4 Ways to Drive Engagement on LinkedIn

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You’ve done everything you’re supposed to do when it comes to LinkedIn: you have a 100% complete profile, received positive recommendations/endorsements and, if applicable, launched a business page.  You’ve built it, but how do you keep your partners, cohorts and clients engaged? Here are four practical methods to integrate into your LinkedIn strategy that will drive engagement:

Keep In Touch

LinkedIn is not a database, it’s a social network. To really maximize it, be aware that it’s a two-way communication venue. Keep in mind that while you are perusing other people’s profiles and groups, they’re checking out yours as well. Once you have established a connection on LinkedIn, keep it fresh. Make a note to send messages directly to a set of individuals at least every 90 days. If they need someone with your expertise, you want them to think of you and not someone else.  Use your status updates to provide useful information to those in your industry.

Become the Resource

Strive to continuously learn about your niche industry, target audience and trends. The more you know, the more you can share and help others. When you share your knowledge with your connections, they realize you are a provider they can trust with their business.

Share those insights in your on-and-offline conversations, and also consider sending clients tidbits of information as you find them online. For example, your organization compiled client case studies, consider posting them on LinkedIn via Slideshare and tag specific individuals you know will benefit from your report.

Inspire Trust

Trust is imperative to the success of any business. If trust in your brand is lost, then you lose business and, if you lose business, then you’re out of business. Since LinkedIn is a platform where professionals can interact with you and ask questions, you can utilize that to build trust in your brand. Take the time to answer questions, interact with connections and consistently post valuable information. Over time people recognize you as an expert in your field and that you can be trusted to get the job done.

Be Transparent

Transparency assists in making prospective clients feel comfortable. People are wary. They fear being scammed or spending money and time on an inferior product or service. Help them feel secure by showcasing your offerings and testimonials from those who have benefited from your services.

Be smart about how you communicate online, too.  If you have a clear strategy, then you will be able to benefit from the multitude of resources. In the end, your online success truly depends on you.

 

Connect with Lynn on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/slynncooper

Why Instagram trumps Vine

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In the world of technology, in order to stay relevant and profitable, your brand has to adapt. Today, social media giant Facebook unveiled a highly anticipated video feature on Instagram, a strategic move to satisfy audiences who are seeking innovative mobile technology. It’s a much needed defense tactic against rivals such as Twitter’s mobile application Vine, which has amassed a large following for its six-second videos, and Snapchatwhich enables videos and photographs to “self-destruct.”

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive at Facebook, believes that mobile is the best way for his company to remain profitable. In Facebook’s 2012 annual report, the company stated: “We believe that mobile usage of Facebook is critical to user growth and engagement over the long term, and accordingly are prioritizing mobile product development.” The Menlo Park, California-based company has tripled the Instagram workforce since the photo-sharing platform was acquired last year, and during the launch event Zuckerberg hinted, “We’re really just getting started with this product.”

The recent announcement is evidence that Instagram’s video application trumps Vine’s current offerings, allowing users to record and share 15-second videos with the option of selecting custom covers and one of 13 signature filters, as well as boasts image stabilization. But unlike Vine videos, Instagram videos do not continuously loop.

Brands have learned that uploading videos online is a powerful way to deliver advertising. Consumers watch videos for two reasons: First entertainment, and secondly information.  With projections that streaming video will harness more than 70% of online traffic in the next few years, it’s clear that video consumption won’t dwindle.

If you’re looking to try your hand at creating an online video, here why Instagram video trumps Vine:

It’s user-friendly

The selling point of Instagram is its ease of use. The app takes seconds to learn and is so simple to use.

It’s reach and integration is unrivaled

Instragram let’s users share video on Facebook and Twitter, as well as embed videos on a blog or website. These capabilities offer brands the opportunity to extend their reach to a larger audience and integrate marketing efforts over several platforms. This far outweighs Vine’s appeal since Instagram currently has over 100 million users. The product update is likely to send the user count up.

Less restrictions

While Vine only gave users six seconds of video, Instagram video boasts 15 seconds of recording right out the gate—and the videos don’t loop. In addition, Vine was only available for iPhone users until earlier this month while Instagram launched its video option immediately on both platforms. Trust, socially savvy customers won’t forget those details.

If you have yet to secure your brand identity on Instagram, now is the time to do so. Craft a strategic plan for utilizing the technology and start shooting.

5 Social Media Networks to Watch

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Few social services have enjoyed as much success as sites like Facebook and YouTube.  However, there are thousands of social media sites in existence and their popularity truly depends on the country.

Socially Ahead’s S. Lynn Cooper has curated a list of five social networks to watch. Like Instagram, many incorporate visual images with the goal of connecting people beyond the digital realm. Other services remind us of LinkedIn, bringing users together through professional networking. Regardless of which ones spark your interest, let’s explore which ones will become the future of social media.

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Conversations

HootSuite has launched Conversations, a tool that brings social networking into the workplace.  Forget e-mail chains, members can collaborate in real-time by posting on message boards similar to Facebook.  The great thing is this tool is not limited to the immediate team; in fact, others can be invited to join the conversation. Need to pull in legal or marketing, one click and they are brought into the dialogue.

Vine

When you hear the word vine, most would think of something that grows from a tree. Not anymore! If you have yet to hear about this mobile application, then it’s time we get you up to speed. Powered by Twitter, Vine is a video-sharing app that allows users to create six second videos using their smartphone. You can upload them and share the videos on other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. If you have a product-based business and a sprinkle of creativity, Vine can become an excellent content marketing vehicle for your brand.

Chirpify

What if your followers could purchase your product or services by simply tweeting? Enter Chirpify, a social media network that allows your brand to sell directly to consumers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. When followers, who must have Chirpify accounts, reply with the word “buy,” they score the item. No need for you to send them to your website for processing, Chirpify does it all for you for a nominal transaction fee.

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Medium

To simplify what Medium is think Twitter and Blogger combined in a simple layout.   Unlike Twitter, which caps you at 140 characters, Medium gives you the flexibility to express your thoughts just the way you like.

Quora

Quora is an information sharing and gathering platform that takes the form of crowd-sourced questions and answers. A combination of other platforms such as LinkedIn Answers and Wikipedia, users can vote the answers they deem the most helpful, allowing the most knowledgeable to obtain status in the network.

5 Surefire Ways to Make Your Website Work for You

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Having a website is essential to a business’s marketing strategy. Almost every business whether business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B), and even non-profits, need an online presence to reach the global marketplace. Surprisingly, many small businesses lack a website that will convert to leads. Regardless if you have a social media presence, operating without a website can hurt your chances at sustainable online success.

Gone are the days where all it took was a URL, flash graphics, and an expensive advertising campaign to boost traffic. The reasoning behind this shift is largely due to a change in consumer behavior. Today’s customer desires to devour information when they want and how they want to, without the involvement of a sales person. Also, prospects don’t want to be advertised to, but instead educated on how your product or service benefits their life.

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Create a user-friendly website

Your website’s appearance and ease of navigation are a direct reflection of your brand. That’s why it’s critical you ensure that your website is welcoming and easy to read and use. Before going live, gather a group of trusted individuals to conduct usability testing, or hire a firm.  Carefully review the feedback that you receive and incorporate those pointers into your site.

Incite excitement and response

In order to keep consumers active on your site, you must be able to effectively converse with them using language that is relevant and comfortable. Turn on your imagination and liven it up with powerful keywords and headlines.

Optimize your website

In order for search engines to find your brand, you will need to include your most powerful keywords (in various pages) throughout your website—your copy and headings, combined with photos and graphics. Use distinctive page titles and meta tags, and concentrate on your most important keywords. Make sure it’s easy for search engines and your website’s visitors to navigate through your site and any external links such as your social media channels.

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Build an email list

Make sure your mailing list sign-up form is featured prominently, and on every page of your website, if possible. Let your visitors know by signing up for your mailing list that they will receive exclusive offers, discounts, freebies and announcements. People like to feel like they have an inside track with a brand.

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Convert your traffic

Traffic conversion is a committed process for building relationships and affinity with your target market. When done properly, it provides the opportunity for your brand to achieve its ultimate objective of acquiring and retaining customers. In order to optimize your website, so your prospects will be compelled to learn more about your products and/or services, and feel secure purchasing from you, make your site eye-catching and ensure it contains strong brand messaging.

4 Ways to Successfully Launch a Product on Facebook

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Thousands of new businesses are launched every day around the world. Brands with drive and abundant ideas turn their understanding of a market problem into an innovative product or service. But there is a lot more to launching a new product than a great idea—and a market in need of a solution, you have to figure out how to generate buzz and get people to buy into it.  There are many social networks to choose from and with millions of brands using Facebook to launch products; We will provide you with details on how you can use the network to launch your product:

If you build it, they will come

First things first: to get the most out of Facebook, brands should focus on building a target audience. Start by defining who your audience is and develop a strategy to guide them to your fan page. Releasing consistent content packed with useful information in conjunction with contests, powered by Facebook ads, will ensure that you get the consumers you’re seeking.

Ben & Jerry’s is a brand to watch when it comes to Facebook fan pages. The famous ice cream brand not only has a well laid out page, but excellent fan engagement. Ben & Jerry’s profiles fans with their products which lets consumers know that they’re highly valued by their brand.

 

Research and develop
If your brand currently has a significant following, use Facebook to soft launch your product. Invite users to test your brand and provide feedback as volunteers. Make sure to reward them in some way once your product or service fully launches. Remember these people can become your evangelists, especially since you gave them the opportunity to be a part of the process.

Lay’s has been able to harness the power of Facebook in their Lay’s Do Us a Flavor campaign. It has not only provided research and development of what potato chip flavor they should release next; the brand has also generated millions of dollars in sales by peaking people’s curiosity.

 

Activate your fans

Well planned contests and giveaways not only increase the number of likes, they engage your target audience and provide valuable customer information. The campaign needs to have three key elements:

  • a way for your fans to interact with not only the brand but with each other
  • a clean design/copy
  • an enticing prize

 

Looking for some inspiration? A great example is Gillette Venus Embrace DIY contest. The contest urges crafty women to embrace their inner “do it yourself diva” by completing several challenges. The winner wins a trip to Los Angeles.

Embrace technology

Thanks to the brilliant engineers at Facebook they have given brands a significant advantage. By launching Facebook ads you can create a targeted campaign based on a user’s city, state, or employer.

Visit the Facebook ads page and begin inputting the demographics information of your potential customers. It will let you know how many Facebook users you can reach, and assist you in launching a cost-effective campaign based on your budget.

 

Why Your Social Media Strategy Isn’t Working—and How to Fix It

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According to Nielsen, 70% of active adult social networkers shop online, which is 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user. With millions of users online, brands continually flock to social media networks to garner consumers yet have been discouraged by the lack of results and questioning the validity of social media marketing. Rather than become disillusioned with social media, because there’s no denying the millions of people buying and conversing online, the question remains: What is the best way to reach them?

We have outlined five reasons your brand’s social media strategy isn’t working, and what you can do to improve it:

Great expectations

Social media is not a cure-all, end-all solution for marketing to one’s target market. If you think that by setting up a profile on a network and constantly spewing marketing messages that you’ll attract thousands, if not millions, of customers immediately, you’re sadly mistaken. It’s, however, an enduring solution in combination with advertising and public relations to increase exposure, promote and eventually garner sales.

Lack of company buy-in

In order for social media to be effective for your organization, everyone has to buy-in, from executives to support staff, or it will not reach its full potential. Your chances of having a successful social media campaign is increased if senior management actively uses it and allows the brand to have multiple voices. The executives of your company are not the only champions; in fact it is feasible to come up with a list of influencers in all departments that can provide content and insight in the form of a social media council.

Undefined goals

With any marketing effort, you must clearly define what your intentions are for using social media. Do you want to get exposure for new product or service? Improve brand recognition? Increase website traffic? Once those intentions have been identified you must question what success looks like.

Untrained staff

To avoid social media crises and potential disasters every company should invest in social media training and guidelines. Do not pawn off social media activities on the “young” professionals. Just because they know how to use the technology does not make them equipped to become the global communications arm of your brand.

When creating your social media team, you should seek someone who has a strong capacity for communications and marketing; the tools can be taught to via training programs in- person or online. Showing employees the best practices and way in which your brand should be showcased online can be an exceptionally valuable business tool.

Not enough engagement

If you’re not responding to your fans questions or comments, they’ll seek a brand that will.  Social media has shifted marketing as we know it. It’s no longer a one way street, but a two way street which requires communication and collaboration. You will achieve greater results when you respond in a timely manner, highlight your customers using your product or service and share valuable information with them.

Keep in mind if you are not fully committed to social media then you will not achieve the results you desire online. Once you have a social media strategy with realistic goals and targeted content, the rest is relatively simple.

3 Tools to Maximize Your Social Media Impact

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There are many statistical tools you can use for social media analysis. If you want to maximize your presence without spending inordinate amounts of time, you need to know the best day and time to post content, as well as which kind of posts garner the most engagement from your fans.  To get that vital information, you’ll need to use a reliable social tool.

Here are some highlights which tools you can utilize to make an impact on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Tweriod

Every day millions of people use Twitter to discover and disperse ideas across the web. Now, Twitter has become the daily go-to social media platform for people to connect with businesses and organizations. It’s great because it gives brands the opportunity to connect and assist their customers in real time.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable tool to help you analyze your followers, try a free tool like Tweriod.  Tweriod helps users make the most of Twitter by letting their brand know the best time to tweet. It will analyze up to 1,000 followers, so if you have thousands of followers, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium service.

PageLever

With the ever changing landscape of Facebook, it’s hard to truly know the impact of your posting without feeling like you need to pay for advertisements to reach your audience. If you’ve been using Facebook Insights to try to get an idea on what is happening with your Facebook page, you’re likely seeing some interesting results. Unfortunately, you’re also might be a bit confused by what Insights is telling you.

Welcome PageLever to your analytics mix. PageLever provides a deeper look at your fan pages and focuses on the day-to-day usability of the fans that follow your page. Facebook Insights only focuses on seven points wherein Pagelever can give you over 30.

Statigram

Instagram is a photo-sharing and social networking service that enables users to take photographs, apply filters, and share them on other social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Instagram is an excellent source for your brand to curate positive content and encourage customers to share images of them with your product or service.

A great free tool to use is Statigram, which allows you to access Instagram from your computer to view, measure, manage, and promote your Instagram account. The third-party application creates a visually-appealing, shareable profile page that sums up your Instagram history.

Join us May 4 at Day of Fosterly #DOF2013

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www.dayoffosterly.com

Tomorrow our CEO, S. Lynn Cooper has been invited to serve as a media match mentor for the annual Day of Fosterly in Arlington, VA. Not your average conference, the Day of Fosterly is more than eight hours of collaborative entrepreneurship for anyone interested in starting, growing, or exiting a business. With a focus on spotlighting many of the best endeavors in the Washington, DC metropolitan region, attendees will depart with hands on experience, knowledge and relationships.

More about Media Match session

We recognize that getting the word out about what you’re up to might be difficult. Accordingly, we’re bringing in some members of the media to help you frame your stories effectively. Taking place in a three minute speed dating format, you’ll have the opportunity to pitch your story to journalists who are positioned to cover them. To view a list of participating journalists, visit the People page.

For more information please visit: www.dayoffosterly.com

4 Ways Colleges Can Take Their Digital Presence to the Next Level

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21.6 million students were enrolled in American colleges and universities in 2012. With today’s youth constantly texting, tweeting, Tumblring, posting statuses on Facebook and updating Instagram, among other social networking sites at a rapid pace, schools need to engage with applicants and current students regularly. It’s clear the days of shiny brochures, flashy websites and in-person campus visits are no longer enough to attract high-caliber students.

Colleges and universities should embrace social media as a means to build relationships and create emotional connections with prospective students. Here are some methods academic institutions could take to bring their social media presence from outdated to fresh:

Get Buy-in

In order for social media to work effectively, key players must include students. Coordinate discussions with current students since they are avid users of social media and can provide insight about student activities and what influenced them to attend. Also, consider hiring a consultant to analyze the various methods utilized by faculty members and staff. That’ll help when you’re creating a robust campaign.

Engagement is Essential

So, you’re institution has Facebook, Twitter…now what? Well, if nothing else, a social media coordinator or manager must ensure the university or college is engaging with the current followers, as well as prospective ones.
Students will make a snap judgment about the college if the pages are not updated frequently, or if inquiries are left unanswered.

Make it a habit to check your pages daily and respond to requests within 24 hours. Keep a log of these inquiries and forward information to appropriate departments for follow-up.

Go Viral

Many students cannot afford to visit the campus, so why not create a series of videos featuring current students and faculty? It will allow prospective students to feel as though they stepped foot on campus for a college tour. The video series can address tours, the application process, financial aid, as well as provide sneak peeks into classes in session. Make sure these videos are no more than five minutes in length and don’t be afraid to inject personality in them.

There’s An App for That

Many colleges are taking advantage of the mobile revolution by building applications for Android and iPhones. A report from the Pew Internet Project found that 78% of people ages 12 to 17 have a cellphone, and more than 50% of those phones are smartphones. These statistics show that most young adults are perusing the web via their mobile device. Hence, it makes sense for universities to design an app where students can get information about the school, course offerings, admissions status and financial standing.

How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

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Whether you’re a business owner trying to ramp up your startup’s connections or a recent graduate looking to secure post-grad opportunities, yourLinkedIn account is crucial to landing new-found opportunities. LinkedIn is an excellent online networking tool that can assist you in building vital professional relationships.

Finish what you’ve started

First impressions are everything. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your one shot. Thus, your LinkedIn profile should list your current position and at least two previous roles, academic institutions attended and contact information which will then make your profile 100% complete, according to LinkedIn’s standards.  Take the time to fill out the descriptions, listing your duties and inject keywords relevant to your industry.  Ask yourself, what would others type in the search box to find someone with my skill set?

Put your best foot face forward

Browsing through most social media sites, you’ll notice a majority of the profile photos are not professional. These laid-back photos are acceptable for personal profiles, but, since LinkedIn is a professional’s playground, promoting yourself or your brand without having professional photographs can drastically alter the way you and/or your business is viewed.

Studies show that LinkedIn profiles with appropriate photographs are much more likely to get clicked on than those without.  So, even if you don’t have a professional photo, taking one with a high-resolution camera in conjunction with appropriate lighting, clothing and background is better than having no photo at all.

Reach out

Perform a series of searches to locate people you know by name via the search box. Once you’ve identified these contacts, click the connect button to add them to your network.  Send a custom message to the person within the invitation, especially if you’re not in constant communication with the individual. Once you’ve made a significant amount of connections, you should view the “People You May Know” page to review colleagues you may have missed.

Request meaningful recommendations

Take the time to reach out to your supervisors and closest colleagues to obtain quality recommendations prior to sending a request on LinkedIn, and explain the importance of their recommendation.  Once they have completed your request, take a moment and thank them and consider returning the favor by recommending them.

Get those apps

Third-party applications approved by LinkedIn allow you to customize your profile and showcase your work products. You may have crafted a white paper or presentation that can be of value to your industry; consider sharing it with your network via SlideShare which you can connect to your LinkedIn account. Perhaps you’ve penned a blog article, add the WordPress app so you can share you’re expertise.

Take time to explore the infinite amount of tools and features that LinkedIn offers. It’s like a gold mine for those who want to take advantage of connecting with other professionals, establishing thought leadership and creating new opportunities.

Have LinkedIn tips? Share your best practices in the comments section below.