There are two ways to learn to swim: start in the shallow end and make your way in gradually while you figure it out, or jump into the deep end and hope you don’t drown. (Ok, there are probably more than two ways, but bear with me…)
From a business perspective, it’s tempting to jump into the deep end… to get onto every social media available. It’s important to be everywhere that your prospects can find you, so why not sign up for all of them and be everywhere all the time, right?
The thing is, being on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, SnapChat, setting up all of the accounts correctly in a way that matches your brand, and then posting to them almost every day in a consistent, useful way that engages, and then taking the time to connect personally with people you meet online and build trusting relationships… That’s a lot to manage! And don’t you have a lot of other things to do?
We all have to make wise decisions about how we spend our time. With all of the other things you need to be doing to run your business, do you really want to spend it all on Social Media? Even if you enjoy tweeting and posting and publishing… probably not.
On top of that, how you handle your social media impacts your business. A social media account with an incomplete profile looks unprofessional. Just a missing profile pictures can undermine trust. Social media account that are set up but then lie dormant look… empty. Vacant. And that impression can carry right on over to your business! So wherever you decide to be online, make sure you’re completely there. If you only go half-way, it shows and it can have a negative effect.
So what should you do? I recommend you wade in slowly. Pick just one or two social media channels to start with. Get them set up, learn to use them, get in the habit of using them regularly… then consider whether to add another to your collection. You’ll learn how to use them well, you’ll be more effective, and – bonus – you’re less likely to drown.
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Have you thought about using crowdfunding to raise money? If so, posting your campaign on a crowdfunding site is just step 1. In order to run a successful campaign, your next step is to let people know what you’re doing and how to find you; in other words, you need a marketing strategy!
Incorporating tools like social media and email marketing are key elements of a solid marketing strategy, enabling you to connect with your audience and build that relationship over the long-term of your campaign.
Social media and email marketing work best hand-in-hand. It’s easy to post something on Facebook or Twitter and feel like you’re reaching out but actually, you can’t guarantee that those messages are reaching your audience and they are less likely to follow through on your request (i.e. “convert) as they are via email.
According to Radicati, your email is five times more likely to be seen than if you were to send your message through Facebook. You are six times more likely to have your reader click on your link if you send it through email verses if you send it through Twitter. So social media is a good place to be, but it takes email marketing to actually connect with prospects and then convert them into paying supporters.
If you are interested in adding email marketing to your crowdfunding strategy, keep the following things in mind:
Use an email marketing platform. Using a platform like Constant Contact will give you access to design features and marketing data that you can’t access through email systems like Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook. You can send your message to multiple people at once while also personalize your message to each person on your list. After you send it, you can confirm that email was received, see who opened it, and also who clicked through to learn more about your crowdfunding efforts.
Incorporate your brand. Every message related to your crowd funding should look similar. Do you have a logo, a particular set of colors, or a tag line? Include them every time to create a more professional feel and help your audience more easily recognize you.
Share your email on social media. Just because you don’t have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you can’t reach them with email. When you share your email to your social media channels, you show your audience that there are other ways to stay in touch. (Be sure to include a link in your email that lets people subscribe to receive future emails!)
Bonus Tip: Include the link to your crowdfunding page every time. Your audience won’t know where to go and what you want them to do unless you tell them. Including the link will enable them to take action easily and quickly.
And after all – getting them to your crowdfunding page is the whole point!
Did you find this list helpful? Click here to visit a longer version of this article, including two additional tips!
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When you’ve already connected with new leads and you’re looking to actively nurture relationships, email marketing is a great tool! But what about generating new leads? Can you use email marketing for that?
At first glance, it seems like the answer is no. You need to have someone’s email in hand in order to send them your newsletter, so how could you possibly use email marketing to connect with someone for the first time?
Ahhh… but you can! It’s totally possible to use email marketing to find & connect with new leads!
Here are 5 ways, including exactly “how to” using Constant Contact:
Share your email newsletter to social media. Social media is where you’ll connect with people who aren’t already on your email list so in addition to sending your newsletter to people on your email list, post a link of it to your social media channels. When someone clicks on the link, your newsletter will open in its own web page. To do this in Constant Contact: After you’ve scheduled your newsletter, use Social Sharing to schedule social media messages for up to 7 days after you’ve sent your email. This is a newly updated tool and very powerful – definitely check it out!
Ask networking leads if you can add them to your newsletter list. Exchanging business cards during networking is a ubiquitous best practice. Kick it up a notch and increase your chance of getting connected by asking your new contact if you can send them your newsletter. This opens up an opportunity to talk briefly about how you serve your clients through a regular, useful newsletter, and it also greatly increases the chance of them opening your email when they receive it! Bonus: Email lists decay as much as 25% each year so this will help you keep your newsletter list fresh and active.
Enable your readers to share your newsletter via their own social media channels. Include links in your newsletter that readers can click on to share to their own social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. This is a powerful way for you to reach through your readers to their social circles. The true awesomeness of this option is the fact that it isn’t about where you are online; it’s about where your readers are. To do this in Constant Contact: Just turn on the Social Media Sharebar in the header and you are all set!
Post to social media with an invite – and an offer – to sign up for your newsletter. A quick note through your social media channels announcing your next newsletter can be a great way to drive signups. Increase the chances of getting new folks to sign up this way by offering exclusive content by email only, like a free download or coupon.
Invite readers to share your newsletter with their friends and colleagues. This is a “birds-of-a-feather” technique: Chances are that the people receiving your newsletter know other people who would also like your content. Leverage this opportunity by including a link that enables your readers to share your newsletter with others. Increase the likelihood of them doing so by suggesting it within your introductory paragraph: “If you know someone that you think would also find this content useful, please click here to share it with them now.” To do this in Constant Contact: Insert a forward-to-a-friend link and you’re good to go!
TIP: Also include a link in your newsletter that invites the reader to sign up for your newsletter. That way, when it ends up in front of someone who isn’t on your newsletter yet, they’ll be able to sign up for it easy-peasy.
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Social media is a lot like exercise. You get out of it what you put in. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get. The longer you do it, the better your results – and you feel better about it too! Or at least, you’ll learn to hate it less.
So, with that in mind… If you are marketing your business through social media and you want results, there’s one thing that you’ll need to do: use social media regularly. Not randomly, not occasionally. Regularly. Like every day regularly.
In other words, to get the most out of social media, you’re going to need to make it a habit.
Here are five action steps to help you create & maintain your social media habit:
Sign in every day. This is where the habit starts. Even if it’s only for five minutes, checking in even just once a day will get you headed in the right direction. Even weekends? That’s up to you, but it isn’t a bad idea.
Every time you sign in, engage. To get any results from using social media, you need to do more than log in. You need to post your own content, and you also need to respond to other people’s content by liking, commenting, and sharing. This is the “social” part of social media – engaging with other people on line.
Put it on your calendar. Schedule the time just like you would a client meeting or a doctor’s appointment. (If it isn’t already there, put your exercise schedule on your calendar, too. It’ll increase your chances of following through!) Allot the time you’re going to need, and then don’t skip the appointment!
Get yourself an accountability partner. If someone else is expecting you to check in with them, it increases the likelihood of you following through. Maybe you say “hi” to them online once a week, or maybe you like each other’s posts as a “check-in” activity. However you work it out, it’s a great way to create your own habit and help someone else build theirs as well.
Schedule some of your posts. The operative word here is “some.” Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to pre-schedule some of your content so that you don’t have to worry about it all week, but don’t let that replace your live posting. Nothing is better than timely posting and engagement throughout the week.
Getting results from social media comes from spending quality time there and building your social media habit. Much like exercise, the longer you do it, the better your results – and you’ll feel better about it too! (Or at least, you’ll learn to hate it less.)
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Just last week I sent out an email about an event and listed the wrong location. Yep, I’m going to admit it: I didn’t ask anyone to review it for me. I was in a rush and I needed to get the message out, so I sent it without enlisting a second set of eyes. I found out about the error when I received a note from a client asking for clarification. I’m happy to say that this means that person was actively reading my email… but sadly, that’s not the point.
I feel comfortable admitting this because I’m in good company. Just today, I received an email from someone that had a word in the subject line misspelled. Soon after, I received an email from someone else apologizing for sending a prior message to me with incorrect information. I see it all the time.
The thing is… this matters. The details matter! What we send is a reflection of us and of our business. Are we paying attention? Are we detail-oriented? Do we care about the content we’re sending out?
Unlike a blog post, we can’t go back and edit the email. Unlike social media, we can’t delete the post and resubmit it. What’s done is done, so it’s worth doing right the first time.
The lesson here is simple: Before hitting send, have someone review your content.
It’s rare that a person can effectively edit their own content. We already know what should be there on the page, so that’s what we see. The best way to manage this is to find someone else to review the newsletter for grammar, spelling, and to make sure the details are right. If we don’t, we’ll still get review notes but they’ll come from our readers.
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“How often should I post on social media?”
“When do I need to blog?”
“How many emails should I send each month?
If your marketing strategy involves sharing content, these are important questions and they need to be answered. This information is instrumental for determining your strategy and putting your marketing plan in place.
The answers to these questions are different for every business because every business is different. Each business has different goals, customer needs, message content and unique resources, so the online marketing strategy is going to be unique for each business.
To answer the question, “how often should I…”, for yourself, here are 5 things to consider:
What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? Do you want to drive brand recognition or traffic to a webpage? Are you advertising an event or publishing content? Be sure to identify a deadline for your goal, which will indicate urgency and speak to the frequency of your messaging.
How much do you have to say? If developing content is easy and you have a lot to put out, then a strategy that includes a lot of posting and messaging may make sense for you. If creating content is a challenge, then you might need to scale back on the schedule a bit. In either case, plan to publish each piece of content in multiple ways so that the same message goes out in many different directions.
What resources are available? Is it just you or do you have a team in place? How much time do you have and, perhaps more importantly, how much energy do you have? Are your online tools in place, or are you still building them up? Start with what is already available and build towards more resources as your plan moves forward.
What is sustainable? This is probably one of the most important questions, and definitely the one that is most overlooked. Your online marketing strategy isn’t about this week or this month. If you want to make a lasting impression, you’ll need to keep your strategy in play for a good length of time. What schedule can you create for yourself that you will then be able to maintain for six months or more? Think of the first six months as just the beginning.
Periodically ask yourself, “Is this working?” Online Marketing is a work in progress so, on a monthly or quarterly basis, check your progress and modify the program until it works for you. Here are some key analytics to consider:
Look at the available measurements to see if you’re making an impact: Review your email open & click rates, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, etc.
How well are you sustaining the plan you’ve put in place? Is it manageable, or is it getting in the way of doing business?
How do you feel about the strategy? Is it empowering or is it draining you? How you feel about it will show up in your marketing, so whether you feel positive or negative about it matters!
In the end, your strategy should feel both doable and sustainable without getting in the way of you doing business. In addition to enabling you to reach out and touch customers and prospects, your marketing should be empowering and invigorating to you and your readers! If it isn’t, go back and reanalyze, making changes until it is.
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Don’t you hate it when you unsubscribe from an email newsletter, only to see them show up again in your inbox? I’ve seen unsubscribe systems say things like, “It may take up to a month to remove you from the list so you may see a few more messages from us.” Isn’t that unacceptable? I consider that delayed process to be poor customer service.
This is one of the things I like about using Constant Contact for my own email: I know that I can trust the system to unsubscribe contacts immediately, and then stay unsubscribed unless the contact chooses to re-subscribe. (And by the way – that’s how you’d add them back. The contact has to resubscribe. You can’t just go in and add them back in yourself.)
Is it ok for people to unsubscribe? Of course it is! We all have full inboxes and no one should receive anything they don’t want. On top of that, it’s normal. Email databases can decay as much as 22% each year. People change jobs, email addresses, interests… things change. It’s a fact of life.
“But wait… they’ve unsubscribed! That means I’m not reaching them with my emails! Now what do I do?!”
You can do a few things, which I’ll list below – but the first thing you do is: You let them. From a customer service perspective, it’s absolutely fine that they don’t want to receive your newsletter anymore. Maybe they aren’t the right customer for what you offer. Or maybe they’d rather hear from you on Facebook. Regardless, there’s no fuss to this point. They don’t want to get it, so they don’t.
But now what? Here are 7 actions you can take to manage your unsubscribing activity:
Set up your email signup form so that they can unsubscribe from just one of your email lists and not necessarily from the whole shebang. To do this in Constant Contact: When you set up your sign up form, make sure that people signing up have a few different lists that they can select from. This means that when they choose to unsubscribe, the system will ask them which messages they don’t want to receive. They’ll have the option to just unsub from some lists, or from all.
Monitor your unsubscribes. The Constant Contact program offers unsubscribers the opportunity to say why they no longer want to receive your emails. They may just say they’re moving away or they’ve changed jobs. It's helpful to be able to see these notes, and can provide some insight.
Follow up with the unsubscriber directly. If they are a customer or a viable prospect, then this is a great opportunity to check in with them. Ask them how they’re doing, if they need anything – “and oh – are you getting my newsletter? I think you might find it helpful…” And if they say they aren’t, invite them to subscribe! Maybe they didn’t know it was your newsletter that they opted out of. These things happen…
Focus on quality content. Consider what you’ve been offering through your newsletter and how it serves your audience. Are your messages about your own products in services, or are they addressing topics your customers need to learn more about? It’s recommended that you stick to an 80/20 balance: 80% of the time be informative; 20% of the time, discuss what you offer. Focus on quality content and monitor how many open your email as well as who unsubscribes… do you see a difference?
Make sure it’s clear that the email is from YOU. Optimally, the “from” line should have your name as well as your business so that recipients know exactly who it’s from. Use this same “from” content every time so that it’s consistent every time you show up in their inbox.
Consider contacting other people still on your newsletter list – some who have opened your recent emails and also some who haven’t. Do they like what they’re receiving? Are they finding it helpful? What would they like to see in your newsletter? Just think how they’d feel if they suggest something and then they see it in your next email! (Bonus: In your email, thank them for the idea!)
Keep building your email list! Use sign in forms on your website and on social media, collect business cards, use text-to-join… whatever you have to do to continue to build your list! In this way, you are replacing the people that aren’t engaging with your content and you are keeping your list fresh and active.
In the end, someone unsubscribing from your list isn’t really negative as much as it is informative. If you can understand the reasons why and leverage that information to make your newsletter better, you serve your audience, improve your customer service, build solid relationships and, ultimately, grow your business. And isn’t that the whole point?
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“I wanted to get in touch as I noticed that you opened the email that was sent recently but did not register for the class.” There was more to the email – at least 3 long paragraphs – but I didn’t read it; they lost me at that first sentence! I felt like someone was looking right over my shoulder, watching what I’d do next! My very next step was to delete the message and I swore to never read one of their emails again!
Along with most people, I am fully aware that there is monitoring going on behind the scenes, someone watching my every click. We see that in the margins of websites we visit, remarketing to us with advertisements from the pages we’ve previously visited. Sometimes we’re surprised by it, and sometimes it even reminds us and we go back for more. When the message is positive it can work very well. “Thank you for your purchase,” is perfectly appropriate.
But when you state it directly like they did in that email to me, it takes on a whole different quality. “I noticed you did this…” is too familiar, too personal. The writer sounds like a voyeur, looking over my shoulder, monitoring me. This approach can make the reader feel defensive and generate a negative response – completely opposite what the marketer intended, I’m sure!
Have you thought about reaching out to people who didn’t take the action you wanted them to take so you could nudge them a bit further? It’s a good idea and, just as there are negative, unproductive ways to do this, there are also positive, useful ways to encourage the action you want.
So what can you do to reach out a second time and encourage your readers to take action? Go ahead and send another email, and try incorporating one of these statements:
“Just a reminder…”
“We thought you would be interested…”
“I was just checking in to make sure you saw this…”
“We’re running this special offer and you came to mind…”
The reason this approach is more likely to work is because your message is focused on benefits of the action you want the reader to take. It’s about the value that the reader would gain if they were to choose to take the action. At the same time, it doesn’t bring attention to the fact that you can see what actions they have or have not already taken.
If you do this, I recommend that you keep the email brief. Don’t include all of the finer details. Focus solely on the benefits by highlighting two or three things that they might find interesting, and that’s it. If they want to know more, they’ll click! If they don’t, maybe they truly aren’t interested. Try again next time.
Remarketing in this way – with a personal message – can actually work very well when it’s done in the right way. But do it the wrong way and you can lose a customer forever!
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Travel can play havoc with your digital marketing plan. Whether you visit clients locally, go across the country (or world) for a business meeting, or even away for vacation… how do you keep your online activity alive and kicking while you’re on the road?
A 2-prong approach can keep you covered: (1) Schedule content ahead of time and (2) monitor & post live during your travels.
In many ways, scheduling ahead of time is the easy part. Most platforms for blogging, social media and email offer scheduling tools so with a bit of planning you can prep your content, get it in the calendar, and then head on out.
To keep your social media up and running, look to tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that offer scheduling across a variety of social media platforms from one dashboard. Blog tools like Wordpress offer scheduling options; if the tool you use does not allow you to schedule posts ahead of time, you should still be able to prep the post and then just log back in to publish it at a later time.
Email programs like Constant Contact also offer advance scheduling options. A new feature in Constant Contact now allows you to schedule social media posts related to your email for up to 7 days after the email is sent. This is a great way to get more out of one email, manage multiple channels with one tool, and expand your reach beyond your email contact list!
Hint: As you travel, keep in mind what you’ve published and when so that you can check in and follow up on any responses in a timely manner.
Staying engaged while traveling takes a bit more work. You’re busy, you’re distracted, you’re outside of your office and your own routine… and actually, this creates a fabulous opportunity to be authentic, original, and engaging!
Here are some ideas for live posting on social media while traveling:
Traveling far? Thank the airline and people who helped you along the way for getting you to your destination safely! Take a picture of your plane or the town you landed in and say “hello” to announce your arrival.
Visiting a client or catching up with someone at a business meeting? Note that you’re looking forward to seeing them and tag them in your post. (And then do this again after the event and note that it was great to meet them in person.)
Attending a conference? Find out if they’re using a particular hashtag and use it every time you post about the event. Post quotes from speakers, make positive observations about the event, and share what you’re learning.
See others posting about the same event? (Do a search on the event’s hashtag to find them.) Share their posts, reply directly and make plans to meet up. This is your opportunity to build real-life relationships with your virtual network!
Photo opportunity? Selfies with happy clients, other event attendees and fellow travelers make for engaging and very sharable posts! (Keep using that hashtag!)
Hint: Save time and effort on your part – and get more out of your content – by posting similar (but not identical!) material across multiple social media platforms.
So yes, traveling can cause havoc with your digital marketing schedule, but it can also present some great opportunities to be engaging and authentic as you connect with people and broaden your reach.
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Keeping your online marketing plan organized, focused and moving forward can be an enormous challenge, especially if you don’t have a way to track and monitor it. This is true whether you use only a few online marketing tools, or have many in play simultaneously. It isn’t just a question of executing a variety of activities; it’s about making sure that everything you do is in line with the goals you’ve set for your business and reasonably timed to elicit the results you desire. When you set it all down in writing, it’s easier to stay on track and optimize your time and your impact. There are a number of tools available to go about scheduling and tracking your online marketing plan. Here are just five: 1. Google Calendar: If you already use Google calendar, then this may be a very useful tool. Create a calendar specifically for your posting schedule and add details in the notes. It's helpful to be able to see things by week or by month. For added benefit, overlay it with your other calendars and share it with your team! 2. Online Marketing Calendar within Excel: This is what I use because it allows me to relate marketing activities across multiple channels (i.e. blogging, newsletter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all in one glance). To take it a step further, customize it by widening the columns and add the actual text you plan to post so that you’ll just have to copy & paste. If you want to get a visual of what this might look like, click here to download a customizable Online Marketing Calendar built in Excel. You’ll get a sample Online Marketing Calendar plus a pre-set sheet that you can customize to your own needs. 3. Hootsuite: This is a great tool for pre-scheduling social media messages. You can set it up to feed directly to FB, Twitter, LinkedIn and - new - Instagram. Free for up to 5 accounts. Click here to check out Hootsuite. 4. Facebook: If you have a Facebook business page, then you can schedule your posts ahead of time. (This is just one of many features that are not available with a personal page!) If Facebook is your only social media, this can be a great choice over Hootsuite specifically because Facebook prioritizes posts from within its own platform over external 3rd party platforms which can give you a slight edge. 5. Constant Contact: Write and schedule your email and then use Constant Contact’s newly updated social sharing tool to schedule messages to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The customizable feature now allows you to send multiple message to each channel, expanding the life of your email. This feature is available in the free 60-day trial version so if you aren't already using Constant Contact, click here if you want to check it out! As I mentioned, there are many scheduling tools and features available. These five that I’ve mentioned are some of the more frequently used and, in my experience, most powerful. Regardless of which tool(s) you decide to use, the bonus is that you’re taking your marketing to the next level: instilling a plan and putting it into action in an organized fashion. It’s amazing the difference that this can make!
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I regularly receive messages through LinkedIn and email with offers for this free webinar or that free content, all because this person and I are connected through a huge group, or they found my info on such-and-such a website…. And I delete the message every time, often without even skimming it. Why? Because I have no relationship with these people. They are “cold-calling” me and many, many other people --- randomly throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping it sticks. It’s a pretty vague strategy and it generates a lot of misses. It can also generate a negative response and hurt their overall brand image when they’re reaching out to people as though they have a connection when, really, they don’t. What is a better way of doing this? In your own marketing, how can you connect with someone and increase the likelihood – nay, guarantee – that they will read your email or open your LinkedIn message, and welcome your content with interest and curiosity? Get to know them, rather than pretending you do. Express interest in them – their work, their issues, their successes – and in the process, they will get to know you. Invite them and ask their permission, rather than throwing your content at them and hoping it sticks. Not just, “Can I add you to my email list” but even a more engaging, “Based on what we’ve discussed, I think you’ll find the content useful. In fact, you’ve given me some things to think about and I may write about it this month. Keep an eye out!” Recipients of your message are more likely to open your message and read it if they (1) know who you are and (2) expect the message. Why? It’s human nature. We talk with, listen to, connect with and buy from people we know and trust. Not companies – people. So when you reach out, reach out as a person, and do things that will help them know and trust you. How? Introduce yourself and ask questions so you get to know them a bit. Save time and effort on both your parts by confirming that they are in fact someone who might find you content and offerings useful. Then ask them if you can send them something, while relating it to them, their business, and their needs. Building a relationship of trust and understanding will result in them noticing your message, clicking on it and actually reading it and possibly even taking the action that you ask them for. This does take a little bit more time than just pelting the world with your content, but the long-term impact for you, your business and your customers’ success is much, much better.
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When you receive a newsletter in your email inbox and you want to forward it to a friend or colleague, what do you do? Do you click the forward button in your own email platform? If this is how you forward newsletters, be careful! You could be compromising your own security! Here’s what’s happening: Newsletters (and all commercial emails) are required, by law, to include information on “how to opt out of receiving future emails from you” (FTC.gov). Email platforms usually meet this need by inserting an unsubscribe hyperlink the footer. When you forward a newsletter directly from your inbox to someone else’s, you compromise your own security because the message will include the footer – and therefore “unsubscribe” link – and that can give someone else the power to access your newsletter subscription! If all goes well, the unsubscribe button doesn’t automatically unsubscribe the registered party. The best systems will ask for some form of confirmation. Even then, if all you have to do is acknowledge the original email that the newsletter was sent to, you can find that information back in the email message that was forwarded. To keep your information secure, follow these best practices when forwarding a newsletter: Use the “forward to a friend” button if one has been included in the message. Yes, it enables the email creator to track that you forwarded their message and to see where it was sent – but it’s their email. Isn’t that just respectful? Even if you aren’t thrilled with this, it’s still more important to protect your own security. If you absolutely must send the newsletter directly from your own email, go through the message and delete the footer content before you send. Also check the header content, just in case the unsubscribe info has been included there as well. In turn – As you create your own email newsletters and include the ability to unsubscribe, be sure to include a “forward to a friend” button so others can forward your email without compromising their own security – and at the same time, enable you to see that it has been forwarded!
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Many people set up their LinkedIn profile, connect with a few people, and then… stop. But that isn’t where your work should end; it’s where the LinkedIn action is just beginning! Once you have your profile set up and you’ve started to connect with others, it’s time to shift your focus; it’s time to engage with others, increase your visibility, focus on your expertise, and step up as an authority in your field!
Here are five ways to leverage LinkedIn and make it work for you:
Post an update. When you post an update on LinkedIn, it flows through the feed of anyone you are linked with. If readers like it, comment on it or share it, your reach will go even farther. Whether you post something original or share an article you like, this can be a quick way to unobtrusively engage with many of your contacts and stay top-of-mind.
Publish a blog post. LinkedIn is shaping up to be a blogging platform powerhouse. Offering a ready-made audience and the ability to be seen beyond the people you are already linked with, the “Pulse” blogging platform is a great way to increase your visibility! Take advantage of this growing platform by publishing a post from your own blog archives – or post something brand spanking new - and include a link at the end to drive traffic back to your blog or website. It will show up on your LinkedIn feed, which will help drive initial traffic to your post. Share it again a few days later as a LinkedIn update to continue to drive traffic to the post. (Plus, you’re using this step to feed #1, above. Two birds, one stone!)
Upload a photo. If your business is product-based, this can be easy - - upload photos of your products, preferably being used by a happy customer. If yours is a service-based business, you might need to get creative. How about an action shot at a conference or networking event? Or a behind-the-scenes photo with a client? Giving your readers something visual to digest can help them better understand what you offer and how you can serve them.
Join – and participate in – a group. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to connect with people who share similar interests. Whether you want to connect with people in the same vocation or with potential clients, there are lots of possibilities here. The key is that you need to participate to be seen, so make sure you find a group that has plenty of members and regular engagement. For public groups, you can preview how the group operates and what the activity level is before you join. If you find a private group that you think holds a lot of possibility, you won’t be able to preview the engagement. If this is the case, you can always try to join and, if they let you in, hang out for a while. If it doesn’t work out, leave and find a new one.
Build a group of your own. This is a great opportunity to create a community whose conversation will go in a direction that you’ve selected. It will take some work on your part (especially at first) to get it up and running, and then to keep it active and engaging – but it can be well worth it! Start out with some personal invites and a plan for what the group will talk about. The more you have in place, the smoother it will go. Before you try this, make sure you’ve participated in a couple of other groups so that you are familiar with the lay of the land and how things operate. Participating in those groups might even help you identify how you can do it better!
LinkedIn can be a powerful place to build contacts, increase your visibility and promote your expertise as an authority in your field. Any one of the activities listed above can help you make this happen; if you’re just starting out, I recommend you begin with #1 or #4. If you’re already doing many of the things listed, perhaps it’s time to expand your reach – add blogging or start your own group!
No matter which one you choose, keep in mind that you have to do it regularly to make an impact! Do it once to check it out. If it works for you, do it again, and again, and again… and you’ll get there!
Looking for ways to build a stronger LinkedIn network? Here are some blog posts that you might find useful: 10 Guidelines for Building a Solid LinkedIn Network LinkedIn: What if I Don't Want to Connect?
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A friend of mine once sent me an email to apologize for not connecting with me via LinkedIn. He had decided that he was going to use LinkedIn specifically to link with people he had worked with and he was afraid he’d hurt my feelings by not accepting my request to connect. His email taught me two specific things: First: Your network is yours to cultivate as you wish. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you have to connect with them via LinkedIn; conversely, just because you don’t know them personally doesn’t mean you can’t link with them. It all depends on what you are trying to do and who are you trying to connect with. I tend to connect with people I know in general, while my friend only wanted to stay connected to people within his immediate industry – and that’s ok! We had different goals and, therefore, different guidelines for who we chose to link with. Second: If he hadn’t said anything, I would never have noticed. If you choose to ignore an invite, the person who sent it will only notice if they intentionally look to find out. You do receive a notice if someone has accepted your invite, but LinkedIn doesn’t send you a notice if they don’t. (To see the invitations you’ve sent, click on the envelope at the top right of the page and then in the left column, click on “sent”. You might also want to check “archive” and “trash”.) It’s worth noting that my friend did eventually accept my invitation. He had decided that his criteria for linking was too narrow and so he had widened his scope (though I’ve always wondered if he felt bad for turning down so many requests from friends and other great connections that just happened to fall outside of the limits he had originally set.) This raises one final point: You have a right to change your mind! If you ignored a request earlier… they don’t expire. You can always go back and accept it at a later date. In a similar vein, you can always “unlink” with someone you previously connected with. Again, LinkedIn does not notify them that you’ve disconnected so unless they go sifting through their contact list, they probably won’t even notice. If you found these ideas helpful, you may also want to read, LinkedIn: 10 Guidelines for Building a Solid Network.
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Do you ever find yourself looking for just the right image to fit with an article, post or email? Images are great because they draw attention and convey messages quickly… but unfortunately, it can be really difficult to find the right image to fit your needs. How do you know if it’s the right one? What should you be looking for? What makes it a good image choice? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when going in search of the right image for your online marketing message: Keep it Visual: Avoid images that rely on words to convey the point of the image. When you incorporate text you undermine the primary benefit of the image: people process images significantly faster than text. The purpose of the image is so the reader can tell what your article is about in a glance so if text is at the center of your image, you undermine the speed of translation. It’s ok to have words in the image; just don’t let them do the job of conveying what the picture means. Keep it Simple: Can the image be understood at a glance? A couple of boys tossing a ball is easier to translate visually than, say, a series of cartoon scenes. Aim for simplicity so that the reader picks up your message quickly. Draw on Emotions: When selecting the image for your article or post, think about the emotion that you want to elicit. Success? Failure? Struggle? Comfort? Confidence? Freedom? Connecting the reader to your image through emotion will help them connect to your content. Connect with your audience: When the image resonates with the reader, it draws them in to read the article. Relate to what is important to your reader while also staying on topic. Create context: Though the context will likely show up quickly in your article, the image will convey it faster – and first. Readers will process the image before the text because it stands out, so use it to convey the context of the message. It will help them process the article more quickly because they’ll already be oriented when they start to read. Last but not least – if you publish a blog post with one image and then realize later that another image would have been better, it’s ok to go back and change it! This won’t impact old social media posts so take this opportunity to post through these channels again. It’s a great way to give a less successful blog post a new boost!
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Yes, that feature can confuse people at first! Thank you for bringing it up. Another sybol that I've seen before the handle (@name) is the exclamation point ("!"), which is an interesting choice because it can bring just a little bit more attention. I'd recommend using that one sparingly, though. the period (".") is definitely the way to go!
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Twitter can seem like a difficult social media platform to understand. I tend to liken it to a ticker-tape – an on-going stream of consciousness. It is text-based and linear, making it difficult to follow any one conversation until you get your head around how it works. However, once you do get your head into it, you’ll find that it can be a powerful platform for connecting and engaging with others. Here's a quick cheat sheet of some of the basics for using Twitter. This isn't everything, but it's a good place to start: TERMINOLOGY: Tweet: Any post in Twitter Retweet: Sharing someone else’s tweet. Many online systems offer a retweet button but another way to do this is to just add RT at the beginning of your post. Handle: A user name, designated by @. Examples: @The_CommCoach @ConstantContact Hashtag: When you put a hashtag (#) in front of a word, you designate it as a “keyword.” This hashtag then associates your tweet with other tweets that also use that hashtag. Click on any hashtag and you'll get a new page with a list of other posts that use that same hashtag. Example: #coaching #getcoaching #masswomen (note: no spaces!) Twittersphere: The Twitter universe (Probably not a key term to know, but one of my favorites!) HOW TO USE TWITTER FOR YOUR BUSINESS Tweet regularly to keep your profile busy and build an audience. Share content that will serve your audience. Talk about your industry and address frequently asked questions, in addition to talking about the services and products you provide. Retweet content that others share. It's a compliment to them and a way to serve your audience without having to generate your own content every time. Mark as "favorites" any posts you especially like. Though this doesn't share the post the way retweeting does, it will tell the original poster that you liked their tweet and it will also save it under your list of favorites to easily find at a later time. (To mark a tweet as a "favorite" click on the little star immediately below the tweet.) Use 2 - 3 Hashtags to highlight the keywords that you want others to notice. This also connects your tweet to others that use the same hashtags. If someone does a search on a hashtag you used, your tweet will come up in that search. Start a tweet with a user's handle to engage with them directly. The only people that will see a post that begins with a handle are that person, you, and anyone who follows both of you. When you are ready for more, here's a list of Twitter Best Practices. Also be sure to monitor Twitter and observe how others use it. You'll gather some great insight about what to do and what not to do simply by watching!
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When raising money for a charity or nonprofit organization, do you use social media to support your fundraising goals? If you do, are you getting the most out of how you use it? Social media is a powerful way to connect with potential donors, engage others so they feel involved with what you are doing, and promote your fundraising efforts to greater success. Over the last 5 years, I participated in the Pan Mass Challenge, raising an average of $5,456 per year and a grand total of $27,280. Every single year that I participated in this ride, at least 85% of my fundraising came through Social Media – specifically, Facebook. Though the type of fundraising I have in mind is through a sports-oriented event, the following list can be applied to any fundraising work. Here are 5 ways that you can use Social Media to drive your fundraising efforts: 1. Launch your fundraising challenge. Announce the challenge to let potential donors know what the challenge is and that it has begun. Make the launch of your fundraising challenge a big deal and leverage it to start your online campaign. (In other words, start as soon as you sign up even if the culminating event is months away.) Some donors like to get in on the ground floor; Give them that opportunity by letting them know that you are launching your challenge. 2. Thank your donors. Write a brief social media post thanking individuals who donated to your cause. Be sure to "tag" the people you are thanking so that they get notified about your message. Different people donated all at once? Don’t think everyone all at the same time! Rather, space them out over hours or even days. 3. Post updates about your fundraising progress. This helps keep you and your readers focused on your goal. It’s an opportunity to do a general thank you, or to express concern that time is ticking down and there’s still so much more to go. 4. Educate your readers about your cause. Who does it serve? What does it support or enable? What has the organization accomplished in the past? What, specifically , will the money you are raising go towards? Tell your potential donors about the impact that their donation can have! 5. Post pictures. Are you hosting (or attending) a fundraiser? Do you spend lots of time training for the event? Did you get a t-shirt? Are you hanging out with other people who are also involved? These are all opportunities for posting pictures!! Seeing what you are up to gives your readers a more tangible impression of what you are doing and what they are donating towards. Be sure to "tag" anyone in the photos with you, which will expand the reach of your message. Of course, you should not tie your entire fundraising effort to social media. Nothing beats reaching out personally by email or phone, and thank you cards are always better than thank you emails. That being said… engaging social media fully throughout the duration of your fundraising window can give you better reach, a louder voice, and also help you feel supported by those who respond back online in addition to the donations they send you. If you found this list helpful, click here for 5 more ways to use social media to drive your fundraising efforts.
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Now that we are officially into the New Year, it’s time to check in: Is your online marketing presence up to date? Here are 3 quick actions to take right now: Website: Update the copyright date in the footer. What? No copyright date? Time to put one there and protect your content! Email Marketing: Change the year in the date at the top of your email template Does the footer of your message include a copyright date? Make sure to update that one too! Social Media: Did you change any of your headers or opening messages to have holiday themes? Make sure to change them back to messages that reflect business-as-usual! While you’re there… If you’ve created your online marketing presence gradually over a number of years, it’s very likely that there are a lot of inconsistencies between the sites you’ve been on for ages and the ones you’ve only recently signed onto. Take this time to go back and make sure that how you describe your business and what you offer is consistent across all of your social media accounts. This is a great brief checklist to return to at the start of every year. Mark your calendar for next year so you don’t have to worry about remembering!
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Twitter is probably the most confusing of all of the social media tools that are available, but it is the most powerful tool for attending conferences. Thanks to the power of the hashtag, you can associate your messages with people at the same event and connect with folks you aren’t following… yet. Here are some best practices for using Twitter at a conference: Bring the Conference into Twitter Tweet quotes from speakers. This can be especially powerful when the speaker puts into words something that could apply to a larger context. Be sure to identify the speaker and include their Twitter handle if you know it. Retweet others. When you’re at a conference, a lot is happening all at once. Retweeting can help increase the volume on the important messages. When others retweet you, say thank you. Use designated hashtags. Follow the hashtag designated by the conference to see what other people are Tweeting. Use that same hashtag when you are posting about and from the event so that others who are following that hashtag will see your posts. Share pictures. Twitter posts that include images get twice as much engagement, so use your smart phone to take a picture at the conference and then share it via Twitter. (Need more info on how to use Twitter? Click here for a Twitter Cheat Sheet!) Use Twitter to connect beyond the conference. Follow others who are using that hashtag. Chances are that anyone attending the event has shared interests with you, so follow them during the event while they’ll be more likely to be posting. Follow anyone else Tweeting from the event, plus speakers, sponsors and event organizers. Move the conversation into real life. Though Twitter may be where the conversation starts, don’t let it end there. Take the conference as an opportunity to meet in real life. Catch up with someone one-on-one or, better, call for a “Tweet Up” by designating a time and place for many people to meet. When you match a face to a Twitter handle, their tweets (and yours) carry more meaning during and after the conference. When you use Twitter at a conference, you do more than attend. You become part of the event and you connect with people you might not have met otherwise. In this context, Twitter becomes a powerful networking tool!
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When your business is based in providing services to your clients, it can be difficult to picture how you might offer something special for the holiday season. The challenge is in the packaging… When what you offer is largely intangible, how do you wrap it up in ribbons and bows?
Here are 10 ways to be festive with your service-based business:
Offer a bonus product or discount for anyone scheduling services in the New Year. The holidays can easily get in the way of looking into January and beyond. Help your clients plan ahead by offering something special – a small discount, an add-on service or an extra session – if they book before year end.
Schedule next year’s services at this year’s prices . If your prices go up in January, offer a special opportunity to your current customers to book ahead. They get special treatment, and you get end-of-the-year sales.
Let them in on the down-low. Use the holidays to provide a preview of coming attractions. Announce your new services and offer special pricing to customers who sign up before the end of the year.
Gift them with an end-of-year checkup. This can be especially effective for pulling old clients out of the woodwork! Send a special note to all previous clients to let them know that you are available for a check-in before the end of the year. If your business tends to wane in November and December, this can be a great pick-me-up for new business with old clients.
Offer a special downloadable eBook or blog post : In what ways do your clients look at and think about the holiday season differently than they see the rest of the year? How do their challenges, priorities and needs shift? Bringing this information to light and answering some seasonal FAQs can help your clients understand how your services fit in during the holiday season.
Sell gift cards: The holidays are for sharing. Help your clients share their good fortune of your services by purchasing them for someone else! If yours is a business based on referrals (and most businesses are), this is a useful tool for helping your current customers refer others to you.
Reach out to new clients with coupons: Reach new clients through social media by offering a special holiday discount or an add-on service through a trackable coupon . The social media environment makes it easily sharable. You might want to clarify that the coupon is only for new customers and then encourage current customers to help you spread the word. (“If you are a current customer and like our services, please share this coupon!”) Be sure to identify an expiration date to promote a sense of urgency!
Give your clients a peek behind the holiday curtain. Especially if you don't tend to let them see what's going on behind the scenes, this is a great opportunity to show how your employees or your family celebrate the season. ( Instagram and Facebook are especially useful for sharing spontaneous photos.) It's ok to set aside the business image every now and then and show your human side. This is authenticity at its best!
Decorate your website and social media sites. Holiday-oriented social media icons, add a special seasonal message on your home page. Facebook cover photos, Twitter backgrounds and Pinterest boards offer great spaces for holiday images. Don’t just do it once… change it up each week and keep the online party going!
Celebrate! Opening your doors to celebrate the season will generate buckets of goodwill! Invite your clients in for a holiday open house and spend some casual time with them. First and foremost: It’s ok to be human in front of your clients. In fact, it can engender trust and support your long-term business relationship with them.
When you run a service-based business, the holiday season offers a fantastic opportunity to reach out to clients and prospects in ways that aren’t available at any other time of year. Identify the best holiday packaging for your product and then break out those ribbons and bows!
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