Tuesday, 17 January 2017

1. LinkedIn for the Small Business

In the year 2017, if you are not easily found on the internet, you do not exist.  This is the first in a series of articles; “How to Create and Maintain a Social Media Brand – the Lecture Series”.   This is all you need to know to create a social media presence for the independent consumer based business.     Enjoy, and Happy New Year 2017.

LinkedIn is the social network for business professionals.   Seventy four percent of professionals are registered with LinkedIn.   Sixty percent of LinkedIn users check their LinkedIn site more than 3 times a week.   To network in 2017, use LinkedIn.  

In the olden days, I would get a business card, perhaps enter the information in Outlook, and then, with many contacts, lose touch with them as they changed emails or changed jobs. 

With LinkedIn, the contact maintains the information and the changes to their emails and job situation. 

     Rule 1:   Keep your contact information up to date in LinkedIn so that people can contact you, especially if they have no other contact information.  (oh yes, and have a professional photo of yourself)

Networking is more than just getting someone’s contact information.   It is about sharing who you are and learning about who they are and sharing updates.

        Rule 2: Share professional updates:   these can be articles of interest that you find on some publication, thought or musings or issues as they come up, company information, press releases, news and events in the business world that you work in, industry information, information about your profession.  

Write articles:   If you really are an expert about something, and good at your profession, you can write the occasional article that supports this.

        Rule 3:   Write articles for LinkedIn.   These can also be published on your blog if you have one.  Sharing updates and writing posts/ articles are 2 different things. Updates appear on the news feed on the Home page and flow.   Posts or Articles appear on your profile and do not flow away in a few hours. So it is worthwhile to take the time and write the articles. 

Company Pages explain to the world, the company that you work for.   You can showcase events and achievements of your company on these pages.   Your company is part of your professional legitimacy.  People do search on LinkedIn and Google treats LinkedIn information almost as highly as it does Wikipedia.

        Rule 4:  Create and maintain a company page.  (Post weekly or monthly).

Groups are a forum for you to connect with people in similar professions and interests, exchange ideas and publish opinions.   Join groups that reflect your professional credentials to further establish your professional credentials.

        Rule 5:  Join Groups that reflect your interests and skills.  Joins discussions and share interesting articles from groups to your contacts.  

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Why Social Media for the Wealth Management, or Insurance Company?

Much that has been written about Social Networking tactics is too general.   There is more than one type of consumer based business.  For example, a consumer based business could be a business that sells professional services to consumers, one that sells iPhone74 aps to tweens, or one that sells cheese to a mass market.  For a consumer goods, mass market business, the benefits of Facebook are obvious.   Get a million followers and use ads to promote your posts to the next million.   Entertaining posts will be shared by any and all. 

Re-shares happen organically, but only if you are cute, funny, a kitten, original, useful, and/or timely (or some combination of those).   This is such an easy thing if you are selling Coke and have a million dollar budget (or can add the ‘real thing’ into the real thing.   

The issue here for the small to medium sized business such as a mortgage broker, insurance agency, financial analyst, appraiser... 

For the independent consumer based business:  the wealth management firm, the financial services company, the insurance brokerage, getting results from Social Media for business is a bigger challenge.  

But the objectives are different as well.  Instead of a million followers, you are looking for a thousand local followers.   Instead of a million shares, you are looking for increased traffic and SEO (SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, but in 2017, it just means that Google should offer you up when your customers or prospects go looking.)   

In the year 2017, if you are not easily found on the internet, you do not exist.  Over the next weeks, I will publish a series of articles; “How to Create and Maintain a Social Media Brand – the Lecture Series”.   This is all you need to know to create a social media presence for the independent consumer based business that offers professional services and products.  I am specifically addressing the requirements of insurance, mortgage, financial services industries, but the results are also applicable to construction companies, consulting firms, and small B2B endeavors.     Enjoy, and Happy New Year 2017.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

What to Write? What to Right? - part 2

Here I am with enough on my mind to barely fill an update, much less create a whole post.  Where do I  go for ideas?
My favorite place is LinkedIn Groups.   Second come newspapers and blogs.    And now I state why, with no class or holding back: " There is always someone out there saying something stupid that I have an innate need to refute! (and also the expertise)"   The controversy generates ideas and arguments and brings out the best of my writing abilities, as limited as they are.  A well formed argument becomes a stand alone post for my LinkedIn Profile.  Well written and complete, it can become a stand-alone post in the LinkedIN Group from where the idea came.  Posted as a response to the original article, a well formed argument can generate views, reviews and a hearty discussion, bringing up the volume of views garnered by your profile and  Social Media sites. 
Why post in LinkedIN Groups?  The articles are far reaching.   Every group member, whether connected or not can see the post.   -- and the posts are of natural interest to the group as you are of course, choosing a topic about your professional life that you are an expert on.   Groups attract a diligent readership since the group filters topics for you and give you a starting point.    They allow for comments and an exchange of ideas.   Group discussions are by default, interesting to your connections since they are posts are about your working professional life and areas of expertise.  
.....   and a good post is no more than 300 words long -   so how hard can this be?
#SocialMedia is about useful information exchange.  #LinkedInGroups

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What to Write? What to Right?

One of the biggest issues people have with #socialmedia is: What to write?  If this stumps you, not to worry, you’re not alone – at one time or another, everyone gets stumped with that!  But you don’t have to look as far as you might think to come up with some great ideas for social media and blog posts.   
Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” Great advice! You’re an expert in your industry. But not everyone else is. Position yourself as the ‘go-to’ person in your field. And write what you know.
Let’s look at some examples of sources for inspiration:
1.     What are the 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5) key misconceptions about your industry? What are some of the most common myths surrounding what you do? Be the mythbuster! Social media is a great way to disseminate the information that will set people straight.
2.   What about your industry has changed within the past 5 years? What’s new? You’re the professional. Let people know that. Since you’re the one with your finger on the pulse, use that. Change within your industry is the important stuff that people need to know. Share it on social media.
3.   Think for a moment. What are the questions that you are most asked about your industry; about what you do; about your products and services? Elaborating on the responses to these questions can provide you with plenty of inspiration for social media and blog posts.
4.     Finally, and this is really important: What is the call to action? Make sure you include something. Once you have people’s attention, what is it that you want them to do after they absorb all of the useful information you’ve provided via social media? Well, ultimately you want them to buy your products; you want them to use your services. And how do you leverage social media to entice them to do that?  That’s your call to action. And you want the call to action to be an immediate response. It might be to call or email you to request further information about your services, or even better, to set up an appointment (don’t forget to provide contact information where it will be easily seen - and in the case of an email, link to your email address right there). Or it might be to come into your store/offices/workshop to purchase what you sell (again, a very visible address and a map to your location should be included on your social media sites – not to mention a link to your website). Or you might want people to subscribe to your newsletter or blog (and yes, you can write those, too! Piece of cake!). If that’s the case, ensure that you include a “Subscribe” button that people can click on right then and there. Easy!

Posting to social media sites isn’t rocket science, but it does take some time and thought. It’s also a necessity in business these days if you’re going to be competitive. I defy you to find one big business that doesn’t have a social media presence. I’ll bet you can’t! And there’s a very good reason for that. In today’s climate, if you don’t have a social media presence, you pretty much don’t exist. Just some food for thought…
Want more help with your foray into the realm of the social? We’ve got just the course for you! Join one of our Social Networking for Business workshops today! (See the call to action??)

Friday, 18 December 2015

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (For Growing Your Business Network)

Ahhh… the holiday season…parties, giving, high spiritedness and goodwill toward men. Can you think of a better time of year to network? And grow your business or move forward with your career? Think parties, greeting cards, holiday emails and holiday social media posts. All wonderful ways for you to connect, re-connect and develop your business network.

So, get into the holiday spirit!

Thinking of skipping your holiday office party? That would be a mistake - a missed opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with the people in your company who could make a positive impact on your career. Use the time to bend the ears of your superiors – to make an impression so that the next time you pass them on your way to the lunch room, they notice you, remember you, and address you by name. And do I need to spell out that when I say, “make an impression,” I’m not talking about you getting so plastered on the free alcohol that you try to pull the CEO out onto the dance floor to partake in your drunken version of the Macarena. Use common sense where the open bar is concerned. You know what you can handle – don’t overdo it. One or two drinks are plenty.   

If it’s an industry party, all the better. Bring plenty of business cards - and your A-game social skills. This isn’t the time to be shy – let your inner social butterfly take over and take advantage of the abounding good spirits! Introduce yourself or request introductions from your current contacts and acquaintances.

And do you know what the most important part of networking is? The follow up. If you get thirty business cards, put them in your contact lists and then do nothing with them, what’s the point? A follow up phone call or email within a few days is all it takes to connect. Don’t be lazy about it… I know you’re busy over the holidays, but this is important.

And while we’re on the subject of emails, a nice “Wishing you a Happy Holiday…” greeting email that includes a festive image is all it takes to remind people that you’re still around and that you’re ready, willing and able to be of service. Or, you can send a card via regular snail mail… that works as well. The point is that you just reach out with a light touch periodically, and the holidays provide you a perfect opportunity to do that.

Last but not least, the holiday season is the time to create a joyously themed social media campaign that will make people stand up and notice your brand. Social media platforms are there. Use them! Decorate your profile and cover photos so that they’re Merry and Bright! Create a holiday themed offer for your clients and prospects – perhaps a limited time Christmas offer/discount on your products or services. Organize a holiday-themed game or contest and offer a prize to the winner(s). Or a give-away is always a popular thing. Maybe something like a “12 Days of Christmas” give-away where a prize is awarded on twelve consecutive days.

The point is, no matter what, the holidays are the perfect time to network. Leverage that and take advantage of all the Holiday Cheer! And of course, spread a lot of it around!

Have a happy and safe holiday, Everyone! And enjoy!