Archive for January, 2011
Recently, within a discussion about Why Local Businesses Need to Embrace Social Media a tangential conversation centered on why it’s a good idea for businesses to hire Gen-Y professionals to work on social media marketing. Yes, the person making the suggestion was a Gen-Yer and admitted her potential bias, but she made an excellent point. “We’ve grown up with these tools and understand their capabilities and reach better than most marketing professionals who have been in the game for a long time.” Christina Galoozis also reminded us to “Remember to always use social media to connect with and listen to customers -never just talk at them.”
In general, I think most of us would agree that people who grow up with a new technology have an advantage and the advice that Christina gave is important for us all to hear. However, I would like to add two points. First, Gen-Y professionals like all the rest of us, will have to learn new skills as the marketplace evolves and it always does. Therefore, any advantage this age cohort has may be short lived unless for some odd reason the world stands still for a decade, which is highly unlikely.
Second, I have had the pleasure of teaching more than a few Gen-Yers how to leverage Internet marketing and in particular social media platforms. Gen-Y professionals do not have a corner on the SM market. Nearly anyone can learn to use social media effectively to promote a business. Unfortunately, some people are intimidated by the vast landscape and for others the time commitment is overwhelming
Building a meaningful social presence takes time and often the expectation is to achieve immediate results. Most of us know instant gratification is generally not part of the game. Many of the older dogs who have been in the pack for a long time appreciate this fact of life. We cannot only learn, we can still teach, new tricks!
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GPS systems first locate where you are and then help you find how to get to where you want to go. Creating an Internet Marketing and Social Media strategy works in a similar way. The first step is to understand where you are!
When working with a new business owner or executive it’s best to start with a full evaluation of the company’s website [assuming they have one] and then explore the other internet marketing and social media assets they have in place. The result is a “Web Presence Report” and obviously, it is important to comment on what is not set up as well as the status of what is working out there. The reasoning is simple, you cannot know the direction to take or what to do next if you have not established a clear picture of where you are.
We use an assessment tool to gauge a company’s positioning, that is, how owners or other managers describe their unique value proposition (UVP) and their Internet Asset Inventory.” Checklists are great tools, assessment instruments take this to the next level, and a full marketing evaluation for a business completes the pre-strategy process.
These and other tools help small and midsize businesses (SMB) understand the marketing process and provide a sense of what they can hope to achieve. Once you and the business leaders have a handle on the company’s needs, it becomes much easier to develop a strategy and to phase-in various marketing assets, tasks, campaigns, and other work to achieve a set of defined business objectives.
We recommend you take the GPS approach too. Learn where you are and how your marketing efforts are performing. Then think critically about the steps you need and want to take.
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One of the more powerful features of LinkedIn is the Answer function. Login to your LinkedIn account and go to “More” on the main menu. The option in the dropdown is Answer, click on it and you are now in a place where questions find answers. There is nothing magical about it, this is simply a rich user-created content area that you can leverage in several ways.
First, if you have a question, answers are only a few key strokes away. Simply type your question in the space provided, then sit back and wait. Of course, it would be best to take your time and construct a well thought out question, then perhaps have it reviewed by a colleague for clarity. Being thoughtful and constructing a clear question will pay dividends in the form of quality answers as well as helping you to project the best image (I’ve read some questions that were poorly written they do not play well).
Before you submit your question, it could be helpful to search for similar questions that have already been submitted. This step can help you refine your question. It could also give you the answer you are seeking without waiting for people to respond to your new question. In fact, you may find that several similar questions have been asked [include the closed questions when you search]. Answers to these questions may provide the information you want.
Use the advanced search function to find information on specific topics. You will find this search function to right of the main menu. You may type keywords here or you can click on the advanced feature and use the additional selections offered.
Once you have found questions and answers on your topic, exploring the information may require a bit of content analysis. Using a word processor to search one or more keywords or key phases is typically helpful. With practice you can become very good at picking out the themes that emerge across the answers and the themes from across similar questions.
Another aspect of the LinkedIn Answer feature is giving answers. If you would like people to recognize you as an expert here is a perfect venue for establishing your expertise. If your answers are among the best provided in the opinion of the person asking the question, you may be recognized and achieve a “Best Answer” status.
Many people spend a good deal of time working toward that goal. Note the “This Week’s Top Experts” list on the Answer page. However, you don’t have to be top ranked as a supplier of “best answers” to gain true value from this feature.
Selectively answering questions that have attracted your target audience and adding an appropriate link as part of your answer can be a powerful tool in the quest for finding relevant connections on LinkedIn. The targeted nature of this question-answer arena is a perfect mechanism for finding people with a need you can fill.
While the Answer function is not a replacement for engaging on discussion groups, it is a good next step for those of you who want to find answers or people who have specific questions you can answer. Either way this is an innovative function well worth a portion of your overall LinkedIn time allocation.
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