The latest update on Linkedin demographic statistics (January 2012) makes for fascinating reading. As the social network of choice for business professionals, numbers are steadily increasing as the functionality continues to improve unabated.
Content marketing is a phenomenon that isn’t going away. If you’re a business to business marketer, using content marketing is a great way of rethinking and re-tasking some of press and sales support material in a way that stimulates inbound inquiry.
Need five reasons why your business needs a content marketing strategy? Here you go.
1. Quality regular content builds trust. There are undeniable SEO benefits of persistently talking about the same topics. But it’s at the human interaction level, rather than technical level, where the benefits of content marketing are most interesting. Talking frequently and in detail about particular topics creates credibility which leads to you being trusted. Trust is the first step on the path to transaction.
2. Companies need to use people to tell stories that resonate. People do business with people they trust and like. Shared and personal experiences can underpin relationships and can be effectively used to build engagement. Advertising in the 1960’s looked to profile particular people and sell them solutions to their problems and this has largely remained the same in marketing today.
3. Broadcast PR is dead. All communication needs to be two-way. It’s not enough to tell all the time, you need to listen, react and respond. Social has spread right through all facets of modern business and modern marketing. In CRM, companies like Salesforce.com have bought into social media with outfits like Radian6, whilst the latest version of Google throws back recommendations from your contacts in amongst your search results.
4. The web finds liars out, quickly. Social media has balanced the playing field and created an outlet for disaffected customers. Whilst great viral commentary can make a business, one bad experience can destroy it as let-down customers realise they are not alone. Best to be open and transparent from the start.
5. Content converts. Most business to business products and services are conceived to solve a problem for a particular type of customer. Addressing the problems and offering ways to solve them, minimise their impact and disruption and actually remove them from the equation is a powerful way to drive trust and transaction. In B2B, there isn’t a transaction as such, but white papers, downloadable content and subscriptions emails are great ways to obtain data which can be followed up later.
Espresso do a great job of using Slideshare and have a real knack in producing slides that can be effortlessly clicked through but that leave long in the memory. Packed full of ideas, tips and examples, here’s a great deck giving a useful overview to social media for the uninitiated which can be skimmed in minutes or talked at for an hour.
If you know someone who needs an overview – a boss, manager or team member – do the decent thing and pass it along. Only when good ideas go viral do they have a chance of taking off.
RSS/email subscribers may need to visit the blog to see the slides.
Many millions of people using Linkedin are missing out on the fantastic brand building opportunities new Linkedin presents. I say new because after several years of under-investment, Linkedin has gone functionality crazy of late.
Give your Linkedin profile a spring clean today, avoid these ten all-to-common mistakes and start to take the most of the platform as an unbeatable research and business development tool as well as an incredible brand builder.
1. Poor or non existent profile pictures. Who wants to see a faceless profile or worse a company or brand logo. Not me. As with all social media, add a profile picture.
2. Lack of clarity in titles and descriptions. Use keywords that best represent who you are and what stand for do. That little box that tells you how many times you’ve been looked at – its down to keywords.
3. Lack of focus on achievements and what you add. Too many people fixate on titles when they should be focusing on your impact on sales, brand launches, new initiatives, or improvements in quality, process, training or operations if you are not in a commercial role.
4. Failure to use all available opportunities to promote via the profile page. There are some great links and embed opportunities. Use them. Add your website, a blog, a Twitter account, a Slideshare account.
5. Not having a thought out contact strategy or approach. Are you connected to all the people you’ve ever worked with rather than the people you want to sell to? Time to rethink who you want to be connected to by researching people using the search function, identifying key companies and seeking opportunities to informally approach them through Groups (see below). And don’t let Linkedin send a default invitation request. Tailor it giving a reason to connect – reference to a group, common contact or other common ground.
6. Not enough or over use of the status updates feature. Linkedin status updates containing tweets is one of the most frustrating parts of logging into new Linkedin. If you’re not careful a handful of people will take over your feed – luckily they can be hidden without dis-connecting. On the other side, don’t be a Linkedin bore. Update once / twice a day with something useful.
7. Not enough or over use of testimonials. These should matter. The best testimonials come from former managers, clients or customers. Asking your peers, team or suppliers to provide references just seems lame. Go for quality over quantity on this one. .
8. Being a lurker not a contributor in Groups. I estimate 1% of a Linkedin group’s membership actively engage in discussions within the group. What a missed opportunity. Getting involved in groups of like minded people is the cornerstone of the Linkedin experience. There is a group for almost everything on Linkedin. Search and sign up for one to try it out. There will be discussions taking place that you can add value to today!
9. Not building reputation through Answers. Like groups, this is a great feature to really build your profile as an expert in your field but as it is hidden away in the ‘More’ tab it is overlooked. Browse the categories and begin to provide feedback and recommendations to questions posed by other Linkedin members, worldwide.
10. Not fully populating your Company Page. This feature has developed in recent months with opportunities to add specific products and services linked to targeted landing pages and your Linkedin member colleagues.
Q: What other mistakes do you see made on Linkedin and how can they be avoided?
My latest effort for the influential UK digital marketing blog, Smart Insights is my third post in a series on business blogging. This piece concentrates on ways to ‘seed’ your blog posts once they have been written and published – so they are seen by as many people as possible.
The highlights include:-
1. Promoting it on your own website.
2. Using blog indexes.
3. Using email.
4. Using Twitter.
5. Using Linkedin.
6. Using Facebook.
7. Using bookmarks.
8. Using other content formats.
Visit the blog post to read more and also click on my name to read my previous business marketing posts on topics including social media for business, email marketing, using video in B2B and two posts on Facebook, one on how to use Facebook for business and one with lots of relevant Facebook business case studies showing best practice.
An interesting set of slides from Comscore which previews/summarises the key findings from their latest social media report. (Using SlideShare to preview downloadable paid/free content is itself an interesting example of content marketing in action that will be explored more in a future post).
It’s not a surprise to me to see data which supports claims such as
- Social networking is the most popular online activity in the world
- Microblogging platforms like Twitter have emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking, news and entertainment
- Mobile devices are fuelling an addiction to social
Slides 20-26 detail how Facebook truly dominates the social scene. How the site is even winning in most individual countries and regional markets is pretty astounding too.
What trends are you expecting or hoping for in 2012?
Some informed viewing for you this week.
First up, Coca Cola’s approach to social media in video form. Sure it’s big budget, but there are smart lessons in here. Love how they’ve used the word liquid which is a creative way of linking their strategy to their products. How could you do something similar?
Second, a video showing how Google search continues to evolve to the personal needs of the user.
Finally, the latest user data from Linkedin (for January 2012) shows how the platform continues to add users around the world. Some interesting intelligence for presentations.
Aretha was right. Actually, respect is a fundamental human need. Most of us in our professional careers yearn for it. But how do great business leaders motivate and inspire colleagues, managers and customers to deliver ground breaking, difference-making work? How do they (you?) set themselves apart from the poorer ones?
Perhaps these five characteristics are a good place to start
1. Passion. Great leaders believe utterly in what they are trying to achieve. There is often a more compelling reason to deliver great marketing work that matters over and above the need to simply get paid. Being associated with work that matters drives business leaders the world over. Pharmaceuticals save life, construction projects provide shelter and a place of learning whilst packaging innovations reduce waste and carbon and positively impact the planet.
2. Decisiveness. Making tough decisions, bold decisions, going in a new or different direction, and admitting when you got it wrong are all hallmarks of a leader worth following. I blogged yesterday about decisiveness in football club management and stimulated some interesting discussions across social networks. Having courage to stand out and make a decision marks leaders out.
3. Confidence. Passion matched with courage and decisiveness naturally instills confidence. The leader by default is confident but more importantly so too are the people around him. Whilst passion is innate, for me confidence (like positivity) is definitely infectious. Confidence in the direction being taken, the decisions being made and the work being done fosters greater productivity in people who want to be successful.
4. Inspiring. Most business leaders assume a leadership position by default – whether they set a company up, rise up to the role or are recruited to the role. Few are trained in leadership. The specifics are learned on the job. Inspiring leaders bottle their passion, decisiveness and confidence and package it in a way to ensure it becomes infectious so people buy in. Virgin regularly tops the list of brands most marketers would like to work on / for / with. Why?
5. Approachable. I believe leaders need to be approachable. This doesn’t mean anyone can get in touch at any time. But working in an ivory tower and not engaging can damage reputation and business. Listening becomes more important as a coaching skill. It’s not a surprise to me that during the last few years more senior managers are ‘going back to the floor’ to see what’s happening and what their workforce, customers and suppliers ever-shifting perceptions are.
Being a leader marks you out in a tough economy and creates business opportunities if you preach and practice what you preach. People will come to value your contribution and trust you to, in time, help their business.
Q: Have I missed any? What attributes do you see in great business leaders, that lead to them being respected? Share below.
My latest effort for the influential UK digital marketing blog, Smart Insights went live today. In it, I offer eight ways to ensure your blog does all it can to achieve company goals, including
1. Staying on topic.
2. The importance of keywords.
3. Being helpful.
4. Ensuring ‘stickiness’.
5. Following a formula.
6. Talking in multiple voices.
7. The importance of good design.
8. Lead nurturing.
It’s the second in a series on business blogging. Click on experts and my name to read my previous B2B marketing related posts on social media for business, email marketing, using video in B2B and two posts on Facebook, one on how to use Facebook for business and one with lots of relevant Facebook business case studies showing best practice.
Hope you find it useful.
Following my new year theme of efficiency it was interesting to see that new Premier League football club QPR dismissed their manager Neil Warnock yesterday, as they sit in 17th place in the league. (The fact that 17th will keep them in the league for another season is perhaps incidental).
In comments to Sky Sports, QPR’s Malaysian owner and chairman Tony Fernandes said: “This decision has been made in the best interests of the club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that was made lightly. Sadly, our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change.”
Sometimes, football club owners are accused of focusing on the short term. But one thing is true. They are focused on the business of results and the commercial success that results bring.
In making a bold decision at a critical time of the season and early in the new year, Fernandes has signalled intent to a number of groups. His incoming manager, in all likelihood Mark Hughes, the playing staff, club employees, fans and football community at large will all know he is a guy that means business and commands respect whether they agree or not.
So whether it is resource, budget, product portfolio, premises, export, diversification or other type of problem you held over into 2012, can you take a leaf out of Tony Fernandes’ book and make the bold changes that need to be made in your business?
For more on the QPR story and how Fernandes is engaging fans on Twitter about his decision, read this story.