12 Dec 2012

LinkedIn; Company Pages & Groups

Over the last few months LinkedIn has been rolling out changes to both individual and company profiles. Some changes have raised a few eyebrows amongst users, such as prioritising 'Endorsements' over 'Recommendations' but on the whole the new look LinkedIn is pretty slick and is well received by those who value this business network. Company pages can now be accessed via iPhone, Android and iPad apps, which is progress as the current app for iPad is frustratingly limited.

This morning I logged in to the Company Pages section to discover a new feature offering businesses the opportunity to raise awareness of their LinkedIn groups via the Company Page. (click image to enlarge)

I like this feature as it seems that LinkedIn is joining up the dots and it's no secret that some groups could do with new life being breathed into them.

If you are planning to set up a group on LinkedIn then have a strategy in place to ensure that it adds value to both your business and the members of the group. Each group should have a manager, someone to feed it with fresh information and to encourage conversation and debate. Ask other members of your team to actively participate in the group by commenting, sharing ideas and crucially by inviting their contacts to join. 

A few years ago managing a group on LinkedIn was pretty straightforward but it's an over populated feature now and to attract your target audience you need a clear purpose and a master plan.

  • What is the benefit to a user in joining your group? 
  • What content do you have to share? 
  • What do you plan to do with the new connections you make? 

If you struggle to answer these questions then it's time to go back to the drawing board. 

If I can help with creating or developing strategy or with training then please feel free to get in touch. If you are an absolute beginner with LinkedIn then this blog post has some top tips that may be of interest.

30 Nov 2012

Driving with the Brakes On

There’s an old Del Amitri song called ‘Driving with the Brakes On’. I heard it on the radio this morning and it’s been on repeat in my head all day. I remember having a bit of a crush on the singer  with the long side burns. Justin someone or other. What’s this got to do with social media?

It’s simple. If you’re driving with the brakes on you are never going to get to your destination. You’re going to sit in the slow lane, or worse the car park, whilst everyone else drives off into the sunset. 

Your customers will zoom past you, gesturing that you’re going too slow. When they stop at the motorway cafĂ© they strike up a conversation with one of your competitors who pulls up beside them with a friendly hello. They've plenty to talk about because they're on the same road.

Where were you?........ Don't get left behind. 

I'm spending more and more time with CEO’s and senior management teams doing crash courses on social media for business. The junior team members are all raring to go but the decision makers are stalling because they're not up to speed with this twitter malarkey. The CEO may never use social media but I find their willingness to explore the possibilities for their business a real positive. I know if the Big Boss is willing to get on board and support the team then we can put our foot to the floor, turn up the radio and head for the outside lane.

If I can help your business take the handbrake off, feel free to get in touch

*image courtesy of mnn.com 

14 Nov 2012

Pilots, Gliders and Vampires

I like to think I'm open minded but lately I find myself putting people into three categories.

Pilots are people who take you on a journey. They have the skills and expertise to know the right direction, to help map out the route, to communicate effectively and to get you from A to B. The journey might take an unexpected detour, there may be some turbulence, but ultimately you travel together and arrive at the destination having enjoyed the experience.

Gliders take you to the top of the mountain, strap you in tight, hand you the controls and give you the motivation and self-belief to leap off the side. You are alone, but if you have a wobble, gliders offer the support you need to stay focused. Gliders encourage you to soar.

Vampires suck the life out of you. Sometimes no-one else can see their teeth marks on your neck, but the imprints are definitely there. They are constant complainers who frequently bring others down with their negativity. Vampires may be unaware of the impact they have on the team, but over exposure to them can be deadly.

Thankfully I find pilots and gliders in abundance and they make me love my job. Our ideas flow, we deliver better results and we have a good time working together. 

As for the vampires …well, I've tried cajooling, listening, encouraging and straight talking. It takes all my energy and I get little in return. A perk of self-employment is that mainly you have a choice in who you work with.  Life’s short and I’d rather be soaring through the sky than sitting beside the drain.

30 Sep 2012

Internet Safety

Please take a moment to watch this clever video about internet safety. It’s a wakeup call and a reminder to be cautious about what we share online and to be aware of the security settings on all your accounts.

Is your full date of birth visible on Facebook and LinkedIn? That could be an invitation for identity fraud. What about ‘checking in’ places every time you buy a coffee, or arrive at work or the gym? Is posting online your day to day movements a risk to personal safety? 

There’s also the career aspect. A girl on twitter 'checks in' from her office each day then proceeds to tweet about her boss, who talks with his mouth full and needs to buy deodorant, apparently. What are her chances of promotion when he finds out?

Do your settings on Facebook allow ‘Friends of friends’ access to your profile? Remember that guy you accepted as a friend after T in the Park two years ago? He's got 459 friends who can all see your photos. They love rifling through your private life, your holiday snaps, the photo of you doing the splits at Jenny's wedding. Hmm, are you comfortable with that?

The majority of twitter accounts are open, the idea being to connect with strangers and share information. Ever posted a photo of your new car, with visible registration plate ? What about those pictures of the view from your house? What's that... your dog's at the kennels and you're off on holiday for a fortnight? Great news for local burglars!

Too harsh or just a big dose of reality? 

There are LOTS of positives from engaging online with people that you don’t know, sharing stories and experiences and learning new things. I work in social media and I’m a big fan but I'm also cautious. It's essential to understand the tools and be confident of who can see what! Check the settings on your Facebook page. Think about who you are willing to share personal information with and consider the privacy of others. Is it fair to post photos or video of others without their consent?

Thanks to both Paul (@fellfromatree) and Linda (@misslapere) who tweeted this video and brought it to my attention, a plus side of sharing content! We're all aware of the risk to kids online but it doesn't hurt for the rest of us, myself included, to have a reminder now and then.

22 Sep 2012

Survey; Social Networking & the Under 25's

Are you at school, college or under the age of 25? Do you have a few minutes to complete a quick survey? Survey Monkey is completely anonymous and there are only 6 questions. 

Go on, click this link to take part, I'd really appreciate your time and your opinion.

I am keen to find out what young people in Scotland have to say about social networking as a lot of the statistical reports give a different perspective to the conversations I have face to face with teenagers, students and young people in business.

Thanks for your help.


26 Aug 2012

Aretha Franklin, Mentors and Me

I really love what I do for a living but there's no denying that self-employment can be challenging. Conversations with my peers highlight the fact that it takes time to get used to the rollercoaster of finding steady work and trying to get paid on time. When several companies don’t pay when expected it’s a recipe for disaster, or a nervous breakdown, whichever comes first.

It’s a steep learning curve and just when you think you've mastered it, someone puts a spanner in the works. The hardy amongst us brush ourselves down and carry on, others opt for the comfort of a ‘proper job’ with a steady wage and paid holidays. 

I first set up a business nearly five years ago. (If you are self-employed you’ll know that means I was in at the deep end without any arm bands.) At the time I could have won awards for attending networking events. Enthusiasm was my middle name. I stumbled upon people twenty years my senior, who generously took me under their wing and became unofficial mentors. They gave their time and knowledge, they gave me a kick up the backside, they listened, they guided but most of all, they believed in me.

My first business venture was not a money spinner and I made mistakes but still, they believed in me. I changed direction and have landed on my feet because of what my mentors taught me and for that I am extremely grateful. I have the utmost respect for them. They taught me to be brave enough to ask for help and about what I refer to as ‘The Aretha Franklin School of Business’.

Aretha Franklin has an amazing talent; she always looks the part and performs to the best of her ability. She knows what songs she is comfortable to sing and she knows when to pass the microphone. Aretha Franklin became a success because she knows all about R.E.S.P.E.C.T and if you respect your customers, yourself and stay true to your values then you can’t go far wrong.

If the Queen of Soul isn't your thing then there’s practical advice available through organisations such as PSYBT, Cultural Enterprise, and ICASS and TED Talks is a great place to learn from other people's experiences. Nearly five years down the line the best advice I can give anyone is to believe in yourself. If you have the skills, but self confidence is your biggest hurdle, then surround yourself with straight talkers who have faith in you, and it will all work out in the end.

12 Apr 2012

Adding value

Social media, it’s a bit like the January sales, or rush hour on the tube or the pub on a bank holiday weekend. It’s crowded, it’s noisy and if you don’t sharpen your elbows there’s a high chance someone else is going to push in front of you.

The following accounts have caught my eye on twitter lately because in some form or other they add value to my day. They are current and in tune with the world at large. They are intelligent, informative, witty or endearing. These accounts aren’t ‘selling’ anything, they are simply having a chat, sharing a story and making me, and many others smile. It’s that simple. They add value to my day because they make me feel good, they educate me, they inspire me or they trigger a memory that provokes an emotion.

@BigTamConnery - Humorisht, Philosopher, Schot, Man of myshtery
@blipfoto - a daily snapshot into the lives of others
@ESparkUK - supporting Scotland's start up businesses
@Kiltr - news and views, worth watching!
@Queen_UK - is it Gin o'clock yet?

If your social media accounts are not driving traffic to your website, generating enquiries, selling tickets, gaining PR coverage or whatever your goal may be then take a step back and look at the content you share online. Does it add value? Are your posts creative or run of the mill? Are you encouraging the audience to find out more by posting links or asking open questions? Are you using images and video rather than plain old boring text? Are you posting updates at a time of day that suits your office staff or at the time of day that your target market are online?

Put the customer at the heart of the strategy, think about what they want from connecting with your business online and remember that people ‘buy’ people. Be inspiring, be informative, raise a smile, be different or as @bigtamconnery might say …be ssshpecial.

If I can help then please feel free to get in touch.

*images courtesy of twitter.com

7 Apr 2012

LinkedIn Etiquette

I first wrote about LinkedIn etiquette several years ago when I was working for a PR agency. At that point in time LinkedIn had around 3 million UK users who were predominantly male and senior decision makers. Fast forward to 2012 and the UK figures sit somewhere around 8 million users and the demographic now includes more women and a broad range of sectors and management levels. LinkedIn is a great source of generating new business leads, finding valuable information and keeping in touch with business connections. 

A recent surge of connection requests has prompted me to re-visit this subject as it's crystal clear that many people aren’t sure what to do with LinkedIn. Others are making a bad first impression by ignoring the etiquette of the network and alienating potential business contacts with their scatter-gun approach. 

These five simple tips should help users avoid making costly mistakes. Think of social networking in the same way as a face to face event. It’s important to make a good first impression and do the handshaking and introductions before settling down to talk about products, sales, costs or services.

<!    Complete your profile
An incomplete profile looks like spam and users will question your motive for wanting to connect. Are you contributing to the network or just wanting access to their contacts? Take time to complete the various sections. Protect yourself from identity fraud by omitting your full date of birth.

<!    Add a photograph

A photo reminds users who you are as people are better at remembering faces than names. The photo should be of you alone, not in a group or with your spouse, child or dog. This is a business network, not Facebook. The photo should reflect the sector you work in, if I was a lawyer I'd have opted for a more corporate image than the one above.

<!    Links to website
Every personal profile on LinkedIn has the option to have three links to a website, blog or other social network. Take advantage of these links. If you have ten employees that is 30 links to different pages on your company website – think of the potential traffic!

<!    Invitations to connect
LinkedIn has created a standard ‘Invitation to Connect’ message which is cold and impersonal and gives no incentive for the receiver to accept the invitation. Be clear about why you want to connect – who are you, what do you want, how do we know each other?  What is the benefit of connecting?

<!   Respect the network
The most common error I see on LinkedIn is the ‘Me,Me,Me’ mistake. If someone agrees to connect with you that doesn’t mean they have signed up for your newsletter or they want to receive weekly  messages with invitations to events or for special offers. That is spam and people will block you - don’t do it! 

Draw attention to your profile by posting status updates and engaging with other people by commenting on and sharing their updates. Remember, it’s like face to face networking, shake hands, ask questions and listen. Don’t just talk, talk, talk! Add value and use LinkedIn as the introduction to set up the coffee meeting and take it from there.

If you’d like to employ my services for social media strategy, training, content generation or advice then please feel free to get in touch.