LinkedIn Bolsters Platform: What Should You Know?

LinkedIn Bolsters Platform: What Should You Know?

LinkedIn is now one of the most effective platform for marketers, with more than 92 percent of B2B currently prioritizing it over other social platforms. During a recent LinkedIn Advertising Masterclass Series in Cambridge, experts from LinkedIn outlined some of the newest features of the platform, and we were there.

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Three Tips for Effective Consumer-facing Social Media

From 2008 to 2012, the number of Americans using social sites daily grew from 12 million to 58 million.  As the use of social media continues to expand, companies are increasingly looking to these mobile and web-based technologies as a way to connect with new and existing customers. While many of today’s brands have a presence on popular social sites, simply sharing information about a product or service does not necessarily lead to sales or customer loyalty. Here are a few tips for taking social media engagement to the next level:

1. Create engaging content to drive your social media. In 2012, Google’s Zero Moment of Truth research found that the average number of information sources used by customers doubled from 2010 to 2011. Not only are modern consumers using more information to drive their purchasing decisions, but they are also being exposed to more content than ever before. With the growth of social media, companies are now able to easily produce large amounts of content explaining why their product or service is the best, shifting the focus from which companies are the most engaged on social media, to those that have the most engaging social presences.

In 2013, as part of its “Look Up” campaign, British Airways set up digital billboards in London that respond to planes flying overhead. When a British Airways flight passes overhead, the billboards depict a child running and pointing up to the sky, chasing the airplane as the billboard reflects the flight details, like “flight BA475 from Barcelona.” Combining the childhood fascination of flying with the technological wizardry of the billboards, “Look Up” was shared widely across social media platforms and set British Airways apart from other airlines.

Engaging content not only separates you from the crowded social media arena, but it communicates the message of your brand. While customers may visit social pages to learn about the newest deals or to be entertained, they are also soaking up your company’s message and learning what it stands for. By creating content (articles, videos, podcasts, blog posts, etc.) that not only commands attention, but creates a personal connection with your customers, you can build loyalty for not just your products and services, but also for your brand.

2. Be social with your followers. Too often, companies forget the “social” aspect of social media. While social media is a great platform to feature new products and services, it is important to remember that social media is a forum for interacting with existing and potential customers, not just an online advertising space. If you go to the Twitter accounts of companies like J. Crew (@jcrew) or Nike (@Nike), you will see that they frequently reply to tweets by customers about their products or related topics. While this does not mean that you should reply to every Facebook post or tweet – choosing what to interact with is a science all its own - interacting with your viewers, whether it is through direct responses, sharing posts by your audience or by posting content that engages your audience, shows your followers that you value their feedback and are interested in what they have to say.

3. Promote sharing. Last year, insight community technologies provider Vision Critical conducted a survey, From Social to Sale, on the relationship between social media and sales. They found that about 40% of social media users have purchased an item after sharing it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. When managing your social media accounts, the goal should not only be to share information about your company and its products and services, but to encourage your customers to share information about your business as well.

Babolat, a French sports company best known for its tennis equipment, promotes the hashtag #TennisRunsInOurBlood on its Twitter and other social media accounts. This hashtag is used to share Babolat’s products, highlight the results of the players it sponsors, and, most importantly, promote customer sharing of Babolat products. Throughout the Babolat Twitter (@Babolat) page you will see tweets by customers about how much they enjoy playing with Babolat equipment, all featuring the #TennisRunsInOurBlood hashtag. Users can also search the hashtag to find tennis-related posts from other people, interspersed with messages from the Babolat corporate account. While corporate and professional social sharing are important, customers themselves are often the best promoters of your brand.

Do you have any tips on effective consumer social media engagement? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen. Send him an email: mglen@greenoughcom.com 

Content Marketing and Successful Polar Exploration

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Content Marketing and Successful Polar Exploration

Or How Coding Can Make Your Writing Better

Click to read on

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What's the Connection?

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the Ragan Communications Social Media Conference in Orlando, FL, where I heard Carolyn Shelby (@cshel), Director of Digital Strategy at 435 Communications, give a fantastic talk on SEO for social media and content marketing professionals. In addition to some simple, code-free tips for social media folks, the presentation also talked a lot about how difficult it is for content marketers and SEO people to work together. To put it simply, these two groups have a fundamental conflict because the former is interested in writing for human beings while the latter is writing for machines. I started to wonder what these teams could do to make reaching their mutual goal faster and easier - and this got me thinking about one of my personal heroes, the early 20th century polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. I believe that Amundsen's success - the first navigation of the Northwest Passage, the first successful expedition to the South Pole - can be attributed to the fact that he was the first modern explorer that was both the ship captain and the expedition leader.

You see, during the golden age of exploration, the person who led the expedition was not the same person as the one in charge of the ship. The expedition leader was the public face of the expedition and was responsible for crafting a narrative that generated both public and private investment in the team. The captain, on the other hand, was responsible for the technical details of navigation, safety and ship management.

Because the captain and expedition leader were taking completely different approaches to the same goal, conflicts naturally arose between them - and this is essentially the same dynamic that exists between content marketers and SEO people. Though they both share the same goal, the former is a creative while the latter is a technician.

What made Amundsen so successful was his drive to understand both the creative and technical sides of his work. Yet just like most expedition leaders felt there was no use in learning to navigate a ship, many creative professionals - even those who work in social media or develop online content - feel that they shouldn't (or can't) learn to code.

Here are three ways I think Amundsen would approach this problem.

1. More Knowledge Makes a Team More Cohesive

Imagine, for a moment, that your content people didn't know anything about legal. Every press release they sent for review - every blog post, every tweet - was written with no understanding of its potential legal implications. If you think working with legal is a difficult now, imagine how much worse it would be like this!

If that sounds bizarre to you, then content marketers with no knowledge of how SEO works should as well. Remember, just like a captain and an expedition leader, an SEO person and a content person look at the same goal completely differently. Writing that looks great to a computer sometimes sounds terrible to people, and vice versa. If content marketers took the time to learn a little bit about the SEO team's work it would make both teams' work a lot easier. That's why teams that develop any type of content that's going online - i.e., almost everything - should learn to code at least a little bit.

If Amundsen was able to tackle ocean navigation to reach his goal, it should be within our ability to learn a little code. With online educational resources like Codecademy, Treehouse and Coursera now available, it's easier than ever for us content people to learn the basics. Unfortunately for the SEO people, learning to write compelling content remains as stubbornly difficult as ever.

2. Good Code Compliments Good Writing

Learning a little code does more than just make working with SEO easier - it can make your finished product better.At the Social Media Conference, I saw a fantastic presentation by Shel Holtz (@shelholtz) about image-driven storytelling. The power of digital technology has enabled us to tell stories with more than just words - we can now integrate text, video, images and more into content that's more compelling than each piece is by itself. Just like an expedition team, a well-organized whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Take a look at the New York Times' Snow Fall, or the BBC's Arms Wide Open. In addition to great stories, they also have images, video and interactive content. Notice how they all work together seamlessly, even on mobile devices. Try resizing your browser window and see how the content reacts. What makes this user experience so fantastic? Great code. As these and hundreds of other pieces prove, content that uses code to build multimedia experiences is much compelling than text alone.

Just like the examples above, this blog post uses interactive features to hold the reader's attention and reduce the TL;DR factor. Even though the features of this post are relatively simple in comparison to those in Snow Fall, we still think they do a lot to hold the reader's attention!

3. HAVING MULTIPLE SKILLSETS MAKES YOU MORE CREATIVE

One could argue that learning to personally write a bit of code isn't actually worth the time, given that there are so many contractors out there who can already do it much better. But Amundsen's success counters that as well: there was no shortage of captains for hire in his day, yet none of them were able to achieve what he did.

When you're working with a team to produce online content - even if you're not writing a line of code yourself - having a personal working knowledge of how your work will be displayed and presented to the user can actually help make you more creative. A little cross-disciplinary knowledge often expands one's idea of what's possible in one's own work - just think of all the innovators who stumbled upon their great ideas while doing something completely unrelated.

Amundsen didn't navigate his own ship, and most people don't write their own code. But Amundsen did speak his navigator's language (though likely not as expertly as the navigator himself), and could meaningfully contribute to a conversation with him about his work. More importantly, a little understanding of the importance and mechanics of navigation would have helped Amundsen approach the high-level problems his expedition faced (and for which he was ultimately responsible) more knowledgeably and creatively.

Amundsen didn't achieve his goals because he was tougher or luckier than those who came before. He did it by being the first to combine the creative vision of an expedition leader with the technical expertise of a captain. Content marketers who do the same might not reach the South Pole, but they will make their work a lot more efficient and effective.

Zach Pearson is an account executive at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_p_pearson

 

What Do Social Media Managers and Jazz Musicians Have in Common?

Photo: Adrian Snood, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Adrian Snood, Flickr Creative Commons

"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to remind you that we don't applaud here at this old place where we're working, so, restrain your applause, and if you must applaud wait till the end of the set – and it won't even matter then. The reason is that we are interrupted by your noise. In fact, don't even take any drinks, or no cash register ringing, et cetera.”-Charles Mingus

Don’t worry – despite the title of the article, this isn’t going to be like that one presentation at the last conference you went to that had all the depth and insight of an inspirational poster. I’m not going to tell you that social media management is like jazz because “you need to make every note count” or because you need to “improvise if you want to innovate.” No, this post isn’t about what social media managers and jazz musicians both do right – it’s about something they do wrong.

Before PR, I spent several years working as a professional musician and still do some freelance work a couple times a year. Over the years, I’ve met and worked with a lot of musicians – particularly in jazz – whose attitude towards non-musicians (and audiences) is encapsulated by the Mingus quote that opened this article. They’re more interested in playing for the 5% of the population who will understand the technical cleverness of their composition than the massive audience that’s just looking for something that pleases them aesthetically.

In this analogy, social media managers are those musicians – and the potential customers are the audience. Too often, we design and implement social and content programs that are more about pleasing our peers than our viewers. We build programs with simple metrics – number of blog posts a month, number of Facebook posts a week – that are easy to measure and look great on a PowerPoint slide. We argue about how to court influencers, which management platforms are the best and how to generate conversations. But in the end, it’s the equivalent of a jazz solo that’s gone on too long: a few listeners are enthralled, but everyone else is bored.

The vast majority of music listeners don’t understand the basics of music theory; 60% of active Twitter accounts have less than 100 followers. And yet, just like in the quote above, we treat those people – our potential audience – as if they’re doing it wrong. Take this quote from an article I found on Convince&Convert. In it, a social media strategist said:

“Maybe I just don’t get it, but I don’t really see the point of Twitter if you’re not engaged and interacting. But according to these findings, 53% of Twitter users never post any updates.”

That’s a bit like saying “maybe I just don’t get it, but I don’t really see how you can truly enjoy Coltrane’s Giant Steps without some knowledge of chromatic median relationships.” While it’s the sort of thing that might make your friends (or, in the case of the first quote, your clients/prospects) think you’re smart, it’s absolutely not true. Maybe they enjoy Giant Steps because it helps them concentrate while they’re working; maybe they simply think it’s pretty.

The point is that there’s no right way to listen to music – and, similarly, there’s no right way to use a social media platform. Personally, I like to follow the score when I listen to music; however, I know that most people prefer to dance. Some people like to “engage” on social media; others just want to keep up with their favorite celebrities, or find an interesting article to read. The latter group, in both those examples, is not just equally valid – they’re also the majority and our biggest potential audience. We shouldn’t write them off because they’re not using the platform the way we want them to. On the contrary, we should embrace them.

So the next time you’re building a social media plan with a client or a colleague, don’t start off with jargon-filled questions like “how do we maximize our reach and generate organic conversations while courting targeted influencers?” Instead, step into the shoes of the audience. “What would catch my attention if I were a [demographic] waiting for the bus in the morning?” “What would I think is interesting if I were a [demographic] flipping through my social feeds while watching TV?” “I’m a [demographic]: what’s my sense of humor like?”

Our job, before anything else, is to create content that answers those questions. Sure, we can spend time trying to network with influencers and that sort of thing – but that’s just making music for other musicians. Even the best social media “guru” (or whatever other nonsense term) in the world can’t succeed by playing with their back to the crowd. We have to put the audience first.

Zach Pearson is an account executive at Greenough. Follow him on Twitter: @zach_p_pearson

Four Social Media Tips for Non-profits

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons; thethreesisters

You’ve likely heard the statistic that using social media increases non-profit fundraising up to 40 percent. However, simply having a Twitter or Facebook account does not guarantee success. At Greenough, we’ve had experience working with and following non-profit organizations’ social media channels. Here are some lessons we’ve picked up along the way: 1. Stay true to your values. Your social media presence should reflect your organization’s values and goals. To that end, it’s important to avoid the urge to friend, follow or connect with every company, brand or group that comes your way, for the sole sake of growing your follower base. Instead, try to associate with organizations that share your values and interests. As your program develops, they will be the network you use to spread word about your organization and gain support.

2. Help your followers help you. To learn how to get involved with the American Cancer Society, all you have to do is take a look at its Twitter account (@AmericanCancer ). There’s a lesson here: a good non-profit social media account helps followers get involved, raise money and support their cause. A common problem for non-profits is that people want to help, but don’t know how; social media is a great way to solve that problem.

3. Communication is key. Too often, organizations view social media as a podium instead of a medium for communicating with followers. While maintaining your social media accounts is a full-time job, it’s important not to forget your supporters. Engaging your followers can be as simple as replying to a tweet, commenting on a status, or sending an individual message. For example, when the non-profit national research registry ResearchMatch launched its food allergy sub-registry in December 2013, it took to its @ResearchMatch Twitter account to send individual messages to followers informing them of the development. In addition to engaging your followers and encouraging their input, personal messages also open up your organization to new ideas and feedback.

4. Show the impact of donations and volunteers. People want to know that their gifts and hard work are paying off. Facebook and Twitter are perfect venues to express appreciation for and show the impact of volunteer efforts. Even simple gestures, like a “thank you” tweet can show volunteers that their help makes a difference. Tally up total donations or spotlight different individuals and creatively showcase their initiatives.

Do you have any tips on how non-profits can better use social media to reach their goals? Please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!

Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen. Send him an email: mglen@greenoughcom.com