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Are you using LinkedIn effectively?

Use LinkedIn to Establish Your Presence as a Leader in Your Field

Having discussed the benefits of using Twitter and Facebook to enhance your business, it seems fair that some time should be spent exploring another medium that can be invaluable to your organization: LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is significantly different than traditional social media sites, although it shares a few common traits. Therefore, it is important to understand and approach LinkedIn from a different perspective. Since its primary purpose is dissimilar from other platforms, treating it like Twitter or Facebook is a grave mistake.

These few basic facts about LinkedIn help illustrate why it is important to use this social media network wisely:

  • Worldwide, over 65 million business professionals have LinkedIn accounts.
  • Almost half of the people with LinkedIn profiles have some degree of decision-making and spending authority within their organizations.
  • The average annual household income for people on LinkedIn is over $100,000.

What is LinkedIn?

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are dedicated primarily to the sharing of information in one way or another. LinkedIn also facilitates information sharing, but its primary purpose is networking – connecting people with common interests, for personal and professional enhancement. There is an element of marketing involved, but it is much subtler and more focused than on other sites. There are two main approaches to engaging on LinkedIn, but it is generally better to focus on establishing a business presence and a solid reputation prior to beginning any sort of active marketing.

Establish a Profile

Profiles on LinkedIn can be personal or organizational. Generally, it is a good idea for small business owners and self-employed entrepreneurs to have personal profiles; key employees should have personal profiles, as well. A business profile also is advantageous for organizations that eventually want to actively market on LinkedIn.

When building your LinkedIn profile, you may want to consider dating site profiles as an example. You will likely not find a boring laundry list of facts on a Match.com profile; rather, you will discover inspiring, appealing, and attractive descriptions of what one individual person may offer another. Capture that individuality. You want people to see your profile as professional yet also unique – something they will remember when they think about you and your industry.

Build a Large Pool of Connections

When your profile is completed, take advantage of what LinkedIn has to offer, and become connected to as many people as possible, without engaging in anything remotely similar to spamming. Send connect requests to everyone with whom you are personally or professionally acquainted: friends,  business associates, former classmates, people who know you through work, school, church, or family. Remember: The primary purpose of LinkedIn is networking, so you want to be visible to as many people as possible. You also want to find people whom you can help (not just those who can help you), since the people you help are more likely to recommend you to others, thus expanding your network as broadly as possible.

Find and Participate in Groups with Similar Interests

Groups are a vital element of LinkedIn. They vary widely, and there are normally multiple groups that share similar interests or target your specific industry. They can be excellent sources of professional development, and they can provide insights that you would not ordinarily have on your own. Be careful not to dive in too quickly, however; avoid coming  across as arrogant and domineering. Some may get the impression that you are simply there to market. Take a little time to gauge the participants, and get used to how they converse with one another; then add your own input to existing conversations. Try to help and serve others prior to asking them to help and serve you.

Once you feel comfortable in your groups, introduce topics about which you would like feedback, and ask for the input and advice of others. Only at that point is it advisable to engage in anything resembling traditional marketing, and, even then, the best approach is to mention something you are planning on providing to the public, asking for suggestions and advice on how best to do so.

When you take the time to build quality  relationships with group participants, they will be much more likely to end up purchasing goods or services from your company – and the likelihood that they will recommend you to others in their own network will increase exponentially.

Create a Company Page on LinkedIn

A company page on LinkedIn is another important tool for many business owners. Small and large companies alike can benefit from a company page. It’s easy to create, provides a platform where you can deliver consistent branding and share content, and allows you to not only engage with your followers but provides deeper insights about who is paying attention to what you’re saying.

Actively Market on LinkedIn

Once you are ready to promote your work or business more actively, the following actions can help you do so effectively:

  • Post regular status updates on your personal and company pages. Focus your status updates on the professional and unique things you are doing. Educate others about what you are doing, without actively engaging in direct marketing approaches. Frame everything around how you are helping other people fulfill their needs. Avoid Facebook-style rants, personal photos, politically charged posts, and other potentially offensive commentary on LinkedIn.
  • Use messages and invitations sparingly. The worst thing you can do on LinkedIn is become seen as a spammer – or merely a marketer. Remember, the goal is to achieve mutual benefit, not just increase sales.
  • Try LinkedIn advertising. If you have a direct-marketing budget, LinkedIn’s paid advertising is relatively inexpensive, and it can be targeted at the most likely consumers and clients you have already identified.
  • Pay for an enhanced membership. LinkedIn offers various upgrade options with specific areas of focus. These include one for sales, as well as for HR  and employee acquisition.

LinkedIn is different than the typical social media sites, but, if used properly, it can be just as effective and impactful for you and your organization as the other sites. Simply  remember the difference in primary purpose, and tailor your approach accordingly.

Are you missing the opportunity to expand your reach?

Facebook as a Business Tool

In our last blog post, we focused on how to use Twitter responsibly. Much of the advice in that post similarly applies to using Facebook, so we recommend that you read it now if you have not done so already.

In this post, we are focusing more specifically on how to effectively use Facebook as a business tool. While the responsible use of all social media is important, Facebook is unique in that it may be used explicitly as a tool to grow your business. The following suggestions relate specifically to that capability.

Create the Proper Page

Dummy accounts are defined as accounts that do not represent real people. These accounts violate Facebook’s terms and conditions. They are illegal. It is that simple. Don’t use them. As well, you should not use a personal account for your business; instead, you should create a separate page. Whether you’re an author, a celebrity, or the CEO of an international corporation, create the right type of page for your needs. Take the time to develop the page properly, using graphics that match your website and incorporate your logo.

Complete the “About” Section

This section appears directly beneath your profile picture. This information is one of the first things people see when they find your account. Be sure to include information most relevant to prospective customers or clients – in practical terms, the Answer segment of a typical Q&A section without the Question segment.

Post with Reasonable Regularity

The adage, “out of sight; out of mind,” applies to Facebook. But for relatively small businesses, interactions per post drop dramatically when there is more than one post per day. Therefore, it is usually best to post no more than once or twice per day. Rather than quantity, focus on quality. Posting low-quality material is even worse than posting too often, so refrain from doing either. For genuine results, especially if you are just getting started and need to build a following, investing in Facebook ads (boosted posts and page ads) can help put your page in front of a targeted audience.

Post at the Right Times of the Day

In general, most Facebook analyses indicate that early afternoon (1:00-4:00 pm) is the best time for business posts to be viewed and shared. If you want to post twice on any given day, it usually is best to post right after lunch (1:00) and right before the end of the standard work day (4:30). If your business is mostly conducted after regular business hours (restaurants, bars, movie theaters, etc.), then the hours of 4:00-5:00 and 7:00-9:00 generally work best. The most effective times for you might vary slightly from the standards, but using these suggested times as your starting point is a good idea.

Use Videos and Multimedia

One of the distinguishing factors in well-regarded Facebook posts is a combination of traditional print and video material. Just as with other marketing efforts, Facebook is most powerful when it appeals to multiple senses. Of particular impact is inspirational video and the use of music, since those forms of media tap into emotion in a direct way. Research estimates put engagement about two to three times higher after the first month when multimedia is employed as opposed to when solely using print in your posts.

Respond within an Hour to Comments

Your social media participants (those who comment on your posts) can be separated into two groups: those who complain and those who don’t. You can’t eliminate all complaints, but you can minimize them with one policy: Respond to comments within an hour. That is the expectation of those who complain, and it will impress those who don’t.

To make sure you are able to do this, activate notifications when people comment. Have the notifications sent to two locations: to an email address that is dedicated to social media responses and to a work computer or mobile device, depending on your availability.

Use Facebook Analytic Tools

It is impossible to improve that which isn’t tracked, studied, and understood. The point of all marketing is continual improvement, so actively using Facebook without taking advantage of its analytic tools is foolish. The data available through these tools is invaluable, so use them to craft an intentional, comprehensive strategy that works for you and your business. Not only will they allow you to do more of what works, but they also will allow you to do less of what doesn’t work.

Along with these foundational suggestions, there are a number of Facebook features that can enhance your effectiveness. It is worth taking some time and looking into each one to see if you can use them in your social media strategy. They include the following:

  • Scheduled posts
  • Promoted posts
  • Hashtags
  • Places
  • Stock photography

Facebook still can be a powerful component of social media marketing, if it is implemented correctly. Done well, Facebook can reach customers and potential consumers in a unique way. It should not be used independently of other marketing measures; rather, it should be integrated into your overall marketing plan. There is much more that you can do to maximize Facebook effectively, but the suggestions and components in this post will give you a solid starting point – and they can launch your expanded use into deeper features.

What you tweet can be used against you

Responsible Tweeting

Over the last decade, the use of social media by celebrities, business professionals, and politicians has increased exponentially. Throughout that time, we have noticed an alarming number of people in highly visible positions who may not realize that there is no separation between personal and professional when it comes to the influence social media can have on businesses and reputations. Put simply and bluntly, what you post on a personal account will be read as if you posted it on a professional account. There is no distinction between the two in the public’s eye. What you post as an individual will be read and interpreted by your readers as your professional point of view in your function as an employee or employer. As well, published, personal biases and opinions can influence your business in significant ways.

There is no separation between personal and professional when it comes to #socialmedia. Click To Tweet

Twitter, in particular, is complicated, since it is much harder to avoid misstatements and misunderstandings when you are limited to only 140 characters. The probability of a communication problem seems to escalate exponentially when you have fewer words to convey your message or point of view, since it is impossible to use qualifying language and disclaimers to clarify your intended message.

The following tips on responsible tweeting are critical for anyone who tweets or posts on social media, whether personally or professionally:

Speak Up, Speak Out, but Think First

We are all for taking a stand. The best leaders do. You can be for or against something, you can publicly speak your beliefs, you can even share personal information about yourself and your life. But think before you tweet. Are you extremely angry? Are your thoughts unfocused? Will you possibly regret what you post later? Would you still tweet your mind, if you knew your post would be read by your boss, a shareholder, a customer, or your mother?

THINK before you #TWEET. It's that simple. Click To Tweet

Don’t Get Too Personal

By all means, share insights into who you are as a person. Engagement increases when you are authentically you. But balance what you share with what really belongs behind closed doors. We have all seen countless business leaders, politicians, and celebrities lose status, jobs, and respect because they didn’t know when too much was too much.

Some of the things you do should be totally private. This is true especially with information about your social activities that might not be seen as appropriate within your professional or public life. Twitter isn’t a private journal; it is open to millions of people. Don’t unnecessarily give anyone ammunition that they can launch against you later on when your guard is down. Never share anything that could be seen as unprofessional by a large number of clients, associates, or employees.

Keep this in mind: Your competitors and rivals (or even a former spouse) can read what you post, and it only takes a second to grab a screenshot. Deleting tweets is a poor defense at best.

Politics and Religion Are Always Hot Potatoes

Unless your profession is inseparable from your politics and your faith, be careful about sharing too much that is political or religious in nature. This is more difficult to do during heated political campaigns, such as the 2016 US presidential election, but political and religious posts can have a huge impact on other people’s perception of you – and they can cause serious professional and business harm if your views differ from the dominant opinions held in an area where you are operating professionally (or in new markets in which you are trying to enter).

Wait Until You Are Less Emotional

If you are upset, angry, or exhausted, don’t tweet! Full stop. Period. End of discussion. Many of the biggest blunders that occur are  a direct result of emotional impairment. If you are upset at all, take time to calm down before tweeting.

If you are upset, angry, or exhausted, don’t tweet! Full stop. Period. End of discussion. Click To Tweet

Remember: Tweets Last Forever

What you say can and will be used against you … in a court of law and in the court of public opinion. Your tweets last forever. Even if you quickly delete them, there is a chance that they will be saved and used later in a way that will harm you, personally and professionally.

Proofread Your Tweets

Before clicking the tweet button, read over what you’ve written, and make sure you don’t have any typos. Autocorrect is not necessarily your friend. We all have the occasional error where our phones think they know more than we do about what we’re trying to say, but if you make a habit of demonstrating a true lack of grammar, spelling, and comprehension, it will reflect poorly on you.

Not Every Tweet Needs to be Contentious

Social media is used by some people as a place to launch personal attacks against others. Twitter is particularly tempting in this regard, since a user can fire off short, quick broadsides without spending a lot of time composing complicated arguments. However, you may often come across as mean-spirited and bullying when you take this approach – and that can be crippling to your business and reputation.

Again, before posting any tweet, ask yourself how you would react if someone else posted that exact same tweet about you – and understand that the action you are attacking might be necessary for you to take in the future. There is an element of karma about a record that never disappears for those who use social media as a weapon.

The Key to Responsible Tweeting

Twitter can be a powerful medium that enhances your professional reputation and business endeavors, but you must use it responsibly for that to happen. Improper tweeting can have the opposite impact. Understanding and following the suggestions above will help you succeed. Don’t underestimate them because of their simplicity. To err is human. To forgive is something quite different. And if Twitter can become a contributing factor in the falling approval ratings of a US President, then it is certainly a medium that deserves our respect and attention.

Responsible tweeting - a @DaShfactor guide to tweeting well. #twitteretiquette Click To Tweet