5 Tips for Individuals to Help Companies Get More Out of LinkedIn

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linkedin marketing tipsLinkedIn officially launched on May 5, 2003 with a total of 4,500 members in the first month. Known mostly as a business social network, LinkedIn has been adopted globally with nearly 2 billion people searches in 2010 and over 90 million users in January 2011. To top it off, a forthcoming IPO will raise even more money for expansion.

Yet amongst many business professionals, LinkedIn seems to fight perception that it is strictly a site to visit when you need a job.

With new features added regularly and all of the Fortune 500 represented, LinkedIn is a valuable source of data and connections that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re not a regular LinkedIn user, I encourage you to look beyond the basics and see the opportunities for businesses to showcase their productsadvertise in and out of network, and content sharing/syndication.

Here are 5 tips for individuals to help companies get more out of LinkedIn:

1. Use Your Profile as a Destination In an informal check of LinkedIn search strength, I did a Google search of 20 contacts. In every case, regardless of how visible they are on the web, LinkedIn profiles appeared on the first page with the vast majority appearing in the first five results. Keep your profile current to highlight your experience and expertise at all times. It can serve as a great way to share your history not only with other LinkedIn members but anyone online given the strength of search results.

2. Linking Content via Applications As the site has evolved in the past few years it now offers a number of opportunities to share content from the site directly. Your LinkedIn network should be a strong source of support for your news and updates as your contacts are likely connected to your industry. By utilizing the available tools to link to your blog, twitter feed, or to create polls you can share helpful information with this network that may be passed along further to create new connection opportunities for you or your business.

3. Connect with New Contacts in Groups and Answers LinkedIn Groups are a great way to identify other users with similar interests and needs. In addition to the inherent benefits of learning from others, Groups offer a number of benefits for each user. You are able to view other members contact information and participation in a group or the LinkedIn Answers section allows you to highlight your ideas and insight. By providing useful information to others you will improve your own reputation as an expert resource on select topics. The creation of Open Groups is of benefit in a broader sense as well since discussions can be viewed by anyone on the web and picked up by search engines.

4. Research Potential Most LinkedIn users are familiar and comfortable with the people search capabilities of the site to find potential connections. Don’t forget to utilize other search tools on the site though as there is extensive data available to you. A very simple search of “public relations” provided over 11,000 listings nationally and indicates where I have a direct or indirect connection to that company. LinkedIn Marketing Using the search tools available it’s easy to track current openings, identify key leaders at the organizations, and recent additions or departures. Are these helpful for job seekers? Absolutely, but this information is of tremendous value for a new business discussion or a sales inquiry as well. Perhaps you have a contact from a prior project now on the inside.

5. Recommendations As either an employee or a business, a recommendation can carry a great deal of weight in the eyes of future customers. By essentially collecting success stories in advance you have the ability to create a testimonial page on a highly-trafficked, well-established site that can lead to future opportunities based on your work appearing in searches for specific keywords by others.  These provide concrete examples of a (hopefully) good experience with you in a personal manner. It’s word of mouth promotion in a neighborhood of 90 million professionals. Not a bad target audience for most and one that shouldn’t be missed.

With a rich set of data available to you at no cost (these features are all available without having to go with the premium membership), LinkedIn should be a part of your networking and online marketing mix.

Do you have a great business success or a unique personal story based on your use of LinkedIn? Perhaps an unusual connection that highlights the full reach of tiered networks?

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2011. |
5 Tips for Individuals to Help Companies Get More Out of LinkedIn | http://www.toprankblog.com

Questioning Quora

January 11, 2011 by  
Filed under LinkedIn marketing, Online Marketing, Twitter

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Do you use Quora? Should you use Quora? As we begin the new year, I felt like it makes sense to set aside some time each week to take a look at technology that is new, generating interest, or represents a step forward in the online world.

In the last couple weeks Quora has become the trendy pick as a breakout site for 2011. Traffic increased tremendously in December but then more than doubled again in early January per information released on Quora this week from Quora engineer Albert Sheu.

The bigger question is why? What will Quora do for users that can’t be addressed elsewhere? Will it provide a larger or more credible source of information than Twitter for most users? It’s been a mixed reaction so far with responses all over the board. It has even been hot enough to spawn a spoof site Cwora.

What are some of the questions out in the social space about this service and how are members of the online community? In the spirit of the Q&A site itself, here are a few interesting questions I found based on those I have followed and questions posed on Twitter regarding the site  from users as it moves from a small specialty destination to one attracting thousands of new users.

How did Quora suddenly start getting many more users around the beginning of 2011?

On Boxing Day (December 26, 2010) Robert Scoble blogged ‘Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?’ effectively endorsing the site as the next big thing.  PC Magazine, Techcrunch, TNW and FastCompany were amongst the many media outlets that quickly followed.  This, coupled with social graph on-boarding with Twitter, Facebook and email integration, lead to truly viral growth. (via answer summary of 12 reactions on Quora)

Quora Answers The Question: How Will You Avoid Becoming Yahoo Answers?

In a post entitled, “Commitment to Keeping Quora High Quality“, co-founder Charlie Cheever outlines the steps Quora is taking to ensure that the community remains the same great place for knowledge as it grows in size. So what are the steps? The biggest and most immediate one Cheever highlights is a better on-boarding process. Cheever notes that it can be difficult for new users to understand how to properly ask questions on the site. So they’ve created a tutorial quiz that walks them through the process before they submit the first question. (via TechCrunch)

Should you link your other networks to Quora?

One of the stickier issues raised by many on Twitter has been the connecting of the two services and the automatic follow feature of Quora if enabled. The site does not yet offer an option of selecting which contacts would be connected but rather connects to all contacts from your social networks creating a mass list of followed connections and can overwhelm many with content and questions. It was also brought up as a potential reason for the ongoing traffic increases as more and more users connect in mass, it further feeds the buzz of the last few weeks.

However, as pointed out in answers themselves, some view this as a positive service as well allowing users to rapidly create a network of connections.

Will Quora ultimately survive as a valuable tool or become another hot flash in the pan? It’s early in the hype-cycle but the concept could do well if the quality of the answers remains high and the self-promotion, spam, and inappropriate comments can be contained with a much larger base.

Should marketers and communications professionals invest a significant amount of time in Quora?

At this point, it is being used by many as another site to try to demonstrate knowledge in a particular space much like LinkedIn Answers, Twitter, and other sites in the hopes that it will attract followers or potential business.  Some have been more active for some time and are seeing good results based on their experience. Profile names do appear in the URL and in title tags for the site, offering a chance that participation could positively impact your online footprint and search results. Users are able to receive votes and support for well thought-out answers which creates a potential for greater recognition as an expert in a field but I expect the value to vary widely depending on the industry and the critical mass of your target audience that converts to using this new tool. Stay tuned.

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2011. |
Questioning Quora | http://www.toprankblog.com

Getting Started Social Media Advertising on Facebook, YouTube & LinkedIn

social media advertisingAs consumer use of and time spent on social media sites increases, the opportunities for effective advertising become more attractive to companies in search of customers to connect with.   We’ve given the advice that to grow a social network, a company should participate and engage with communities of interest.

That’s still great advice, just as it is to consider different advertising options within relevant social channels to create awareness, keep a brand top of mind or to suggest timely and relevant offers.   Advertising tools made available by social platforms are also useful research tools when collecting demographic information used with personas in organic social media marketing.

For marketers just getting started with advertising on social media sites, here’s a quick rundown on programs available through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon and Foursquare.  As with organic social media marketing, each is appropriate according to your own goals, the customers you’re trying to reach, resources, timeline and ability to measure.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook: We all know there are over 500 million active users on Facebook, but interestingly, 50% of active users log on in any given day. Each average user has 130 friends and is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.

Facebook ad costs are pretty reasonable which allows companies of just about any size or budget to test them out. Facebook publishes a pretty thorough Guide to Facebook Ads and their Help Center answers most questions you might have. Ads appear on the right side of the page.

The best practices for Facebook ads are consistent with those you might find with PPC programs on the major search engines:

  • Set goals
  • Target your audience
  • Make the product/service stand out
  • Keep the ad simple
  • Have a strong call to action
  • Make sure ads point to relevant landing pages

Of course, in the case of Facebook, many times the landing page isn’t a page on the marketer’s website selling a product, but a Fan page within Facebook.   You might also want to check out @briancarter’s short, but effective presentation on Slideshare about Facebook Ad Tips and Dennis Yu’s article, “The Most Powerful Secret in Facebook Ads“.

You can get started creating Facebook Ads here.

YouTube Advertising

YouTube: As the second most popular search engine after Google and with online video advertising expected to hit 5.7 billion by 2014, YouTube presents a tremendous opportunity for exposure and engagement in a social context. Ads appear within videos or alongside them.

YouTube demographics: 18-55, with an equal mix of males and females. 51% of YouTube users visit weekly or more often, and 52% of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.

Marketers that come to grips with the reality that “make me a viral video” isn’t something you can count on, but advertising and impressions are, may choose to leverage YouTube advertising as part of the mix for promoting video content. In fact, with YouTube you can promote your own video or advertise next to others’ videos. Direct advertising on YouTube is pretty spendy, but you can also advertise on YouTube using Google AdWords.

YouTube provides a robust array of video advertising resources for marketers including best practices, how to’s, specifications, analytics, tools, a Brand Channel How-To Guide and of course, if you spend enough you get an Ad Rep to take care of things.

YouTube Video Ad Best Practices Include:
  • Keep it short – The longer the message, the higher the possibility users will tune out. 60 seconds is a good benchmark.
  • Keep it engaging – Entertain, inform and be relevant. Users will view the majority of a video if they are interested and engaged.
  • Inspire, don’t just educate – Avoid focusing solely on being educational; two minutes of talking heads doesn’t work well.
  • Deliver key messages early – Plan for user tune-out near the end of the video and deliver your message early.
  • Include a call to action

In case you think online video is just for consumer marketing, you’re dead wrong. Check out this handy YouTube Guide on Best Practices for the B2B Marketer (ironic it’s a PDF and not video). Also check out Christa Toole’s Ten Tips for Those Who Still Aren’t Using YouTube.

Get started with YouTube Advertising here.

LinkedIn Advertising

LinkedIn: This is “the” B2B social network and with nearly 90 million members in over 200 countries, presents new territory for social network advertising. A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second, and Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are members according to the LinkedIn Facts page.

LinkedIn launched its own self-service ad network a few years ago, called DirectAds. There are also options for Display Ads and Sponsorships.  Get the FAQ on DirectAds to understand how it works as well as the Best Practices.  For beginners, there’s a step by step list of instructions on creating a DirectAd here.

DirectAds Best Practices Include:

  • Create effective ads (relevant, call to action, specific)
  • Create multiple ads for each campaign
  • Target the right audience
  • Set an appropriate daily budget (ad rates vary during the day according to site usage)
  • Understand how bidding works (Choose CPM or CPC)
  • Improve performance – monitor click through rates and experiment, refine

For a great beginner’s guide to LinkedIn DirectAds, check out this presentation on Slideshare and also check out this B2B Test on LinkedIn DirectAds conducted by Econsultancy.

To get started with LinkedIn DirectAds, click here. (You’ll need to be logged in to LinkedIn)

Be sure to watch for our next post on social media advertising which will cover ad & promotion options for opportunities on Twitter, Foursquare and Groupon.

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© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Getting Started Social Media Advertising on Facebook, YouTube & LinkedIn | http://www.toprankblog.com