Facebook or LinkedIn – Getting Started on Social Media

Start with either Facebook or LinkedIn. My previous post discussed why social media presence should no longer be considered an optional activity for organizations of any size; including solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, professional services, and nonprofits. But for people whose expertise is embedded into their profession and the services that they offer, getting started can seem complicated — and maybe even a bit intimidating.

So, how do you get started?

Ideally, even the smallest business or organization should be active on several social media platforms. And ideally, one day, maybe you will be!. But getting started can be pretty easy if you choose just one platform to begin your social media marketing journey. There are two primary social media platforms that have tremendous reach. Facebook and LinkedIn. Which one is right for you depends not so much on what your business offers, but on who your main customers are.

Facebook

FacebookFacebook has over 2 billion users logging on to it every day. That’s nearly everybody in the developed world, outside of China. But that doesn’t mean that Facebook is the right platform for you. Let’s consider who those users are… And why they are on Facebook…

Typically people use Facebook for personal social connections. They are not typically using it for business purposes. So why use Facebook as business marketing tool? Well, if your business or organization is oriented towards individual consumers, there is literally no better place in the known universe to connect with them.

LinkedIn

LinkedInLinkedIn continues to grow, but will probably never have as many users as Facebook does. LinkedIn currently claims to have over 500 million users, but third party sources but the number of users per month at about 106 million. So why use LinkedIn if it has only around 10% as many daily users as Facebook? Once again the key consideration is who those users are.

Typically LinkedIn users are using it strictly for business purposes. Cat videos and YouTube “fails” are strongly discouraged, and seldom seen there. LinkedIn is the online leader for business to business networking, and for individuals looking to build their personal network connections for business or career building opportunities. If your business or organization is primarily business to business (b2b), there is literally no better place in the known universe to connect with them.

Using Facebook Professionally

You probably already have a Facebook page that you use to stay connected with friends and family. Good, you are going to need that. What you are NOT going to do, is use that personal Facebook page for your business!

Set up a Facebook business page, also called a “fan page” by Facebook. Once you are logged in to Facebook, simply visit this page and follow the instructions to set up your page. We’ll talk again in a few minutes once you’ve done that…

Great! That was easy right?

Now we need to get down to business. Hopefully you had some images available, at least your logo, or a professional looking head shot. It’s no disaster if you don’t yet, but you are definitely going to want some images to take advantage of such a visual medium. You’ve also already gone through the setup wizard and entered plenty of relevant information about you and your organization and what it does. Now what?

Once you have created your Facebook Business Page, there are two things that need to happen in order to be successful.

  1. You need people to see your page
  2. You need something for them to see when they get there.

 

Getting People to See Your Page

The Achilles’ Heel of Facebook is visibility. Business pages only show up regularly in the Facebook feeds of people who have “Liked” the page. This creates a kind of “Catch 22” for new pages. You don’t get seen unless you;re liked, and you don’t get liked until you are seen. Ouch.

So what can you do about this? First, you will be able to ask all of your personal Facebook friends to “Like” your new business page. Click on the link that says “Invite your friends to like this page”. That should get your personal friends  connected to your business.

Of course that’s not why you created a business page, but it helps lend credibility to your page if it already has some “Likes”. Getting “Likes” is almost certainly going to require some paid advertising on Facebook. This is neither as difficult, or expensive as it may sound though.

Facebook offers what is probably the most detailed and granular advertising tools for small organizations available anywhere. You can set your daily budget to be any size you want, even just a few dollars at first to test the waters. You can also set your campaign to run for a day or two, or for as long as you want. Facebook also allows you to target your ad to extremely precise demographics. Want to target only women between the ages of 35 and 49 who have expressed an interest in natural health products? You can do that.

Remember, your goal here is not to “sell, sell, sell”. It’s simply to get the right people to visit and “Like” your Facebook page.

Posting to Facebook

Once people begin visiting your page, there needs to be something there for them to read and see. Once again, a quick reminder that Facebook is communications, and networking tool. If you post nothing but “hard sell” messages, it won’t be long before people start clicking on the “Unlike” button.

The key to all social media posting is to provide something of value to visitors. People are visiting your page because they want to, not because they have to. Whatever you post should give them something of value. What that is will depend on what you offer. Occasionally you can offer something with financial value, like a discount coupon or code, but more often than not, people will appreciate valuable information. For example if you sell hand made handbags, an article about how they are made might be nice, Maybe even a video showing all the steps involved in creating a quality handmade handbag. If your product is high end furniture, articles and picture that show what to look for when shopping for high quality furniture might offer value. Show people how a $3000 dollar coffee table is vastly superior to a $150 coffee table.

Using LinkedIn Professionally

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is set up from the get-go to be business oriented. But there are several ways to use it well. The first, easiest, and most important, is to get an account on LinkedIn. Once you have an account (or if you have one already) it is very important to make sure you set it up completely, and keep it up to date. I cannot stress this highly enough. You MUST have a complete profile, relevant titles, headlines and taglines, a decent professional picture, and up to date info. 

You have complete and up to date profile, now what?

LinkedIn is a social networking tool. So the next step is to start networking. Connect with all of your business connections. They will probably all be on LinkedIn already, so find them, and connect with them. LinkedIn can also be connected to your address book on Outlook or Windows or MacOS. If you have a lot of business contacts there, you should consider clicking on “Allow” when asked if you want to link your account.

What About Connecting with People you don’t Know?

Generally speaking, this practice is discouraged, and considered to be “bad form”, or worse – “spammy”. But there are exceptions. If the person is a friend of a friend, you can either ask your friend for an introduction, or send a note with your invitation. There may also be circumstances where you feel that mutual interests are so strong, that a nice introduction note will almost certainly be well received. Hopefully, you have succeeded so far by having good judgement and people skills. Use those skills on LinkedIn just as you would in “real life”.

Other Best Practices on LinkedIn

 

Posting
Just like on Facebook, you are going to want people to find something interesting to read when the visit your profile. Post updates frequently (one or twice a week is plenty). Post articles occasionally, if you enjoy writing. Every time you post an update, a little note will appear in the LinkedIn feed of your contacts. So it’s a nice, easy way to stay connected. Well written, full articles, are occasionally picked up by LinkedIn Pulse. When this happens (if it happens) literally thousands of professionals and business people will see your article, and learn about you.

Endorsements & Recommendations
LinkedIn has a skills section that you should have completed when you set up your profile. All of your contacts also have skills listed. The value of these skills has become somewhat questionable, as there is no verification scheme in place. However, I recommend that you occasionally endorse your contacts for the skills that you know they have, and send them a quick thank you note when they endorse you. It’s just another nice way to stay connected, active, and keep your name in front of your contacts.

Recommendations are a bit more work, but also have significant value. Essentially, a LinkedIn recommendation is a “Testimonial”. Be generous with yours when appropriate. Ask for them when you believe they are deserved AND will be forthcoming.

Groups
Like Facebook, LinkedIn has groups. It’s a very good idea to join a few that are relevant to your business. Posting to a group guarantees that many people with shared interests will see what you have to offer. They can also be a great way to build your personal LinkedIn contact network. Even if you don’t post new articles to your group, an occasional comment or “like” — will keep your name in front of the right people.

LinkedIn Business Pages

Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers business pages. Unlike Facebook, there is not much need for a separate business page unless your organization has many members and employees. Remember, LinkedIn is a business oriented platform already. That means that your “personal” LinkedIn account is already a “business” account. If your organization does merit a separate business page, you can set it up here.

Hopefully, I have provided enough information here for you to get started, and keep using social media for your business or organization. If you’d like some more help, or for someone to go through the process with you, contact me. I’ll be happy to help you.

Think You Don’t Need Social Media? Your Excuse Does Not Add Up.

3 reasons that your business needs to use social media marketing

If I had a dollar for every entrepreneur that told me they didn’t need to do social media marketing… I’d be rich. And since I’d like to be rich, here is why the excuses don’t add up.

Excuses, Excuses, and More Excuses

  1. I have enough business already

    This is my favorite excuse. It’s my favorite because it is hard to rebuke while remaining respectful. That’s because it reveals an inadequate understanding not only of social media, but more importantly of marketing.

    Marketing is NOT the same as sales, and social media marketing is not the same as online selling. Social media marketing is a way to remain engaged with your existing clients and customers, as much (or more) as it is about “advertising” your business to the world. Social media give you an opportunity to keep providing your clients with valuable information and insights, even when they are not actively seeking your services.

    Rather than look at social media marketing strictly as a way to drum up new business, think of it as a way to give added service and benefits to your customers. Let them know that you are thinking about their well-being, and they are far more likely to think of you as more than “just the guy that services their widget-whatever every year or two.

  2. I’m too busy to deal with Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and Instagram etc.

    I get it. You are busy. That’s good. In the scheme of dangerous assumptions that have sunk innumerable small businesses, “I’m too busy with existing customers to worry about new ones” probably ranks at number one.

    Customer acquisition is always the most expensive activity of any business, especially a sole-proprietorship, or professional practice. When your primary product is your time, time spent trying to gain new business is uncompensated. It is also necessary. So the key is finding time and then using it wisely and efficiently.

    It is easier and much more efficient to retain existing clients, and to use an ongoing and simple marketing system to load the top of your sales funnel.Social media are the perfect means of keeping current clients engaged and simultaneously generating the kind of leads that can be built on when the time comes to move them down the sales funnel.

    What’s the secret? First it’s finding and using only the social media platforms that are most likely to be relevant to your clients. Second, it’s maintaining a “steady drip” of useful nuggets into those platforms, while being diligent about responding quickly to contacts and comments. It took discipline and determination to build your business.

    It’s taken hard work and discipline to keep it going. I have total confidence that with discipline, determination, and HARDLY ANY WORK AT ALL you can maintain a social media presence that will be of value to you, your business, and your clients.

  3. I Don’t Understand the Technology

    This is actually a valid excuse, but it’s only a temporary one! The technology and the social media platforms that run on the technology can be learned. Your kids learned it. I learned it. You can learn it too.

    In fact, I am pretty passionate about helping people like you learn to use social media technologies. We’ll go as slow, or as fast, as needed. And we’ll only concentrate on the one or two platforms, that we decide together, make sense for your specific situation. No wasted time, energy, or money.

    Let’s do it!

  4. Did I leave something out? Got a better excuse? Let me know!

 

Contact me today if you want some social media help, or if you just feel like challenging my assumptions!

 

Solopreneurs – Is Facebook Right for your Business?

Facebook Sign - should your nonprofit, ngo, or charitable organization be using Facebook?

If you are a solopreneur, or self-employed professional, you’ve probably considered using Facebook as a marketing tool. But is it the right tool for your business or professional practice?

Let’s start with the benefits of Facebook.

  1. Nearly everyone you know has a Facebook profile
  2. Nearly everyone you know uses Facebook daily
  3. It follows that every one that will use your services or buy your product is also on Facebook!

But does that automatically mean you should use Facebook for marketing?

Not necessarily!

Let’s dive a bit deeper. Why are people using Facebook, and what do they want and expect from this particular social media network?

  1. Communicating with family and friends
  2. Keeping up with what friends and family are doing
  3. Letting family and friends know what we are up to
  4. Managing events, inviting others to events, and responding to event invitations
  5. Entertainment; checking out interesting and/or humorous memes
  6. Watching videos
  7. Learning new things and keeping up with different kinds of news

While not completely inclusive, the above list is pretty representative. You’ll notice that only the last item on my list has any real relationship to the marketing objectives of most businesses.

We are facing a dilemma, aren’t we?

All of our potential clients are on Facebook, but most of them are not using it to learn about new products or services, or to network with business interests.

How to use Facebook to Maximum Effect

The most important aspect of using Facebook for business interests is to use the technology appropriately.

Do NOT use your personal Facebook profile for business purposes! That is a surefire way to alienate friends and family, while simultaneously over-sharing with business related contacts. Your family does not want to know more about your business than you share with them at dinner, and your business contacts and potential clients, would probably be happier if you spared them photographs of you, shirtless at the cottage with a beer in one hand and a case of empties at your feet!

Set up a Facebook Business Page!

In my humble opinion every business of every type should have a business page on Facebook. Even if we recognize that Facebook is not our ideal social media marketing platform, we should have a presence there. Essentially, Facebook has become a secondary website. Just as people expect that every serious business will have some sort of web site, people now expect that every serious business will have a Facebook business page.

A business page is strictly business. It is managed from your Facebook personal account, but is separate from it. Posts made to your business page can be set to be from you personally (which makes sense if you are your business), or from the page name, which makes sense if your business brand is not the same as your name.

It is not difficult to set up the business page, Facebook has instructions, and easy to follow prompts, for doing so. And professional help from people like me is also readily available.

You Have a Page – Now What?

Let’s start with the basic “must do” stuff. A header image, a logo image (or professional head shot). Descriptions of your products and services, and of course invitations to “Like” your page sent out to your personal Facebook contacts. Add a couple of interesting posts over the next few days, and you’re set to go.

The really big question now needs to be answered in earnest. How much effort, time, and money should you spend on an ongoing basis of your business’s Facebook presence?

This takes us back to the dilemma we talked about at the beginning of this article. And here is how we are going to resolve the dilemma. We will ask ourselves the following two questions:

  1. Who is my ideal client?
  2. Is my ideal client likely to be responsive to my business interests via Facebook?

The concept of an “ideal client” is fundamental to all marketing efforts, whether through traditional (predigital) channels, or through contemporary digital channels like social media. Once you have a profile of your ideal client, you can answer the second question.

In broad terms, if your ideal client is an individual consumer, it’s reasonable to expect that your Facebook page is going to be very important to reaching out to them. Facebook has built its social network around individual consumers. In fact, we as individuals, are Facebook’s “product”. Facebook users are the product that Facebook sells to advertisers.

On the other hand, if your ideal client is another business—you are a B2B enterprise, Facebook is less likely to be your social media platform of choice. Keep your business page active. Check in on it from time to time. Be especially responsive to any inquiries or posts made to it, but don’t spend hours of time or thousands of dollars promoting it. Your basic presence there will probably suffice.

Your “Ideal Client” is a Consumer on Facebook

Here is where things get interesting. Once you have a Facebook business page, you can hope and pray that people will find it. Fortunately, some people will. Mostly they’ll be your friends, family, and most active customers. That’s great. But it’s clearly not enough. Those are the people that you communicate regularly with in other forums.

For your Facebook business page to be really useful, you are going to need to reach out, and that is almost certainly going to involve an advertising spend. Sure, you’ve been told that social media marketing can be done for free, and that has been the case (besides your investment in time) right up to the completion of your page setup. But since your ideal client is using Facebook, you’re going to need to find a way to be seen by them.

Fortunately this is where Facebook’s business model really shines. Because Facebook users are Facebook’s product, and because Facebook knows nearly everything about every user, it becomes exceptionally easy to be extremely granular about who will see your Facebook ads. There is literally no other advertising platform that allows such precision targeting. Is your ideal client a 35 year old single woman who is looking to be a condominium in Toronto? No problem! Target your ad to female Facebook users between the ages of 32 and 39 who have interests in real estate, condos, lofts, and home decor. Is your ideal client a 21 year old who likes to listen to live music in Oshawa? No problem. Target your ad to 19 to 25 year olds, living within 20 km of Oshawa who like local bands and dance music.

Keep at it. Stay engaged. Build your like list. And, as always, offer something of value on your Facebook page. Once you’ve managed to bring someone to your page, it is vitally important to keep that person engaged. At the end of the day you want all the time, energy, and money that you’ve invested to translate into sales, and lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships.

Want to talk about this a bit more? Contact me!

Solopreneur? 4 Reasons to Manage your own Social Media

solopreneur working from home

Soloprenuers and other self-employed professionals, like real estate agents, b2b consultants, lawyers, accountants, dentists, and ADR professionals, often feel themselves to be in a bit of a bind when it comes to social media marketing management. It can be hard to find time for social media, not every entrepreneur feels like information technology is a core competency (or necessity), and on the other hand—hiring a marketing agency to manage Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc, can be quite expensive. Too often the end result is that the solopreneur simply forgoes social media completely, or dabbles lightly just to be there.

There is Another Way!

It is possible to have a successful social media marketing strategy that any solopreneur can self-manage. The key to this lies in choosing only the social media platforms that make the most sense for your particular circumstances, and then dedicating just a few minutes every day to those platforms.

Why do it Yourself?
Here are 4 good reasons that every solopreneur should manage their own social media marketing:

  1. The first and most important reason is an unquestionable truth. Only you can be you.
    Unlike larger businesses in which the brand is represented by multiple employees and multiple stakeholders, the brand of the solopreneur is represented by the individual human being behind the brand. This also holds true for people like lawyers and accountants who may be part of a partnership, and for people like real estate agents who are working on behalf of a brokerage. Social media are for social networking. People like to interact with other people when they participate in social networks. Solopreneurs have a unique advantage over even the largest brands in this regard, and working social media as a “real person” can deliver dividends that are simply unavailable to big, impersonal, brands.
  2. It is way less expensive to manage your own social media accounts than it is to hire a marketing agency.
    On the page of this site that talks about pricing, I cite an example of a smaller marketing agency and their fees, which are also compared to the fees of their competitors. Suffice to say that typical social media management fees run to several thousand dollars every month. Hiring an employee to manage social media (even part-time) is still going to cost thousands of dollars, on an ongoing basis. And, most importantly, outsourcing social media account management, effectively kills the number one advantage that the solopreneur has when it comes to social media networking. Only you can be you.
  3. Why use a fishing net when you can simply bait a hook? There is no need to waste time, money, and energy on platforms that are not likely to yield results.
    Big corporations and their big brands pretty much need to be everywhere all of the time. Solopreneurs only need to be where their customers are. There is no point to filling your sales funnel with leads to nowhere. Learn where your ideal customers spend their social media networking time, and join them there.
  4. Get closer to your clients. Building community with stakeholders is what social media is all about. Join your customers, and potential clients, and become an important part of their online communities. At the end of the day, networking through social media is not that different than networking in the “real world”. Offer helpful advice. Be ready with solutions to problems. Ask for input, or even for help. Always remember that the people at the other end of your keyboard, are real, flesh-and-blood human beings, just like you are.

self-employed woman working on a computer

Next Steps

Now that you know why you should manage your own social media marketing, what can you do next?

  1. Choose between 1 and 3 platforms, sign up, and start posting.
  2. Be interactive and responsive to comments and inquiries.
  3. Post anything that you believe your community will appreciate from you. That means that you should NOT post only advertising slogans and sales pitches. If you would not appreciate seeing something similar from someone trying to sell to you, don’t post it.
  4. Ask for help! If you are not sure how to get started, or what platforms make the most sense for you, get help from a professional like me who can get you moving in the right direction. Yes, professional services (like your own) have to be paid for. But as you know very well, the right kind of help, from the right professional, is worth every penny.

Contact Allan Revich

 

LinkedIn Jobseeking

Reviewing job seekers resumes at ye olde workplace

Are you job seeking, job hunting, searching for jobs? If so, then LinkedIn should be your new best friend. But there is a lot more to LinkedIn Jobseeking than just clicking on the “Jobs” link and searching for work in your desired field and location.

Start Early

What does “early” look like. Let me put it this way… if you are currently job seeking and unemployed, it’s already too late to start early. If that’s your situation, don’t despair, LinkedIn is still your friend, and we’ll catch up in a couple minutes. Using LinkedIn for job seeking should begin well before you actually need a new job.

For starters it is critically important that your profile is always up to date. Did you get a new position, or job title? Update your profile. Earn a new certificate or complete a work-related course? Update your profile.

Keep your connections current too. Did you meet someone new in the “real world”? Connect to them on LinkedIn. Are you connected to your friends and family? Connect. Colleagues (former and current)? Connect to them too.

Beyond keeping connections current, it’s important to keep current on what your connections are doing. Yes, most of the LinkedIn “anniversary” updates are annoying and useless… read them anyway! Look for opportunities to reconnect with those contacts. Consider these little contacts as part of your personal marketing strategy, just a little light tap or touch to let people know that you’re around and thinking about them. There is definitely no reason to respond or send congrats out for every one of these anniversaries, and announcements, but some are important (starting a new job, or new business, moving to a new city, etc.)

The critically important aspect of connection management on LinkedIn is that LinkedIn is a Social Network, and it isn’t social unless you are networking on it.

Networking for Job Search

Now that your profile is up to date, and your contacts are current, what can you do in the LinkedIn social network to actually find a job?

  1. Use your “Headline” wisely

    It’s right under your name on your LinkedIn profile. It’s the first thing people learn about you. Depending on your current situation, you might want to start with letting people know what you’re looking for. If that’s not appropriate (maybe you’re not ready for your current employer to know you’re looking elsewhere), the use this space to say something important about yourself that a potential employer might find attractive. Remember, this is not about stoking your ego, or impressing people with a fancy job title. Your goal is to put something here that a potential employer will find attractive. Let people know what you can do for them.

  2. Your work history is basically a resume

    Just like the resumes that you send out, employers and potential employers want to know what you have done and what you can offer. Let them know. The caveat here is you may want to go lighter on specific details than you would on an actual resume. Your goal here is marketing. Make sure employers are interested, AND interested enough to want to learn more about you. You don’t want people to make their hiring decisions based only upon what they see on LinkedIn.

  3. Work your network (part 1)

    Here is where the magic of LinkedIn really happens. Spend some time learning about your contacts. Do any of them work for employers that you would like to work for? Reach out to them! Ask them if they know of any positions that might be open, or are about to open up. Ask them who the decision makers are in their workplace. Let them know you would like to work with them. Ask them to let people in their workplace know that they have a friend interested in working there.

  4. Work your network (part 2)

    More LinkedIn magic. You can also network with your network’s network. How do you do that? Browse the connections of your own connections. Look for people that work for employers that you find interesting. Look for people who are experts in the field you want to work in. IMPORTANT: tact and tactfulness is required. Avoid being an annoying stranger. Instead, ask your own contacts for an introduction. Once introduced, be tactful again… unless the person you want to connect with and meet has indicated that they are actively seeking a new hire, it’s probably better to arrange for an information meeting. While very few people appreciate feeling ambushed by job seekers, nearly everyone loves the feeling of being respected for their opinions, views, and expertise. Remember; they already know that you are looking for a job,  make a good impression, show appreciation for their helpful information, and they will contact you if something becomes available somewhere – at their workplace or at someone else’s.

Ask for Help

Finding a job is hard work. It’s probably the most difficult job that any of us ever has to do. Don’t make it even harder by doing it all alone. This article shares some information about using LinkedIn to help with your job search. When you are a job seeker you should also use other resources – both online and offline.

Online, let your Facebook friends know that you are looking for a job. And while you’re on Facebook take a close look at your privacy settings and at your public posts and images. Make sure you don’t have anything there that a potential employer might find to be a deal-killer! If your profile is really wild, consider making it harder to find.

Offline, let your friends and family know that you are looking for work. Better still, ask some of them to review your resume and cover letters. Ask them to review your LinkedIn account. Be open to suggestions. What I’ve written here will be perfect for most job seekers, most of the time… but it might not be perfect for you.

Lastly, consider getting professional help. I offer my services at a steeply discounted rate, specifically for unemployed job seekers, and in addition to my expertise in using social media, I have a background (education AND experience) in career counselling.

Contact me to learn more

 

What About the LinkedIn Jobseeking App?

LinkedIn has a jobs app for mobile devices, and a jobs tab on it’s web site. Nearly every major employer now posts job openings on LinkedIn now. But just how useful is it for the typical jobseeker?

I’d rate it a solid “meh”.

Every job seeker should use it. It has a feature that for some job hunters could be described as “killer” (in the good sense). LinkedIn will tell you if any of your connections are working there. If that’s the case, it might bring you to the top of the list.

Unfortunately, the list might be pretty long. The success of LinkedIn’s foray into the job market has been a bigger boon to employers than to jobseekers. There can be hundreds of applicants for each position posted, making it exceptionally difficult for anyone without personal connections to stand out.

Obviously one should apply for every position that makes sense for them. But unless your application is the 1 in 300 that’s a perfect match (and it might be!), the best way to leverage LinkedIn is through your personal network.

LinkedIn Jobseeking Samples
(Apple iPhone App)

 

Sleep Country Marketing Job add from LinkedIn app
Marketing Position has more than 100 applicants in only 3 days.

 

LinkedIn advertised marketing position with more than 700 applicants in less than a week
LinkedIn advertised marketing position with more than 700 applicants.

The Reputation Economy and Social Media

Facebook Sign - should your nonprofit, ngo, or charitable organization be using Facebook?

We are living today in a “Reputation Economy”, and like it or not, your reputation is affected by your social media activity (or lack thereof).

What is a Reputation Economy?

We are accustomed to the idea that our reputations precede us in our social interactions in the “real” world. Our friends know us, our colleagues know us, our clients and customers know us. And each of them has developed an idea about us that can be shared – our reputation.

In the digital economy and its extended social networks, the distinction between our physical and virtual reputations has disappeared. Our digital reputation is our “real” reputation, and the digital economy has become a reputation economy. Our reputations, as available digitally, carry very real implications. In the reputation economy our online personas can attract new clients, new friends, even new romantic relationships.

Your reputation defines how people see you and what they will do for you.  It determines whether your bank will lend you money to buy a house or car;  whether your landlord will accept you as a tenant;  which employers will hire you and how much they will pay you. It can even affect your marriage prospects.

And in the coming Reputation Economy, it’s getting more powerful than ever.  Because today, thanks to rapid advances in digital technology, anyone can access huge troves of information about you – your buying habits, your finances, your professional and personal networks, and even your physical whereabouts – at any time.  In a world where technology allows companies and individuals alike to not only gather all this data but also aggregate it and analyze it  with frightening speed, accuracy, and sophistication, our digital reputations are fast becoming our most valuable currency.
~ From The Reputation Economy: How to Optimize Your Digital Footprint in a World Where Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset

The Role of Social Media in a Reputation Economy

Social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or WhatsApp are readily available, easy to find, and easy to share. Everything we post, and just as importantly, everything posted about us, has an effect on our reputation. Prospective employers will Google you, and they’ll take a look at your Facebook account. Regardless as to your level of active participation in the social media world, there is more than likely something in cyberspace that has an impact on your reputation.

It is important to each of us that we actively manage our reputations online, and effective usage of social media tools is the best mechanism for doing so.

First Steps

If you don’t have at least a Facebook account and a LinkedIn account – get one now!

Yes, I’ve heard all the excuses. I have nothing to post. I am a very private person. I don’t have many friends. I don’t know how to use it. I don’t like computers. Technology scares me. I’m too old. My friends don’t use Facebook. LinkedIn isn’t for people like me. Feel free to add your own excuses… But here’s the thing; if you are not controlling your reputation online through these media, then your reputation is being controlled by other people.

Either people are talking about you, and you have no way to direct the conversation (or even know that it’s occurring), or, just as bad no one is talking about you at all. You may think that’s dandy – but it isn’t. When you are an unknown entity online employers may be reluctant to hire you, potential clients may be less likely to hire you, and potential romantic partners might even be less likely to date you!

Why is having no reputation online nearly as damaging as having a bad reputation?

  1. You are always competing with people who do have online reputations.
  2.  It is not advantageous to have an unknown reputation a reputation economy. Whether for a job or a date, it is human nature to fear and distrust the unknown.

Signing up for an account is pretty straightforward. Companies like Facebook and LinkedIn go to great expense and expend a lot of effort making their products easy to use and as intuitive as possible. Visit facebook.com to start there, and linkedin.com to join LinkedIn

Next Steps

Once you have some online presence, it’s important to manage that presence.

  1. What would you like your reputation to look like?
    This is straightforward enough at the most basic level. You probably want to appear as an honest, decent person, of integrity. But beyond that you may want to emphasize certain aspects of your personality and deemphasize others. You need to have a good idea abut what you want your reputation to look like if you want to effectively manage it.
  2. Edit the “About Me” sections in all your social media accounts
    Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google MyBusiness, you need to keep this section current, consistent, and on message. It’s often the first thing people see when they visit your social media pages. Make sure that there is something there, and that it reflects upon you exactly the way you’d like it to.
  3. Photographs, photographs, photographs
    People love images. We can’t help it. Make sure you accommodate that desire – first and foremost with a good profile picture. If your account is in your personal name, then use a photograph of yourself. No silly symbols. No avatars. You are the person with the the reputation. Your picture is who you are. Corporate accounts or accounts for business names should use either an official logo, or the principle person’s picture, as appropriate to circumstances. Beyond profile photographs, the use of photography will enhance your pages, make them more enjoyable for visitors, and encourage people to learn and linger. If you have the budget, inclination, and ability video posts can be even more powerful than photographs.
  4. Participate
    They call these media “social” for a reason. Spend time there. Join a few groups. Answer questions. Share information and knowledge. Become active online. You don’t need to spend hours every day, even a few minutes every couple days is enough to build a reputation as an active participant, and as a person that adds value in their online community.
  5. Monitor
    Login to your accounts daily if possible. Remember, you are there to manage your reputation. You’ll never put out a fire that you didn’t know was burning.
  6. Manage
    This is the hard part. It isn’t technically difficult. It’s hard because it requires discipline and commitment. There’s the old saying that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. Well your online reputation in the reputation economy won’t be built overnight either. Stay focused on your goals. Set aside time every day to monitor your accounts and respond to questions and comments. Set aside time every week to post content and add value to your online communities.
  7. Ask for help
    You hire a lawyer to draft your contracts. You hire an accountant to do your taxes. You hire consultants to help you solve business problems. Consider hiring a consultant (like me) to help you develop your social media strategy and manage your social media presence. I’m located in Toronto and provide most of my services here, though I will consult online or by telephone too. Just like the field that you are in, my field is competitive too. I’m happy to help you find someone more appropriate to your unique requirements, if my services are not what you need.

Contact Me

 

4 Secrets for Social Media Failure

How to fail at social media marketing, 4 helpful tips

Failure isn’t “rocket surgery”.

Any person or organization can handle its social media posting without a huge commitment of time or money. It is quite likely that by doing it right, you, and your organization, will achieve at least some level of measurable success. And while success is never guaranteed, there are several different ways to guarantee failure. Here are some of my favourites.

  1. Post nothing but link spam:

    This is probably the number one rookie mistake. You’ve taken the plunge into social media marketing, you’ve chose a realistic and measurable goal (driving more traffic to your website), and you begin your tweeting and posting. Three times a day, five days a week, you post something along the lines of.
    we have the prices in Toronto for silver plated widgets! Click Here to buy some.
    Ask yourself how often you’ve clicked on a link like that? Probably not too often. How much value does a post like that add? Is there anything worthwhile to be learned from it?There is a saying from the early days of the Web that’s as relevant today as it was twenty years ago, “content is king“. Every post should provide something of interest or value to your stakeholders, even the posts with links back to your blog or website.

  2. Spread yourself too thin:

    If you are a full-time social media professional working for a larger organization, this may not apply to the same extent, though it still matters. If you are a self-employed professional, or working for small volunteer-staffed organization, it is all too easy to sign up for accounts on every social media platform that you happen upon, in the hope that by being everywhere, you can get your message across to everyone. Unless you actually are a social media professional, you’re soon going to learn that if you post everything to every platform, you’re not going to have enough time to actually accomplish the core tasks of your organization. Or, you’ll spend so much time working on promoting your work, that you don’t have time to actually do any work! Or (most likely) you’ll just give up completely on social media and just walk away. Choose a couple platforms that are right for you and/or your organization, and work them consistently.

  3. Choose the wrong platform:

    Not every platform, not even all of the “big three” (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) may be right for your project, business, or organization. Eventually most organizations are going to bump up against their limits of time and monetary resources. Like any other important project, it’s important to concentrate your social media efforts where they are most likely to yield your desired results. A retail business selling gourmet chocolate products will probably get great bang for their marketing efforts by investing time and money in its Facebook Page. LinkedIn would likely be much less effective for a retail business like this. On the other hand, the exact opposite would be the case for a professional who offers business to business services. In a previous post I offered some helpful advice on choosing the best platforms.

  4. Become too busy, too lazy, or too complacent to post:

    .…And of course the absolute best way to fail at social media marketing is to not do any.Back when I was a teenager just starting to go out to restaurants and bars on my own, my buddies and I couldn’t figure out why our waiter would not return to our table after we bought our first round. I finally screwed up enough courage to go up to him and ask. This was his response:”a horse can’t do no work if you don’t give it no hay

    Simple, and to the point. If you don’t put in any effort, you will not reap any rewards. By avoiding to the three previous failure “tips”, it becomes much easier to avoid this last one too. All it takes is a few minutes, once or twice a day, and the self-discipline and task prioritization needed to make those few minutes available every day.

Now go forth and post my friends. Go forth and tweet! The world is waiting for you.

Top 3 Reasons Nonprofit Organizations Use Twitter

Twitter is the must-have social media platform for every nonprofit organization. Here are three reasons why.

Twitter is a godsend for nonprofit organizations

Whether you are a charity, a service organization, or an NGO, there is something powerfully useful about this particular social media platform. It would be easy to list off a large number of reasons that Twitter rocks for nonprofits! But we’re going to concern ourselves with the top three. These 3 reasons alone should be enough to convince any organization that they should be Tweeting.

  1. It’s Easy to Use
    A Twitter account can be set up in only a few minutes, and an organization can be Tweeting within seconds of setting up their account. The built-in constraints of the platform are actually quite liberating. Whereas a blog post, or publication, requires intense planning, research, and editing, Tweet takes only a moment to compose, and the occasional grammatical slip is instantly forgivable, because Twitter is meant to look and feel spontaneous.A basic Tweet (Twitter post) consists of up to 140 typed characters. Add an image, a link, and some hashtags… And you are in business!
  2. It ls Useful
    Need to share some exciting news? Get a message out quickly? Learn something new that you think your stakeholders would like to know? Tweet it!Would you like to set up an online chat? Choose a hash tag, let your followers know what the tag is and what time to meet on Twitter… And away you go! Instant online (public) conversation.Looking to increase the visibility of your organization? Trying to build more website traffic? Want to bring more readers to your blog posts? Tweets are now indexed by Google. Post a link to your latest blog post to your Twitter account. You’ve done your own SEO (search engine optimization).
  3. It is Powerful
    The power of Twitter is impressive. In fact, it can be hard to fathom how much power can be harnessed from a social media platform that is limited by design to only microblogging with a maximum of 140 characters. Where does this power lie? What makes it so powerful?The primary power of Twitter is that it forms the core or hub of your organization’s online presence. It functions like superglue to bind an organization’s website, blog, Facebook, and other Internet based platforms into a cohesive whole. If you are hosting an event, and have posted the details to your website, Tweet a link to the website. If your organization has posted a group of photographs to its Facebook page, mention that, and link to it, on Twitter. And this integration goes both ways. It’s possible to have all your Tweets show up on your blog home page and on your website too. This makes it easy to convert an occasional website visitor into a regular Twitter follower.There are also some “hidden” features that can be extremely useful to some organizations. My favorite of these for nonprofit use is the feature that allows an organization to “protect its Tweets”. This feature allows only those people and accounts that are approved by you to see your organization’s Tweets. Think about how useful it could be to a condo board that wants to get a message out right away, but that only condo residents could see and respond to? Or a membership based organization that wants to communicate instantly and privately with all of its members, but only its members?

    Still not sure that Twitter is powerful?

    If Twitter could get Donald Trump elected president of the United States, just imagine what it could do for your organization! (Sorry… That was my “trump” card.)

I’d love the opportunity to talk to you more about what Twitter can do for your organization. If you’re in Toronto, let’s get together. Shoot me an email.

 

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As easy as Twitter is to use, getting started can be intimidating for beginners. I love helping organizations to get started. By hiring me to get you “over the hump”, your organization will be able to use Twitter effectively and inexpensively. There is no good reason to pay hundreds, or thousands of dollars every month to a company to look after your tweets and twitter account. In fact, your communications will be way more effective if you tweet for yourself.

 

LinkedIn for Nonprofits

LinkedIn for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs

Is LinkedIn a useful tool for nonprofit organizations? It’s pretty much a “no-brainer” for self-employed professionals, job seekers, employers, and corporations seeking to engage with people who are actively seeking to expand their career growth networks. But what about non-profits and charities? Is there a place for them on LinkedIn too?

ABSOLUTELY!

LinkedIn represents a fabulous networking and engagement opportunity for nonprofit organisations of all kinds!

Whether your organization is interested in promoting and marketing its cause, looking for volunteers, seeking motivated employees, or simply looking to increase its visibility, LinkedIn can help.

It is also pretty easy to get started, and to maintain your organizational presence too. The first step is to create your personal account there. Join LinkedIn if you haven’t already. Before moving forward, you might want to familiarize yourself with the platform. Search out, and connect with some of your friends and colleagues that are also on LinkedIn.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Remember, LinkedIn is NOT Facebook! Unless your nonprofit is an animal rescue organization there is no room there for cat videos and puppy pictures.[/perfectpullquote]

OK. Feeling confident now? Let’s get to work for your organization. The quickest and easiest way to create a presence for your group on LinkedIn, is to actually just go ahead and “create a group“. Give it a name that reflects either the name or purpose of your organization, and invite all of the members of your organization to join the group.

GREAT!

You and your organization are now active on LinkedIn. Congratulations! But now what? Now it’s time to put the platform to work for your non-profit. The most important step is to integrate your new account with your existing Internet presence. Make sure that it becomes part of your entire communications ecosystem – both online and offline. Put a link to your LinkedIn group on your website and blog, and links to your website, blog, and other social media pages in your LinkedIn group.

Finally, like all social media, and like all communications of every type, the success of your LinkedIn group is tied directly to the amount of effort you put into maintaining it. This does not have to be a full time job. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be somebody’s part time job! But it does take a bit of time, and a lot of discipline. Just like Twitter, or Facebook, or your mailing list, your LinkedIn presence is unlikely to serve your organization if nothing ever appears in it. Set a time in your calendar, whether once or twice a day, or just once a week – but make that time as critical to you as you would a doctor’s appointment for your child.

  • Post some news
  • Start a conversation
  • Ask a question
  • Answer questions
  • Share an interesting article
  • Share your blog posts
  • Share someone else’s blog post
  • Post recruitment notices for volunteers and staff

There is ALWAYS something that you can communicate that will be of interest to your stakeholders. All you need to do is find it, and post it. In fact, I’ll be doing that a moment from now. You’ll find a link to this article on my own LinkedIn account – RIGHT HERE.

 

 

Your Mission Statement and Why it Matters

Dilbert comic strip - Wally and his Mission Statement

What is your mission statement?

Why does it matter?

What does it have to do with social media for nonprofit organizations?

Discussion about the mission statements of nonprofit organizations might seem to be a little bit lofty for a guy that helps NGOs with their social media strategy. We don’t see a lot of social media activity around missions, purposes, and causes in the social media marketing world. Well, in a nutshell – that’s a darn shame. Because until everyone in an organization knows, and has internalized the organization.s mission, there is really no way to measure true success.

Social media success is more than click measurements, followers, friends, contacts, or likes. The only true measure of social media success is the increase in organizational success that can be attributed to social media. And, especially with nonprofits, the best measure of organizational success is attainments of organizational objectives.

What is a mission statement?

Let’s start with this definition from Entrepreneur Magazine.

A sentence describing a company’s function, markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies .

The mission statement reflects every facet of your business: the range and nature of the products you offer, pricing, quality, service, marketplace position, growth potential, use of technology, and your relationships with your customers, employees, suppliers, competitors and the community.

Now let’s examine that a bit, and rework it for nonprofits. Here’s what we come up with.

A sentence describing an organization’s purpose and stakeholders; a short written statement of your organization’s goals and philosophies .

The mission statement reflects every facet of your organization: the range and nature of the services you offer, social impact, social potential, and your relationships with your members, employees, stakeholders and the community.

That’s a little better as far as describing what the statement is. But we can probably do even better when we take into account what we know that is specific to our own organization. In a nutshell, this is how I would describe what a mission statement is:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In one or two sentences our mission statement summarizes why our organization exists, and what its goals are. [/perfectpullquote]

Here is my mission statement:

To help nonprofit organizations use social media to reach their communication objectives, maximize their social impact, and to be fairly compensated for my efforts.

That’s it. It is short, easy to understand, reasonable, and realistic. It is the measure by which every action I take for my business is measured. Even this blog post that you are reading right now would not have been published if I did not believe it would bring me closer to my goal.

Why Does a Mission Statement Matter?

A mission statement is the “critical infrastructure” that allows everyone in an organization to work smarter, rather than just harder. Hard work is important of course, but hard work is pointlessly exhausting if it isn’t accomplishing anything meaningful to the organization. Eventually, hard work can even be counterproductive if members, volunteers, and employees start feeling like they are just spinning their wheels or wasting their time.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] There is no way to know if we are getting closer to reaching our goals, if we haven’t clearly articulated what are goals are.   [/perfectpullquote]

A mission statement is a road map. It provides direction to everyone involved in the organization.

What Does the Mission Statement Have to do With Social Media?

I can almost hear the skeptics saying, “Big deal! We don’t need a consultant to tell us what we are all about, we just need help getting our Facebook and Twitter accounts working for us.” If you are among the skeptical, let me set your mind at ease. You are right. My role is not, and should not, be to develop a mission statement for your organization. My role indeed (as you can see from my own mission statement) is only to help you reach your communication objectives using social media tools. But, it is going to be really difficult for me to accomplish my mission if you can’t tell me what your own is.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It is going to be really difficult for me to accomplish my mission if you can’t tell me what your mission is.[/perfectpullquote]

Once you can articulate your organizational mission, and better still your communication goals, we can start building a strategy to put social media to work towards reaching those goals, and fulfilling your mission.

And that’s what it’s all about, Right?