Tuesday, April 24, 2012
May 15th, 2012 will mark my five-year anniversary on the social media site LinkedIn, which is the professional social networking medium that allows you to connect with friends, co-workers, and other professionals that at one time would have been impossible, Yes- I am talking about those days before we had computers. Nonetheless and since there are still many people out there that do not have a LinkedIn profile, I thought I would create a post on our Seven Times Seven blog to relay some of the do’s and do not’s of this giant social media platform. Here are the TOP 5 rules of the road!
(1) LinkedIn is Your Online Resume... so treat it as such –– Whether you use LinkedIn for business or pleasure, make sure to update your profile with regularity just like you would your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest accounts, as this is the first place most people head to in order to check out your credentials. The difference between LinkedIn and other social media sites is that this site is a true representation yourself, views, and of some of the important things you have accomplished, so treat it as such, or just like you would your resume… DO NOT misrepresent yourself or your company!
(2) Join Interesting (Business or Personal) Groups –– It amazes me how few people know about LinkedIn groups, as they have been around for as long as I can remember. In order to network with other same minded individuals, make sure you join some local, regional, and global groups in order to connect, share, and converse with others about important things happening in yours or another industry. Most importantly with any group or these groups in particular is to participate! Whatever you do… DO NOT join groups just to join groups, join groups to show others you are willing to help them, not just looking for handouts.
(3) Follow Interesting Organizations –– Just like the group format, make sure you are following and interacting with companies. Almost every organization out there has created a company profile on LinkedIn, so make sure you find the ones that you can help, connect with others that work there (you can connect with people through group affiliations), and remember to be found, you have to make yourself found, which following companies will do for you! Just like with the groups, DO NOT just follow companies to follow companies instead follow those you are truly interested in!
(4) Personalize & Tailor your Message(s) –– It often surprises me at how simple this is but how many people fail at this. Instead of reaching out and connecting to others with the generic LinkedIn message to those that belong to the same groups, work at old or like companies, and/or have some of the same interests as you; instead, make sure that you tailor your message to them and give a brief reason for connecting… DO NOT just connect with people and companies to connect with them… do you see a pattern here?
(5) Inform, Revise, and Update –– The most important part of LinkedIn is to inform people of what you think is important. Whether you use this site for business or personal reasons make sure to inform your contacts of important industry trends, news, or things happening in your career or life. Revise these accordingly to those you are trying to reach and most importantly, make sure to update your profile (articles, books, presentation you given, etc) that way more people will want to connect with you and listen to things you are talking about. Whatever you do, DO NOT just set-up your profile and leave it idle, as this like most other social media sites is a social site, hence why you need to interact with others, not just set it and forget it.
Obviously, these five rules of the LinkedIn road are just a few things that you should consider if you have not already and are serious about sharing, connecting, and being a person others turn to for honest advice. Just like with other social media sites, LinkedIn is a vehicle that allows you to connect with people and companies, while engaging them, heck it evens allows you to collect pertinent real-world research (i.e. surveys), as I am doing on the behalf of my Doctoral work. We (I) don’t use LinkedIn for prospecting but many people and companies do, so if you chose to prospect here, just make sure to respect others time, as you would in person or any other site… leave the junk mail at home, as nobody likes to be pestered! Lastly, if you have other accounts connected to your LinkedIn profile, make sure that the information you are relying is information suited for your audience, as this will go a long way in other views of you. I think if you take a little time to understand how this medium works that it can do wonders for you and others you will meet here, as it has for me. I warmly welcome all LinkedIn requests, so if you are alike minded individual and would like to talk or interact, drop me a line and let’s connect. Otherwise, I hope this post helps you achieve some of your personal and business goals. Now get out there and connect, engage, and enjoy your time with others. Until next week, play nice and don’t forget to keep smiling, as it really does look good on YOU!
Monday, April 16, 2012
5 Tips to Ask in Order to Run a Successful Social Media Campaign with Increases in ROI and Sales? Yes!
As many of you know, finding an experienced professional to assist you with anything in life can be a daunting task. Also, as many of you probably know there are so many people out there that you speak with everyday that consider themselves “experts, connoisseurs, sales guru’s, geeks” of the trade(s), etc. Well as we both know, these so called experts or what have you, don’t actually have the experience that you may often find yourself needing… good advice, that actually works or saves you money? Yes?
Needless to say, we also continue to run across these same people in our line of work (especially social media), who claim to be experts but are nothing more than users who participate in things in a limited capacity or in social media words... in the basic sites such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. So, for this week’s discussion, we thought we would provide you with a few things (5 Tips) to consider or ask when you are considering putting together a social media campaign.
1) The very first question you should ask someone that you are considering letting them help you with your online engagement is what sites do you operate personally or for your company and could you please provide me with the links to check them out?
· Now that you have their attention, see if they provide you with more than just a Facebook or Twitter account. It is crazy to think about but many experts stake their claim on these sites and these sites alone. However, the truth is social media didn’t start with these sites nor are they the answer to everyone’s needs. Look for people/companies that give you links to blogs and old school forums, etc. Also, look at how long they have been ACTIVELY participating in online activities, since participating for 6 months or a year or two definitely doesn’t make you an expert. Just ask Melcolm Gladwell who wrote Outliers and 60 Minutes used to run a great piece on. Think 10,000 or 10 years (well maybe not that many) but at least look for 3,000 or 3 years of activity.
2) The second question you should ask the so-called expert you are talking to is whether or not they are familiar with or know of any restrictions in online activities for your specific needs or industry segment.
· Let’s face it much like people would like to tell you, in online or social media activities there is not one size that fits all approach… mush like Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) services, etc. Sure you can participate get quotes for all the companies or operate on all the mediums but most people/businesses should stick with 3-5 networks. A good example is our consulting practice. We consult with clients on PEO, CRM, and Wireless Devices, so these are our ideal clients (companies who offer and those who also need these services), as we know the industry extremely well and any limitations that we must consider on their behalf. However, we don’t run social media campaigns for law, pharmaceutical, alcohol, etc, as we are not familiar with these segments. Sure we could figure it out but you really want a professional or business to help in your social networking that lives, breathes, and knows the industry and more importantly, where your customers hang out!
3) The third question you should ask your so called expert is their overall opinion (personal opinion) of the industry and how thinks might change in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
· This is a great question, as it usually lets you know where exactly the person or company started their online activities, why, and what they are trying to accomplish on a personal level. If they say they do it cause it’s their job… RUN! However, if they start out by telling you some of the reasons they started to participate in chat forums, started their own blog, or why they originally joined MySpace or sold stuff on EBay these are more than likely the people you want to deal with, as they have a personal not just a monetary investment in social networking. Also, this should clue you in, as to what other networks that they think will be the next Facebook, much like Pinterest, FourSquare, Scoop-it, etc are becoming. The true expert lives and breathes whatever they are an expert in, so they should/will always have options for you when things are not going as well as you think they should or how they are going.
4) The forth question you should ask is who will help develop, manage, or engage your specific audience?
· It still amazes us how many people and businesses think that social media begins and ends with a post or the creation of a Facebook page or Blog or better yet how many likes, followers, or friends you can acquire. Shoot that is the easy part about social networking… creating the sites and adding people, what is difficult part is keeping people interested, engaged, and coming back each week (CUSTOMER SERVICE). This is often the more expensive part of social media but a good investment, if you or your company is really serious about taking the next step online and something more people/businesses should be concerned about if you are looking for that so called Return on Investment (ROI). We cannot even tell you how often we see idle accounts out there that were set-up and abandoned, even some of our client accounts. Why? Cause most of the time just like in person, people and a lot of businesses do not know how to interact with others online or what they want to accomplish even if you tell them. What is the worst that can happen? Someone de-friends, un-follows, or leaves a negative response? Rejection and acceptance are both part of life, so in order to be successful online; you have to interact with others. You cannot just develop an account(s) but you must also manage and engage, so this is a very important question to ask your expert!
5) Finally the last question, and perhaps the most important (ROI) you have to ask is how exactly social networking will improve a person or business and the measurement scale your expert will use to claim a SUCCESS!
· This is probably one of our favorite questions to answer because more times than not, our answer doesn’t have anything to do with likes, followers, or friends. Instead we use tools that were created for measurement such as Kred, Klout, PeerIndex, EmpireAvenue, and Google Analytics. Of course these tools do consider your Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, FourSquare, ETC. accounts but remember that they also measure your level of interaction. Of course, these sites are not perfect but remember the more you interact with your friends, followers, and acquaintances, the higher your scores should go. If you are a business, these should also translate into more calls, sales, referrals, etc (ROI) plus the more you interact the more likely you are to create chatter that is positive even despite any negatives that others may have previously left.
Each week we try to take our daily personal/business conversations and translate them into the online world for others to view and use. This week is no different, as we hope that these five tips can help you decide on a person or company best suited for your online “social media” and other activities. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, so if you need any other advice, please don't be afraid to ask us or contact David Dandaneau directly, as we are here to help. Otherwise, we will see you back here again next week, with another tip brought to you… Well, by YOU! You know the story… Keep Smiling Kidzzz!
Monday, April 9, 2012
Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or (a.k.a Social Media CRM) Can Produce or Increase Sales by 12%. How so?
As many of you already know Seven Times Seven headed by David Dandaneau is (are) dedicated to bringing answers to questions in our weekly tip each week that we come across. This week is no different, as we continue to navigate (7) difficult but extremely important segments for an organizations long-term growth and survival. This week in particular, we have had a tremendous amount of inquirers into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and it’s (the systems) effect(s) on business performance & sales, which just happen to be some of the things David Dandaneau has been researching over the last 3+ years, as part of his Doctoral work. What is crazy to think about is that every day we ask clients and individuals if they are familiar with CRM? They usually respond with the answer Yes! So, why the inquires now? Next question… what system are you using and/or what are you doing with the data you collect? Much to our surprise, many of you are still using the basic CRM systems such as ACT, Capsule, etc. Why is it that more of you have not moved yet to Sugar, Salesforce, Zoho, etc. so you can collect more data and sales leads integrated with your website of blog? Well, if you are like most people a CRM system is something you probably bought or subscribed to in order to help you remain better organized and track issues (contact manager)… Yes? Well, if so let’s take a minute to look at some of the latest research trends and “statistics” in order to see if we might be able to make CRM (whatever system you use) work for you “more sales & retention”… not against you in order to produce some sort of Return On Investment (ROI).
So… What Needs are YOU looking for?
When a person or organization begins to look for a CRM provider or system, you will soon realize that there are tons “thousands it seems” of solutions available to fit almost any need, just like with Professional Employer Organizations (PEO), Mobile Solutions, or Social Media (SM). However, the one question you must ask yourself first with CRM much like the others, is what are you trying to accomplish with it (CRM) and how can you pull everything together? If you are like any normal person or organization, you should also be asking yourself what ROI will whatever system I (you) chose produce for me? The answer is simple… pick a system that allows you to retrieve information (i.e. offer white papers in exchange for contact information) and store it, so you can turn this information into leads and a resource, just like with social media… use the data to convert more inquires into sales, Yes? Also, let’s not forget to ask ourselves how can you (we) share information or help your (our) customers with the information and/or analyze the data we (you) collect with a CRM system to produce ROI?
A CRM Implementation is the most Effective way to Maintain Relationships
Just like social media or wireless device innovations (iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc), CRM (bringing systems together) should not be about what other people/businesses are doing but instead about what you and/or your personal or business needs are or in other words “what the customer wants.” With almost any PERFECT CRM implementation (on the behalf of the customer & organization), you should see customer retention and sales COSTs continue to decline overtime and organizational or personal profits increase over that extended period of time if utilized correctly. In a recent study it was found that “social” CRM or in other words social media or mobile CRM can help an organization or more importantly its sales force increase productivity and benefit by as little as +12% if used correctly. What’s more, is that this same study produced by Nucleus Research found that on average 21% of those people (organizations) or sales forces that use(d) social CRM, seen sales increases as much as 20%. Furthermore, this statistic equates to approximately 4 out of 5 companies that use/subscribe to a social CRM approach and integrate external sources such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, etc with their CRM application(s) could expect returns (ROI) as high as 47%... crazy huh? What is even more shocking is that this particular course of action does not even take into account your mobile campaigns (25% increases), or RSS feeds through Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Etc (additional 22% increases).
So, What are you Waiting FOR?
Since the research and data points to increases in response, interaction, retention, and sales why are so many people (organizations) still reluctant to use and/or subscribe to a “Social CRM” solution? Or more importantly why are you (your team) not using mobile CRM applications "especially on your mobile" to convert leads into sales? The fact is and from our conversations, there are that still many people that still do not understand how all these systems work together or how to put all the pieces together or leave a footprint behind when meeting or following up with someone. In the Nucleus study, it was clear why; as only 16% of the 223 executives actually knew that, this was a total approach to business evolution, retention, and additional sales, which is hard to believe. Perhaps as more people turn to social media to solve customer issues left on sites such as Yelp, Google, Yahoo, etc. and by participating more in sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. more people will understand that CRM (especially mobile, as this has shown to increase productivity by +20%) should/will be an important part of their overall long-term strategy of conversing, linking, and connecting the dots (i.e. or at least a part of the solution) to increase sales.
From this short but direct post, we hope that you (your organization) realize the benefits that CRM, social media, and mobile campaigns can/will have on your overall success. As we continue to move further away from websites and more towards mobile phones, blogs, and social media for interaction, we will continue to rely upon CRM to help us stay connected to our friends, followers, and clients. If you have not yet made a decision on a social media, CRM, or mobile strategy don’t worry, as you still have time to make a decision. The important part is that you now start to think about it and about how all these systems work or can work together to help you and your team excel. Not only are these systems important to you but also to David Dandaneau, as these are large components to his research and the results that will be reported in his dissertation over the next several months. Therefore, if you would like more information or to participate in his study, please feel free to drop us a line or contact him directly by posting a comment. Otherwise, and like usual we will look forward to seeing you right back here next week with another Q&A session brought to you… well, by YOU! Cheers!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In this new age of networking (online and in-person) what is the one question you ask yourself and others most often? Think about it? If you are like many of us, you may think the one thing that annoys you most is “pushy people,” or more importantly pushy salespeople. Yes? Have you been to a local Chamber of Commerce or other Networking event and found yourself in the middle of (10) people all trying to sell you something before they even know your name?
Well, just like with many of our other posts we continue to report to our readers and followers some fantastic ways to get your message across without having to call, email, or text another person to death! Social Media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, EmpireAvenue, FourSquare, Quora, Redditt, Digg, Pinterest, Tumblr, Scoop-it, StumbleUpon, Etc all allow us to pull other works, ideas, and statements thus increasing you or your brands exposure, which hopefully results in sales if your message was received well. Ah, yes does this sound familiar… being social huh? Anyway, you get the idea and many of you may or may not have heard of the push and pull concept before. However, we are sure, if you are anything like us, that someone in a prior job or even in your family may have introduced you to this concept or was/has tried to sell you or have you sell something extra so they can benefit. The good’ol push and pull strategy, only in this post, we are trying to emphasize to everyone the pull strategy (in content not distribution) versus the annoying push strategies (again in content not distribution) that most of us hate!
So, as more people and companies look for additional ways to attract more friends, followers, likes, etc, let’s think about how we can use networking events or social media sites to help each other versus hinder one another, a brand, or company. Great, so how you ask? This week we would like our readers to think about three simple things (REASON, CONNECTING, and FORMING ALLIES), so you can use these social networking clubs or sites to help another person or company pull their message across multiple platforms versus pushing a sale on them.
First, think about some of the REASONS you or your company might use the push and pull strategy(s). If you are still not familiar with these concepts, please see Push & Pull Promotional Strategy for a very simple explanation but remember we are talking about information and ideas in this post, so please also remember that. Now that you are familiar with the two strategies… what are the reasons you may want to use the pull strategy with networking or social media? Again, isn’t networking and social media about being social versus talking about yourself or selling something? Don’t friends and sales come from your ability to be social in these and other operating platforms? Besides who wants to always hear about you or something you may be selling right? Simply put, the reason you should be on any social media network or at a local networking event is to provide information, so you can give someone else another REASON to stay in contact, like, follow, or buy something from you at a later date. This is being the true industry expert and a main reason to pull people together not push them away!
While many of us find that connecting with others often involves a phone call after a phone call, follow up email after email, and annoying direct messages (more like pushing), whereas connecting should really be about connecting to others with REASON for them to help pull your message or product along just like in the distribution channel processes. Does that make since? Since we are focusing on social media and networking in this post, moving forward in your campaigns start to think about ways that you can CONNECT (tweet, retweet, like, pin, +1, etc) with others to help them spread their message(s). Simply, connecting one person to another, basically means that you are trying to bridge a gap between someone in your network (business or personal) and someone else, so everyone sees the value in the engagement or new acquaintance. Thus, both parties should see more exposure, friends, followers, and/or sales. Sounds easy enough right? So why do people continue to look to connect to others for self or company gain instead of first trying to get a message across? Start today by helping to break this mold and pull more messages through your networking efforts or social media sites and see if you can actually connect (pull) even more people into the conversation. Heck, curate something; re-pin, or retweet and see how that/these help expand your networks and/or connections.
3. FORM ALLIES
3. FORM ALLIES
Lastly and with any networking or social media strategy as we have been discussing let’s not forget about one of the most important parts in trying to pull your/someone else’s message across any channel. Regardless of what network you are using, remember to equally share and help one another; otherwise, one party may feel as if the other party is not doing as much as they can to help the other. Consider this your marriage and form strategic alliances with allies that will help amplify your personal or business message. All too often this seems so easy but all too often it fails (just like marriage), as we forget to reinforce the value we bring to a local or online network "sharing." If more people and companies would stop competing for friends and business and start forming allies, more friends and sales will surely follow. People and companies value partners and regardless if you are competing in the same industry or among the same friends just remember to create value that keeps people coming back for more. When value is created, more alliances are formed, and more pulling of messages will come.
Surely, by identifying a reason, connection, and ally you and/or your company will take the next step in building stronger relationships that ultimately results in more sales. As many of you know, Seven Times Seven is a consulting agency and thanks again to our clients, friends, and followers, we were able to once again provide our readers with another piece of important information that you can also pass along to your friends, followers, partners, or acquaintances; thus, increasing ours and your own value. Until next week, we look forward to also sharing your information and connecting more with you online and/or in-person. In the meantime, please drop us a line or contact David Dandaneau with additional thoughts or questions that we can help answer next week in our tip and surely don't forget to KEEP SMILING!