LinkedIn: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
LinkedIn is a social network specifically tailored for business professionals. It is a brilliant platform to use for networking within your industry, enabling you to connect directly with decision-makers and allowing you to bolster your professional brand. In the last few months, LinkedIn has included some exciting updates like the ability to upload video directly onto the platform.
As a business owner and professional, the platform is, however, saturated with recruiters looking to head hunt professionals as well as sales people hoping to sell you their products which makes the landscape difficult to navigate and convince your ideal prospects to speak to you.
And now for the ugly… and this does exist on LinkedIn. There are a number of fake profiles who harvest people’s personal information, like your email address, and use this to send out spam and phishing emails. So be aware, any email that lands in your inbox which seems out of sorts or suspicious, especially when being asked to download or click on something, rather ignore.
There are two ways to present yourself on LinkedIn. The first is through your personal profile and the second is through your business profile. These are both important to have properly set up and serve different purposes. Think of your LinkedIn profiles as your shop window. People are bustling down the street or in this case through the platform where you want to attract them into your store, or onto your profile. With this in mind, it is vital to have a clear, strong brand shown on your profile, whether your own brand or that of your business.
The difference between business and personal LinkedIn profiles
Followers vs. Connections
Business Profiles allow your business to gain followers of people who want to see latest updates, information and insights from your business. Personal profiles allow you to connect with other individuals where you are able to view their latest updates and them yours. You can also comment, share and like their posts which will then be shared in your network’s timeline when they are next online.
Paid Advertising vs. Free
Business profiles allow you to promote your content through paid advertising where you can target specific companies or job titles you want to reach. LinkedIn is one of the more expensive social media paid promotion options, however they do offer specific targeting as mentioned above which can be used should speaking to specific decision-makers be your objective. Personal profiles can be used for free where you can upgrade your profile by subscribing to LinkedIn for more access options depending if you want to InMail people outside of your network or post job vacancies.
Business profiles allow you to update images, videos and text posts up to 1000 characters where Personal profiles allow you to update images, videos and articles which can be shared to your Business profile.
Commenting vs. Sharing
Business profiles allow you to post updates and include links from other pages or websites however you cannot post or comment on other people’s posts via your business page. You are able to respond as your business to comments on the content posted on your business page. Personal profiles allow you to comment, like and share both Business and Personal page’s content as well as respond in your personal capacity to comments on your own posts.
Business profiles allow you to view reach, impressions and engagement for both paid and organic posts as well as track likes, comments, share and followers. On your Personal profile you are able to see data on profile views, article views and search appearances.
Optimising your LinkedIn Business Profile
Ensure to set up your business profile to include the following things:
- Profile picture of your company logo. Clean and simple so that it is easily displayed. The profile picture on a business page is much like the profile picture on a personal page. It is the main identifier of the page and so you want to ensure your company brand is well distinguished.
- Background image… this is your online billboard and should represent a strong call-to-action of your business. Whether that be your website address or contact number, it must be clear what the user needs to do when they come across your business page.
- Populate the company about section, giving people more information about what you do, how you can benefit them and where to contact you.
Optimising your LinkedIn Personal Profile
Ensure to include these when setting up your personal profile:
- Keep in mind that this is where you want to put your best foot forward. In a lot of cases loads of time and other investments are put into fine tuning your company logo, tone of voice, brand identity, look and feel, product range, etc. All these elements also need to be considered when populating your personal profile.
- Firstly, have your actual name populated so people can find you. Or at least the name that is included on your business cards, on your website, etc. The name people know you by. This is to make sure that people can find you and know who you are.
- Then you would need to include your title. Now there is a lot of talk around including here what you can do for people, like in my case “I help people use LinkedIn effectively.” Personally, I’m not a fan of this because when I get a connection request from someone who uses this strategy in their title, I usually check these via my smart phone. What happens is, the title is shortened to fit on mobile so all I see is “I help people….” Which means you are pretty much doing the same thing as every other person using this tactic. Personally, I prefer that you include your actual title. What do you do so that I know immediately why you are contacting me or whether I should connect with you.
- Ensure to have a profile picture which clearly shows your face. I know most people opt for a more professional looking photo on LinkedIn of them in a suit, however I am not opposed to using a photo which represents you and your personality. Do keep in mind this should still be a clear and professional headshot, not a photo of you jet skiing or lying in bed, nor your company logo – I want to see who you are.
- Your background image is still your online billboard. If you are well linked to your business in other words, the MD or a Director, this can be used to showcase what you want people to do regarding your professional link to your business. That could be your company website address, your contact number, that you offer a complimentary assessment, are hosting a summit, etc. Use this advertising space as effectively as possible. If you are more focused on building your personal brand, ensure to include information about you that you want people to know. Your social media handles on other platforms, your blog site address, that you are a world-renowned athlete or top business mentor in your field.
- When populating your about section, you have roughly two lines before someone has to click “read more” so make sure you get to the point on what you want people to know about you within those first two lines.
- I would then recommend to populate your work history as best as possible, but also be discerning as to whether you would rather only update this from a certain point showing a timeline to bring you to the position you are in currently. What this means is doing a little bit of window dressing. Now I am not saying lie on your profile, but unless you are actively searching for a new job, it is best to put your best foot forward so that you can position yourself as a thought leader in your industry. In other words, if you flipped burger patties in college to pay for your tuition, it is not necessary to include this work experience. Rather just populate the degree you earned while at college. Your CV will cover all your work experience in detail which you will send out upon request and when you are in the job market.
How to Win on LinkedIn
So now the meat and the juice of how to use LinkedIn effectively. Your business and personal profiles will work symbiotically to drive positioning and thought leadership. The worst thing you can do is constantly talk about what you have to offer, in other words sell. Sending unsolicited and generic or blanket inMails telling people what you do quickly become redundant. Effectively, you want people to inMail you asking for your services. Here are my top tips to drive and populate your LinkedIn sales funnel.
Firstly, provide value. Update interesting articles on your personal page sharing industry insight, interesting tips or how-to’s. Now I know everyone is going to come at me saying that they don’t want to share their IP publicly because their competitors will scoop up this information and have an advantage. In response to this, don’t post your secret sauce, but there must be things that are pretty common knowledge in your industry amongst you and your competitors that your clients and potential clients may not know but would find of value or interesting. These are the insights I am referring to, like in this case I am willing to share with you how to win on LinkedIn with a few tips to improve your client experience when engaging with you and your company on social media, however I won’t share our secret sauce on paid advertising and targeting.
Also, you can share a link from your article posted on your personal page on your business page. Unfortunately for now, LinkedIn doesn’t offer the option to post articles on business pages but this is a nice work around.
With that in mind, keep your business page populated with interesting posts, ideas and offers of value to drive traffic to your website or to get in touch with you. You can then also share these posts onto your personal profile as it is more likely that you will have more connections on your personal profile than followers on your business page.
Secondly, make sure you engage with others on LinkedIn. From your personal capacity, like and comment on other people’s posts in your timeline. Share your views and opinions, politely – don’t get into heated discussions and please avoid posting or commenting on anything religious, political or sexual in nature. Use these comments to position yourself as a thought leader, the go-to in your industry.
On that note, if you get a seemingly negative comment on your post, don’t engage! Don’t feed the trolls. They are there and giving commentary in the hopes to illicit a response so don’t give it to them. They will quickly realise they get no kicks from you and move on to other unsuspecting prey.
Be discerning on who you connect with. This is not about not connecting with someone you don’t know, but if you get a connection request, have a look through their profile to get an idea of who they are and what they do to see whether there is value in you connecting, be that a client, supplier, referral, etc. The same goes when connecting with people. Rather choose to connect with people who are relevant to you and your industry as they are likely to post content that speaks to you, providing you with more opportunities to comment on their posts and show you to be a thought leader.
If you found this interesting and of value, I urge you to implement these changes to see what impact these tips could make to your personal and business pages on LinkedIn. We also offer more in-depth workshops regarding personal branding to really bolster your online persona as well as assist businesses with full-scope branding strategies for LinkedIn.
Please feel free to be in touch, should you want to talk more on this.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
What is Disruptive Marketing?
Disruptive marketing refers to communication that is considered intrusive by the recipient.
These are generally outbound mass marketing messages, usually with a hard-sell approach. Traditional forms of interruptive promotional activities include unsolicited sales calls, print marketing and even billboards. Online pop-up ads, push-messages and spammy emails are digital methods that cause disruption.
Intrusive and Interruptive
Marketing Does Not Work
Well, for starters, it’s annoying. No one wants to be interrupted by an unwanted and/or irrelevant message. Think about the fact that movies on paid television channels are ad-free, or that web browsers have ad-blocker settings. Some businesses, however, still disregard this trend and continue to use push-marketing tactics. These type of “force-feeding” practices are not well received by consumers who feel that the brand does not respect their time or preferences as an individual.
Customer needs and desires have also changed over the years. More so with the emergence of increasingly demanding consumer segments (such as Millennials), as well as the growing use of digital platforms by clients. These evolved audiences have little tolerance for self-absorbed interruptive brand messaging. An irrelevant or unwanted advertisement will be ignored and the marketer regarded with disdain. And once this negative view is established, it is very difficult to connect with such a client in the future as they become unresponsive to any further communication sent by the brand.
In addition to customer behaviour, mass marketing is not good for business. Media ad space is expensive, yet does not provide factual data in terms of returns. Untargeted messaging is not an effective use of resources due to excessive wastage. And with ad-blocking device and app functions on the rise, an increasing percentage of “push” communication messages will not even be seen by the intended recipients.
Alternative Solution to Disruptive Marketing
The essence of successful marketing lies in ensuring customer expectations are met. Social media is an ideal way to communicate with consumers in a non-intrusive and client-based manner. It allows you to connect to your audience, as opposed to just pushing promotional material onto them.
Social media is considered a permission-based form of marketing as clients can choose to opt in for more communication by liking or following a page. Engaging and interesting content that is targeted to a relevant audience leads to them choosing to continue receiving messaging from the brand. Quality page posts that add value (for example: articles, tips and guides) pulls consumers in promotes positive customer sentiment. Once users see that the business is client-focused and useful, they are significantly more open to brand marketing messages related to products or services.
Users are also able to discover a brand’s page through search engines. This generates inbound audiences that have an existing interest in the business’s offering. The interactive nature and two-way communication channels offered by social media further assist in allowing inbound communication from client to business. Also, the business’s page contains a history of brand activities including value-adds and information. This is a form of storytelling that lets new or inbound audiences see the “bigger picture” and get a sense of overall brand identity. And I’m sure you will agree that it is highly more effective than a traditional broadcast ad or print ad viewed in isolation.
From a business perspective, social media returns far outweigh other forms of mass marketing. As audiences can be targeted for maximum relevance, investment is efficiently used. Targeting is especially significant for brands with a niche market or a business-to-business model as it provides a viable way to reach specific clients without having high wastage typical of traditional methods. Reports provide measurable data so that you know what you are paying for.
Quite frankly, in the current market climate driven by client needs, there is no room for business-centric hard-sell approaches characteristic of disruptive promotional messages. Communication has to be focused on meeting customer demands in order for brand marketing to succeed. Social media supports the entire client journey, creating a platform to attract and retain customers. It also delivers positive results through effective, objective-based planning of activities. Invest in your social media presence and compare the results – we are confident that you will be pleased at the outcome.
We would love to chat you to about your business requirements over a cup of coffee.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101 – we look forward to meeting you.
In an explosive revelation this week, data firm Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using personal information collected from 50 million Facebook users without their consent. It is alleged that the London-based company used the data to sway public sentiment in support of their political and social agendas.
Two of the most significant of these events are the election of US President Donald Trump and the Brexit vote regarding Britain exiting the European Union.
Unauthorised data acquisition & sharing
How was the user data originally acquired?
In 2013, a Cambridge psychology researcher called Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz app for Facebook. Users who signed up were paid to participate by taking the online psychological test.
However, the app not only gathered information from the 270 000 users that installed it, but also accessed and acquired the data of the participants’ Facebook friends without user knowledge or consent.
How did Cambridge Analytica get the data?
Kogan allegedly supplied the collective information to Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook policies. In addition to the unauthorised gathering and misuse of data being unethical, such acts are illegal in many countries.
What was Facebook’s reaction to the unauthorised use of data?
Once Facebook was made aware of the unauthorised acquisition, transference and use of the data, they took action against the offending parties. Kogan’s app was immediately banned from the platform. He was ordered to delete all records of the data – including those sent to third-party entities such as Cambridge Analytica – and furnish proof of the data destruction. Facebook received formal certifications from both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica confirming that all collected information was destroyed. They also changed the platform to limit further unauthorised access to data.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal:
Unethical misuse of data
What was Facebook’s response to the revelation of data misuse by Cambridge Analytica?
Facebook has come under sever fire for the unauthorised use of the user data obtained via their platform. Their initial response was defensive, with one senior executive stating that “no systems were infiltrated, no passwords stolen or hacked”. Facebook claimed that the improper use of data did not constitute a “breach” on their part. They asserted that they were deceived by both Kogan and Cambridge Analytica (recent events indicating that despite the certifications given to Facebook by these parties, the data had not been deleted).
However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg later admitted that not investigating further in 2015 was a mistake, one that he deeply regrets. Holding himself accountable to the platform users, he said:
“I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I’m responsible for what happens on our platform. I’m serious about doing what it takes to protect our community. While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn’t change what happened in the past. We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward.”
Full statement by Mark Zuckerberg:
I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we've already taken and our next…
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, 21 March 2018
What steps are being taken by Facebook to ensure the security of user data?
Facebook has outlined a multi-faceted approach to user data security that includes: limiting data access, auditing and managing developer activity, protecting data misuse by third-parties and promoting increased user management of apps.
Some of the initial adjustments by Facebook are listed below, with the social media giant expected to reveal addition changes over the next few weeks.Current measures being taken by the Facebook team include:
Auditing and review:
- Review of apps that had access to data prior to the 2014 platform change (which restricted access to data)
- Conducting of thorough audits of all apps and services that have access to user data
- Banning of any party displaying irregular or questionable activity
- Banning of any developer that does not agree to an audit
- Should apps be banned due to misuse of data or policy non-compliance, all users of that app will be notified accordingly
- Encouraging users to report inappropriate or prohibited use of data by developers by rewarding people who identify such behaviour
Restricted access to data:
- The scope of access to data in general by developers will be restricted to protect users.
- Login data will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
- App sign in information will be limited to name, profile photo and email address
- Developers will have to get a signed contract from users in order to access their posts or private data
- Any additional information required by developers will be subject to Facebook and/or user approval
Increased user protection and control:
- Apps that have not been used for 3 months will be deactivated from account
- Users will be notified about any suspicious activity observed relating to apps they use
- The existing app permission tool will be moved from the privacy setting to the News Feed area for ease of access and use
- Users will be shown how to check which apps have access to their data, as well as view the permissions settings of each app
- Users will be shown how to manage apps, including setting such as permission changes and revoking of access
- App management services will be improved for enhanced user experience
As the saga continues to unfold…
Investigations by various entities including the US Congress and the European Parliament are underway. Cambridge Analytica deny all allegations of wrong-doing, saying they are willing to undergo a forensic audit. Nonetheless, CEO Alexander Nix has been suspended pending the outcomes of the probes. And the man at the heart of the scandal, Aleksandr Kogan, says Facebook is to blame.
Despite Zuckerberg vowing to take corrective action aimed at preventing such data loss in the future, he did not escape unscathed. The Facebook founder may have to provide the US Congress with testimony relating to the security of user data on the platform.
Regardless of what the ultimate findings of the investigations will be, the sheer magnitude of this scandal is expected to impact policies governing user data security on a global level. And due to the uncertainty of the current situation, the resulting effect on businesses is, at present, a matter of speculation.
How secure are your online assets?
Social Media 101 can help you find out – CLICK HERE to contact us
How can you provide killer customer service that attracts and retains clients? While this seems like loaded question dealing with a complex issue, the answer is amazingly simple:
Find out what your customers want and give it to them.
How, you ask? The solution is staring you in the face – literally. By using the social media platforms at your fingertips. Global statistics show an increasing use of social media as the preferred consumer service platform. We look at the reasons leading to this growth, as well as highlight some of the benefits offered by social media when it comes to your customer support services.
67% of companies believe social customer service is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centres. (Sprout)
Why social media?
Location, location, location. As mentioned, social media is where your clients are – therefore, it should be your base of operations as well. But that’s not the only reason. Social media opens up a wealth of functions and tools that can be used to substantially upgrade your service delivery. Used effectively, it not only elevates client satisfaction levels, but also supports your core business objectives.
What are the benefits?
Improved Customer Service
Customers have a single point of contact for basic service issues such as queries or complaints. This reduces frustration experienced via other methods (such as dealing with multiple people telephonically or via email). The written online conversation can be referred back to by both the client and business staff, thus avoiding miscommunication and eliminating the need for repetition. The higher speed and response rate typical of social media platforms also boost client satisfaction levels.
Inclusive Customer Experience
“Customer Experience” or CX refers to the client’s total interaction with a brand from the first point of contact and throughout all subsequent interactions. Social Media allows you to engage with all consumers i.e. not just those who contact you with a query or complain. Content such as product updates, tips, advice and information form part of the client support services provided by the brand. This inclusive ongoing flow of communication helps customers feel more connected and part of a niche “community”, as well as positions the business as a client-focused organisation.
Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with customers on a one-on-one basis. Personal, direct contact helps clients feel that the business cares about them as an individual and appreciates their support. This fosters positive feelings towards the brand, promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Improve Business Quality
Using social media for customer service does not just improve your support in isolation. It leads to uplifting the quality of the organisation as a whole. The interactive nature of social media gives consumers a voice to state their needs and wants. Considering that a business only exists because of its customers, the value of basing actions on customer preference leads not only to happier clients that are loyal to the brand, but also business success and growth.
Customer service is rapidly becoming the definitive consumer consideration impacting business success. Businesses that fail to meet customer expectations are likely to lose out to competitors that do. Social media provides the solution you need to not only boost service quality, but positively enhance overall brand experience for your customers.
Why use social media? The real question is: “Why not?”
If you read the title of this article, then you know the answer to this (presumably) burning question is yes! The questions that follow however are why and how?
Why Would a B2B Business Need to be on Social Media?
The short answer is that you, as a B2B company owner/operator, have come across this article through social media.
You did not find this article by searching through your social media platforms in the hopes of finding us. Instead, we found you because of clever targeting and an equally clever article title.
Our business too operates in the B2B space and so we completely understand the perplexity of the opening question. The point is that your customers, much like ours, are active users of social media since this space is fast entrenching itself into the way the world operates today.
We are sure that you have social media pages set up and their links imbedded on your website, so it is clear to say that you understand the necessity of these platforms. You might, however, not quite understand the hype, be totally sold on the presumed benefit or know how to use these platforms to build and drive a sales funnel.
And there it is again, the word sales. How on earth can one drive sales through social media? We will tell you…
How Does a B2B Business Drive Sales Through Social Media?
The very short answer is data. Rich data that has been gathered through all the years spent on social media providing insights into your ideal customer and then targeting them with the right content.
The longer answer is through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a business to business company can find their ideal prospect and then convert them into a long standing client.
But I already have long standing clients and my focus is to nurture and grow these accounts.
Much the same, through specialized targeting and carefully created and curated content, a B2B company can communicate with their existing clients, building long term relationships, position themselves as a thought leader and drive growth within these accounts.
Although both approaches are similar, this is not a copy and paste. Each business requires careful thought and consideration when planning their social media strategy. This strategy needs to be aligned with the overarching business strategy so that those unique objectives can be met. Social media is simply another way to communicate with your clients and prospects and should be considered with as much investment as your sales teams, customer service center, marketing plans and business objectives.
Social media offers a platform for companies with niche products and services find and engage with their niche customers and clients, an opportunity that few other traditional marketing mediums can offer. The secret here is to seamlessly marry your business in the real world with your business online.
Since you have made it this far, perhaps you are interested in finding out more on how your business can win on social media. Let’s set up some time together to discuss this further since we are confident you are an expert in your field, we are experts in social media.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
It’s surprising how many companies out there have not yet adapted to changing client and market conditions, and are subsequently damaging their brand without even realising it. Although global trends are moving more and more towards digital media channels – specifically social media platforms – some business owners have still not adjusted their business processes to embrace this market evolution.
Here are 5 ways you could be hurting your brand without even realising it:
Neglecting Social Media
Reluctance to adapt to change is a natural human response. In business, one of the key areas of neglect is a brand’s social media presence. The risk? Underestimating the impact of social media could leave you a step behind at best or, at worse, prove to be detrimental – regardless of the size of your organisation. By not using social media to its full potential, you are limiting your brand’s growth opportunities and losing a valuable competitive advantage. When used effectively, social media activities substantially contribute towards organisational goals such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer service and achieving bottom line objectives. Critically assess your marketing plans and ensure that your social media platforms are used optimally to support your various business functions.
Poor Customer Service
Clients are growing increasingly demanding, expecting service at a continually higher speed and quality level. Whether the communication is a general query (such as product availability) or a serious complaint, customers insist on quick and personal resolution. Inefficient customer service processes are likely to cause serious damage to your brand’s reputation due to resulting negative commentary from unhappy clients. Social media offers an excellent way to connect with customers in a speedy, direct and solution-driven manner. In addition to dealing with customer complaints and queries, you are also able to respond positively to compliments by clients, thereby showing appreciation to your supporters and promoting continued brand loyalty. The personal touch offered by social media can go a long way to improving customer sentiment and brand positioning based on the content and service that you deliver to clients via this channel.
Lack of value-add to clients
The brands that get ahead in the current tough economic climate are those that take an intensive customer-centric approach. By employing value-add elements that benefit the client in some way (e.g. social media messaging that includes tips or advice), the business is seen as useful and worth following. Such value-rich content tends to be shared by followers, resulting in the brand being exposed to a larger audience organically. Pure product or service promotion does not have the same share potential, and is likely to result in audience members un-following your page after a short period of time. A balance between marketing communication and enriching content needs to be carefully strategised to achieve maximum business benefit.
Non-targeted or generalised marketing not only wastes money (as only a part of the audience reached is of relevance to your brand), but it also does not provide sufficient data regarding the success of each marketing activity. For example, are people buying your product because of a television ad, print ad or because your store-front is attractive? Or maybe it’s none of the above at all? Targeted marketing such as audience selection, on the other hand, serves a dual purpose: it not only ensures that you invest efficiently by focusing spend on your core target market, but it also shows you the success of each marketing campaign or advertisement by providing accurate and detailed feedback data. Thus, you get a higher return on investment as well as crucial insight in terms of your customer base.
Use of Insufficient or Inaccurate Data
Statistical information is core to every business decision: whether the objective is to save a struggling business, grow a successful one or diversify an existing organisation. Using assumptions, insufficient or inaccurate data are clearly dangerous practices. Plans built on such “bad intel” could result in a substantial financial loss and even complete failure of the business entity in question. Effective planning requires relevant, accurate and qualitative data that can assist with decision making, such as demographic breakdown of actual purchasing customers, market segmentation and consumer behaviour. Reporting based on engagement metrics are an excellent source of indicative and precise figures to aid in business strategy and development.
Success-driven business strategy incorporates all elements that have the potential to positively impact organisational goals. Make sure your brand is utilising the tools and resources available for maximum benefit and to gain an invaluable edge within your industry.
We would love to chat to you about your business –
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