Archive for the ‘LinkedIn’ Category

LinkedIn Helps You Pay It Forward to Nonprofits

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

You’ve polished your LinkedIn profile, developed a large network of valuable contacts, and joined the most advantageous LinkedIn groups. From a professional standpoint, you should now be reaping the benefits—growing your client/customer base, seeing increased activity on your website, and becoming a thought leader in your industry.

You obviously did not get to this point alone. Friends and business associates have written recommendations for you, used the introduction function to introduce you to key members of the business community, and shared your status updates with their networks. Along the way, you have undoubtedly assisted your connections as well, but now it is time to pay it forward in another way—by helping your favorite nonprofit organization.

Here are six ways you can use LinkedIn to benefit your favorite charitable group:

  1. Include information about the organization in your LinkedIn individual profile. In the Experience section, list as a current job your title and/or involvement, along with the name of the organization. You then have 2,000 characters to explain the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and needs. Once you do this, the organization will appear in the top box of your profile. You can list three websites on your profile. Use one of the three websites for a hyperlink directly to the organization’s website. In the Summary section, consider having a special section to describe why this organization is important to you. Include in the Specialties section the name of the organization or other keywords that describe the group. You can then be found more easily if someone searches for people involved in your specific group or other groups with a similar mission or purpose. Use SlideShare or Google Presentation to share a PowerPoint or video about the organization. Use Blog Link or WordPress applications to connect the organization’s blog to your profile. Finally, list the name of the organization in the Groups & Associations section.
  2. Use the Status Update Box on your home page or Discussions/News in groups you belong to. Here you can publicize an event, recruit volunteers, share results and accomplishments, ask a question of the group or your network that will help solve a problem, and find employees, suppliers, and/or vendors for the organization.
  3. Use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to find out who in your network knows people at the significant foundations and companies in your marketplace. Then facilitate an introduction to the staff of the nonprofit organization.
  4. Search for and join LinkedIn groups in and out of your regional or local market that appear to be in the same space or have a similar mission as your organization. This is a great way to keep track of what others are doing, saying, and sharing.
  5. Start a LinkedIn group for the organization’s supporters, donors, and/or volunteers. A subgroup can be created to share information that is only pertinent to volunteers, for instance. Starting a group for an event you are planning can help you share information leading up to the event and wrap up information after the event.
  6. Use the Events application to promote the organization’s upcoming events.

Follow these six simple but highly effective steps—all of which can be done without leaving the comfort of your home or office—and then don’t be surprised when the phone rings with an invitation to join the board of your favorite nonprofit!

The Trend: “Alone Together.” The Trigger? Web 2.0

By Berenice Ring, Professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas

There are now 2.1 billion Internet users on planet Earth—30 percent of the world’s population! And to access the Internet, we now have countless models of cell phones, laptops, tablets, and every other wonder technology has provided us with. We can no longer live without them!

Visiting friends recently, I witnessed an interesting scene in their living room. The father, an advertising professional, worked on his iMac. The mother, an interior decorator, chose fabrics on her iPad. The daughter, multitasking on a PC, searched the Internet to do her homework and listened to music on iTunes while still logged on to Facebook. And the son played video games. All of them, no doubt, had their cell phones on. A commonplace scene, no? The question is, were they actually together in the living room?

This is the latest trend emerging all over—”alone together”—driven by advances in technology and by Web 2.0.

Trends are behaviors that define change patterns that have been building for some years and are expected to last for another many years. Is this particular trend good or bad for society? As with everything else in life, there are several sides to the issue.

MIT professor and ethnography specialist Sherry Turke published a book earlier this year entitled Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Turk argues that, instinctively, we humans still need physical proximity, noticing the lack of satisfaction and increased alienation among users she studied.

With the recent explosion of technology and social networks, we might gather that human relationships are thriving as never before! However, what Turke suggests is that we are ascribing human attributes to objects and treating each other as things. She reveals the paradoxical picture of today’s human disconnect, caused by the expansion of virtual connections on cell phones and computers.

We are indeed alone in the room, alienated from our family and everyone in our milieu. And yet, when my family took car trips before the emergence of all this Internet paraphernalia, my daughter often announced that she was going to turn on her “isolation kit” (i.e., iPod) for the duration. So I ask, didn’t our Generation Y children already isolate themselves from the family in their rooms long before all these tools appeared?

And if, on one hand, we are alone in our living room, on the other, we are more united than ever with our friends through Facebook and Orkut, to people with common hobbies and tastes through communities in which we choose to take part, and to other professionals in our industry via LinkedIn and Twitter. Moreover, technology enables us to establish joint creative connections with other individuals through wikis, like the one that resulted in the fabulous phenomenon Wikipedia. The strength of like-minded masses even elected the American president! Using a reverse approach, Foursquare was created, already boasting 10 million users, bringing people together in the physical world—in bars and restaurants, for instance—with a digital “check-in” tool that enables us to inform people we know of our whereabouts.

It is worth keeping in mind that there is also a fraternization side to this story. A viral message received by a father, for example, may become a subject of conversation with his son, and vice-versa. There is surely still much to talk about regarding the consequences of this trend for both the family and society.

And what about corporations? Companies that keep an eye on trends are always ready to draw insights from them. Those that manage to deploy these trends constructively will be better equipped to see the direction where we are going and to build potential future scenarios more accurately. Their strategies to deal with the present will have a much greater chance of success! Not only that; by arriving ahead of others in the marketplace, they gain significant competitive advantage over their competitors.

There is no doubt that great business opportunities are waiting for us—in the physical, digital, and mobile worlds.

How about you? Have you begun thinking about your digital strategy?

Social Media: Still a Mystery to Most Small Businesses

By Amy Howell, CEO of Howell Marketing Strategies

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about social media for business. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all new media tools that can help bolster your Internet or digital “footprint.”

You can read all about how social media is ramping up the conversation by doing a simple Google search. But the more important question small business owners want answered is how to use social media to boost sales and get the phone ringing. I call it “turning on the water faucet.” Social media for businesses should mean one thing: free tools that can strengthen your organization’s SEO (search engine optimization), help get your message out, and engage with customers and prospects.

Now these tools may be free, but the time you must spend executing the work can be extensive. A lot of writers just re-hash what’s already been written, so what I find most helpful is to share what we help clients do in the trenches every day. Below are the main barriers to using social media and why it remains a mystery, followed by how to get started and what to do first.

The barriers for most small businesses using social media are:

  • Time and education: It takes time to read and learn about the ever-changing, growing tools online, and most business owners don’t have extra time to devote to this. I hear it every day, and as a small business owner myself, I certainly understand this constraint. Small businesses have limited resources and must focus on revenue development and all that comes with running a business. Social media can help a small business tremendously, but most owners have not had time to get up to speed.
  • Lack of resources: It takes a dedicated effort to employ social media tools. Most companies can hire help, but many simply don’t have the extra resources to do so.
  • Reluctance to embrace new media: A lot of people are just flat out skeptical of social media. There are legitimate reasons to ignore it, especially if you are in a regulated industry (banking, insurance, finance, etc.), as some governing entities such as the SEC have policies against any use of social media for work. I think that will change soon, as I’m already seeing some large organizations issue new policies on social media use.
  • Generational: Most people would be surprised to know that the average age of a Twitter user is between 40 and 55. Age isn’t an excuse to avoid social tools, but it is often an explanation.

How to get started if you want to add a social media strategy to your marketing toolkit:

  • Read, read, read. There are some excellent blogs (like this one) and other resources online that can tell you all you need to know. There is no “magic wand” that will do this for you. If you really want to jump in, you have to do the reading yourself. You can hire it out of course, but the ideal results spring from the business understanding social media and embracing it, even if it means only monitoring at first. Let’s take the Judy McLellan Team for example (@JudyMacTeam on Twitter). Judy hired my firm to help with a real estate marketing and PR strategy that included the use of social tools. At first, we did some of the tweeting and posting. But now, you can find Judy out selling homes while using her iPad and iPhone to tweet and spread information about her listings.
  • Pick one tool and learn that first. For me, it’s Twitter. Once I understood Twitter, I moved on to learning about some other tools. I think by mastering one tool, small businesses can see results faster. Let’s take Cheffie’s Cafe (@Cheffies on Twitter) as the next example. We helped Cheffie’s Cafe spread the word by using Twitter, along with traditional PR during the previous few months. A good Twitter strategy is key to a successful PR campaign.
  • Look at what your competition is doing. Get online and do a little research to see what your competition is up to in the social space. Let’s take OrthoMemphis, a successful orthopaedic practice in Memphis that adopted social media long before its competition did. We have helped OrthoMemphis (@OrthoMemphis on Twitter) use social media tools to not only market their sub-specialists (knee, hips, and shoulders), but also to launch OrthoStat, its acute care walk-in clinic. Combined with direct mail, PR, and patient communications, Twitter and Facebook have been tremendously helpful.
  • Get a social media policy in place and communicate it to your organization. There are some great examples online and free resources available. I suggest any small business that wants to use social media tools have a policy in place just like a media policy. Talking online is like talking in the newspaper, and it’s important to have a strategy and know the dos and don’ts of posting online. Good examples are Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Intel. (A list of these can be found on my blog.)

The smaller the organization (or flatter), the easier it is to employ social media. Even though they may have more resources, larger companies are often more bureaucratic and have more red tape. Larger companies are also usually slower to “get it,” and we have found that companies without all the red tape can move faster and are often more decisive. Social media gives the little guys a leg up and is a great way to have a big voice online.

“Like” is the New Link: How Facebook is Reorganizing Google’s Web

By Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media and author of Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks)

You wake up one morning and your back really hurts. You’ve been putting off finding a new doctor ever since you moved to town, it’s been forever since you’ve had a check-up, and now you’re paying the price.

The pain is too much to wait any longer, you’ve got to find a chiropractor now. So you grab your computer, go to Google.com, and enter “back doctor” and your town’s name. You see a list of a ten chiropractors who have paid Google to be listed there and dozens of others who come up in the organic search results. But do you really want to trust your throbbing back to a complete stranger in an emergency?

Then you think of another idea, and you head to Facebook and again search “back doctor.” At the top of the results is a doctor’s listing with a sidebar telling you that three of your friends “like” this chiropractor. “Sweet,” you think. “Someone I can trust, because my friends like him.” You make a quick call, and you’re off to get your backache taken care of by a recommended doctor, a professional your friends “like.”

This scenario and scenarios such as this aren’t happening en masse quite yet, but the use of Facebook and the social graph for search and commerce isn’t far off. Think about it. Why would you possibly make a decision about a doctor, an attorney, a mechanic—or any important product or service for that matter—based on advertising or Google placement when you can make that decision based on the preference and recommendations of trusted friends? Facebook and social media have made it infinitely easier to do the latter. It’s nothing short of a gamechanger for marketers and businesses of all sizes.

The great news about the new world of communications we live in today is that everybody has a shot. Build a great product, get the word out to a few people, make it easy for people to share with their friends, and you can win without spending a boatload. Just five years ago, for instance, if you went to a new restaurant that you loved, you might have shared your thoughts with a few of your friends, family, and/or neighbors. Perhaps if you really loved the restaurant, you may have raved about it for a week to as many as 10 or 15 friends. Today, you can share those thoughts with 200 Facebook friends, or 300 Twitter followers, or 150 LinkedIn connections—all with one click on your computer or smartphone!

No matter what the size of your organization or client’s business, you too have the ability to follow the simple rules of social media to reap the rewards. Senior management—and anyone in a communications position for that matter—needs to know that marketing in a social media and Facebook world is not about broadcasting your message and getting the largest reach and frequency, it’s about tapping into the conversation by listening, engaging, and empowering. The loudest, biggest spenders don’t win anymore—the smartest, most flexible listeners do.

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.
  • Box.net 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. Box.net 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!

Why Every C-Level Executive Should Write a Book

By Bill Newton, Owner of C-Suite Press

The executive leadership team in most organizations includes individuals who have titles that begin with the letter C, such as CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, and so forth. These are people who are important and influential to the mission of their respective companies. They see the big picture. They are strategically wired. And they command respect.

If you happen to be one of these individuals, you probably have a book in you. In fact, I’d be willing to bet you’ve at least entertained the idea or been told by someone that you should write a book.

Getting it written, however, is another matter altogether. Time constraints—travel, round-the-clock meetings, and family and personal responsibilities—probably mean that writing a book has become just wishful thinking for you. However, postponing such an endeavor, or dismissing the value it can bring to you, is really not acceptable—even if you’re not a very good writer. You’d be surprised at the amount of help that some of today’s best-selling business authors have had in their quest to produce a book.

What you need to fully understand is the impact that writing a book can have on your career. After all, you’ve already come a long way to get where you are. And now, putting your thoughts down on paper may be the only thing keeping you from reaching your next goal.

For a moment, let’s not look at your position with your company. Let’s instead examine you as an individual. Like it or not, you’re your own brand. People and companies have invested in you because you bring a strong value proposition to the table. Whatever you can do to enhance and preserve your brand should always be pursued.

In the corporate world, thought leaders—those people who can sell a premise, mount a charge, and have everyone follow—are often hard to come by. It’s a given that members of the C-suite have certain skill sets, or areas of expertise. If they are also well known, they are often recognized as subject matter experts. That’s where authoring a book can come into play.

A lot goes into writing a book, however, so make it easy on yourself. Start simple by opening a Word document and begin getting your thoughts down as a rough outline. Spend fifteen minutes a day making notes. In six months, you’ll probably have more than enough material for your book. Or, if you blog, simply collect all your posts. And since you’re reading this post, you’re at least somewhat active on social media. So be sure to include content from your activities on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. All that will make for a great start. 

There are professionals who can take your Word doc, craft a final piece, design the cover and interior layout, oversee the editing and proofing, and manage all the other activities necessary for your book to appear on the shelves in Barnes & Noble stores around the country and on the Amazon.com website. Believe it or not, that’s the easy part in today’s world of print on demand.

One more thought. If you take the initiative, a year from now, you could be taking copies of your book to your next stockholder’s meeting, key customer presentation, or speaking engagement.

Social Media Marketing on a Shoestring

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

If you’re a small business owner or manager—or even a corporate marketing executive with a very limited budget—and you’ve been wondering how you could leverage social media to help grow your business, you’re definitely not alone. Almost every marketer I know is having to deal with limited financial resources in 2011, primarily because of the challenging economic times we’re facing right now. So what do you do?

No Money? No Matter!

In most cases, success in social media marketing doesn’t necessarily require a large financial investment. But depending on your level of involvement, it may demand a significant commitment of time. Jessie Paul, author of the book, No Money Marketing: From Upstart to Big Brand on a Frugal Budget, says, “Unlike media such as TV, radio, print, or even Google Adwords, which are capital intensive (i.e., the more money you have, the more successful you are likely to be), social media in its current form is labor intensive.” But because of the magnitude of the potential opportunities presented by social media marketing, that investment is often a wise one. Jessie goes on to say, “Social media gives marketers a chance to be in direct contact with customers. That is very hard to get in any other media and is worth quite a bit of experimentation to achieve.”

I’ve been active on various social media sites (including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) since early 2009 and have been amazed at the benefits and opportunities that activity has brought to me and my company in a relatively short period of time. As Jessie suggested, I didn’t have to invest very much of my marketing budget to reach my social media marketing goals, but I did spend a lot of time developing strategy, content, and most importantly, relationships. I have to say it has been worth every minute.

Key Social Media Channels and Sites

If you’re just starting down the social media marketing path, an important first step toward making the most of the online social scene for your business is to select the right channels and tools to use. Robbin Block, author of the book, Social Persuasion: Making Sense of Social Media for Small Business, says, “Knowing your own abilities and the impression you’re trying to make can play a big part in the types of sites you choose. There’s a big difference between creating original content and simply participating. For example, posting a response or voting is much different than writing an article. If you’re a creator—that is, you have the time, talent, or inclination to create original material—then content sites are a good choice.”

“Whether you choose to be a creator, a participant, or a blend of both depends on your strategy,” adds Robbin. “Certain types of small businesses are a natural fit with particular social media categories. For example, a speaker might post a video on YouTube, list events in online calendars (like Yahoo! Upcoming), and upload presentations to SlideShare. If you’re short on budget but long on talent, that may help you decide. Writers may choose blogs, videographers may choose content sites, social animals may choose networks, and subject experts may choose Q&As.”

Reaping the Benefits of Conversations

Once you’ve selected the right social media channels and sites for your individual situation, you’re ready to join the discussion, build relationships, and ultimately reap the benefits.

Recently, Network Solutions and the University of Maryland (UM) conducted a compelling study about the use of social media in small businesses. “Social media levels the playing field for small businesses by helping them deliver customer service,” says Janet Wagner, Director of the Center for Excellence at UM’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Time spent on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs is an investment in making it easier for small businesses to compete.” Connie Steele, Director at Network Solutions, added, “Tough market conditions mandate small businesses to think and act creatively to sustain themselves. Social media can be the best friend for small business owners who constantly seek new ways to maximize productivity while keeping costs low.”

And those same challenges apply to most every marketer, no matter how small or large his or her organization may be. Eric Fletcher is the Chief Marketing Officer at McGlinchey Stafford (a commercial law firm based in New Orleans) and is one of the most popular CMOs on Twitter. He frequently writes about social media marketing-related issues. Eric says, “The ultimate goal of any social media marketing effort should be to enhance the brand and move forward on a continuum that leads to a new or deeper relationship with the target. Nothing accelerates the establishment and deepening of relationships like the give-and-take of conversations on social media.”

Eric is also acutely aware of the budgetary challenges marketers are facing today. “In an environment where marketing budgets are frozen (if not shrinking), a robust social media strategy is based more on the investment of time than dollars,” he notes. “We have always understood two things: the value of word-of-mouth marketing and the need to ‘fish where the fish swim.’ In social media, those two essentials come together—giving any enterprise, regardless of budget, a way to have a daily conversation with a world of prospective customers.”

Disaster Control: How Social Media Can Help

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

A natural disaster can happen at any time in any place, but even though a disaster may affect a certain area, the business world keeps moving everywhere else. So when your office is suddenly unavailable, how can you quickly reach out to your employees and clients with updates, news alerts, and other critical information they may need to know? Social media can be the first hand of assistance in this particular situation.

Social media is known for its ability to spread information in a fast and effective way to a large amount of people. The second you publish a post or tweet, it becomes visible to hundreds, even thousands, of people instantly. Another convenience of social media is that you can use it from any device with Internet access. You can access it on smartphones, computers, iPads, and more.

Now that you know why social media is a great communication tool to use during an emergency, you may then wonder, “How do I prepare myself to use it for this type of issue?”

The first preparatory step would be to create a private group on your social media accounts, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. You can make these groups private since they do not affect the general public, and you can inform clients and employees that this site is the place to go in order to obtain emergency updates during a disaster. You can share news articles, quick announcements, contact information, and anything else that may be important and reassuring to your audience.

Here are the “must haves” for an emergency company group page on Facebook:

  • Staff directory—all contact information
  • Client directory—all contact information
  • Links to local news of workplace
  • Links to local maps
  • Emergency preparation kit
  • Company calendar
  • Shelter locations
  • Contact information for local police, fire, and other departments

Finally, be sure that all employees are group members.

If your audience uses Twitter, you should create a “company alert” hashtag. Some examples for my company, Grow Socially, could be #GrowSocially911, #GSAlert, or #GSEmergency. You can post the hashtag on your company’s Twitter account in order to tell your audience that tweets with the alert hashtag are updates on your disaster control efforts. Using hashtags in these scenarios is helpful because when people search the hashtag, all of the tweets you create that include that hashtag will appear on their screens.

Using these techniques would also be helpful to your employees because this would inform them to avoid the work area if it is too dangerous. If they are able to work from home, they would be able to take over client needs while the people in charge take care of the actual workplace.

Social media is an excellent communication tool when people have no time to talk to a large group of people individually. Your audience will appreciate knowing the situation your company is in and that you are doing everything you can to resume usual schedules.

If making individual calls to each client and worker is the last thing you want to do when you are trying to keep your business afloat, then social media is the way to go. Posting short, informative messages throughout the day will give your entire audience a consistent, helpful update on what the situation is for your business.

“Give Me that Old-Time (Marketing) Religion:” The Importance of Focus and Commitment when Using Social Media

By Jim Lyons, Professor at the University of Phoenix

Lately, I’ve been working on a LinkedIn project assigned to me by our local campus of the University of Phoenix. And in taking it on, I’ve repeatedly been reminded of the “marketing basics” which I profess, literally, at the very same institution. I’m finding that with social media projects, like any other marketing-related activity, time-honored practices—such as focusing on a well-defined marketing strategy with clear objectives, clearly identifying a target market, and committing to a plan over a reasonable time period—are as relevant as ever.

By way of a little background, the local campus staff had asked me to shore up the LinkedIn group we’d started a couple of years back, and which like so many other social media attempts had gone somewhat stagnant after a fast start. This interest fit nicely with my personal ambition to help give our faculty a better feeling of connectedness—getting to know each other better as both undergrad- and graduate-level instructors (all part-timers), as well as members of the much broader professional community where we each pursue our very diverse “day jobs.” My vision was to make the LinkedIn group a virtual “faculty office building,” where we could get to know each other and collaborate in the virtual world, something that the University of Phoenix knows very well, at least from an online education standpoint.

There, too, was an interest within the client organization of making the group a discussion forum to be joined by at least the more engaged students, as well as alums and even “friends” of the university, including local business and community leaders. Also, it could perhaps become somewhat of a job-seekers forum as well. It didn’t stop there, either, and with this growing set of objectives, I started to feel overwhelmed.

Focus

As I began to think about implementation, I went back to good, sound marketing fundamentals. And when it came to defining the product/service I was enhancing, I had to ask myself a key question: “Who is the target market?” Obviously, the answer to the question had quickly become “many groups.” The next question then became: “Can I successfully serve this many masters?” (The answer to this question is invariably on the negative side of the scale, at least when put to the reality test.)

We are still working on the right approach, but as time goes on, the objective of providing a fun and friendly faculty familiarity/recognition platform seems to be winning out. We may need to launch a new group or sub-group to target another set of objectives/markets, but when has this stopped a good marketer?

Commitment

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Starting a new business, launching a new product, or kicking off an advertising/PR campaign takes time, too. We have all been there—we get impatient, pull the plug too soon, or get wooed by a newer idea. And in the world of social networking—just like face-to-face, old-fashioned networking—patience is everything.

I’m reminded of my attempt to help a former colleague get his footing after a long period of unemployment by having him as my guest at a meeting of our local entrepreneurs’ networking group. After that first meeting, he thanked me, concluding with something like, “Well, we’ve done that. Let’s see what happens,” (as if based on his six or eight brief introductory conversations, the job offers would start rolling in). Sorry, friend, but networking is a long-term investment, and even in this world, which we often perceive to be all about instant gratification, a commitment to a plan—and sticking to it—is as critical as ever.

Knowing your customer, not trying to do too much, having clear objectives, and exercising patience—just a little of that old-time (marketing) religion!

Fueling the Social Media Engine: How Building Relationships Online Drives the Growth of Brands

By Luis Gallardo, Managing Director of Global Brand & Marketing at Deloitte

The world’s most successful brands go the distance. Beyond logos, colors, and shapes, brands endure over time and geography, attempting to do what no other commodity or service offering before them could do—or better yet, promise.

Brands are expected to perform, and customers expect nothing short of that promise. In fact, one must think holistically about the brand by understanding how multiple stakeholders are interacting, sharing, and perceiving the value of the promise across hundreds of brand touch points around the world. Then, one must get personal by understanding how emerging media and other Web 2.0 communities impact the development and maintenance of meaningful relationships—an emotional bond and distinctive brand experience for customers and stakeholders.

Is your organization capitalizing on emerging media technology as a key brand-enhancing activity to help differentiate it from the competition?

At Deloitte, the largest private professional services organization globally, social media is not just another buzzword. We boldly anticipate the success of social media in helping our people and clients to step ahead in the marketplace. Pragmatic in our approach, we are building on the success of several social media marketing campaigns to continuously grow our brand within the professional services market.

Our recent success with the 2010 Deloitte Fantasy Football engagement program, for example, allowed our 170,000-member firm practitioners, as well as our clients, to highlight their pride in cultural diversity, their love for the game of soccer, and a relentless approach to staying a step ahead of the fantasy competition during every World Cup match game. In addition to being an all-around fun game, Deloitte Fantasy Football was a strategic brand-building initiative that relied heavily on the power of building relationships online via social media channels, peer-to-peer recommendations, and real-time collaboration among colleagues, friends, and clients.

Social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, in particular) played an integral role in sustaining the momentum and energy behind the campaign, week after week. In fact, the results of the campaign exceeded our expectations:

  • More than 80% of Deloitte member firms actively promoted this event, leveraging unique opportunities for local market fit.
  • There was a ten-fold jump from Deloitte Australia’s original 3,000 participant count in 2006 to an impressive 33,848 total number of participants who registered to play the game in more than 160 countries.
  • More than 61 percent of the Deloitte workforce participated in the competition, complemented by a respectable level of client participation at 34 percent.
  • More than half a million unique online visitors from 162 countries and territories came to the competition site. More than 15 percent of these visitors had not previously visited a Deloitte Web site.
  • Each visitor spent an average of 7.38 minutes visiting the Web site—an equivalent of more than 4 million page views.
  • The Deloitte Fantasy Football campaign directly impacted our overall social media profile. We grew our official Deloitte Facebook page during that time from a fan base of 2,000 to more than 77,000 active users. Deloitte now has the largest global Facebook presence among its professional services competitors.
  • More than 40 Deloitte member firm practitioners from the South African firm acted as “green dot” reporters by blogging about the spirit of the live games.

Deloitte continues to shift perception from being just one of the Big Four to being the market-leading private professional services organization—in a category of one. To help accomplish this goal, Deloitte Fantasy Football (as well as other brand engagement programs) allowed our network of member firms to build on the exciting momentum of the world’s largest sports phenomenon, while exposing stakeholders to a variety of brand messages that appeal to clients and talent. By supporting these relationships in online social media applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs, Deloitte continues to break away from the pack.

Using social media as part of the marketing mix, Deloitte is able to authentically embrace the interests of its people and clients in a non-traditional way. From weekly engagement levels provided by Facebook metrics to a whole new database of potential clients, social media is a strategic business driver with the potential to positively impact lead generation, brand reputation, and risk, as well as advancements in thought leadership and new product development.

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.

Reaching Beyond Your Own Space

By Jay Miletsky, Co-Author of Perspectives on Marketing, Perspectives on Branding, and Perspectives on Social Media Marketing

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend among people—small business owners and managers, especially—looking to improve their marketing through social media efforts. They started out skeptical (can this really work for my company?), moved on to anxious (I’ve got to start a social media marketing program, fast!), graduated to proud (I’ve started a blog and a Facebook fan page!), and have now increasingly settled on disappointed (this social media stuff really hasn’t done much for my business).

It’s a sad state of affairs, really, that so many business owners and marketing managers are reaching a point of disillusionment when it comes to their social media marketing efforts. But it’s a virus that seems to be spreading—a quick search on Facebook through practically any industry will show a veritable wasteland of abandoned fan pages that seemed to be launched in earnest, updated with regularity, and abruptly forgotten about when new wall posts failed to generate user interaction and fan counts never reached much beyond an early round of invites to friends and family.

The problem isn’t social media as a discipline, however. The problem is that too many marketers take the lazy way out—or at least fail to realize that small business success in the social space requires more effort than simply launching and updating a fan page and expecting people will engage you there. Even a remote control car only moves when someone’s at the controls steering it.

To gain a following (blog readers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, etc.), marketers need to reach beyond their own social space:

  • Don’t just write posts on your own blog. Reach out to industry blogs to guest write for them.
  • Read popular industry blogs on a daily basis. Zero in on one or two posts you feel strongly about—or at least have an opinion on—and leave a comment. Make it thoughtful and informative, and, if possible, leave it early in the morning, so it’s one of the first comments of the day. That way, other readers will be more likely to read what you have to say.
  • When you comment on someone else’s blog, always remember to leave a standard signature with your name and company name, as well as links to your site/blog, fan page, and Twitter site.
  • Don’t simply leave wall posts on your Facebook fan page. Look for larger organizations on Facebook that have fan or group pages where you can reach a broader audience. For example, suppose you’re marketing a hospital. Don’t limit your interactions to your own wall and fans. There are Facebook groups on general health topics as well as specific topics like breast cancer that literally have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers. Posting topics there or commenting on other posts will help expose your brand page to many of those followers.
  • Find #hashtag conversations on Twitter related to your industry, and join in those conversations to build a following.
  • Check out LinkedIn Groups and see where you can add your thoughts to existing conversations or start your own thread based on topics that will be relevant to you and the group.

Most of all, as with any other form of marketing, success requires a consistent effort. Results are rarely, if ever, seen immediately, and only those who persevere through audience droughts will be around to feel the flood.

A Window through Which We can Look at Social Media Marketing

By Ryan Sauers, Chief Marketing Officer at The Sauers Group

In all aspects of business, it is vital to utilize various tools to evaluate performance. One such device is the Johari Window. This tool is especially important for those of you in the marketing profession.

The Johari Window is broken into four distinct quadrants.

Let’s start with the upper left (blue) quadrant. This quadrant deals with things that are “public” in nature, meaning they are known both to you and others. It may seem that everything in the world of online information falls into this quadrant, but this is not true. For example, if you publicly display information that is accessible to anyone—on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.—then you fall into this category.

The lower left (yellow) quadrant applies to things that are “private” to you (known to self) and are not known by others. This makes for quite a challenge in the social media environment, as it is hard to keep things private in a world that wants to make everything public. In social media, posted/written information often has a life of its own. So many times, private information might be accidentally posted in a place where a person thinks it is safe and private but where others actually have access to it. For example, many people go on job interviews where the interviewer already knows a lot about them beyond their resume, just by conducting a search for that person’s name on Facebook or Google with just a few keystrokes. So we must purposefully control what we do and do not want people to know.

The lower right (green) quadrant is referrerd to as “unknown.” These are things we all speculate about and quite frankly are unsure of the answers. For example, will Twitter be around in three years? Will Google keep growing? Will the economy turn around in 2011? Will the buying patterns of Generation Y remain the same in five years? You get the idea. So this area of the window represents those things that neither you nor the people you are targeting are completely sure of. This quadrant is an important one to consider as you develop your overall marketing plans and what role social media will play now and in the years ahead.

The upper right (red) quadrant is called the “blind spot.” This refers to something that is known to/seen by others but not known to/seen by yourself. This provides a huge growth opportunity for all marketers. If we are not aware of our blind spot, then we are truly operating “blind.” This means we are not aware of what we are missing—and yet, others around us are quite aware of it. This is a huge no-no for social media marketing. For instance, let’s say your company (in the opinion of all stakeholders beyond you) feels you are overdoing or over promoting your every success through the many social media tools available. So colleagues, employees, clients, vendors, and others see your campaigns/efforts as overdone and borderline obnoxious. But what if you think (your blind spot) you are not doing enough promotion and need to increase your social media marketing efforts? The key is to learn what your blind spot is, so you can address it. A great way to accomplish that is to get candid feedback from a variety of different people who will tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.

The overall goal here is for you to use the Johari Window as another way to examine what you are doing, why you are doing it, what you know, what you don’t know, and why you do what you do. Doing so will enable you to be purposeful in all your marketing efforts. Rememember… the tools of social media are here to stay, and they will become even greater in the years ahead.

Strategic Networking on Social Media

By Frank Agin, Co-Author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website

Successful networking requires a multi-faceted attack. That is, to have a highly productive network, you need to involve yourself in the world from lots of different angles.

You need to continually work your contacts in your networking groups, such as trade associations, civic organizations, and structured referral groups. You need to make a point of attending various networking functions—such as chamber after hours, trade shows, and business open houses. And you need to engage in free-form networking—including things like individual face-to-face meetings, a round of golf, or other activities where you connect with others in an informal manner.

In addition, to be a successful networker in the 21st century, you need to embark upon a degree of networking using specifically designed Web sites, better know as social media. You could cast a presence on LinkedIn. Or you could involve yourself on Facebook. Or you could work yourself onto one of the many other social networking sites out there. Using any one of these can be a great means of adding another weapon to your networking arsenal. After all, these sites have a worldwide reach and operate literally around the clock.

The reality is, however, that LinkedIn, Facebook, and other forms of online social media are just tools in the networking process. They aid you in the development of relationships, but none of them replaces the need for good old-fashioned networking. If you want to be successful using online social media, you need to follow the same rules you would use when networking in the real world. Call this “LinkedWorking”—applying real-world networking habits to social media. Some examples of LinkedWorking include:

  • See opportunities in everyone. In the real world, everyone is connected—directly or indirectly—to opportunity for you. As such, you should approach everyone with open-minded respect. This is the same with online social media. You should never dismiss people because of the content of their profiles or stature in life. You just never know with whom they are connected.
  • Lead a life of altruism. In the real world, the number one way to be successful in networking is to commit to giving to the world around you. The same holds true for online social media. With everyone that you connect, ask yourself, “How can I help this person?” Then commit to taking action. If you do, things will come back to you in spades.
  • Take consistent action patiently over time. In the real world, a flurry of networking once or twice a year generally yields very little, as building strong relationships takes time. This sort of binge networking does no better when it comes to online social media. When you network online, as in the real world, commit to taking consistent, moderate action. Over time, you will be amazed at all that comes your way using this approach. Remember that networking is more like a crock pot than a microwave. With online social networking, the same is true—patience is a critical ingredient.

Successful networking requires you to work on several different fronts. In the 21st century, that should include social media. To successfully operate on this technological front, however, you need to practice LinkedWorking. That is, do the same things in networking online that you would do in the real world.

Integrating Social Media with Mobile Marketing

By Shelly Lipton, Chief GrownUp at GrownUp Marketing

Traditional advertising channels—including print, broadcast, and online display ads—are perfect places for prompting users to text a keyword to an advertiser’s code in order to enter a sweepstakes or receive a discount coupon. This has been the foundation of mobile marketing since its infancy, but today’s savvy marketers are beginning to realize that social networking via channels like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube can spread the word even faster and more effectively.

Mobile marketing—interactive, real-time messages sent to consumers via their mobile devices—has taken its place as the advertising world’s “third screen” (in addition to television and computer monitors), and the promotional potential is unlimited. With mobile’s appealing “act now” incentives, consumers can do most of the legwork by sharing the information with their friends via their social media networks to enable an advertiser’s mobile campaign to go viral.

Here’s a sample scenario of how it might work: A national pizza chain launches a mobile marketing campaign to offer a “buy one, get one free” coupon. The company is already running TV spots and targeted online display ads to drive awareness and interest in the promotion. With the help of its ad agency, a message will be added to the TV spot that says, “Text TWOPIZZAS to code 74642 to receive a two-for-one coupon for a large pizza!” Consumers who see these ads will text the keyword and receive, via their cell phones, a digital coupon that can be redeemed at the local pizza store in their area.

Here’s where social media comes into the mix. If it’s a strong enough offer, a consumer will tell his or her friends on Facebook and Twitter that the local pizza place is offering a great deal. Those friends will tell their friends, and so on. They’ll all end up on the pizza place’s Facebook page, where they can find other share-worthy discount coupons.

According to a March 2010 article in Mobile Marketer, access to Facebook via mobile browsers grew 112 percent in the past year, while Twitter experienced a 347 percent jump, according to research by comScore. In the same article, comScore’s Director of Industry Analysis Andrew Lipsman was quoted as saying, “I think the key finding is that there appears to be a natural synergy between social media and the mobile platform. That we’ve seen such dramatic growth on Facebook and Twitter via mobile browsers is testament to this fact.”

It’s clear to both experts and observers that mobile marketing and social media are growing up together. Millennial Media’s S.M.A.R.T. Report for April 2010 revealed that social media represents 11 percent of all campaign actions on its network. And according to eMarketer in March 2010, 650 million people globally are using their smartphones for tasks such as e-mail and social networking.

With purchases of goods and services via mobile devices expected to reach $200 billion in 2012 (double what it is today), the linking of mobile marketing and social media is a marriage made on Madison Avenue.

Is Farming Out Selling Out?

By Phyllis Neill, President & CEO of WeMentor Social Media Marketing

The more we learn about social media marketing and management, we realize that the devil is in the details. We now know it’s not enough to simply be in social media, but we need lots of relevant, compelling content, frequent updates, and ongoing efforts to find followers. Most importantly, we need to inject our authentic brand voice, which cannot be outsourced. Or can it?

The good news is, there can be a happy medium. The secret to success is knowing what to farm out, what to keep in-house, and having a strategic plan that helps you do both.

What You Should Farm Out

You could feasibly farm out the creation and posting of 70 percent of the educational content you need to be providing:

  • Make a list of the top 10 to 15 sites where your target and current customers spend time, such as blogs, online news sites, niche social media sites, etc.
  • Engage someone to do a weekly “listening” campaign, where they select the top two to three articles or blog entries from each of the sites you identified.
  • From the list of top articles and blog entries gathered, engage someone to turn them into educational tweets, and have them post these three to four a day throughout the week for you.

What You Should Keep Within Your Company

Even if your business is trying to establish itself as an expert in a specific field, you will need to do more than have highly relevant article link tweets to get you there. Part of the appeal of social media is the intimacy factor; the ability to really get to know a company and its people like never before. Therefore, it is critical that you are able to inject your brand personality into your social media efforts, or people simply will not continue to follow you:

  • Create mini-blog entries. Have your social media marketing company create an editorial calendar that maps out suggested blog topics for each month, giving you the ability to give out guest blog assignments way in advance with a topic already suggested.
  • Post company events on Facebook. If you had a summer picnic, a charity fundraiser, or a trip for your top salespeople, post pictures of these events with personal captions under each picture. Nothing gives a customer or prospect a better feel for the company brand and culture than getting a peek inside how the company celebrates.
  • Develop a relationship with Twitter followers by commenting on other tweets and retweeting interesting articles.
  • Create real-world interactions out of social media meetings. Plan once-a-week LinkedIn lunches to stay top of mind with your LinkedIn contacts. Or write a handwritten note to someone you’ve met through your social media efforts.

The Importance of Strategy and Relationships

The bottom line is that it is possible to outsource a lot of the legwork involved in your social media strategy and still remain highly involved in the messaging. Just make sure to stay strategically involved in the relationship-building piece of the program, and your social media program will be a success.

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?”

Social Media Strategy Unclear to Marketers

By Diane Meyer, Owner of Marketing by DM

We’re hearing it over and over again from marketers. They’re saying, “I’ve sat down through so many Webinars on social media, and they’re all telling us to develop a strategy, but what is that strategy?” Well, we’ve heard you, but now we’re listening.

There have been several leaders who have addressed this recently, such as a story by @eMarketer entitled, “What Makes Up a Social Marketing Strategy?” Quality content here. Definitely save this as a favorite. I would like to take a different approach, however, to help those that seem to struggle with integrating social media in their marketing mix.

Let’s focus in on Twitter. If you don’t understand Twitter, you cannot possibly develop a strategy. As an example, I don’t know how to play chess, so how would I be able to strategize a move that is beneficial to me? Going nowhere is not an option and quite boring. In fact, I wouldn’t hold my own attention, much less anyone else’s.

Some of you may relate better to football. First, you have to really understand the game. I actually do and certainly get it when Penn State wins. Then your coach (Twitter) can guide you (football) toward your goal (whatever you decide that to be). Setting a goal may be to connect to like-minded business executives, marketers, and/or owners so that you can stay abreast of what is happening in your industry.

You must engage everyone on your team (those you follow) in order to reach your goal. Just throwing out the football (your tweets) will leave everyone cold, bored, and unengaged. They may even quit your team (unfollow you). Know what others are doing, saying, and care about, and be courteous as though you were having a discussion in person. Choose your words wisely. This is even more important than in person.

Your goal may become very different than what it was months ago. Last August, my objective was only to learn everything I could about Twitter through the sharing of links and information from SEOs, CEOs, and marketing leaders I was following. Starting with just 30 people to follow was a choice I made so that I could keep up. I didn’t even start contributing to the communication stream until after one month. More than a year later, I’m now ready to develop a strategy that is best for me.

Depending on your goals, type of business, and who you wish to reach, you will have to decide in which social media service you invest most of your time. My recommendation would be to have a presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, but not necessarily in equal parts. Hopefully, your marketing mix already includes advertising, publicity, public relations, promotions, and sales. You will now add social media.

It is unfortunate if we view ROI only as dollars in return. For example, I like to think that my investment of time in Twitter results in ROE (return on energy). The energy I put into it comes right back to me ten-fold or a hundred-fold from some of the best of the best in the social media community. How do you attach a number that?

Have you reached a stumbling block on the strategy for your social media presence? Have you integrated Twitter or some other social media service into your marketing mix? Are you still confused? Should the goal always be dollars and cents?

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.”

The Power in Your Profile: How LinkedIn Can Be Leveraged to Lead a Fruitful Job Hunt

By Eve Orsburn, CEO of Social Media Delivered

If you have a profile on LinkedIn, you are already aware of the strength in what I find to be the most powerful social media tool available for career searches.

LinkedIn networks more than 60 million professionals with more than half of them located outside the United States. According to a TechCrunch study, a new LinkedIn user joins every second. Chances of being noticed by a company improve when you have a connection. LinkedIn excels at leveraging connections by creating relationships.

On LinkedIn, click the “Jobs” tab at the top. And check out the LinkedIn job search tutorial. In addition, here are a few secrets for using Groups on LinkedIn to give your job search superiority:

Find a Group

Click “Search Groups” in the drop-down section on the top right of LinkedIn and enter a keyword. For example, if you are an accounting professional and enter “accounting” in the groups search, 900+ groups pop up. Let’s assume you want to work in Dallas. Add the keyword “Dallas,” and the search narrows. Read group descriptions and check the number of members. If there are only a few members, it won’t give you a great opportunity to build your network. Once you find a group that looks like a good target, click “Join this Group.” Some immediately accept requests. Others check your profile to make sure you are a good match.

Join a Group

Repeat the process with groups that may expose you to targeted prospects. Consider joining groups with your interests. You may find companies you’re interested in working for that have their own groups. You can join up to 50 groups, but it’s a good idea to limit yourself to 10 or 20, so you’ll have time to participate and bring value.

Exclusive Job Listings

After being accepted into a LinkedIn group, take time to explore it. The first place you will want to click is the tab labeled “Jobs.” This is where members post jobs pertaining to specialties of the group. Because these listings are free, this may be the only place this job is posted. You can post under jobs within a group you are looking for a position in. Keep this listing short, and post experience and talents in a catchy fashion.

Direct Connect

In LinkedIn, you can usually only directly contact people in your network. When you join a group, you have the ability to communicate directly with almost all members, unless they have stipulated that group members are not be able to contact them (which is rare). Use this opportunity to reach out to people you want to meet. Explain what help you would like and what you can do for them.

Get Noticed

Offer value to group members. Comment on discussions with valuable information and post discussions and news articles. I advise posting or commenting in each group once a week to keep visibility up without being overzealous. Read the guidelines to posting on each group (usually at the top of the discussion section).

Get Work While Searching for a Job

Often, someone within a group is looking for help or offering temporary employment for an individual with specific knowledge in the area being discussed. Comment to respond or reply privately. These positions can turn into full-time gigs.