Category Archives: Social Media

Maximizing LinkedIn to Reach Your Career Goals

Networked SpheresLinkedIn can be a powerful tool for networking and enriching your professional life. But to really capitalize on its strengths it’s important to reflect on your professional goals and what you want to accomplish by using LinkedIn. You can spend a lot of time exploring the different features of LinkedIn but to be successful, know what you want to achieve:

  • Meet new professional contacts within your field
  • Attract new clients, customers, members, or donors
  • Find a new job
  • Gain visibility for your business or start-up
  • Recruit new employees or partners

The more you can articulate about that big picture purpose and then the specific outcomes you are seeking, the easier it is to finetune which tactics and LinkedIn features are best to use to accomplish them. For example, if you want to use LinkedIn to find new clients or business contacts, think through as many details about who your ideal client is as possible, such as industry sector, organization size/type, geographic area, job type/titles, interests, past experience or education.

Then picture what success will look like. How can you measure that?  An example might be that your active engagement in LinkedIn would result in 6 prospective clients and 3 confirmed new clients of XYZ type in the next six months.

Key Steps to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence

Explore how you can use the different Linked features and functions to make your goals a reality such as:

Review your profile. Does your profile position you with the right keywords and accomplishments to appeal to people in the way you wish to be viewed? Use your headline as your personal brand and emphasize concise highlights of your results and impact. Complete your profile sections such as education, certifications, honors and awards, volunteer roles, and interests to reinforce your expertise while also showing that you are a well-rounded person. Do the same review of your organization’s LinkedIn page, taking advantage of features like the ability to highlight your products and services.

Regularly share useful information related to the expertise you would like to showcase, such as links to insightful articles, data, or research. Give an update about an important project you completed or that you are giving a presentation at an upcoming conference.

Join the right groups and engage in conversation. Search for groups related to your interests and professional goals, looking to see if they have active discussions happening. Show your expertise by answering questions in the Answers section of LinkedIn.

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7 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Social Media Presence With Limited Time and Resources

Which social media sites are best for reaching your customers, members, donors or clients?  With the constantly evolving landscape of social media sites and communities it can be overwhelming to feel you should have a presence
Person facing flight of green steps heading upeverywhere when you already have never ending to do’s and an overflowing email inbox. Yet you don’t want to miss an important opportunity to promote your organization and reach your current and potential customers. How do you choose how to best use your time on social media?

1. Think about your goals and what success will look like.

Even if you don’t have time to think through a full blown social media plan, it is important to at least briefly reflect on your most important goals for why you are using (or want to use) social media and how you can measure it. Is it generating
revenue, building community, providing customer service, getting new World globe map made up of puzzle piecescustomers/members/donors/sales leads? How can you use social media to share stories and content that support your brand, what is unique about your organization and products and services? What would success look like if it works the way you are envisioning? Be realistic as it takes time to build your presence and start to see results. Flexibility is key to try different approaches, testing various ideas and messaging is relatively easily through social media.

2. Where is your audience? Be sure to use “listening” tools.

I am often asked if organizations need to have a presence on “all” of the social media sites (accompanied by an overwhelmed catch of breath). The question I 6 different colored talk bubblesalways raise after asking about their goals and mission is do you know which social media communities your customers and potential customers use? Have you started “listening” on social media, that is, exploring what people are saying about you and discussing with each other regarding your industry or business where? Free tools like google alerts (for the general web) and twilert (for twitter) provide easy ways to monitor your brand name and business sector by signing up with them to email you when keywords you select are mentioned.

3. All or nothing? Refine your presence on one or two social media sites first.

It is hard especially when you are a social media beginner and/or have limited resources to have an effective presence on lots of social media sites. It is better to pick one or two sites that you think will have the best impact for your goals and audience and do them really well, then to spread yourself thin doing a little bit all over the place ineffectively. You can add other sites as you build success where you started.

4. Think about the unique environment of each social media tool you’re exploring and which is best for meeting your goals. Here is a quick overview of some of the most popular social  media sites:

Each social media community has its own character, look, and feel, and type of audience or purpose which you want to become familiar with when you start posting there.

Facebook has the biggest audience with one billion members, a casual friends-oriented environment, and loads of tools and functionality you can use to build a vibrant community.

For professionals and business-to-business organizations, LinkedIn offers a powerful way to network with people in your industry, stay up-to-date about news in your profession. It’s truly become a replacement for the resume and crucial for recruiting talent.

Twitter gives you the opportunity to share short, snappy news bytes or updates that can be a very effective way to drive traffic to your web site as well. It’s also a great way to follow the organizations and people you are interested in and find out the latest trends. You can use hashtags (words preceded by the # symbol) to search for information or to join a tweetchat, a twitter discussion held at a set time on a particular topic (for example, most Monday nights at 8pm Eastern there is a marketing #MMchat sponsored by The Social SMO).

Google Plus while a smaller community than facebook has developed a passionate following among those who enjoy its design and environment. Your Google+ presence enhances how easily people can find your key web pages when doing google searches because for obvious reasons google gives preference to results from Google+. Google+ Hangouts have intriguing potential for a wide variety of uses, giving you the option of having free online video discussions with up to 10 people or hosting virtual meetings to an unlimited number of people by broadcasting a Hangout to them.

Pinterest is the hugely popular visual pinboard site in which community members “pin” photos that they like in different interest areas and categories. Closely intertwined with facebook, people are using Pinterest creatively to share everything from recipes to home design tips to business and technology advice.

Instagram is another widely used social media tool to create smartly designed graphic representations that express information and data in an easy-to-understand visual way, or to add special effects to your photos. People share instagrams through the instagram app itself, facebook, pinterest, their blog, or anywhere else they want to online.

5. Plan your staffing, who will listen, engage, and make decisions on the fly for your organization?

The main “cost” of engaging in social media is time and effort rather than “hard costs.” Social media gives the power to any size organization to make an impact but it takes time…and it is very public so you want to make sure that whoever posts on behalf of your organization understands your goals and what is appropriate in tone and substance.

6. Plan your customer service approach and proactively anticipate issues that might arise. 

Be sure to plan how you will respond to any customer issues that arise as people expect if you are online at a site that you will answer questions or concerns they post – and if your social media “listening” uncovers problems then address them as quickly as possible. Proactively prepare for what you think could arise, based on your audience and what you observe people “talking about” online. People can get nervous about the risk of social media uncovering issues but whether your organization has an official presence on a social media site or not doesn’t change that customers are online and they like to discuss whatever issues are on their minds on any particular day.

7. Gauge your progress and continuously test and update it as you go along.

Seek ways to monitor your progress, such as how you are engaging with current and potential customers in whichever social media communities you are using. Engaging people in an interactive, social way is a key benefit of social media that can help strengthen your brand, building loyalty and community.

How has your social media presence helped your organization spread the word about your services and products, or retain and strengthen customer relationships?

Does What You Say Match What You Deliver?

cup with array of colored pencilsDo your messaging, mission, stories, and actual customer/member/donor experience align? It takes enormous effort, creativity, and time to deliver your mission, use effective messaging, and make it come alive through compelling stories. But it means nothing if the actual experience your customers, members, or donors have does not match the expectations your story creates.

Listening to your constituents through as many channels as possible including social media and market research offers a critical window to how your organization is really doing.

Get insights and feedback from front line staff who communicate with your customers, members, or donors on a daily basis through phone, email and your social media outlets to make sure you understand people’s perceptions, impressions, feelings, and experiences.

Does the reality people are experiencing match what your marketing is promising? If not, what do you need to do to change that?

Using Social Media for Customer Service, HR, Operations and the Rest of Your Organization

Social media has grown way beyond being a marketing, public relations, and communications tool. At its heart the core of social media is connecting people, an ever evolving opportunity for people to engage, discuss, and share  perspectives, opinions, and information. So by definition social media impacts most aspects of an organization including product development, customer service, HR, and crisis management.

image of the world globe against digital backgroundAre you thinking through the best ways to use social media effectively throughout your organization to meet your goals and build community? Here are just a few examples of the many applications social media has across the organization:

Customer Service. Customers and potential customers are most likely discussing your products and services online, providing a constant virtual focus group. If customers do not get the service they want or something goes wrong with a product, they will be quick to share it online. Be sure to respond quickly and helpfully, remembering your response and the customer’s are in a very public forum.The positive is when you shine, you also may get complimented in that same public space. Obviously you want the positives to go viral, not to be a negative example used by social media experts for years to come (as happened with “United Breaks Guitars“).

This is all one more reason why most organizations want to have a strong presence on primary sites like facebook and twitter to provide outstanding customer service while also supporting their branding and messaging goals. Many organizations also encourage customer reviews on their own web sites getting the opportunity to address issues as they arise and get honest feedback about their products.

New Product Development. Listening to customers’ conversations on social media can provide invaluable input and pinpoint trends to help hone current products and services and get ideas for new ones. Innovative organizations have set up special web sites to invite customers to share new product ideas and vote on favorite ideas others have submitted, for example “My Starbucks Idea.” The sites often offer incentives such as potential prizes for winning ideas.

Crisis Planning and Management. The power of social media to build community and communicate makes it a critical interactive tool in a crisis. Messages can be communicated on the fly to the public and the media. Conversation on sites like facebook and google plus about ongoing issues can keep people up-to-date and get their questions answered.

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How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

How well do you really know your most important customers, members, clients, or donors? The more you know about your key audience segments, the better you will be able to develop successful products and services that meet their needs and use the language that resonates most with them.

Can you picture your typical customers, clients, donors, or members in your mind? Do you really understand their challenges, the problems that cause them the most stress? What motivates them, worries them, makes them happy? In response, do you offer products or services that solve their problems, make a difference in their lives?

blue puzzle with red piece representing the solutionIn addition to conducting whatever regular market research you can afford, take every opportunity you can to talk with your customers, clients, and members. Ask caring questions and listen carefully – not only do people love most of all to be listened to, but their answers can be the key to your success.

Use an ongoing combination of listening and engaging through one-on-one conversations and social media  as well as market research to form the best picture possible of your most important constituents. People are probably already discussing your organization through social media sites like twitter and facebook, are you monitoring those conversations to learn and interact?

Conversations and listening can help clarify and explore further trends you learn through market research, just be sure to seek out discussions with enough people to get a complete picture and avoid basing decisions on just a couple of customers’ insights.

Reflect regularly on what you are hearing and learning and how you can help solve your constituents’ problems and make a difference in their lives. What if your goal was to see your customer’s face light up whenever someone mentions your organization’s name? Imagine what a strong force of customer evangelists you would have. What would it take to make that happen?

Sheer Anxiety about Social Media

When people share how they are using social media (or NOT!) for their organizations, I hear everything from sheer anxiety to pure delight. Using social media is

open door leading to a question mark

  1. Fun
  2. Exciting and energizing
  3. Engaging
  4. A great way to share information and ideas
  5. An opportunity to hear what customers, members, and constituents are thinking
  6. A very effective, free promotional tool
  7. Intimidating
  8. A waste of time or at the least too time consuming
  9. A privacy nightmare and intrusion into people’s private lives
  10. A risk mitigation waiting to happen
  11. An opportunity to listen to your customers’ conversations and feedback
  12. A tool to be used to help meet your organization’s goals and enhance your mission
  13. It all depends on your perspective.

Even the most hesitant recognize the wild popularity of social media, but worry about the time and energy it would take, are skeptical about how effective it would be, or are anxious about privacy, risk, and control. But take this into account — social media is more than a tool or trend, it has become the fabric of community, collaboration, and interactive communication.

While social media is constantly evolving, it is not going away, and it is imperative to be part of the conversation to stay current and position yourself and your organization for the future.

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Is Your Social Media Outreach on Target?

Are you getting the maximum impact from your social media efforts? Many organizations have implemented the first stages of social media engagement, typically including a facebook fan page, someone tweeting occasionally, and perhaps a LinkedIn group or Flickr feed. Experimenting with different tools and techniques, promoting a specific event or product is always great.

But to be truly effective and promote your brand and mission, you need to have a strategic social media plan that outlines the objectives, strategies, and outcomes you are seeking. It should align with your organization’s strategic mission and objectives and how you are using other traditional marketing and public relations techniques to meet them. And it needs to clearly define what success looks like and how you will measure it.

This doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy. It does need to be fluid and continuously updated as you learn what works and doesn’t work for your organization and goals, and as the social media world constantly changes.

The Direct Business Impact of Social Media Outreach and Engagement

A huge benefit of social networking for most organizations is that the more  you can engage and involve your current and potential customers, members, or clients, the more likely you are to retain them and to increase your share of their business. One of the greatest values of social media is to better understand your audience, get instant feedback, and provide an opportunity to listen and engage.

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