMOs on Twitter. It’s also interesting to note that you can make the same basic observations when reviewing the list of the top CMOs on Twitter that I curate as Co-Publisher for Social Media Marketing Magazine.

So why is that the case? Do most CMOs not understand the value of Twitter and other social media tools? Or do they just not consider them a priority for their careers or their companies?

“Most CMOs barely understand the value of building relationships with customers and giving them a voice, let alone how to navigate and make use of the world of Twitter. Social media marketing to most in the C-suite is still something campaign based, but social media marketing needs to be woven into fabric of all marketing channels, strategically managed from a 360-degree perspective,” said Ted Rubin, Chief Social Marketing Officer at OpenSky and the most-followed CMO on Twitter. “The key here is to convince CMOs to get personally involved in social media by having someone with hands-on knowledge mentor them, so they get first-hand knowledge, build their own personal following, and learn from the ground up. That way, they can properly guide and manage the integration process,” Ted added.

John Dragoon, the Chief Marketing Officer at Novell, noted, “All markets are conversations, and good marketers are embracing new tools to have these conversations. The beauty of social media tools is they allow you to experiment quickly and learn even faster. Active participation is the key to success. And make no mistake—your customers are listening.”

Size Matters: How a Large Online Network Can Transform You, Your Marketing, and Your Business

By Ken Herron, Chief Marketing Officer at SocialGrow

Investment portfolios, airline seats, and chocolate fudge cakes. What do these three things have in common with the size of your online network? Big is good, bigger is better, and biggest is where you want to be.

As marketers, we have stuff to do, and failing to reach our objectives is not an option. Our brands and businesses require us to make things happen. Customers, sales, revenues… it’s up to us. Having large online social networks gives us the juice we need to make things happen.

Over the past few months, I have seen a surprising number of articles attempting to convince me that whether I’m a B2B or a B2C marketer, the focus for my portfolio of friend, follower, and connection-based online networks should be “engagement.” Hogwash.

Size matters. Size gives you power. Size gives you control. Size gives you leverage.

Everyone is an expert in something, but no one is an expert in everything. One of the reasons to be active on social media is to learn how to use cutting-edge and proven marketing strategies and tactics. If you follow one marketing professor on Twitter, you learn his/her approaches. How much better if you follow all of the top marketing professors on Twitter in the areas of B2B marketing, B2C marketing, public relations, corporate branding, and marketing research? The larger your network, the smarter you can be.

In the concept of six degrees of separation, all of us are, at most, six steps away from any other person. This is the heart of LinkedIn’s business model. If I have one connection on LinkedIn, I’m two degrees away from everyone my connection knows. Whether I need to buy or sell, I have a personal introduction to everyone in my connection’s network. As a marketer whose livelihood depends on your ability to get things done, would you rather have one connection on LinkedIn or 1,000?

What if you had a large mailing list of people who want to receive your communications because they’re interested in what you have to say? Each of your messages can reach more target customers. The larger your online network, the more people you can sell, real-time, 24x7x365.

As marketers, part of our value is to persuade our target audience to take action. If you’re Ashton Kutcher and develop the largest online network, you’re not just in the media, you are the media. You can directly broadcast to your five million-plus member audience anytime. That’s marketing. You want each and every one of your communications to command a level of credibility so high that other media outlets are forced to report on them.

As my boss likes to say, “Your message can only go as far as the size of your network.” Besides, as any five year old will loudly and unashamedly tell you when you’re standing in line with him at the bakery, “Who wouldn’t want the biggest chocolate fudge cake?”

LinkedIn: How to Properly Plant It into Your Social Media Marketing Landscape

By Kent Huffman, Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

LinkedIn is just one of a myriad of popular tools available in today’s rapidly growing and evolving social media world. So how do you justify the effort required to sow and nurture your presence on LinkedIn, especially the time and resources that could be invested elsewhere?

Lewis Howes (LinkedIn and Twitter) is a noted social media speaker and entrepreneur and co-author of the book, LinkedIn Working: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Web Site. Lewis thinks there a number of good reasons for putting down some of your social media marketing roots around LinkedIn. “With more than $109,000 as the average household income per user on LinkedIn (a far greater average than Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or the other popular social networking sites) and close to 45% of its members being business decision makers (versus 25-29% on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace), LinkedIn really is the place to be,” says Lewis. “It’s a great tool that can help you generate more leads and sales, drive traffic to your Web site, attract investors, control your personal brand, find your dream job or freelancing gigs, locate the right employees, build your database, get free PR, and position yourself or your company as a thought leader.”

But even if you agree that LinkedIn needs to be a focus for you or your company, how do you create a successful, impactful profile that will attract the right people and help accomplish your social media marketing goals?

Viveka von Rosen (LinkedIn and Twitter) is a successful entrepreneur, nationally renowned IA-certified LinkedIn trainer, and popular social media speaker. She is also the principal at Linked Into Business. Viveka teaches her clients and audiences that success on LinkedIn depends on several key actions. “Treat your LinkedIn profile like a Web site, and make sure it’s formatted, clean, and most importantly, filled with search engine-friendly keywords,” Viveka suggests. “Join strategically selected LinkedIn groups, and then invite members of those groups to join your network. You might even consider creating your own group. Then fill it with interesting and relevant information.”

Social Media Delivered, one of the largest and most respected social media optimization companies worldwide, is led by CEO Eve Orsburn (LinkedIn and Twitter). Eve believes that LinkedIn is a necessary component of any successful social media marketing strategy, especially in the business-to-business realm. “LinkedIn is the largest professional networking Web site in the world, with more than 65 million members,” Eve notes. “It’s also the most affluent social media tool and is ideal for reaching prospects in the B2B world, finding a job, obtaining venture capital, forming business partnerships, and growing your business.”

In the final analysis, it’s all about results. With the right strategy, tactics, and mindset, LinkedIn will quickly become an important part of your social media marketing landscape and will grow stronger and stronger over time, delivering measurable, repeatable results. This is especially true if you keep in mind the primary rules of social media: listen and learn first, share your knowledge, add value, always be authentic, and help others before you ask for help. On a related note, Viveka adds, “Remember to ‘give to’ more than you try and ‘get from’ other LinkedIn members. That’s the most important key to success.”